Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fashion but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Erika Cartledge, Founder of Your Chic is Showing, located in Temple Hills, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
As a personal stylist and image architect, I help my clients elevate their style and use fashion to help grow their confidence. Typically, I work with entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, C-suite executives, and high-performing professionals who are looking to show up more authentically in the spaces where they work and play.
Tell us about yourself
I got my break in personal styling by starting with up-and-coming professional athletes and models, but now I focus on providing services to individual, group, and corporate clients. Entrepreneurship fell into my lap as I started Your Chic is Showing as a fashion and lifestyle blog. I got asked by a friend to help style one of his clients (a professional athlete) and, from there, moved on to being a business owner.
My biggest motivating factor is the absolute joy when clients " see" themselves for the first time. There is always a moment of transformation when someone sees the true, authentic version of themselves. They stand taller, pick their head up, and usually have giant smiles on their faces. That moment is absolutely priceless! I guess it's the equivalent of a photographer catching reaction shots when a bride enters the room. It's just always the most incredible moment.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There have been so many, especially in the last three years. One, I think, is just surviving the pandemic as a business owner. But, beyond that, I recently graduated as a part of the inaugural cohort of Goldman Sachs' One Million Black Women: Black in Business program. It was an incredibly intense 12 weeks, but the information I learned and the growth I've experienced in my business as a result of the program has been invaluable. As a CEO, wife, mother, and all the other things, it can feel really hard to carve out the time to invest in yourself. But I did it, and the return on my investment has been exponential!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Letting go of perfection. Be clear, there is a LOT that is hard about being a business owner, but when you add perfectionists on top of that, it makes things infinitely harder. However, when I started to grow rapidly, I had to let go of the idea that everything was going to be perfect all the time. I started to embrace the idea that "done is better than perfect" because I was procrastinating in the pursuit of perfection. I realized that I could be way more productive if I let go of perfection; productivity is important when you're a team of one. Plus, 99% of the time, the only person who knows it isn't perfect is you!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Perfect one thing at a time. It's easy to pursue a bunch of ideas and try to see what sticks. Instead, get really, really great at one thing. Then the next. Then the next. It will also make growing and scaling your business more sustainable.
- Know your numbers!!! They'll give you a clear picture of what works and what doesn't. Where you need to push, pull back or make adjustments. I know this is scary for new business owners, but getting comfortable in the beginning will help you over the long term.
- Set boundaries in your business. When you're starting or growing a business, the lines get blurred. So set boundaries from the beginning and hold yourself accountable to them. Boundaries may look like not answering emails after 8 pm, closing your business on certain days of the week, etc. They'll be different for everyone, but it's so important that you stick to whatever boundaries you create for yourself.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Architecting an image is about so much more than putting together a cute outfit. It is about ensuring that you are able to show up authentically by curating a wardrobe that reflects who you are and how you feel on the inside. My clients often say that I put the "therapy" in retail therapy. I am in no way a trained therapist, but the work I do with my clients is 20% about the clothing they wear and 80% about "heart work." If we can't address what's going on inside (feelings of shame, guilt, wanting to hide, traumatic experiences, etc.), then it doesn't matter what you put on your body because you won't be able to show up as an authentic and true version of yourself. This is more than "when you look good, you feel good." It's about having a healthy self-image and a healed heart.
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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