Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fashion but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mimi Chaffey, Founder of Runo LLC., located in Fairfield, CT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Runo is an online fashion boutique that specializes in providing timeless and hand-crafted fashion pieces. They are designed to be cherished and passed on to future generations. Runo primarily caters to women, offering them an exclusive selection of unique, purposeful, and high-quality garments. Additionally, Runo serves a loyal clientele of men seeking special, one-of-a-kind gifts for the important women in their lives. We want our customers to experience the art of slow fashion and the joy of owning something that can become a lasting legacy.
Tell us about yourself
I started Runo a year after the Covid pandemic when my second daughter turned one. My background is in TV and movie production, and I didn't want to work on set while raising two daughters. Born and raised in Serbia, I moved to the UK and ultimately settled in the US, specifically Connecticut. After establishing my family, I began looking for something with purpose, an endeavor that would provide flexibility between my work and personal life. I want my daughters to witness their mom working hard and include them wherever they can participate.
After going through several international relocations, I came to the realization that my closet was filled with clothing I liked but none that I genuinely cherished. As a new mother to two young girls, I wanted to create a wardrobe I could proudly pass on to them. Consequently, I began seeking clothing with a deeper meaning and purpose.
I found inspiration from a friend who was discreetly establishing a business that sold woolen sweaters crafted by proficient artisans in Serbia. Observing my friend introduce these stunning, handmade items to the world ignited my imagination. Additionally, I wanted to help my friend and bring her beautiful creations to the US while supporting her artisans.
I reminisced about my childhood memories of exploring my mother's and grandmother's closets, discovering patterns, high-quality materials, silky scarves, and chunky knits. I wanted to assist other women in creating wardrobes filled with such timeless pieces as well. Thus, Runo came into existence.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a business owner, one of my key accomplishments has been starting the business and gradually putting all the pieces together. Through hard work and perseverance, I was able to build the brand, establish the company, curate and import items, and create an online presence through Instagram and a website. I faced numerous challenges and learning curves along the way, but my passion for the story and belief in the products kept me going, allowing me to make progress step by step.
Another accomplishment that I'm truly grateful for is the network that Runo has created. I have collaborated with an incredible group of women who have supported me both publicly and privately. These connections have not only been invaluable for my business, but some of them have also led to lifelong friendships. I feel truly humbled and honored to have built such a strong network of women as I continue to grow my business.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is indeed finding the right balance between work and family life. When you're working from home, distractions can be all too common, and constant multitasking can lead to feeling overwhelmed. It's important to be able to prioritize tasks and create a clear boundary between your work and personal life. And as I mentioned, this is an ongoing learning process that may become easier or more challenging over time.
Another significant challenge faced by self-employed individuals is the need for self-discipline and consistent motivation. As a business owner, you have to push through difficult times, adapt to changing circumstances, and remain focused on your goals even when things aren't going smoothly. This requires a level of perseverance and resilience that can be quite demanding but is essential for long-term success.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Trust your instincts and stay resilient. Embrace challenges, learn from setbacks, and have a plan B.
- Throw yourself into your venture and believe in yourself. When you exude confidence, others will be more likely to believe in you and your vision.
- Enjoy the journey and focus on sustainable growth. Prioritize self-care and maintain a work-life balance to prevent burnout and promote long-term success.
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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