It takes a lot to drop what you’re doing in life and make a complete u-turn, but for me, that was a reality. I had worked in television and radio since I was 15 as an on-air personality. Through years of hard work, I had made a comfortable living for myself and could have been content, but one day in the Atlanta airport in 2008 completely changed my plans.
After a red-eye flight from Las Vegas, I found myself waiting for my connecting flight. As I sat, still half asleep, a brilliant snakeskin laptop bag caught my eye. Filled with excitement, I dashed over to the store, but when I looked at the price tag, I couldn’t bring myself to spend nearly half of my paycheck on a computer bag. Disappointed, I left without buying the bag.
I continued to pass the bag weekly as I traveled for my job and eventually broke down and bought it. Soon after, I realized the bag was far more fashionable than functional. It was at that point I realized I wanted to create a better, more affordable product for women everywhere. To me, luxury isn’t a price point, but a lifestyle. If you can rock the clothes your wearing and feel confident, then that is true luxury. Through my bags, I wanted to make woman feel more confident about carrying a laptop bag. In the past they were, for the most part, just not attractive to carry.
I came up with the concept of a “laptop purse” and began researching and creating a business plan while still traveling for television. I always had a knack for fashion and found it more exciting than broadcasting, so I went for it. After more than three years of planning and designing the bags myself, I launched GRACESHIP in March of 2012.
How does a woman with no prior business or fashion design experience start her own company you ask? That’s exactly how, I asked, but also did a boat load of research. One of the biggest factors that helped me start my business was simply asking people questions that had started their own businesses. Use the connections you already have to get ideas on things like finances and marketing. Coming up with an idea for a business is easy, getting it to market and making it happen is a whole different story. By gaining some business advice I was able to think like an entrepreneur and make the decisions that would launch my business in the right direction.
When it came to designing the bags, I jumped right in. I got a CAD design program and just started messing around really. I gained inspiration from other fashion designers and thought about the kind of bag I would want to carry to look good, but make my life easy. It took a while for me to learn the software, but I was determined to make my concept a reality. You can’t be scared of new things, get outside of your comfort zone and learn new skills. You may succeed or fail, but you’ll never know until you give it a shot.
After design was complete and I had my finances in check, I asked for help again. I needed to find a manufacture to produce my products. You never really think about all of the little things it takes to run a business until it comes time to actually making the tangible product. After countless phone conversations, excel spreadsheets and company interviews I found the best manufacturer for GRACESHIP.
Through all of the hurdles I faced when starting my business I have a few words of wisdom to sum it up. Take action; you can sit around all day and wonder what if, but be a go-getter and make your plans a reality. Finish what you start; when running a business you can be balancing a number of tasks, but need to remember to complete what you’ve started. Realize there is no golden solution; different problems will arise and there is never just an easy fix for all of them. Instead of trying to solve every problem at once, focus on the most crucial and then work your way through.
Finally, use the talents you have, take risks and have fun. That’s really what life is about. Robert S. Thompson said it best: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Get out there ladies; follow your dreams and have a blast doing it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Emily Gimmel, is a Kentucky girl born and raised and loves the city of Louisville. She likes to consider herself a Fashionista and wears clothes that express her playful personality. You can find her via these links:
Inspiration for anyone who ever dreamed of starting their own business, but couldn’t imagine “How?”! Thanks, Emily!