When I turned about 26 years old, I started to have a mid life crisis. I know you're probably thinking wow, that's a bit young, but I was completely lost when it came to pursuing a career that gave me any kind of fulfillment. I have had a lot of different opportunities in various fields but none of them felt right. They all had aspects I liked but I always knew I was meant to do something more, the problem was I didn't know what, I just knew the woman I wanted to be. I took a few years to explore different options, finding out what my passions were. I craved freedom, creativity, and artistic ventures. Going back to my core, I have always been creative, artistic, and a bit of a rebel....I like to do things my own way. In the fall of 2017 my little sister, Autumn, started her first semester of college and earlier that year we spent a really lovely day together talking about our futures and the careers we both planned to pursue. Little did I know that just a few months later I wouldn't have the opportunity to see my sister again. I found myself completely heartbroken and devastated by the loss of my sister and through that sadness I found the strength and inspiration I needed to finally pursue my dreams. My dream to become a designer was one of the last things I ever got to talk about with my sister and I know she was/is right here cheering me on. In the fall of 2018 I went for it, I launched my design business, a few Autumn pieces (in honor of my sister), and the rest is history. I am still learning, growing, doing my best. I think you should always explore as many different careers as you need too, never settle for less than whatever sets your soul on fire. You are never too young, too old, or too inexperienced to do anything. You can do it! Don't wait, life is short and there are people who need your unique gifts and talents out there. Creativity and inspiration can come in any form and from anywhere (even a small town in Oklahoma). Go for your dreams, always.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?
How did the idea for your business come about?
I think the spark to begin designing was always there, I just needed feel it. Everything comes down to "feeling it" for me. How does something feel to me... what is my intuition telling me. I have this saying, "You just gotta feel it" it has to feel right inside or it's not happening. I have always wanted the freedom to create, but the creations needed to have substance, I wanted them to have a positive impact on the people who would own them. With designing, I can honestly say my designs empower other women. They help women feel confident, strong, beautiful, and that is an amazing feeling.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
I think the biggest hurdle for me is trying to do it all. When you are a one woman show it can be overwhelming. There is always so much to do. I have thought about outsourcing tasks and it's an option I may explore later but I honestly feel like it's better to focus on areas you need to focus on. You gotta feel it out, see where the pressing issues are and start there. Stop listening to all the other voices and hear your own. No-one knows your business better than you and no-one will know where and what needs to happen like you. I find blocking off specific days for specific tasks works really well for me. Wednesday's are my pattern and cutting day, Thursday's are my sewing day, etc. Explore and try new methods until you find what works for you.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I read a lot of fashion and design books and those won't apply to everyone but my current indulgence is The Fashion Encyclopedia-A visual resource for terms, techniques, and styles. It's a great read for those who are interested in the history of fashion and how everything has came to be from silhouettes to techniques. As for entrepreneurial recommendations I highly recommend The Art of Persuasion by Bob Burg and Contagious-Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. These two books contain invaluable information for entrepreneurs in all stages of business and can really help you take your business and your self to the next level.
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?
For the most part, my family and friends have been really supportive. My advice for dealing with people who are not so supportive would be to let them have their feelings, accept that that is how they feel and those feelings aren't a reflection of who you are, it's a reflection of who they are and their life experiences and it's ok if they don't support you. You support you, you believe in you, and there are others who believe in you too!
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
My will to never give up, to always move forward, and always, always, always believe in myself. Bad days will come, but if you stay dedicated and focused on your mission, you will find success.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
The world of fashion can be expensive and wasteful. All of my pieces are made in the US, which is really important to me and in order to launch my Autumn line I hired a consultant to help me but everything ending up being over budget and too much of everything was ordered, which tied up cash and wasted fabric. It is what it is, unforeseen things happen and you can only plan as best as you can. Looking back I think I would do my due diligence in finding the right team and overshoot my budget. But you live and learn and that's how you grow. I think starting small and taking it step by step will lead to greater success.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Go for it! Follow your passion, live life to the fullest. You have something special that someone else needs. Be fearless in your pursuit to create a life you love.