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844 South Pine Street
Spartanburg, SC, 29302
United States

Top Drawer is a women's consignment store selling carefully curated designer and boutique pieces.

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The Hustle: Tips for the Female Business Owner

Faith Pope

Originally published on www.upstateclutch.com

My first thought when asked to give my perspective on being a female business owner was “How do I do this without sounding like the results of a motivational Pinterest search?” And what’s more, I could write for days on the topic!  I struggled to narrow down the most relevant, meaningful advice.  I’m new to owning a business—in fact, despite the fact that I’m writing this in my shop, it doesn’t always seem real to me. But, I think I’ve honed in on a several practical points that mean the most to me, and I hope they’ll inspire and encourage you, as well.   

1)    Know what you’re getting into

We’ll start with the boring part.  But it’s important!  Your business is so much more than your idea. Make a business plan.  Is it financially feasible for you to start your dream business?  What is your plan for success?  What does your business provide that others in the area do not?  Female entrepreneurs are the fastest growing segment of business owners in the US right now, but our businesses tend to fail at a higher rate and generate less revenue.  You should be realistic, smart, and prepared.  The more you have set out in the beginning, the better your chances of success later! 

It’s a real pain, but you must consider the essentials: business filing fees, licenses, rent or mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, inventory, advertising, whether to hire employees, association fees and dues, etc.  Let’s be real.  It’s a lot.  Luckily, there are plenty of valuable resources out there.  I found the US Small Business Association’s website (www.sba.gov) tremendously helpful when I was starting out.  

2)    Perfect is the enemy of done:

My best friend and I have a self-deprecating (kind of) mantra: “Everything perfect, all the time.” Pretty much everyone who has ever met me knows I’m a perfectionist. (Don’t even ask me about letting go of this article.) As women, many of us are.  But that doesn’t always help us in starting a business or engendering its success.

If I waited until everything about my business and shop was perfect, I’d still be sitting in my house. Launching and making progress in a business isn’t always about making something the best, it’s about getting it out the door.  You can tweak from there.  Now, I certainly wouldn’t endorse sloppy work, but there is only so long you can hold on to something before you’re holding yourself back.  Momentum toward your goal is what’s important.  And in reality, you learn that there is no end or final stage to anything in your business.  It’s constantly evolving, and that’s a good thing!

3)    Get out there:

I get tired even thinking about this.  Network, network, network!  Think of it as free advertising. You don’t have to spend much money to meet people.  And the more people you meet in your community, the more people know about your business.  Go to everything—community events, fundraisers, parties, church, play dates, book clubs, volunteer opportunities—whatever it is in your area that works.  But, I will provide this caveat:  You have to cultivate genuine relationships.  Be authentic, be interested, and be kind. 

4)    Lastly, and probably most importantly:

You are your business.

As women, wives, and mothers, this one can be difficult.  You absolutely have to take care of yourself.  We burn the candle at both ends.  We run carpool, we cook, we clean, we deal in boogers and feces, we tuck in, and then we do more.  But an exhausted crazy lady can’t do the best for her family, and she can’t do the best for her business, either.  Believe me, I’ve been there. Many times.  In order for your business to succeed and grow, you have to be focused, determined, and you have to put your best “you” forward.

Do what you can to get rid of stressors in your life. Simplify as best possible.  You can add things back in later, if you feel comfortable.  Try to eat healthily. Get enough sleep. I’m a 9 hour person, myself, so that means I have to economize or back off in other areas.  (I currently have a laundry mountain half as tall as I am at my house).  Try to exercise if you can.  Even short walks help clear your mind and recharge you so you can get back at it. 

You are the foundation on which your business is built.  Try to make it as solid as you can.  You owe it to your business, but more importantly, to your self.

I know this is a lot.  But starting a business is no small feat, especially as a woman.  It can mean a lot of work, but it can also give you tremendous freedom and opportunity—to spend more time with your family, to travel for research, and to meet interesting, engaging people, for example.  One final tidbit:  Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help. And once you’re on your game, give it freely to other newbies.  If you ever have questions for me, feel free to shoot me an email at faith@shoptopdrawer.net.

Thanks for reading! 

Designer Profile: Narciso Rodriguez

Faith Pope

Welcome to our new blog series, Designer Profile!  Have you ever wondered how some of your favorite designers got started?  Where they came from?  How they made it to where they are today?  

We just got a fabulous dress in by American designer, Narciso Rodriguez, and it made me wonder how, exactly, did this designer get his start?  

This Narciso Rodriguez silver-blue knit dress is a new arrival at Top Drawer.  It's new with tags and is a size 42 (or US 6). 

This Narciso Rodriguez silver-blue knit dress is a new arrival at Top Drawer.  It's new with tags and is a size 42 (or US 6). 

Rodriguez was born in New Jersey to Cuban parents who were originally not thrilled about their son entering the fashion world.  Nonetheless, Rodriguez went on to study at Parsons, the New School for Design, in New York. 

After working at top-level positions for Donna Karan, Anne Klein, and Calvin Klein, he started his own label in 1997.  You may remember one of his first breakout moments, as he designed Carolyn Bessette's wedding dress for her marriage to John F. Kennedy, junior.  The look became one of the most copied silhouettes of the decade.

Rodriguez designed this simple matte silk-crepe gown for his good friend, Carolyn Bessette's, wedding.  

Rodriguez designed this simple matte silk-crepe gown for his good friend, Carolyn Bessette's, wedding.  

Rodriguez is known for his edited, clean, and precise design perspective. He was named the CFDA's (Council of Fashion Designers of America) best designer in both 2004 and 2005, has received the Pratt Institute's Fashion Icon award, and was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 25 most influential Hispanic Americans. From Time Magazine:

More recently, you may recognize him as the designer of former First Lady, Michelle Obama's, 2016 State of the Union dress : 

To view Narciso Rodriguez's latest collection, hop over to the company's website.

If you want to purchase your own Narciso Rodriguez piece, head on over to Top Drawer to try on the dress!  We're located at 844 South Pine Street in Spartanburg, SC.  If you're out of town, email faith@shoptopdrawer.net for shipping options.  You can learn more about Top Drawer | Curated Women's Consignment on our website.

Thanks for reading! 

Faith