Focus 33 Photography Series | Women Entrepreneurs
Melissa Cherry – All Inspired Boutique
As the first to be featured in our Women Entrepreneurs Series, Melissa Cherry of All Inspired Boutique was gracious enough to share some of her own entrepreneurial experiences with us and her words of advice to new and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Find Your Passion. Follow Your Own Path.
“You have to find what you are passionate about and find a way to be different,” says Melissa. She stresses that you have to find what is unique to you. And allow that to help you follow your own path. All Inspired’s tagline, “Be Strong. Be True. Show Your Heart” models this important step for entrepreneurs. Being authentic and real with who you are will show in your business. “Don’t be afraid to put your heart on your sleeve.”
Create Your Own Identity.
“It’s important for women to have something they can call their own.” Being an entrepreneur has allowed her the freedom and flexibility to create her own schedule. And as a Mom of two teenagers, entrepreneurship has allowed her to put family first while still pursuing her passion. She emphasizes how women entrepreneurs are role models for their daughters. “They [girls] need to know they have choices.”
Be at Peace with Everything.
Melissa leaned heavily on her faith when starting her business. And although she felt the pressure and fears of most entrepreneurs, she was able to push through. “In the midst of making big decisions, If you feel like it is where you are supposed to be, you have to know that God will lead you through it.”
Surround Yourself with People that Believe in You.
Your family and friends will be your support system as you start your business. “You have to surround yourself with people who truly want to see you succeed.” At the start of her business, those around her “lifted her up” in prayer and in friendship. “You’ve got to believe in yourself — especially if you’re a woman, you have got to have a support system in place.” Her husband, Walt, was inspirational in helping to start the business. “He has been very involved; in the beginning he handled all of the shipping and he still does all of the books. He really is the reason why this all happened.”
Be All In.
“You can’t go into it wishy washy. You’ve got to say I’m doing this. You’ve got to be all in.” A familiar thought from Melissa’s alma mater, Clemson University. From the beginning, she believed in the concept of All Inspired Boutique. She was willing to take the risks and put in the work. There were many long nights when she first started the business. “You’ve got to be willing to put in the sweat equity.”
Learn to Unplug.
Balancing family with entrepreneurship can be a challenge. “It’s a constant balancing act.” She stresses the importance of always putting your family first. She schedules her workday to ensure that her kids come first and that she is always home when they get back from school. Family time and dinners together are given high priority. “Putting the phone away and taking away other distractions [during dinner] is letting them know what they say about their day is more important.”
Growing your business at a slower pace can certainly help mitigate the financial risks involved. In Melissa’s case, she was careful to start the business slowly with a limited supply of products in the beginning. “We’ve grown it at the pace that the business has grown. And we’ve taken risks incrementally.” She explains that by doing this, it was easier to settle any fears or doubts that arose when she got started.
Have a Big Picture Vision.
Melissa advises to always have a big picture vision for your business. For her, it is to have a business that is affecting people positively across the country. The online store has allowed her to do that. “I think you need to think big, but you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment.” She explains that it’s important to have realistic expectations and to set short goals along the way to help you accomplish the bigger picture.
Give a Personal Touch.
At All Inspired Boutique, Melissa aimed to create a place where women feel welcomed, comfortable, and at home. “We are all about making women feel great. When they come in our store and when they leave we want them to feel even better. We want to help them find something that is great for them.” Adding this personal touch to the business has made the boutique a place for more than just shopping. It’s not unusual for ladies in the store to strike up conversations and make lasting personal connections with each other.
Seek Expert Advice.
“Everybody can’t do everything. It’s ok to say I need help.” Outside consultants and mentors can be essential in helping to build your business in the beginning. Help from experts can fill in the gaps when you’re first starting out. Look for experts in those areas where your skills may fall short- or where you can better use your time.
Put the work in.
For women in particular, it’s important to treat your entrepreneurial venture as a real job. It’s easy to get distracted by everything else going on in our lives. “Even things like laundry — if you work from home it can take time away from your business.” Melissa advises that it’s important to ask yourself, “Are you working as hard for yourself as you would for someone else? You’ll get out of it what you put into it.”
Melissa encourages other entrepreneurs to give back and to find a way that you can “show your heart.” Find a cause close to your heart or find other ways to be involved in your community. All Inspired Boutique hosts private events called, “A Gathering for Good”. Customers can reserve the boutique for an evening, invite their friends, and 15% of sales will go to the charity of their choice. Some of the organizations that have benefited include: Beacon of Hope at Mount Pisgah, Johns Creek High Cheerleading, Pink for the Cure, and The National Alzheimer’s Association.
“Don’t let the fear guide you. You’ve got to go for it!”
To learn more about Melissa’s store, visit the online boutique at AllInspiredBoutique.com
Slideshow: A Peak Inside All Inspired Boutique