Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chelsea von Ohain, founder of Gotcha Packed, located in Cincinnati, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Gotcha Packed is a virtual styling service delivering highly curated, ethically sourced outfits to your door, styled for your travels, special occasions, and much more. The best part about Gotcha Packed, the thing that sets us apart from the other style boxes out there, is that you actually have a real-life Stylist instead of a robot or an algorithm. You can be as specific as you want with your requests! It's an intimate and fun experience that's really convenient and helpful for people who are too busy to browse the internet for hours or aimlessly walk through a store searching for the right clothing. We really help select items that are flattering for every body type because my biggest motivator is helping people feel confident about themselves. My customers also care about sustainability and helping humanity by being conscious consumers through what they wear.
Tell us about yourself
Hi, I'm Chelsea, the Founder of Gotcha Packed! I have always been a fashion junkie, but the passion behind Gotcha Packed is really all about my love for traveling, which started in college when I studied abroad in France. I became fascinated by culture and how fashion is a form of self-expression in all different ways all around the world. After graduating with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Interior Design, I joined the Peace Corps. I left for Senegal, West Africa, for two years.
Gearing up for that trip is when I realized how time-consuming and stressful packing could be! I felt like there was very little information on what to wear and what to pack for different parts of the world when I was getting ready for my trip. I thought, "how nice would it be if someone could just do this for me?!" Fast forward two years, I met my wife, who travels a lot for work. I started picking out her looks based on the style of her destination (i.e., London versus Denver - very different cultures!). She found it incredibly helpful to feel more confident and comfortable with outfits already picked out.
She could reference her Look Book in the morning before heading into the office and didn't have to think about what to wear. Needless to say, I think she was my ultimate inspiration. I'm always motivated by helping people feel good and confident. It's truly what drives me every day. I'm also very motivated and proud of our mission in sourcing from ethically sourced or small business brands that are doing good things for the world.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Let's just say I quit my full-time job to pursue Gotcha Packed, which at the time was solely a travel-inspired styling service. So when COVID hit, it was a really scary and rough time. Everyone was working from home, no one was traveling, and no one cared to get dressed anymore because there was nowhere to go! I had to pivot and rethink the business model totally. But it actually worked out for the best because people were scared to go to brick and mortar stores, so ordering online really took off, and e-commerce companies ended up doing really well. I also realized that people still wanted to feel as normal as possible. Getting fun surprise mail at their doorstep helped them get through the hardships of quarantine life. COVID also forced me to think outside the box and listen more to the customer. People were requesting styling services for all kinds of needs and special occasions. That's when I launched the Seasonal Subscription Membership option; then, the additional box options grew from there. My biggest accomplishment was pivoting, getting creative, persevering through, and not giving up.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Juggling being a business owner and a new mom! I had my first baby nine months ago, and when you own the company, there's no time to take time off. I was even working while I was in labor! I've had to really get better at being present with my son, set boundaries for myself, and not feel guilty if work has to take a back seat because family is most important to me. It's hard to relinquish control, but I'm learning I need to delegate.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Meditate on your vision, believe in it, and make that the core driver of your business. Along the way, it gets easy to lose confidence and wonder why you're doing this crazy risky thing. It's also easy to listen to people and lose sight of what's important to you. Stay focused on the vision.
- Be flexible. You never know how things can change and shift and grow. Listen to the customer and the market, and adapt as needed.
- Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Customers want to know you're a real person, and they want to connect with you, just as much as you should want to connect with your customer. People will want to support you if they know how hard you work and what your mission is. Also, don't be afraid to be vulnerable with your community and mentor connections. At the end of the day, people want to help and share the lessons they've learned. Lean on your mentors and fellow business owners. Ask for advice, even if it's silly.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
My goals this year are to scale and grow, as well as continue to partner with local Cincinnati brands and other fellow small women-owned businesses. It's so important to support each other. I have a great number of amazing brands that we partner with, but I would love to discover more. I'm also excited to put more effort into marketing and social media by expanding the team!
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.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.