Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fashion but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kathy Juana Aiyegbo, Owner of Mission Lane, located in Montclair, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Mission Lane is an online women’s boutique for those who believe inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. Our goal at Mission Lane is not only to curate fashionable pieces but also to inspire and motivate you to help others within your community. Although, we are based in New Jersey. Our roots are from Bonthe Island in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where our store name is derived.
Tell us about yourself
After months of debating with my mentor on whether I should go the route of a storefront or online, I decided to launch Mission Lane online in 2017 and never looked back. I grew up volunteering and was taught the importance of helping people regardless of how much or how little you have, and I also loved fashion, so I merged the two to create Mission Lane. When I started working in the fashion industry, I always knew I wanted a storefront; the more I grew in my career, I felt that I had the skill set to make it happen. I was doing it every day from 9-5 (sometimes longer); imagine if I started working on my own part-time.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Honestly, launching my business. I know a lot of people with great ideas, but I think executing and making it all happen is a huge accomplishment. Even if you fail, at least you started! Besides that, I love seeing customers in items they purchased from the store. Asking a customer to tag the store in their look is not just another way to get some traffic on social, but I truly love seeing how my customer styled their look!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Trying to wear multiple hats. I'm guilty of this and still learning how to delegate and ask for help.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be true to yourself and your vision. When I first started, I shared a lot of my ideas, and if someone said they didn't like it or try this, I would change my direction. Only to find out that I should've stuck to what I originally wanted to do that captured my vision. Therefore, stay true to what you are connected to.
- It's okay to flop. I've done it and still do it. It's just important that you learn from what happened and hope not to repeat it.
- I heard this somewhere recently, but it's okay to change the direction of your business. Just because you started with an idea you loved doesn't mean you can't fall out of love with the idea and want to try something new. I'm constantly brainstorming new ideas; the Mission Lane that launched in 2017 doesn't have to stay the same in 2022.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Starting your own business is hard, a lot of work, but it's YOURS! Have fun!!!
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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