This is the seventh year of the Flyer‘s annual 20<30 issue, and this year’s crop of young movers and shakers is, as usual, a diverse and impactful group. They are taking on the city’s major issues — poverty, transportation, education, civil rights, and medical research. They are enriching the city with their work in music, art, fashion, agriculture, and business.
They are the future of Memphis, and they have a common denominator: They all want to make their chosen city a better place to live. Some have moved here from elsewhere; some have returned to the city where they grew up. You’ll be seeing their names and hearing from them in coming years. Here’s an introduction to 20 of Memphis’ best and brightest young people.
When you try to call Alexandra Scharff, you’re going to get her voicemail. And you’ll want to make yourself comfortable, because it takes a while for her disembodied voice to list off the businesses you may be trying to reach: the Ivory Closet, the Attic Apparel, Adel Amor Cosmetics, Ellen Anchor Brands. They were all founded by this University of Memphis alumna.
Her drive to entrepreneurism came through the corporate world, where she worked for International Paper as a sales representative, traveling the country alone, with no one micromanaging. It was as if she were running her own business and dealing with customers and follow-ups, markups and margins. “Once I realized I could sell something like paper, I thought, ‘If I can sell this, I can sell anything.'”
In 2012, she opened the Ivory Closet boutique in Harbor Town, followed a year later by the Attic, co-owned with husband Benjamin, in Overton Square. She has since moved the Ivory Closet to the Square as well. Her cosmetic line, which she began while still at IP, is an ongoing concern.
Alexandra is also working on a master’s in business and learning about franchising. The first two Ivory Closet franchises opened last fall in Mississippi, and there are more on the way. “I’m back in the corporate world,” she says, “but this time it’s for myself. I have to grow. If I’m not growing, then I’m getting in a slump.”