We sat down with Memphian lifestyle blogger and entrepreneur Alexandra Nicole to find out how she’s bringing her soul to Memphis. Check it out below!
We are Memphis: First off, what do you do and what industry are you in?
Alexandra Nicole: So, I’m in the fashion industry. I am a boutique owner, a published fashion stylist, and makeup artist as well as a blogger which I do more of lifestyle blogging. I also have a cosmetic line, but I’m also launching a fashion line.
We are Memphis: What your passion?
Alexandra Nicole: I really enjoy business strategy. I like the fashion industry, and that’s kind of like the medium I’ve chosen to conduct business in. But really, I enjoy different business strategies and interacting with customers and that kind of thing.
We are Memphis: One of the things I liked about your blog is you included an entrepreneur section as well to help your audience– for people who wanted to go your route which I think is awesome.
Alexandra Nicole: Oh, thank you.
We are Memphis: Yeah.
Alexandra Nicole: I love to be able to help facilitate. I get a lot of questions on entrepreneurship so created that section because a lot of people were asking. So, I figured I might as well start writing about it because it’s clear the audience is interested in that.
We are Memphis: Sure. Yeah, I mean you go where the market goes, right?.
Alexandra Nicole: Yeah, absolutely.
We are Memphis: How did you get started and how did you pick up your passion in fashion?
Alexandra Nicole: I worked for International Paper for about six years, but knew I wanted to do my own thing. I went to school for business and learned a lot at International Paper, but just had more of that entrepreneurial spirit in my heart and so then I decided just to quit and go about opening my own store and then, I ended up– because I like business and business strategy so much, I ended up going back and get my Masters in 2016 just to learn more about the strategy behind it.
We are Memphis: What drives you to do what you do? And you know to go further than that, like what motivates you?
Alexandra Nicole: Well, I would probably have to say my kids because I’m a single parent. So it has to work, if doesn’t then, it’s one of those things. Before the kids though, it was more just was the whole passion for creating. More just wanting to create and having that creative mindset and then loving business strategy and the fashion industry. What keeps me not being as risky as I used are my kids.
We are Memphis: How do you stay motivated?
Alexandra Nicole: You don’t have a choice if you’re doing this as your full-time job. You have to stay in the game. There are times when you’re down, and it’s not always sunshine pretty much. I mean there are times where I want to try something. I tried, it doesn’t work, it costs money, we lose money. There are times that I try things that do work, and we’re profitable, there are highs and lows, but there’s no time for letting myself be down, and there’s no time for negative vibes. It happens, but my biggest thing is when I start to feel like unmotivated or that I’m stuck in a rut. I tell myself the more time I sit here in this place that’s not creative, the less time I am doing things that are positive for the business, and that can benefit my family. It’s kind of like autopilot so when I’m creating, most the time I’m excited, but I can’t let myself get low because if I do then the negativity starts coming in. Being a business owner, you have to motivate continuously. You also have to like when you get in ruts; you have to like reading books or listening to podcasts of other people who have been profitable and successful. It helps you to generate more ideas and brainstorm. The more you’re thinking of new things and moving forward that way, your brain stays fresh, and you don’t get in the rut.
We are Memphis: Yeah. What are your biggest strengths?
Alexandra Nicole: I would say prioritizing huge.
We are Memphis: Super huge!
Alexandra Nicole: Yeah. I would say also being able to see the big picture and not getting hung up on the details. All the details are critical. But if you get hung up on them, you can lose the big picture. Most business people can do a day by day plan reasonably easy, but they can’t predict the big picture. For my industry in fashion, it can be what is going to be the next big trend that everybody’s going to come looking for. If you can’t predict it, if you can’t see it at market, and you can’t pinpoint it out based off of all of the things you see, you’ll miss out on the trend and ultimately, miss out on a decent amount of money seasonally.
Another strength is optimism. You don’t want to be unrealistically optimistic which I can say at times, I am. Because you want to be able to see when there’s a failure ahead or a bump in the road, but you can’t be pessimistic and be a business owner because it is not a job for the weary, the entrepreneur. There are times where it is, and then, there are times where you’re blocking the way. You have to have optimism even in adverse times.
We are Memphis: So like if a negative comment comes your way, let it roll off your shoulder and not getting hung up on it?
Alexandra Nicole: Yeah, you want to be able to open your heart to people’s opinions about your business.
We are Memphis: Right.
Alexandra Nicole: But you can’t be everything to everyone. I’d say that a lot of people that I consult with. You can’t be everything to everyone. People are going to have opinions that may not be your demographic. You want to humble yourself, and you want to consider those opinions. You also don’t want to crumble at every negative comment. If I crumbled at every negative comment, I would have crumbled two months into my business you know [laughs]. Everyone has opinions, and everyone has something to say. The one thing to keep in your mind is you’re the one who took the risk, and that is actually doing it, so.
We are Memphis: That’s a good point.
Alexandra Nicole: Yeah.
We are Memphis: What are your biggest weaknesses and what can you improve on?
Alexandra Nicole: Details. I can see the details, and I sit and think about it. I have missed details before as well because I am such a big picture person that tends to be how entrepreneurs are.
We are Memphis: Right.
Alexandra Nicole: The more creative, the more big picture, versus people that are more in the statistics and numbers that aren’t as much as. I’ll say spontaneity. Well, that’s the whole reason I have this business in the first place. I have jumped at opportunities without thinking before. My business started that way, and it’s been great. We’ve been going for six years now. I’ve also had some big hiccups for being too spontaneous.
Alexandra Nicole: I would say those are the two biggest for me that caused me business stress [laughs] at some point in time.
We are Memphis: Would you say focusing more on quality is a big component of your success now?
Alexandra Nicole: Yes, absolutely. I would say also knowing the negative aspects of my character and being able to consider that when making decisions. When it’s negative aspects of the way your character is, it’s not easily fixed. You know, so you have to remember that and take that in consideration with all those decisions.
We are Memphis: What’s been your biggest win? Tell me a time where you felt like you finally made it in your business.
Alexandra Nicole: I would say expanding into over Overton Square has been the biggest for us. Yeah, we expanded after three years of being in business, and it was a big win and a really good move for us.
We are Memphis: Tell me a time where you felt like you failed. How did you overcome that?
Alexandra Nicole: Yeah, there’s a big one. We franchised, and we have five locations. It was good for a minute, but I grew way too fast. We went from one store to five stores in less than 12 months. There is such a thing as growing too fast. I learned a lot from that [laughs]. Basically, we can sum it up as growing too fast. It can be a very negative thing.
We are Memphis: That’s an interesting perspective for an entrepreneur to give. Like what would you recommend to counteract that?
Alexandra Nicole: I would recommend again, paying attention to the details. Like I said I’m a big picture seer. I thought I had the plan, but I didn’t see all the details and didn’t understand the way people work. I was so new to that. I had to manage people too much. And so, being able to be really good at motivating others.
We are Memphis: That’s great.
Alexandra Nicole: And because you really need others to make that ship sail. And so for me, it was not being able to see the details and not understanding that everyone works differently. So, I would say that if we’re going to talk about growing too fast, definitely paying attention to details and having a very detailed plan. I’m more of a roll with the punches kind of girl, and it did not work in this situation.
We are Memphis: Gotcha. Now that was great. That’s a different perspective that I’ve never heard anyone say. Thank you for your answer on that.
Alexandra Nicole: Of course.
We are Memphis: If you can travel back in time, what recommendation would you give yourself?
Alexandra Nicole: Not to overwork myself and not to be a yes person to everything. I’m learning not to be a yes person now but I’ve been six years in business for myself, and it’s still very hard at times. But yeah, I just said it earlier, you can’t be everything to everyone. You can’t say yes all the time. You need to be able to nurture yourself and take care of yourself because it will affect you healthwise and affect your relationships. So, if I were going to go back in time and change anything, it would be to be kinder to myself and be more stingy with my time I guess [laughs].
We are Memphis: Where do you see yourself in one year?.
Alexandra Nicole: Honestly, doing what I’m doing right now. I don’t plan on expanding any outside of my fashion line, that’s the newest thing on the horizon. I’m enjoying that I’ve scaled back a lot. I’m still working half the amount of time, bringing in the same amount of money, so it’s been great. I’m able to breathe. I’m able to enjoy my kids, my life. I don’t have any plans to rapidly expand like I did before I had children.
We are Memphis: Yeah.
Alexandra Nicole: I’m appreciating the days and the time and so, I see myself working in my shop three days a week, doing my blog too both full time and being a mom.
We are Memphis: Where do you see yourself in 5 years in your business and personal life? Still the same as the one year?
Alexandra Nicole: Not as a little different of a plan. I’d say probably closer to 10 years from now; maybe 5, 10 years. I got my Master’s because I want to teach entrepreneurial studies and so, I plan on going back to get my Ph.D. so that I can retire and be a college professor. So, I plan on in the next 10 years, selling and becoming a college professor.
We are Memphis: That’s awesome!
Alexandra Nicole: Yeah, I mean I’m already doing it a little bit. I teach kids, and I also take a lot of interns. So, I enjoy doing it, and I think eventually after I’ve done all I want to do in the business world, I might just kind of chill out and teach some other people how to do it and what not to do, what to do. I still feel like I need more life lessons, but I want to stick with this for a while. That’s definitely a plan.
We are Memphis: I know this is an interview for We are Memphis, but you’re teaching me, and I love like all the information you’re giving me so thank you for that.
Alexandra Nicole: Oh, thank you.
We are Memphis: It’ll be a nice transition, and I know you’ll help out teaching your students.
Alexandra Nicole: Of course, yeah. Well you know also, I started the retail Academy is called Your Retail Academy and I’ve been teaching people through that platform on how to open and store and run their business well there.
We are Memphis: You said it’s Your Retail Academy?
Alexandra Nicole: Yes, Yourretailacademy.com.
We are Memphis: What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Alexandra Nicole: Definitely want to save some money. I would say research and spend at least two or three months researching your demographic. Know your demographic, your market and also research the job that you’re thinking about doing. A lot of my interns I get think they want to run a boutique, but then they get in here and do it with me for 3 or 4 months and are like oh now I do not want to do this.
We are Memphis: Right.
Alexandra Nicole: You don’t want to invest your life savings into something that you think you want to do. You have to be really open-minded to the negatives and the positives because no matter what, there’ll always be negatives within the industry. So yeah, that would be my best advice.
We are Memphis: Going back to your interns, they just didn’t know what went into it until they actually started working with you. Is that what I’m hearing?
Alexandra Nicole: Absolutely, yeah there’s a lot of– It sounds fun, and it is not horrible. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it, but it’s definitely hard, hard work and you don’t become a millionaire [laughs]. You know, like if you plan on being a millionaire, do not open a store unless you plan on opening like 10 and never having time for anything. [Laughing].
We are Memphis: How does Memphis inspire you and what about Memphis drives you to complete your goals?
Alexandra Nicole: I heard this on the news the other day, I think Memphis is in the top five for small business women owners in the United States. And the culture here is one of hustle for what you have and small business entrepreneurs. So, I love that about the city. It’s also the cost of living or the cost of starting a business. Well, it’s not cheap anywhere. You can do it at a young age. I was 26 when I did it so you can do it at a young age. So, I like that and the people. Really, the customers are great, people really want a more of a personal relationship with– I mean, of course, you have people still going to shop online and all of that, but we have a lot of women who like to go to the Southern social gatherings and not have the same thing that everybody else is wearing. So, our Southern ladies take value in their fashion, and they don’t want to shop online all the time. They’ll come in and chat with us and hang out and try on stuff. It’s almost like a social thing here.
We are Memphis: I like that community that you’re creating in your shop.
Alexandra Nicole: Memphis is huge on community. I mean it’s a big, small town. If you’ve been here for any amount of time and you’ve done any social thing here, you know everybody. So, that’s nice. It’s nice to know everybody, and it’s kind of like the big, small city thing feeling. I say big, but it’s not as big as Chicago, but you know what I mean. It’s not tiny either.
We are Memphis: What are some things that Memphis offers that keeps you on top of your game?
Alexandra Nicole: I don’t attend any groups right now, but I do have a junior week, I do have a BNI which is a business networking group. And then there’s just all kinds of random social events.
We are Memphis: Awesome.
Alexandra Nicole: But yeah, I don’t attend as much anymore, but we do have a fund at the fashion week, so that’s fun for the boutiques and the fashion industry that we have here. Yeah, just because I have kids now, so my life has changed a lot. With one I still was able to do some stuff now that I have two, it’s pretty almost impossible [laughs].
We are Memphis: What’s a place in Memphis where you go to unwind after work? Where are some places you go to have fun?
Alexandra Nicole: I like right here in Overton Square. Babalu’s is fun. I love their fresh guacamole, so that’s good. And then, Railgarten and Loflin Yard are a lot of fun as well. They have like a whole hang out outside atmosphere like you can bring your dog and bring your kids and they can play, and everybody hangs out there, and it’s got that fun family atmosphere.
We are Memphis: Where would you recommend people and visit in Memphis if they want to mimic your success or are there any specific places that you go to visit regularly or get inspiration?
Alexandra Nicole: Yeah, Broad Avenue is fun. Of course Overton Square and then South Main is a lot of fun.
We are Memphis: What’s your thought on the Memphis lifestyle blogger scene and how does it compare to other places in the U.S?
Alexandra Nicole: I love it! Everybody’s embracing it. We’ve got a lot of bloggers coming on the scene lately. In the beginning, everyone was doing it independently, but now, I feel like everybody recently has gotten to know each other and now there’s a lot of lifestyle blogging events around Memphis — I mean gosh, it feels like there’s one like pretty much every month or every other month.
I host one every month through my blog called ‘City Chic Social,’ and I invite the bloggers that I know that I think would be interested in the business that will want to partner with the business. Sometimes it’s a beauty business, or sometimes it’s a fashion business, sometimes it’s a cooking business. Like is different and whatever bloggers that fall into that niche, I invite them and I try to keep it to 10 bloggers.
I like to switch it up and get new people in there and new faces so and I’m not the only one doing it. There’s the Blogger Exchange out in Nashville. They’re doing stuff here. I mean it’s starting to grow, and I think it’s fabulous because we need more of that kind of thing. Because being in the south, it’s easy to get old school or stay old school. So I like the blogger fad is growing here, and I think people are jumping on board.
We are Memphis: What does Bring Your Soul mean to you?
Alexandra Nicole: When I think of soul, I think of you as a person, your personality, your inner being, your creativity, bringing it to this community that we have here and being a piece of it with all the different pieces of personality, creativity, different types of people.
We have an eclectic city with a huge mix of different types of people. If we can all come together and bring our soul, then we can just rise up and keep growing Memphis and make it an even better more amazing city than it already is.
We are Memphis: I like it. Thank you so much.
Alexandra Nicole: Of course.