Dear overly ambitious, unrealistic 26 year old me… your naivety allowed me to flourish fearlessly, yet forced me into the realities of restriction, constantly battling the nature of my being as it knows no limits. This month marks the 6th anniversary of me becoming a full time entrepreneur and I must say, while I do not regret one minute of it, it has been a complete whirlwind of experiences, emotions, and personal growth.
While this post is my true story, it has been sponsored by the SLATE COLLECTION.
The Past 6 Years….
When looking back on the decision to quit my extremely secure job in which I was quickly rising up the ladder, I really have no clue what came over me. Becoming my own boss “full-time” was literally just a thought that popped into my head one day. I did own my cosmetic line on the side, Adel Amor Cosmetics, at the time that I worked for corporate America but it was nowhere near where it needed to be to solely support my lifestyle.
Honestly, one afternoon I daydreamed about opening my own brick and mortar shop. Two days later, I was turning in my resignation. What was I thinking? I didn’t hate my job, in fact I loved it, I was good at it, but I found myself constantly wondering, “Is this it? Is this the rest of my life?”
I was 26 years old and completely sure of myself and my abilities. The thought of failing never entered into my mind. I have never failed before, so why would I now? Seems pretty egocentric right? Maybe a bit, or maybe I just had full faith in myself. I am totally thankful for my naivety back then. My 26 year old me took the wheel and initiated the biggest turning point in my life thus far. And while the woman I am today is still not easily shaken by risk, she is not completely fearless.
My initial goal was massive growth, an empire that would eventually have me traveling the world, riding in a fabulous name brand car, and living in an old turn of the century mansion. I quickly began to brainstorm strategies for rapid growth.
- Nov. 2012 – YEAR 1 – Opened the First The Ivory Closet on The Island
- 2013- YEAR 1 – Opened The Cedar Room on The Island, Launched my brand of tanks, Ellen Anchor, Began City Chic Living blog
- 2014 – YEAR 2 -Opened The Attic Apparel in Overton Square – Had my 1st baby
- 2015 – YEAR 3 -Expanded The Ivory Closet to Overton Square, Closed The Cedar Room, Launched the first The Ivory Closet franchise location
- 2016 – YEAR 4 – Opened 3 more Ivory Closet Franchises – Had my 2nd baby
- 2017 – YEAR 5 – Closed all franchise locations and The Attic
- 2018 – YEAR 6 – Launched my online course Learn Unconventional, Launched a bath and body line & jewelry line
As you can see by the timeline above, my failures have been equal to my successes. The 26 year old me never planned for failure, the only plan was rapid growth. As soon as I would launch 2 new successes, one of my previous excitements would quickly die off. Instead of taking the time to analyze the failure, I would immediately create the next big thing. It took me until 2017 to realize, it’s not about growth. I had spent so much time growing I had lost track of my profitability. I understand financial numbers, but I had never been focused on the story that the numbers were revealing to me. All I knew, was that I had committed to “empire growth” at all costs which meant sacrificing time and resources for little to no “financial growth.”
Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs
2017 came as a huge revelation to me. The profession that I gave up everything to pursue, the dream job that had my feet hitting the floor with a smile on my face every morning had officially become the biggest burden of my life. For the first time in my life, I felt defeated. I began to consider putting my degrees to use back at a 9 to 5, again but the thought just crushed my spirits.
There has to be a way! I have to revive the career that I once loved.
I decided to make a list of time commitments for every job I was doing, profit associated with the time, and the maximum amount of time I am willing to commit to work.
After weeks of excitedly deliberating the new revived career that lay ahead, I developed two goals that would set my career back on track
- Completely Lean Strategy
- Increase my margins without sacrificing quality
- Unique brand partnerships and annual volume promises
- No investing into new ideas until I have met my annual sales goal
- Extinguish the current projects that do not pay what I am worth for my time.
- Focus on my Expertise
- I know business strategy and my shop has shown continuous growth year over year. Further strengthen my retail strategy
- Expand my brand further into the fashion industry by supporting the local fashion scene and creating an exclusive brand for my shop.
- Expand the brand through further targeting my blog’s topics
- Expose others to small biz retail by teaching at my local college, interviews on podcasts, and via my lectures in my, Your Retail Academy.
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to create with your bottom line in mind. If you are an entrepreneur by nature, do not let your creative mind go haywire and remove you from the task at hand. Focus on one goal and stay true to it.
What Lies on the Horizon
Remaining loyal to my main goals, I only have agreed on two of my creative persona’s latest ideas, the Ivory Closet app and a branded fashion line. Both of these are set to launch Dec 2018.
In celebration to the launches, I am upgrading my work bag to a more sleek, sturdy, and chic SLATE COLLECTION tote. While I normally wear all black, I decided to make a statement with a cognac color in the Ballard Tote. I love my tote not only because of the impeccable quality, but because it is made in the USA and crafted in a Minnesota workshop. Plus, my initials have been monogrammed in blind deboss at no extra charge!
Needless to say, I have done a lot of growing since the 26 year old me. My company is on the right track, my mind as a boss babe businesswoman has been further developed, preened for success, and I am officially back in love with my career! I am excited again about the future of my business, I have found myself again as a girl boss, and I am ready for what lies ahead.