Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Christie Andersen, owner of Well Worn, located in Fort Leavenworth, KS, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I use vintage and repurposed textiles to create timeless heirloom hair accessories for adults and children. As I started my small business journey, I started to learn more about textile waste in our country and all over the world. Fast fashion and rampant consumerism have led us to a major waste problem that only we, as the consumer, can reverse. Not only do I get to preserve vintage and unwanted textiles, but I consider myself one of the many small businesses aiding in the fight for sustainability and waste reduction.
I am passionate about living a low-waste lifestyle both personally and professionally and support the mission to reduce waste by ensuring that all of my materials, packaging, and business practices align with this mission. I often use my social media platforms to educate and encourage my customers and followers to examine their waste output in all areas of life and make small changes toward better practices. I like to think that my customers are also my fellow activists and share the same vision that I have for the future! I adore being able to combine my passions into this small business while also bringing a great product and, hopefully, inspiration to my customers!
Tell us about yourself
From as early as I can remember, I've been an avid thrifter, artist/creative, and lover of all things vintage. As a teenager, I learned the basics of sewing from my Mother as I navigated her "ancient" sewing machine and sewing patterns from the 1960's. I continued teaching myself to sew as a hobby but really discovered my love for sewing at the age of 32 when I began working for a handbag company. At that time, I also took on a side hustle out of my homemaking alterations to clothing and other textiles.
As the years went on, I continued thrifting and acquiring random textiles (mostly vintage clothing, cuts of fabric, bedding, curtains-ANYTHING was fair game!) just because I loved their pattern or texture and needed to "rescue" them from meeting an untimely fate. At one point, my husband looked around my sewing room and asked me, "what are you planning to do with all of these fabrics?". So it got me thinking about how I could get them off of my shelves and on display to be loved and appreciated once again. At the time, my daughter was a year old. I was always so disappointed in the hair accessories being sold in stores for babies/little girls.
My style was somewhat eclectic and a "mish-mash" of thrift and vintage clothing, so I always wanted hair bows/headbands that matched that style. I wanted one-of-a-kind bows and accessories that I wouldn't see every other child wearing around town. (I'm a sucker for exclusivity!) Pair this thought with the desire to repurpose all of my lovely textiles, and the Well Worn seed was planted and had been growing ever since! I started cutting into my textile stash and making sweet little accessories out of them!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Owning your own business always has its challenges. Tack on a military lifestyle that continually requires you to uproot your office and move it across the country or stop work altogether so you can step in as the main caregiver for your kiddos. You've got some added challenges there! As a Military Spouse, it can be difficult to find employment that accommodates my inconsistent schedule and ever-changing lifestyle.
Running my own small business from home allows me to be here for my family when I am needed and also maintain my individualism as an entrepreneur and creative. I've been so lucky to have my husband's full support in this journey, and of course, my daughter LOVES to help me in all areas of the business since she gets to reap the benefits of the finished products!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I often think that some people take for granted the many hats that small business owners have to wear. From start to finish, this is absolutely a full-time job that often only pays for business expenses - at best. I'm lucky to be able to use my creativity and knowledge (I studied Graphic Design in college) for all areas of the business in order to cut down on costs, but it can definitely be a challenge to keep things up and running smoothly as a one-woman show.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just START! Everything will fall into place throughout the process. There is room for change and growth, but you first have to start.
- If it doesn't feel right or is draining you of energy, then it's not right for you or your business.
- Do what you love, and growth/customers will come to you!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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