This is an inspiring story about a young entrepreneurial girl and her mum Kendra D. Turner. They have been in business together since 2011. Their business, Kristen’s Hott Gear is comprised of jewelry, accessories, screen-printing, custom-made hats and embroidery.
What drove you to start your own business? What was the turning point?
Kristen’s Hott Gear, was an idea created by my then 10-year-old daughter. Kristen started talking to me about creating her own clothing line that would be suitable for teenage girls and selling jewelry and accessories. At the time I was laid off of my job and discouraged about how I was going to take care of us. As a divorced mom and Kristen being my only child, I had to admit to myself how much I loved the look on her face when we talked about jewelry and accessorizing her outfits. She seemed to just light up but having the financial backing to start a business at that time was definitely out of the question. So I did as most parents would, I suggested that she go and find a site that would allow her to make her own cards out of what we had in the house and to find a free website to host her site. Of course, being the little driven entrepreneur that she is, she did just that. She made her own cards and found www.wix.com. That was three years ago and one day she looked at me and said when will be able to start my business and I told her, let me look into it and we will see what we can do. Being a product of trying network marketing companies and never seeing them work for me, I was very hesitant to allow Kristen into this world of disappointment or failure. However we started talking to people, researching different products and found an avenue that would work for us and her business was finally born. Kristen’s Hott Gear went live in April 2012 ironically with a site that I built and now maintain that Kristen found three years earlier.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
My greatest admiration comes from the look in my daughter’s eyes when she’s speaking with a potential customer about how well that piece of jewelry looks on them, with that outfit as they begin to smile and agree with her. She has an eye for color and she’s not afraid to be different.
What are your goals for your business?
Kristen’s goal for the company is to provide assistance towards her college education, to send some of her profit to a charity of her choice which is St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and to have her own clothing line by the age of fifteen years old. A hefty list of goals, however they are all achievable and we work very hard to try to make these happen. I have come to realize that leaving a mark of what true entrepreneurship really looks like, doesn’t have anything to do with age but everything to do with determination and a drive to do more. I’m hopeful that our endeavour to step out of normality and to do something different, something unique will leave a legacy of what a company, a team; a family can do in one lifetime and others to come.
What would you do differently next time around?
If we had the chance to do this all over again, I would be a better steward over what we purchased, how much of the item we purchased, and attending networking events and to watch the market trends. Everything has a price to it, product, time and labour, so making sure you have a beginning budget as well as money put to the side to start a business is what I would have done differently. Having a great idea doesn’t mean that it’s something that everyone will want to purchase or invest in. Knowing your market or target area, determining your product line and managing your finances play a large part in the success of your business.
What difficulties and challenges have you had to overcome and how did you keep going?
The most challenging part for me has been to sit and watch our product not sell, whether it’s at a vendor’s event or online, yet we have so many people tell us how much they love the product that we have. I am a huge supporter of giving and helping others, especially other family members and to not see that same response towards our business has been very hard at times. The way that I keep going is I think past what I want and think of what I need. In that sense I get creative ideas and begin to act on those.
What support did you seek out and what difference has that made to your business?
Instead of looking to my family to support us, I reach out to our ‘social media’ family and I set up a weekly contest that drives activity to our sites. I can see the difference in responses and support already.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
By nature I am a planner and I try to plan out for the month, however things happen and things change. So in the midst of change, whether it’s something changing in my schedule or otherwise, I am learning to adapt and move the way that we need to in order to make our plans cohesive to our goals. Keeping all of my events, orders, and deliveries on my Google calendar helps me stay focused and motivated to keep pushing forward. Success is behind the next sale.
What has been one big success that you have achieved in your business?
As a business owner along with my daughter, we look for ideas and items that people are currently wearing as well as unique products, handmade and hand crafted jewelry. We enjoy having the ability to connect with people who have grown their companies from the floor up by using their own hands, their own ideas and their own drive. In this business we meet a lot of different people and seeing small children love our product as well as older women is a huge accomplishment. The biggest success achieved by far within our business is seeing how much my daughter has changed. She went from being reserved around people, including family, to being a social butterfly talking about her business and negotiating to provide the best price. We now attend trade shows, work with local vendors and grow her business by staying connected to as many people as possible.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business?
Don’t give up. This is the best advice that I have received and what I say to my daughter and myself. Who starts a business at the age of 13 with the hopes of owning her own clothing line in stores? Kristen is doing what everyone else may not do, that makes her different, driven and focused. So while her friends may be planning what to wear at the dance, she’s looking at what piece of jewelry will I need to accessorize to draw enough attention to me, to make others want to purchase the jewelry/accessories that I have. You’re never too young or too old to start dreaming. Also failure is a large part of success. You can’t fail at something that you’ve never started.