Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lola Banjo, Founder of Silver & Riley, located in Edgewater, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Silver & Riley is a luxury accessories brand rooted in travel products. Having visited over 100 countries, I experienced firsthand how frustrating it is when your travel bags don't do what you need them to. There was a void in the market for luxury luggage and accessories that were reliable, fashionable, AND designed with the traveler in mind. Silver & Riley fills that gap with artisan handbags crafted in Italy with the finest quality materials attainable. They are built to last with versatility, functionality, and timeless style that can be enjoyed by all.
Tell us about yourself
I'm motivated by my purpose. I set out to create a product that I couldn't find, and I've been passionate about it since day one. I'm motivated by my customers, who say time and time again how good they feel when carrying a Silver & Riley bag. They feel stylish and luxurious no matter the setting. Finally, my late mother motivates me everyday. Supporting others has always been part of my life, thanks to her generous soul. She was the most selfless person I've ever known, and her gracious acts of kindness impacted the lives of countless people in both big and small ways. With my mom as my example, I launched Silver & Riley's Buy 1 Give 5 Program, which promises 5% of annual sales to support female entrepreneurs.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I would say that being a business owner is an accomplishment in itself. I've worked hard to create a product that I'm excited about and proud of building a business that stands for something and has a purpose. Integrity is always at the core of everything we do, and being able to support women entrepreneurs through our Buy 1 Gift 5 program is something I'm super proud of. And then I'm also really proud of the products, being able to create a product that receives such positive acclaim from customers and is solving problems for women. Our customers always say how good they feel when they carry our products. That makes me feel so great, and like I've accomplished my purpose.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner is that everything is on you. If you succeed or fail, it's all about your input and the effort you put in. If you don't put in the effort, you're not going to see the results. There's a lot of ups and downs that you don't realize when it comes to being a business owner. I would advise not rushing into anything because you are going to make mistakes and fail sometimes. You need to have a positive attitude and get back up and learn from each experience because there is something to gain from each setback. For all the drawbacks, being a business owner is still one of the most rewarding experiences because you are working toward your purpose and building something that is a dream.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, make sure you do your homework. Don't set out to create something just because it seems trendy. Not everyone is meant to be a business owner, and that's ok. Everyone has to have their purpose and rhythm, whether it's being a business owner or working for someone else. Just make sure it aligns with you and your purpose, and you're not doing it because you think it's what you should be or were told to do.
Second, make sure there is a customer base for the business you want to create. That might require some background research into the market you may be entering. A good business owner is trying to solve problems for others. They're not creating something just to create it. It serves a purpose and fills a void in the market.
Finally, make sure you're having fun doing it! If it's not something you love and is passionate about, then you're going to get burnt out, and you're going to end up resenting it. So make sure you're having fun even when it's tough, even when you're working hard, even when you're working till 2 or 3 am. Make sure you are fulfilled.
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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