Entrepreneurship 101: Q&A With Girls From Savoy
At LearnVest we’re passionate about female entrepreneurship (both CEO Alexa von Tobel and Editor in Chief Maria Lin have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug). And not to toot our own horn, but LearnVest was recently named one of Fast Company’s Top 25 Women-Run Startups to Watch.
Starting your own business (whether full-time, part-time, or as side project) is not only rewarding, but also a viable means to bring in more income and potentially increase your wealth, which many of you have expressed an interest in learning more about.
To wit, it’s nice to be the boss of you.
So we’re launching a series on female entrepreneurship called “Entrepreneurship 101: I’m The Boss,” inspired by our first story on Alexa and her own tips.
To kick off our series, we sat down with Melissa Charatz and Pam Berick, friends and founders of Girls from Savoy, a clothing line sold at Anthropologie. After launching just under two years ago, the pair now produces 180 styles a year to 145 Anthropologie stores in the U.S., and their feminine, vintage-inspired threads have been seen on Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Vampire Diaries, and on celebs like Taylor Swift and Dianna Agron (view the slideshow below).
Want More?How Women Can Conquer a New Frontier: Tech Startups
They told us on how they got off the ground, continue to find their inspiration, and haggle with FedEx.
When did you first have the idea to start your own business?
P: We both had worked as buyers in the fashion retail industry, and had worked at Anthropologie together. We both had long commutes–I was commuting from Brooklyn to Philadelphia every day.
M: We wanted to make our own hours, be our own bosses. We went through our closets, pulled what we liked, started putting a financial projection together.
How did you get started?
M: At first we talked about it for months, going back and forth. We thought to ourselves, “We can’t accomplish this! Where do we begin?” So we broke everything down into small steps, and called on the strengths of the people we knew. We can design a logo. We’ll start there. When the big picture is overwhelming, just take it one step at at time. We put together financial projections–I wanted to make sure this was going to make money. Then we pitched our proposal to Anthropologie, and they went for it.
How did you save money as small business owners?
P: We learned to negotiate everything. For example, we were spending a ton of money on FedEx, so one day I just decided to call and ask if I could get a lower rate. I told them how much we’d ship every month. By calling and just asking, I managed to cut our rate by 50%!
What are the best and worst aspects of owning your own business?
M: My hours are flexible. I’m not on a 9-5 schedule, which as a mother is great, because I can do things like pick up the kids from school in the middle of the day. But, because the company is ours, we work much more than we expected.
P: Initially we thought it would be part time. [Lots of laughter] Instead, we find ourselves sending emails at midnight.
M: When the phone rings, my kids say, “Is it Pam?”
One thing you wish you knew before you started?
P: Just one? [laughs]
M: That it was unrealistic to think it would be a part time thing. How emotionally invested you become because it’s your own.