The business of fashion is one of money, success, fame and glamour, that much is true. However, it can be a challenge to make it big, let alone make it at all. And let’s not forget that fashion is fleeting, that one grave error is all it takes to send all of one’s work into the dustbin of history.
This week is devoted to business owners from the world of fashion and related industries. If you ever wanted to have an idea of what it takes to make it in fashion, no matter if you’re a designer, a retailer, a blogger et al, then this week is for you.
After a few days’ delay, we pick up with the third profile on Ashley Rudolph of Emergy. Emergy was founded on the idea of supporting local artisans throughout the world by selling their wares online, promoting sustainability and exposing customers to other cultures in the process. Make the jump to see my profile on Ashley Rudolph.
Name: Ashley Rudolph
Name of business: Emergy
Date of founding: June 2011
Your elevator pitch: Emergy is what I like to call fashion philanthropy (thanks to Jessie for coining the term). Shopping a curated selection of jewelry made by artisans and emerging designers in developing countries makes it possible to look good and do good! Could it get any better?
You had prior experience in consumer research, marketing and media buying. Tell us more about those experiences and how they led to your decision to go into business for yourself.
Rudolph: I started in consumer research, marketing and media buying with a few internships, worked with a handful of pretty well known brands — mainly lifestyle brands — and landed my first job in media buying. After finishing grad school with a Master’s in Global Entrepreneurship, I was inspired to start something of my own that was part global and part entrepreneurial.
You recently relocated from New York to Florida. What brought about the move, and how will the move affect Emergy?
Rudolph: It was kind of a last-minute snap decision and I’m glad I made it (if only for the weather alone)! I haven’t been able to devote as much time to Emergy because I’m now working as a marketing coordinator for a non-profit. I’ve had re-doing the Emergy website on my to-do list for about a month now and it’s been tough to set aside time to really do it. So instead of stressing myself out, I’ve decided to re-launch in 2012.What sort of paperwork/red tape did you need to go through before establishing your business?
Rudolph: I registered my business in NY and applied for (and received) a Tax Identification Number. It was pretty simple since I’m a sole proprietor, but it becomes increasingly more complicated when more people (partnerships, LLCs, etc) are involved.
What else did you have to do to get your business off the ground (investors, loans, materials et al)?
Rudolph: I bootstrapped it since it’s a small operation. But I was also lucky enough to have suppliers who sent me the jewelry on consignment for the first run. I did take the time to write out my business plan and pitch to a couple of investors for feedback (that helps a lot!!). I took a bunch of entrepreneurship classes as an undergraduate and graduate student, so that certainly helped. Also, find advisors who have a vested interest in what you’re doing, who are willing to help and give advice along the way.
What was the best/worst/weirdest/funniest aspect/moment during the time you’ve been a business owner?
Rudolph: I’d say right now is the weirdest/most awkward time because I’m trying to juggle working, blogging, and still running Emergy and doing everything on my own. It’s tough, but people do it all the time!
Any advice for someone wanting to become an owner of their own business?
Rudolph: Stay committed!
Your closing statement: Thank you Cameron for reaching out for the interview and being a supporter of Emergy from the start!
Emergy will re-open its doors in 2012. In the meantime, if you want to stay informed of Rudolph’s activities, follow her on Tumblr at ashley4emergy.tumblr.com.
Photo credit: ASHLEY4EMERGY (upper and lower images).