It's crazy to believe that exactly one year ago today Aria Rose began. When I first started Aria Rose, I had no idea where it would go. Was I taking a risk? Yes. Could I fail? Yes. But, could I potentially succeed and change the lives of so many women nationwide? Yes.
In celebration of our first birthday, I thought that I would share 10 lessons that I've learned this year from owning Aria Rose. My, oh, my. It's been an exhausting, exhilarating and crazy ride. But here we are, 1 year later, opening a brand new (bigger) showroom, launching newness every week and growing to new heights. Not only am I filled with gratitude, but I am giddy at the thought of the places we will go (one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books)!
When I first started Aria Rose, I felt as if I had no real purpose. Was I going to blog for the rest of my life? Was I going to work a social media job and never be able to explore my creativity and love for the entrepreneurial world? Or would I take a risk and start a store with less than $6,000 to my name and a heart filled with joy and excitement? 365 days later, I will always stand by the quote that says, "If you can't stop thinking about it, don't stop working for it."
Without further ado, here are the 10 things I have learned (so far) from owning a small business.
1. It's not easy; in fact, it's really hard.
This one is a no-brainer. Owning a business is really freakn' hard. I am a perfectionist who wants everything to be absolutely flawless while making everyone happy at the same time. I've learned over the past year that this is, simply put, impossible. I am someone who has thin skin and who loves to have everything run smoothly. When you own a business, that's just not the case. It never will be. But, as I've grown in these past 365 days, I've realized that that's okay. Because the hard times are what make us stronger and what push us to work harder.
2. You can't please everyone.
I am a people-pleaser. I always have been. You can ask anyone who knows me. I will always put others first. Whether or not this is a strength or flaw, I am still figuring it out. As a business owner, you can't please everyone. The sooner you realize it, the better! While I like to make everyone happy and try to meet everyone halfway, sometimes it's impossible. And that's okay. Not everyone is going to like your brand and not everyone is going to support you. Just keep those who do support you close to your heart!
3. As a business owner, you have to wear many hats.
Whether I am shipping, answering DMs, designing website graphics, taking photos, writing descriptions and so much more... as a small business owner, you have to expect to do it all. While it can be so exhausting, it's the most rewarding thing in the world to realize that you are capable of so much more than you think.
4. Trust your gut.
This sounds like another obvious lesson, but let me tell you... wrestling with your gut instincts and what other people are telling you is tough. At the end of the day, every time that I've trusted my gut, I've been right.
When I first asked my parents for their support (not monetarily, just emotionally) for my showroom, they said absolutely not. But my gut told me yes. What did I do? I fought for that showroom and today it marks the single best decision I made for my small business.
5. Community over competition.
This is a problem I still wrestle with today. As a small business owner, there is a lot of competition. There are others who try to mimic you or bring you down. There are people who won't want to collaborate with you and there are, inevitably, competitors. However, one thing I've learned is that it is better to work with others rather than work against them. There is room for everyone.
6. You're not everyone's cup of tea.
Whether this is a customer, another fellow store, a friend, a boyfriend, anything. It is what it is. I'm very blessed that most of my customers who walk into my store leave with something. However, there are those times where people leave with nothing. And it's still hard for me to accept that maybe I'm not everyone's cup of tea. Sometimes people just won't like you or your store. But, that's okay!
With that being said: I am so blessed that we have built such an amazing, supportive, beautiful group of Aria Rose Girls. It is absolutely more than I could have ever asked for.
7. You will make mistakes.
Oh boy. I can't even begin to list the mistakes I've made! Whether it's ordering too much inventory, too little inventory, not giving myself time before responding to an angry message, moving too fast on certain decisions, etc. I have made so many mistakes. But at the end of the day, we need to make mistakes to grow. And we grow every single day. We grow through the mistakes we go through!
8. Find your tribe + love them hard.
This is something I always see but it's also something that I've related so much to my business. Our tribe is our Aria Rose Girls. They are beautiful, sweet, classic women of all ages who support Aria Rose and all that it stands for. Once I realized we had such a strong community, I knew we could conquer anything. At the end of the day, loyal Aria Rose Girls are the ones who allow me to do what I love every day.
They allow me to make my passion my paycheck (one of my favorite sayings since I started blogging in 2014!)
9. Allow others to take the reign on certain projects and learn to let go.
This is something I am still working on. It's very hard for me to let go of certain aspects of the company, whether it's the social media or answering DMs. Like I said, I am still learning every day and I will continue to learn for the rest of my life as the owner of Aria Rose. As a business owner, you can do anything but not everything. Learning to find a great support system, employee, family member, anything, who could help you with tasks and make sure you're not in over your head is essential to being successful and remaining sane. Like I said, I’m definitely still working on this!
10. Always be hungry for more.
Lastly, as a business owner, you should never be content with where you are. You should always want more. For me, owning Aria Rose is not a job; it is my life. I am always thinking of ways to grow our social media, improve your shopping experience, work on better arrivals, etc. It is that hunger for more that fuels me every single day. The day you become content with where you are is the day that you stop growing. And, Aria Rose Girls, I promise you that I will never be content with where we are. We will always grow.
And to my first (and only) baby Aria Rose... this is just the beginning. Cheers to year one and to many, many more years ahead. Blessed to be able to make my passion my paycheck.
Before I go, I would like to thank (in no particular order):
My mom: without Mechi, we wouldn't have anything. From overseeing financials, to helping at the store, to managing the showroom moves and more, Mechi is the boss. In fact, I answer to her even if it isn't her company!
My dad: he has proven to not only be the best photographer ever (no website photos without him!), but such an amazing supporter of the company. While he is more quiet than Mechi, he definitely beams with pride and lets me know how proud of me he is! Also, his kick-butt finance skills really help out.
Gaby: Gaby is our Social Media + Sales Assistant and is amazing. From staying late on Mondays to helping with new arrivals to being the flatlay queen and an amazing assistant overall, I don't know how I ever did it without her.
Steph: one of my best friends and biggest helpers. She helps me stay sane, helps answer DMs during overwhelming times and reminds me that it's okay to let someone else take charge sometimes (only sometimes). She's also the sweet face many of you have seen helping out at events!
Eric: for putting up with me always being on my phone answering DMs, emails and creating content for you guys! And for supporting this small business and everything it stands for.
My Aria Rose Girls: for loving and believing in this as much as I do. It takes a tribe to build something as strong as what we have. And, because of you, we are here today.
... now let's party!
Congratulations on your first year! Webster defines “per-se-ver-ance” as doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success". Synonyms: persistence, tenacity, determination, resolve, purposefulness. YOU encapsulate all of these qualities and more! I couldn’t be prouder of you and your accomplishments and will ALWAYS support your dreams and may GOD always provide you with the proper guidance and direction. DAD
Congrats Lauren we are making it BIG! I will always be here to help and support your business. Love you all the way to God, Mom