Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Smith.
Hi Lauren, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
From the time I was little, I’ve always had an eccentric sense of style. From spending hours playing dress-up to wanting to be a fashion designer – fashion has always held a big place in my heart from a very young age. I started my business on my birthday last year, June 11, 2020. I was turning 23 and had graduated a year earlier from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a degree in Fibers. Following graduation, I continued doing what I knew, which was waitressing. Waitressing was good money, but I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do forever.
Once COVID hit and restaurants got shut down, I started working as a sewing assistant for another small business in Baltimore. I worked 8/9 hour shifts sewing, fulfilling/shipping orders and getting to see all of the ins and outs of running a small business. I have always been a versatile worker and loved being able to fulfill so many positions on my own. Whether it was cutting patterns or running to the post office, I loved working in all of the roles that small business owners have to fulfill on a daily basis. I realized I wanted to start a new business of my own to not only bring in some extra income but also to be able to start putting my own products that represented me into the world. I’ve had experience with running my own businesses in the past between selling art and doing lashes as a side hustle, but this time I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something to establish my fashion style and aesthetic in a way that others could comprehend and also celebrate.
One day I randomly thought to myself, I’m going to take the money I currently have and I’m gonna buy some inventory! I had no idea if I would even make my initial costs back, but I went all in. I wanted to start selling accessories that could help women indulge in their personal style. And just like that, Shop Lo Money was born. I started off by ordering 50 pairs of earrings and 50 pairs of sunglasses. I also ordered some poly mailers, business cards, created a business IG and BOOM! I was a new business owner! Just like that. I didn’t even have a website at first, I would give my friends free products to promote and by word of mouth, I started getting some sales. What I didn’t realize was that once you run out of friends and family, you have to start marketing to strangers who have no idea who you are or what you’re selling. Fast forward to now – I stopped waitressing last fall and was hired at Under Armour.
I spend most of my extra time running my business. From packing/shipping orders at 12 AM to working pop-up events on Saturdays in the summertime – I have learned that none of us are “small” business owners. In big corporations, there are people assigned to every role of a company – marketing, customer service, finances, social media strategist. This is what makes small business owners not so small because compared to large businesses, we are doing all of these jobs on our own. Shipping orders, promoting and posting to Instagram, tracking every dollar spent and how it affects profit/revenue, responding to emails and comments. There is truly nothing small at all about running a small business. This past year has taught me to give myself credit where it’s due. Running a business while being a full-time employee at 24 is far from easy – but it is more rewarding than anything I have ever experienced. It has taught me to have more discipline, patience, motivation – even on the lazy days, and time management.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road I have been traveling has been far from smooth. I did not anticipate who would buy the products I was selling once I had gotten past my friends and family. I started in the summer and while sales were a slow start, I attended a couple of pop-up shops that had great turnouts and I was reaching new customers. By wintertime, sales had slowed down – a lot. Sometimes weeks would go by without any orders and I remember thinking to myself, do I even know what I’m doing? One thing I have not mentioned about myself is that I am a very resilient and determined woman. No matter how many days and weeks were filled with doubt, I would keep promoting on my social media pages and keep sewing more items for when sales would begin to grow.
It’s also hard in today’s age because on the days you aren’t getting any sales, other businesses are selling out of products and thriving in ways that you expect yourself to. No one shows the hard times and downfalls, which brings so much doubt to new business owners who are wondering why they aren’t thriving as well. I posted my brand everyday because there was no way I was going to be let down by lack of sales. Once spring came around, I had a great inventory and also started to bring new items in to attract spring and summer sales. I started selling lashes with the most beautiful packaging that represented my brand perfectly. I take pride in my packaging because all of my love and effort is put into it. I want my customers to feel excited about my products, similar to receiving a gift. After working in the customer service industry for ten years, I have learned how important an experience can be to a customer. This experience is what fills a customer with joy. Shop Lo Money is a brand that thrives on great products as well as amazing customer experiences.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I currently work as a full-time customer service representative for Under Armour. I am from Baltimore and I really love that UA’s global headquarters is located here. Before this, I studied Fibers at MICA and fell in love with designing textiles. I am planning to begin selling more dyed textiles and items through Shop Lo Money later this summer, so stay tuned!
Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
One of my favorite apps as a new business owner is Canva. I love this app so much; it gave me the confidence to start creating my own graphics for my business which also has saved me a good bit of money. Whether it’s sales flyers or a giveaway post, having quality graphics to promote will definitely be worth all of the extra effort. If something is pleasing to the eye, people are going to look further. It’s all about attracting your customers, whether it’s using hashtags for a targeted audience or having a bright background with a contrasting font.
- Prices range from $5-20
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.shoplomoney.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/shop.lo.money
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/shop.lo.money/
- Other: firstname.lastname@example.org