Get ready for part one of three blog posts detailing my entrepreneur journey with a final reveal/surprise at the end of the week!
Some of my very early memories are of planning out ways to make money. I would host concerts and fashion shows and charge admission. I would set up a cinnamon roll stand (cinnamon rolls courtesy of my mom) and sell them to daycare parents picking up kids. I had this grand vision of opening my own dance camp when I was in first grade. I organized cheer camp for elementary students as a freshman varsity cheerleader. I ordered and organized and designed T shirts for our class Powder Puff football team. I got my first job with a catering company when I was twelve. I’ve started and stopped a blog more times than I can count. I got a job as a CNA as soon as I was able because yes, I wanted to help people but honestly it was the best paying high school job. I was a successful songwriter and singer sharing my talents on you tube all through high school, even producing and releasing my own album on iTunes as a senior in high school, all while configuring ads to run on my youtube videos to make money. I also launched a twitter/instagram account as a college student taking my nursing pre-requisites called “SuperNurseK” BEFORE nurse influencers were a thing – I really wish I would have stuck with that one.
I’ve always had my mind on my money and my money on my mind as Snoop Dog would say. I guess you could say I’m an entrepreneur at heart.
I had my first shot at launching my own real business as a LuLaRoe clothing consultant. Ultimately, I learned so much through the experience but it is probably one of my biggest regrets. The thing was, I was great at it. After I had successfully launched and ran my LuLaRoe business for 5 months, I had processed over $26,000 in sales while working as a full time ER nurse. It was a pyramid scheme in the end, most of that money was not profit and needed to be reinvested into clothing covered in prints that wouldn’t sell. I was bored with it, frustrated, tired of managing cranky, greedy, rude, entitled customers. My window of opportunity to wash my hands of the business was narrowing and I smelled the blood in the water. I knew it was time to jump and I jumped off at just the right time – narrowly landing in the 100% refund time frame by 6 days. That ship sailed and I was so glad to see it go.
LuLaRoe first introduced me to credit cards and going into debt. I didn’t have a credit card until I was 22. I put my initial down payment of $5,000 to invest in my business on a Discover card with the intention of paying it off as soon as the money came in. The problem with that, is that the profit margins of the business were so narrow to begin with. I spent what little money I made off of selling an item to buy more clothes to then sell again. They encouraged us to all have at least 5 items of each size of each style of clothing at all times. They told us this was the key to success.
With each order the clothes became uglier and uglier. The patterns were all recycled from consultants getting out of the business and returning their unwanted and unsold clothing. I spent hours online trying to sell what I had on consultant groups, trying to snag the most wanted patterns. The problem is, they HIGHLY discouraged discounting the ugly patterns or overcharging for the cute stuff.
Many consultants started getting wet, moldy, smelly clothes. The company had exploded too fast. Pictures began surfacing on reddit of massive amounts of clothing sitting outside for months at a time at the LuLaRoe headquarters.
I finally cleared out what I could at wholesale pricing and then returned all of my items to the warehouse. I sold all of my supplies (hangers, clothing racks, photo equipment etc.) and put that all back on my credit card debt but it still left a hefty chunk left that I had to pay back on my own.
Here are some things I learned from my first entrepreneurial adventure:
- Never go into debt to start a business. Believe it or not, less than a year after my LuLaRoe debacle, I went into debt to start another business (tune in later this week for part two of this blog post.) Shocker, right? I used the same credit card too! I know better now.
- Customer service in the online retail world isn’t awesome. Not only do people get angry, they are behind keyboards in the security of their home so they get nasty too. I don’t actually have a ton of retail experience to begin with. I’ve always worked in healthcare so this was my first real experience and wowza. It was a bit of a culture shock.
- I love connecting with people. I love creating content. I love making posts about the “behind the scenes.” I really developed my social media skills which followed me through to my next business venture.
- I also learned to recognize and starting hearing and feeling my gut. I started watching for red flags and warning signs that things aren’t going well and planning a exit strategy.
- My mom, sister, and Craig were so so so helpful. They helped take pictures, sort outfits, Craig built clothing racks, they watched Carver so I could work on the business.
In closing, I want to reiterate that LuLaRoe was advertised as “not a multilevel marketing” business plan. It truly did seem legitimate at the time. It didn’t feel schemey, it seemed like a real opportunity and there was nothing like it at the time and there really hasn’t been anything quite like it since.
SO that is my first entrepreneurial adventure. Stay tuned this week for adventures #2 and #3 and what my next grand idea is will be revealed!
Do you remember LuLaRoe? Did you buy any pieces? What are your thoughts on the clothing?