Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in a clothing line but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Annika Chaloff, owner of Hey Mavens!, located in Nashville, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Hey Mavens! is a line of handmade lingerie which is ethically produced in the United States. With an emphasis on luxurious velvets, quirky prints, and body inclusivity, we offer sizes XXS through 10XL, plus specialty sizes, in our East Nashville brick and mortar shop and online. Our goal is to help humans feel good about the clothes they wear and the way they wear them.
Tell us about yourself
Hey Mavens! started out as a bridal lingerie side hustle called Married & Bright in 2015. When I began, I was a wedding planner who had decided to make a career change after I closed my first fashion brand, Expect – a line of maternity clothing and children's wear – in a somewhat dramatic fashion. After what felt like a massive failure at a local craft market, I threw my entire business in the dumpster behind my Los Angeles apartment and cried until I gave myself two black eyes. I found I just couldn't stay away from design, so what hadn't ended up in the trash in a fit of rage, I constructed into my first piece of lingerie: a sparkly gold lace bralette. What began as an Etsy shop on the side of my wedding job soon took over my life. The snowballing success of Married & Bright led to a rebrand in 2018. Hey Mavens! became a new, inspiring iteration of my lingerie business, this time with more playful prints, fewer serious bridal pieces, and an expansion of the size offerings.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Opening my brick-and-mortar shop in the spring of 2021 was like every business dream I ever had, coming true in the strangest way. Inviting the public in person into what had, until then, felt like a personal and private, online space, all in the middle of a global pandemic, was a scary and exciting development for my brand and me. Having a space that physically reflected my aesthetics and ethics was a massive realization of the aspirations I had long held.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It feels like every day, something bad happens. Whether it's a harsh comment on Instagram, trouble with shipping or damaged inventory, or bigger things like my personal struggle with infertility, each day brings a new surprise that isn't always pleasant. Learning to find and focus on the positive things that happen has been a challenge for me. So many amazing things happen all the time. The stories from my customers and the impact this business has on peoples' lives are inspiring and motivational, but it's so easy to slip into the habit of feeling like I'll I do is put out fires.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start before you're ready. There really is no perfect time to begin, so you just have to dive in.
- Surround yourself with other successful business owners who understand you. Having my biz besties as a resource, a shoulder to lean on, someone to vent and brag to, has made owning a business so much less lonely.
- Invest in education. My degree is in Fashion Design, but I was not prepared for the business side of things. Learning about marketing, bookkeeping, management, and being a leader has been instrumental in my growth.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Owning a business is the best thing I ever did for myself. I understand that it's not for everyone, but if you feel pulled to start your own business, there's no harm in trying it out! Who knows? Your little idea could change your life... and the world!
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.