HELLO NOVEMBER, and HELLO to our Boss Babe of the month, Brianne. This young entrepreneur has built a successful and thriving business...
Brianne – you are the face behind the sweetest little boutique in downtown Guelph, Ontario; The Lovely Co. Can you share with us how your journey started as an entrepreneur in the retail industry?
Firstly, thank you! Well, I got my first retail job when I was 16 and I loved it. I eventually started working for a super cute boutique that had a few locations and started managing a few of them before getting involved in the buying side as well. After I graduated highschool I took a year off before college so I could keep doing it full time. It was great experience and it was always exciting to do buying for different cities because all the locations had slightly different clientele! I ended up working there through college and after I graduated I took on the buying full time and then behind the scenes roles like scheduling and social media. It was a lot of responsibility at a young age, but it was such a great learning experience. I knew I wanted my own store when I was 17 and wanted to spend as much time as I could building my skill set to make it happen.
Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit?
I think it might be from my family! My dad is an entrepreneur and has a recording studio and has always worked for himself, so I think that was always really inspiring. He is always working on something cool and would always remind me that if you can enjoy your work, it won’t always feel like work. My family and friends have always been really supportive, so their encouragement helped me find that spirit too. I love surrounding myself with other like-minded people because I think we all help each other find a bit of that entrepreneurial spirit too!
What makes The Lovely Co stand out from other retailers as a competitive advantage?
That’s a tough one! I’m a big believer that businesses don’t always have to be competition, but can always be complimentary of each other too. Every store has it’s own style, but I always try to have a little something for everyone. I don’t have an “ideal customer” or demographic. I like being somewhere where a mom, daughter and grandmother might all come in and spot something they love.
What would you say has been your biggest hardship this far as an entrepreneur?
I’m going to say the first year in business (because the big pandemmy is just too obvious). The first year I barely made any money and I found it hard to find my footing. It was exhausting and stressful and I feel like I was always reminding myself “don’t worry, it’s gonna get easier!” but I probably still say that to myself at least once a week. It’s not easy being the new business anywhere and I had to start a lot smaller than I would have wanted to, but I’m so happy with how far I’ve come. So, I’d say growing my business has been the hardest thing.
Who is your greatest support when facing up hardships in business?
Hands down, my best friend Cara. She has been there since the beginning (we actually basically met through the store in a way!). She’s so supportive and she is always there as a sounding board even while she is busy running her own business at the same time. She’s helped on the sales floor, helped with inventory, with moving into a bigger retail space and never let’s me take the easy way out of anything - just encourages me to keep on moving.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful business owner?
Haha! NOPE. I think we as business owners are always looking for ways to continue being more successful and it can be in a lot of different ways. Maybe it’s more money or a bigger audience or expanding into more locations or areas, so I definitely have no idea what the winning formula is yet. I hope I find one someday that works for me!
What has been the most exciting part of building your own business?
I’d say finding my own community. Not only with customers and employees, but with other business owners and all my wonderful sales reps (like you!) who I get to call friends. Creating my own network of people has definitely been the most exciting part - and most fun!
How do you think being an entrepreneur has turned you into a better person?
Oh gosh, I feel like that’s a loaded question. I don’t think it’s made me a better person. I think it’s just helped me realize things a bit more about myself that I can work on. Maybe how to work harder for one. Or how to be more appreciative of other peoples work and businesses and the value they carry.
If you could choose one quote to live by, what would it be? I have two I think.
We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.” - Marilyn Monroe. But I also love the saying “Smile, happy looks good on you.” No idea who originally said it or where I heard it but it’s been a favourite for as long as I can remember.
Any advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs who want to follow in your footsteps?
Take your time and don’t be afraid to start small if you have to. You’ll keep learning new things and keep finding ways to grow. Don’t be afraid to chase a dream, it’s a lot of work with a lot of sacrifices along the way, but it’s worth it!