This story is about…
Female entrepreneur: Emily McDonald
Company: TheStylist LA
Industry: Fashion & Style
She started her business because: she spotted a gap in the market
Age range: 20s
What motivated you to start your business?
I started my business because I saw a need in the market and I knew that I could fill that void. I wanted to help girls feel beautiful for every occasion without requiring them to spend tons of money on a dress they would only wear once.
Tell us about your business…
TheStylist LA is a high-end dress borrowing service based in Los Angeles. We allow women to rent designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price for a week at a time. We also offer personal shopping and styling services.
What is a day in the life of you like?
Each day in my life is different, but one thing is always the same. I am always running from place to place in a hurry to fill each day with as much productivity as possible! My typical day begins with a trip to the dog park with my puppy, where I check emails and make some phone calls (multi tasking is a must for me!). After that I return home and usually work from home in the mornings, where I do administrative work, blog, upload new product shots, edit photos etc. I typically try and fit a quick work out before lunch time and then head downtown to my office, or out to meet with clients/designers/press/bloggers etc. My evenings are usually filled with client meetings and events. I return home to finish emails and admin work and usually collapse in bed around 11, to get my much needed 8 hours of a sleep a night!
What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?
My biggest challenges have evolved as the company has evolved. At the beginning my biggest challenge was figuring out how to discipline myself at such a young age, and to stay motivated and diligent enough to get everything done. I also struggled with being confident enough in my business to really put myself out there. I started the company when I was 23, with little “real work” experience. I had a lot of maturing and growing up to do which was difficult to do while starting a company. Now my biggest challenge is figuring out the best way for my company to grow. It is difficult to know whether I should try and grow the business quicker, or continue with our slow and steady growth. Do I want to have a retail location or focus more on our e-commerce presence? These are the questions that are challenging me at the moment.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Some of my challenges were overcome over time. As my company got bigger, I became more confident in our products and services. As our number of satisfied clients grew so did my confidence. Disciplining myself was a difficult thing to do, but somehow I figured it out. Getting a puppy helped, as he always makes sure I am awake early in the day! I now have a routine that I follow that helps me get my work done. This routine includes, waking up at the same time every day, fitting work outs in to my week, eating healthy to keep my energy levels up and (trying desperately) to get a decent amount of sleep each night. As for the growth challenges I am currently facing, I am hoping that I can overcome these by consulting my mentors and advisors and spending some time reflecting on where I want the business to go.
What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?
My most effective way of getting new clients is through word of mouth. I make sure that each of my clients is extremely satisfied with their experience with our company, therefore most of our clients spread the word about TheStylist LA to people that they know. Almost all of our clients come from referrals! I remind my clients to tell their friends about us if they love us, and most of them do.
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Hmm…I feel like I would love to hear their advice rather than give my own! But if I had to give any advice to other business owners it would be to diligently build and maintain your network. Networking has helped me in so many ways and maintaining this network means I have a ton of people to call on for anything I may need. For example I always have people I can ask if I need a photographer or models, or need to get in touch with a particular type of blogger. I feel strongly that this network will help me wherever my professional life may take me!
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I have a few tricks for staying motivated. First, I run. When I am alone on the treadmill, listening to an amazing playlist, I imagine taking over the world. I find this to be the most motivating thing that I do. I also read many business books and blogs written by successful entrepreneurs. When reading this stuff, I focus on how successful I want to be and what I need to do to get there.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Live your life strong”
Who inspires you?
Oh this is a long list! My mentors and advisors inspire me, my friends constantly inspire me. But i think the most important inspiration in my life is from my older sister. She was diagnosed with Lymphoma last summer (at age 31) and beat the disease with chemotherapy and radiation in a little over 6 months. She maintained an amazing attitude throughout the whole process and I was amazed by her strength. At the end of a long day when I am exhausted I just think of that strength that she had and I am reminded that if she can handle cancer so well, I can handle life’s hurdles. This is where the quote “Live your life strong” comes from. I try and live my life with the same strength that she has, every single day.
Do you have a business philosophy?
So far my business philosophy has been to grow “slow and steadily.” I have been adamant that I wanted to maintain growth so that it was manageable. I haven’t gone after big press or anything like that, until I have felt that we had the processes in place to handle more growth.
Get in touch…
Twitter: TheStylist LA
Facebook Fanpage: www.facebook.com/thestylistla