This Saturday, we express our appreciation to small businesses making leaps in their industry. Taking the plunge to become an entrepreneur driven by your passion can be the most rewarding experience.
We reached out to the founders of Our Style Edit, Erica Minisini and Lily Ayala, to discuss their growth, share insight about their journey and offer advice to new and to-be entrepreneurs.
Our Style Edit is a Vancouver based blog and style guide that has just launched its official online retail store Cien Boutique. Combined, their blog and boutique embrace uniqueness, providing a style guide and shop that offers versatile, flattering garments for women of various shapes.
Read on to learn about how they tackled the common obstacles new entrepreneurs face.
What inspired you to start Our Style Edit?
"We have both always had a passion for fashion...haha as cliché as that sounds. Aside from that, we have the same “eye” for style and always find ourselves wearing similar outfits. Our friends know us as the fashionistas and we love it! Sharing our styling tips and favorite outfits was one way to help others that are not so fashion forward."
What makes Our Style Edit and Cien Boutique unique?
"We have been best friends for over a decade and although we have similar styles… we have totally different body types. One of us is tall and slender while the other is quite short and petite. Our Style Edit and Cien Boutique are catered to women with both types. Our clothes are handpicked and selected with this in mind. We want everyone to feel comfortable and beautiful in their own skin. One other detail that makes us unique is that we are based in Canada, where as most online retailers are based in USA where shipping and currency become a challenge for us Canadian women."
Breaking into international markets is generally a challenge for startups, especially Canadian brands. How do you plan to break into international markets like the US, Australia, Middle East and Europe?
"Great question! We are always learning and looking for new ways to expose our brand in international and local markets. One way that we plan to do this is through social media and influential women that we can partner with. In the near future we will be attending trade shows where we will network with others in the same market, a lot of these people come from overseas. It is a goal of ours to travel internationally and attend trade shows in countries like Australia and the UK, to promote our brand, and meet fashionistas from all over the globe."
What has been the greatest challenge running Our Style Edit, and starting Cien Boutique?
"As much as we would love this to be our full time job, it isn’t! There are so many challenges when you are trying to keep up with your day job and grow your brand. We started Our Style Edit almost two years ago in hopes to one day open our online boutique. That time has finally come and we hope to transition into running this business full-time. To answer your question, time management has been the most difficult obstacle to overcome for us."
What keeps you motivated?
"We have set progressive goals for Cien Boutique, this keeps us motivated daily. We want to see the business grow and become a recognized brand amongst young women. We have benchmarks to reach and we are not stopping until we get there! Having your own business is like mothering a child, you always want to do all that you can to help it grow into the best version of itself that it can be!"
Being as you two are best friends, and business partners you must see one another often! What makes a good business partner?
"Love this question! We have always had a solid relationship; our friendship has grown strong over the years. Patience with each other, accepting each other’s feedback and understanding that we each have our strong points. Helping each other and carrying the workload evenly is very important for a good business partner."
What are some ways in which you maintain a work-life balance?
"We have many mutual friends that we see often, making time for social events and spending time with ones we love is a priority. When we take business trips we save one day for us, we spend this day socializing and vacationing…this is important to us. If we don’t have a balance we find ourselves burning out and our productivity is low. Another way in which we maintain a work-life balance is attending social events where we can work and socialize at the same time! A lot of the time when we are working on our projects together it doesn't feel like work, we have fun, and being best friends we enjoy having each others company."
Who do you look to for business advice? Do you have any mentors?
"Yes, we have mentors! They range from friends to colleagues to acquaintances that have offered to help us. It’s amazing how many people offer their services to you when you are striving to make your dreams a reality. Lily actually started her own company which is now very successful, so that has been quite helpful when it comes to the business side of things at Cien. We ask for feedback from our friends and families when we are trying new things, they give us great advice. Our friends are our direct market after all!"
What advice would you give to someone just starting out as an entrepreneur?
"Be patient, this is our biggest advice for anyone starting out because nothing comes easy. Plan your strategy, work at it, continue to push for what you are trying to achieve and be patient. It is easy to get frustrated and disillusioned when things aren’t working out they way you had hoped, but don’t give up, and don’t be too critical of yourself, in the beginning your supposed to make mistakes, there’s tons of room for improvement. There always is. In the starting stages you will eat, sleep and breathe your new venture. Make sure you pick something you love!"
Erica & Lily
Founders, Our Style Edit & Cien Boutique