I was really happy and impressed with all of the thoughtful and interesting questions I received. I decided to divide them up into topics, my first set of Q&As will be on the topic of owning an operating a creative business. Big thanks to everyone who contributed a thoughtful question. Enjoy!
Q: Can you talk a little bit about making the decision to start your own business? I would love to start my own, but am scared to take the leap!
A: Hi Laura, This is a great question. I think that it's important as an artist/designer to have big goals and dreams for your own work. After you have these goals, and a vision of what you want your dream job to look like it's easier to decide that's something you can do within an existing company or if you'll need to start your own.
Owning a business requires a level of sacrifice and stress that's not worth it to everyone. If you're still feeling nervous to take the leap here are some exercises I'd recommend... *Research your market. You'll want to become an expert on the type of business you want to create including industry standards, competition, and a clear idea of how your company will be unique. *Make a goal list. Know your goals for this month, this season, and the next year. This is super important. I like to have specific short term goals (like for this week and month) that challenge and motivate me, mixed with huge long term goals that keep me inspired! *Test your market. If you ultimately want to own a boutique, you should definitely start by owning an Etsy shop or selling through another local boutique. You'll want to time to develop your designs and learning what people respond to is an important step if you're wanting to design as a career.
I knew I was ready to take the leap and start my own business when I realized I could fill a whole journal with ideas in just a weekend. The idea of building my own dream from scratch was so exciting for me. I really loved every little baby step in the beginning!
Q: Most business people have faced highs and lows. I was wondering, have you ever faced a really huge setback & if so, how did you overcome it?
A: Hi Dez. I've absolutely faced hard times as a business owner. I tend to not talk about this stuff on my blog, but I never want people to assume that things are perfect all time. In the past years I've been through extreme highs and extreme lows. Young business owners will inevitably find themselves with bills to pay and not enough money in the bank. When this happens it's time to be creative and work harder than ever to keep your dream alive. This is one reason why so many young business owners get burnt out. It's a lot of crazy work, but if you make it through these difficult situations you can make it through anything! It's healthy to remember that every business owner overcomes failure and obstacles. It's not for the faint of heart.
Q: How did you prepare for opening your business? Did you jump in and take the risk..or did you go to school and get degrees and plan like crazy...how did you raise capital? I am an aspiring business owner and its all a little overwhelming. Any helpful tips?
A: I think that the process is different for everyone. There's no formula for success. I definitely think a business degree can be really helpful. My little sister is currently prepping for a grad. school program like this. When I first started Red Velvet I took a huge risk by quitting my full time job and spending every penny I had in savings to start the business. Obviously that's not for everyone, but it worked out well for me. I think that no matter which stage of planning you're in, it's very important to know your goals and vision and stay focused on achieving that. There are many paths to success, just be sure that you stay true to your own dream and keep an open mind!
Q: Where do you get all of your vintage dresses and vintage items that you sell in your shop?
A: Hi Kelsie! We purchased a larger fully stocked vintage store, so we acquired all of the existing inventory. I also find dresses though my own personal vintage hunts (estate sales, thrift shops etc) as well as a distributor.
Q: What do you do when you're feeling uninspired? Do ever have days when you're feeling unmotivated? What do you do to conquer these feelings? You always seem so prolific!
A: Thanks so much! When I need a creative 'pick me up' I tend to start a new just-for-fun project. Keeping a balance of personal creative projects and work related projects helps me stay inspired and productive. For example, right now I am working on some reworked vintage dresses for myself on the side while getting the store ready for opening day!
Q: I just love your creative style and how you share all of your feelings with us. Do you have any ideas for a young, aspiring fashion designer?
A: Hi Jodie! My best advise for an aspiring fashion designer (or anyone wanting to move into a creative field) is to spend ALL your time developing your style and vision. Having a strong and fully developed personal style is an essential key to success!
Q: How do you make time for business/family/significant other/friends and you time?
A: Balance is so important. To be successful it's a fact that you'll have to sacrifice a lot, but you should never need to sacrifice time with family and friends. I almost never feel completely 'caught up' with work, but when I visit my parents or go out with friends I mentally 'let go' of work during that time. That's the best way I've learned to have quality time, while still being a super busy lady.
Q: Do you have any other dream career goals you want to accomplish?
A: I have so many! Most importantly, I want to design fashion and another (still secret) product line in my near future. I would love to write a book soon too. XO.
In closing... If you have a creative dream start pursuing it! It's easy for years to go by without taking steps to make your vision a reality. We're all equally clueless in the beginning. My best advise to to start soon and learn from your experience, keep things simple and enjoy each and every small milestone! Be proud of your dream. It's really one of the most special parts of life. XO. elsie