Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kimberly Parks, Founder of Etta and James Junction, located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We have set out to create State pride shirts that go beyond the iconic designs every state has. We hope to bring people closer together, sharing in traditions that make you proud of from where you come. After all, home is where your story begins, and I love being an Oregonian.
Plus, where else can you find a Ramen Me tee and get a free pack of ramen at any of our markets. We love making people laugh and ask why. My Nanny (grandma) used to ask me what I wanted for supper, and I would always want ramen; she had a special cupboard with a colorful stack of the cheap kind, but always tasty. Now, as a huge foodie, I love that Portland is famous for its ramen. Every shirt has a story.
Tell us about yourself
Back in 2018, I designed a tee for a viewing party for the mid-term elections and wanted something joyous and inclusive; it later would be known as our Wildflower tee. So my brother James had been encouraging me to do something with this concept. Being a fashion designer for over 20 years, he knew I had it in me. So in 2020, I decided to finally take his advice and launched Etta and James Junction right as COVID was starting up. Why wait! Our name honors both sides of my family, Etta was my great grandmother, and James was my uncle, who my brother was named after. I really want E & J to become a household brand that locals love and tourists seek.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We went from this print-on-demand business concept to now providing wholesale in our second year of operations. So in one year, we went from one store to now in over 15 stores throughout Oregon.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I am one person trying to do it all. It makes me look back at my career in NYC and having a team that would help me create collections and do the marketing, accounting, IT, and sales. Now it's me and sometimes my friend Colleen. Also, the supply chain issue is really pushing us to problem solve and navigate this issue every business is facing this year.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Dream in color.
- Don't be afraid to try, fail, and ask for help. The small business community in Portland has been amazing!
- It's a 24/7 undertaking, so you have to really want it and be nimble. Things rarely go as planned, so being flexible and open will allow you to find joy in the journey.
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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