Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fashion but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Laura Bavlnka, Owner of Bavlnka Brand, located in Milwaukee, WI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a clothing and accessory designer specializing in sustainable practices. I am known for my use of natural dyes. Currently, my customers are mainly local to Milwaukee. People who appreciate quality-made apparel and accessories or people who are looking for a special gift for a loved one.
Tell us about yourself
I fell in love with fashion at a young age, and in high school, I learned I could make a career out of it. I received my bachelor's in Apparel Product Development. Upon graduation, I worked on the apparel design team for a large corporate company. It only took me 3 years to get burnt out on the corporate model, and I decided to leave to start my own business. I wanted full creative freedom, and I wanted to be doing work that felt meaningful and fulfilling. That's what continues to motivate me today, the ability to create and the ability to bring it to people.
One of my favorite aspects of being a business owner is the connections I get to build with people, whether they are customers or not, it's been really fulfilling to connect with so many people. I also love being a part of the small business owner community in Milwaukee. I have built amazing friendships with people in a variety of industries, but we all share this passion for creating something from scratch.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It's hard to say what the biggest accomplishment has been. I've been honored with so many different accomplishments: moving into my own storefront/studio space, countless happy clients who had me make their wedding gowns from an heirloom, securing wholesale accounts at some wonderful boutiques, selling out my natural dye workshops, etc. I'm truly grateful for it all, but at the end of the day, I feel my biggest accomplishments are happy clients because, after all, my business is all about my clients; without them, I wouldn't be here.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
For me, it's been the financial aspect, which is a big and multifaceted aspect of running a business. It's extremely important, but for me, I don't see it as the most important thing. Therefore, there's a fine line between focusing on the growth of revenue while maintaining my values as a designer. When I focus too much on the revenue, I lose that "creation for the sake of creation" mindset that is vital to a designer. When I focus too much on creating, I step away from the money-making side of things.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- If you want to start a business, you must be passionate about it, maybe even to the point of obsession.
- Find your cheerleaders. Entrepreneurship is really hard, especially when you are going about it on your own, having people in your life who can be a shoulder to cry on, lift you up when you're down, or even give you that much-needed tough love is vital.
- Don't be afraid of the inevitable moments of doubt. It's natural to feel that way when you are up against something you have never done before. Acknowledge the doubt and the fears, take a real good look at them, evaluate if you can (or if you want to) move forward, and then keep going.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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