There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.
Meet: Kelsey Doorey, who founded Vow To Be Chic after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Like many new graduates, Kelsey was torn deciding between taking an amazing investor offer to help fund her dream company, or playing it safe and accepting a job in New York.
Obviously the under-30 entrepreneur didn’t take the safe route. Vow to be Chic was the first online company to offer designer bridesmaid dress rentals from top fashion labels, such as Nicole Miller and Monique Lhuiller. Its innovative platform revolutionized an age-old tradition, merging cost-efficiency and convenience for brides and their bridesmaids.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Kelsey Doorey: I always wanted to work in fashion. I’ve been a lover of all things fashion from a young age.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Doorey: I was a bridesmaid six times prior to starting my business, so I knew the customer pain point all too well. While shopping with a guy friend of mine for a wedding, I noticed how easy the rental process was for men and how it wasn’t [that easy] for women when they’re bridesmaids. I personally wanted to use a service like this as a customer and it really surprised me that no one had started a business like this before. Because the rental option didn’t exist, I realized I had to start it myself. I don’t think men should outsmart women, especially in the realm of fashion.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Doorey: When we were first offered funding for Vow To Be Chic, it was definitely the launching point of everything. Also, signing top designers onto our site was pivotal. I’ll never forget either of those moments, sitting next to a top investor and top fashion designer respectively. Those were both times when it really hit me—this is happening, and my dream is coming to life.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Doorey: Prioritization is key. There will always be one million things that you need and want to do, so you must prioritize where to spend your time, effort, and resources.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Doorey: It may sound simple, but focus on the customer and what they really want. It may be overstated, but it is under-practiced. What the customer wants should permeate through your marketing, product, online experience and customer service. If you’re like me, you think you know exactly what your customer wants, but oftentimes you don’t. Take the time to listen and learn from your customers.
Lesonsky: Do you have a 2015 small business prediction?
Doorey: The continuing boom of the [sharing] economy. We’re seeing it in all aspects of our lives, from cars to homes to clothing, and that will only continue to expand.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Doorey: Freakonomics or Deluxe.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Doorey: “Don’t stop until you’re proud.”
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.