My journey as a stylist and a style educator started young, for as long as I can remember I’ve had this deep love for fashion. I made clothes for my Barbies when I was five years old, in high school I designed clothing for fashion shows, in college I studied fashion design. Once I graduated college, reality hit when I tried to get a job as a designer. The salaries were small, and the job wasn’t nearly as glamorous as I’d thought. I ended up working retail which in my eyes was really a step-down, but as it turns out that job was planting a seed for my future business. Retail showed me that helping people look better through putting together outfits was my calling. Of course, that calling didn’t materialize into a business until many years later. I worked at AOL and then for a few tech start-ups that helped shape my business brain. I coupled the fashion and the business together to form not one, but two businesses. Messiah Media houses my personal brand Lauren Messiah where I style women, create content (videos, courses, books), and offer consulting for major corporations on personal style. I am also CEO and Co-Founder of School of Style, a fashion school for aspiring stylists. School of Style is my way of giving back and shining a light on an industry that is difficult to break into.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Fear. When I left my comfortable desk job with a nice salary and benefits to striking out on my own, I was scared shitless. Would I have to move back home with my parents? Would I ever shop again? Would I be forced to eat ramen? So many questions were running through my head. The thing that got me through it was trusting that little voice in my head that told me I was put on this earth to do a lot more than sit behind that desk. That inner knowing helped me make the big decision to quit my 9-5. That voice still helps me today when I had to take a big risk in my business.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My family has always been very supportive and proud of everything I’ve accomplished so far. I mean they definitely had their doubts in the beginning. For example, when I wanted to study fashion design in college, my parents didn’t exactly throw me a parade, but they helped me all the same. When I picked up and moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams, they let me, but they also thought I’d be back in a year (I’ve been here for over 12 years). I think that when you don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs, the side-ey/doubt just comes with the territory.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Execution. Basically, I get shit done. People can have ideas, connections, resources, anything really ... but if you don’t put them into action, you have nothing.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
That you can’t do it alone. I always prided myself on being able to do everything myself. I thought asking for help was a sign of weakness. Boy was I wrong! The moment I reached out to my first business coach everything changed. My business accelerated, I grew my team, and my profits went through the roof.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
For the young entrepreneur, I would say to understand that being an entrepreneur isn’t something you do to be cute. I find that a lot of young people love to say that they are an entrepreneur, but they don’t like to put that entrepreneur work in. You have to live and breathe your business. Your business has to matter to you on a deeper level - deeper than just making money and looking cool. Also, don’t throw in the towel too soon. The big wins don’t often show up right away, but they do show up so stick it out until they do.