TOP 14 QUESTIONS
1. What advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own clothing business?
Be prepared to work every single day for the first few years….but honestly, that is with any business. Becoming a business owner is super easy, it just requires a business license, which anyone can get, but actively working as a business owner and running a successful business is totally different! It requires tireless hours and persistence but it WILL pay off! You just have to weather the storms that will present themselves in the early years while you learn by trial and error. Then, you have to remember to always remain flexible as the playing field is ever changing. A successful business is one that can adapt in it’s environment…but hey, isn’t that true with anything? Humans? Survival of the fittest right!?
2. At what point as a blogger did you know you wanted to start your own boutique?
Well the boutique came before the blog but I actually learned while working in corporate America that I am more entrepreneurial minded. I loved climbing the corporate ladder but had this innate longing to create. I would always think “If this was my business I would….” Of course my ideas were very out there and out of the norm for a conservative multi-billion dollar company. I like to coin my business thought process as “Engineered Marketing Tactics.” I was very eager to try these ideas so I decided to take all of the very valuable knowledge that I gathered while working in corporate and then put a small business twist on it. While it is SUPER HARD WORK, it is very rewarding and I love waking up every day facing the challenge and trying new and exciting ideas. The stress is there but high pressure situations coupled with stress motivates me. I thrive on it.
3. I love that your such a “girl boss”! How did Ivory Closet come to be?
I used to work for a Fortune 500 company and honestly enjoyed climbing the corporate ladder but something felt missing. I felt like I was not challenged enough and was less than fulfilled. I would lay in bed at night and dream up tons of different business concepts, strategies, and marketing schemes. My mind was constantly creating. One day I realized it. I am made to be an entrepreneur. I need to be constantly challenged and creating. I decided that self employment would be my future and then needed to choose a business that I could succeed in, and well, fashion and beauty have always been my passion 😉
4. What has been your greatest achievement as a business owner or influencer?
I think my greatest business achievement has been being Top 20 under 30 in my city, Memphis. I was really honored to be awarded this title in 2016 as I felt like for the first time, my hard work was being recognized by others in my community. As an entrepreneur, sometimes you work your behind off and find yourself wondering if it is paying off or if anyone even sees the work that you put in to your passion and business. This award really made me feel accomplished as a business woman in Memphis!
5. What made you decide to start blogging?
I actually started blogging to generate content for my online shop. I became tired of it quickly. It wasn’t until I realized that blogging should not be done for anything or anyone else but yourself that my creativity began to flourish! I started to experiment with different topics of interest. I fell in love with photography and writing which naturally evolved my blog to fit my personality and not the brand that I was trying to create for my shop. Once this happened, readership rose, brands began to reach out, and my frequency picked up because it became an outlet and not a job.
6. How do you manage your time to running your blog, boutique and family efficiently?
Minute by minute. I am a scheduler and list writer by nature but rarely does it all go according to plan. I have learned that the schedule will hiccup and I have to tell myself “I am only human and I can only do what my body and time will allow” then I take a deep breath and head to my next appointment late without freaking out. Or when I do not get my entire list done in a day, I just add it to the next day and tell myself not to get overwhelmed. I have lowered my expectations of myself when it comes to time because there are always unforeseen obstacles that arise during the day. There will always be fires to put out at work and there will always be extra days to get work complete…unless of course if the good Lord makes other arrangements. Your children and your family are really the only things altered by time. They grow up and older and memories can be made without you so making sure you prioritize what’s most important is key. Speaking of….my son and husband are playing in his room right now as I type this answer with one hand and hold a baby in the other….probably a memory I would like to be a part of so I think I will take little James in there and join in. That is how I will be spending my evening! Prioritization at it’s best!
7. You have such amazing pieces at your boutique, how do you pick your pieces?
Thank you!!!! I have partnered with specific brands that always deliver quality at a very reasonable price. The brands that we work with also emulate the style that I have set for the brand. We usually attend market but are excited to go out to LA this year to by pass the hectic markets and go straight to the vendors. I like to choose pieces that are unique but not too trendy that they cannot be worn year after year. despite what many may thing, our main cliental is 27 – 36 with the second biggest demographic being 37 – 46! We try to keep pieces that appeal to the woman in the current season of her life. Our top selling items are our Lola Slimming Jeans, Coobie Seamless Bras, Ivory Closet Couture Slimming Reversible Tanks, Chinese Laundry Shoes, and of course our blouses and dresses that are eye catching but not too young. Our third largest market are our college girls and you will see more risqué styles in our Oxford location with the University of Mississippi being there.
8. What are your favorite trends this Summer?
I can immediately tell you the one that I hate, EMBROIDERY! I just can’t do it! I put one embroidered style in my store just to say I have the trend but I stayed away from all of the others. I am normally not stubborn on seasonal trends but the chevron trend 3 years ago and the embroidery trend this year were two I wouldn’t budge on!
I really love that 90’s style is coming back with a vengeance. I became interested in fashion when Gwen Stefani hit the scene, the Rachel cut was in, and Spice Girls were all the rage. I love reminiscing in the styles of the 90’sso much so that I designed this top for the shops!
9. What’s the future like for Ivory Closet?
A new platform for small store owners. Right now we are an online and brick and mortar store with 3 locations and a creative suite, however, I LOVE the business aspect of the boutique industry and I want to develop a new way for fellow small business owners to thrive in the evolving world of retail where there are tons of big box brands with deep pockets. As small shop owners, we seem to be loosing share of the market, however there is still a place for us and I am making it my goal to come up with a successful roadmap and share with others! Maybe a book, or a class? Or enhancing our franchise program? Not sure, but that is my focus moving forward!
10. What would you say to other female entrepreneurs who are contemplating leaving their day job and follow in your footsteps to entrepreneurism?
The work is FULL TIME. Expect to have 60+ work week hours, different stressful obstacles every day, and be prepared to take risks. I am not trying to scare ladies away. I am just trying to be real. It looks fun and easy. Fun it is…easy is a HUGE overstatement. Running a small business is like spinning 10 plates on two fingers above your head constantly while walking on a ball. LOL NO EXAGGERATION!!!!
11. As busy as you are between two thriving businesses, what do you like to do in your spare time?
“Momming!” My husband and I used to go out with friends and socialize the weekends away but after having our little boys, Jack and James, I truly don’t miss the “scene.”
We enjoy cookouts with friends and our kids, chilling and listening to good tunes with a nice glass of wine on our deck, teaching our little boys how to ride their bike or hit the baseball in the backyard, and on Fridays when Jack and James goes to his grandparents for the night, Ben and I like to hit up the local small business candy store and movie theatre to catch a film!
12. What is one thing your readers would be surprised to hear?
I used to think fashion was my dad’s button up flannel shirts, a choker, JNCO jeans, and Adidas tennis shoes. At least the choker trend was fashionable enough to make a round 2!
13. What words of advice to you have for new shop owners/bloggers?
Be prepared to give more than your all. Just when you think you have given it everything you got, find more and put it there. Being a new business owner is not a game for the weary. You have to be the kind of person who likes to “eat what you kill”, for lack of a better phrase (one of my friends in my Masters Program always used that phrase and it stuck with me)…basically a hunter. Someone who doesn’t wait for the opportunity but hunts for it, thrives on the challenge and all of the stress that comes with it, and finds ultimate satisfaction in the catch! You also have to be agile and extremely flexible to continuous change, always evolving to situations and the environments that will present themselves to you. Most importantly, you have to be a SOLID PRIORITIZER. Know when to work but know when to give your time to those who love you and who you have dedicated yourself to. Your family is always first and you must know when to put it away and give the little one tugging on your dress the attention that they deserve, or even the big one (husband) at that 😉
14. How do you manage your time to running your blog, boutique and family efficiently?
Honestly, I have no clue….minute by minute. My days are always planned but NEVER go as planned. I am a scheduler and list writer by nature but rarely does it all go according to plan. I have learned that the schedule will hiccup and I have to tell myself “I am only human and I can only do what my body and time will allow” then I take a deep breath and head to my next appointment late without freaking out. Or when I do not get my entire list done in a day, I just add it to the next day and tell myself not to get overwhelmed. I have lowered my expectations of myself when it comes to time because there are always unforeseen obstacles that arise during the day. There will always be fires to put out at work and there will always be extra days to get work complete…unless of course if the good Lord makes other arrangements. The best advice I give myself when I am totally at my breaking point, “It’s only life. Just chill.” Your children and your family are really the only things altered by time. They grow up and older and memories can be made without you so making sure you prioritize what’s most important is key. Speaking of….my son and husband are playing in his room right now as I type this answer with one hand and hold a baby in the other….probably a memory I would like to be a part of so I think I will take little James in there and join in. That is how I will be spending my evening! Prioritization at it’s best!