What Is Working Spotlight is an ongoing series that aims to highlight the successes, challenges and unique lessons faced by different groups of entrepreneurs. Below, our editors ask Carrie Hammer about her biggest challenges, proudest achievements and why she decided to start her own clothing line.
What inspired you to start your own business? What is the biggest challenge you've faced to date?
I was inspired out of my own frustration as an advertising executive to find fashionable and well fitting clothing for work. I've faced many challenges but I think one of the big one is finding focus and sticking to the vision (because there are always exciting ideas that pop up!) The most important thing is to stay focused on your vision and make changes when necessary but to not get distracted.
How were you able to transform a frustration into a business? Many people become frustrated, but not everyone starts a business.
I had just finally had it with advertising. It just wasn't me and I knew I had to start something creative. I finally realized that there is no particularly perfect time to start a business- the best time to start a business is NOW! So I left my job without a company in mind and went back to fashion school for a summer in Paris. It was there that I realized that I definitely wanted to be involved in fashion. When I came back from my summer at school I decided that this was the kind of company I'd like to start based upon my experience.
What's the one piece of advice you'd give to aspiring small business owners or entrepreneurs?
Start. Just Start. Many entrepreneurs are afraid to take the initial plunge but getting the courage to start is half the battle!
You started a kickstarter for your business and raised more than your goal. What are your thoughts on crowdfunding for small businesses and what advice would you give someone who was considering crowdfunding?
I think crowd funding is genius! It is an instant feedback loop from your customers and they are really on your team and rooting for you to succeed. When someone funds you on Kickstarter they feel like they have some skin in the game and want to spread your word for you!
What are some of the challenges of being a fashion business in a crowded marketplace like New York? How did you overcome these? And what is the biggest lesson your learnt while overcoming those challenges?
There will always be competition but I think customers really value and seek out brands with a fresh point of view. If you have a style that you are very passionate about it shows through in your work. It also helps if you are serving an underserved market: petite, plus size, etc. My company being made to measure helps women who have a hard time finding dresses that fit and that are appropriate for the work place.
What, according to you, are the main challenges facing small business owners today?
I think there are many challenges facing small business owners but I think the problem when you are first starting out is not having enough hands on deck (or time in the day). Small business owners have to wear every hat when they begin so you must be very passionate about your business to be able to persevere through tasks that you don't necessarily like.
See the video for Carrie's successful Kickstarter campaign below!