Friday, August 16, 2013

Entrepreneurial Real Talk: Closing Time

My business, Fancy French Cologne, officially closed its virtual doors yesterday. Carly and I started the business a few years ago as a way to stay creative after the band we played in for six years broke up, and running our own business seemed like the obvious next step. It’s funny to think back at who we were then – even though it was only a few years ago, I feel so much older and more experienced having gone through the process. The two of us were just a couple of super motivated girls that wanted to DO something, and so we did! In fact, we did everything from scratch, with help from our friends and family, learning so much from so many mistakes, and cherishing every hard-won accomplishment along the way. The experience has shaped me profoundly, and I’m so proud of us for what we achieved.

Back when we began the project, e-commerce was still a pretty uncharted territory. Of course online stores existed back in 2009, but it was a different time and things were far less sophisticated than they are now. One aspect I truly enjoyed throughout this process was following the progress of shops like Modcloth and Nasty Gal over the years – watching as smaller, entrepreneurial businesses were able to thrive in the face of mega-stores (with mega-bucks!) like GAP or Nordstrom. These new businesses truly innovated where the more established brands seemed hesitant to stray too far from the status quo. I always say that we’re living in the “turn of the century” and there are things happening now that might seem unthinkable in twenty years. The world of e-commerce has opened up opportunities to empower women in ways that did not exist before—to me it’s just amazing. Not only for the entrepreneurs at the top, but for the women that are able to work for companies that share their values, and for the customers that finally see an authentic reflection of themselves in the businesses where they shop (as opposed to purely being “marketed to”). To me, this is powerful.

Now, after almost four years of working together on our business, Carly and I are both ready for yet another phase in life. Most people have had a sad reaction to this news – as though it somehow wasn’t our decision. But of course it was! And it was a business decision first and foremost, not an emotional one. We considered keeping the store alive while I go back to school and Carly pursues an exciting new project, but for what? Running a business is A LOT of work! If we can’t give Fancy French Cologne the time and attention that our customers deserve, then what is the point?

I look forward to working with Carly again someday, with all the amazing people who helped out during photo shoots, and with the wonderful designers that we had the honor of collaborating with. Whatever I do next, I know that this experience has molded me and taught me what I’m capable of and what my core values are. I will carry Fancy French Cologne with me far into the future.


PS I love you Carly!

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