The SuretyBonds.com Small Business Spotlight series focuses on small businesses across industries and the best practices that have helped them succeed.
After four years of planning to open a boutique, Felicia Allen knew one thing: 2020 was the year her dream was going to come true, and nothing would stop her. Even though most of the country was shutting down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Allen was not going to let that push back her opening. In August 2020, she opened Shek Korture out of her home in Clinton, Mississippi.
A new online store is often a struggle to get up and running, pandemic or not, but Felicia was determined. Operating an online boutique, she knew that even if traditional stores were closed, people would still need and want to shop. Many businesses experienced decreased traffic; while Allen has seen a lot of traffic, more than six months later, she said still doesn’t see a large volume of orders. When people do order, however, she noted that they order big. This keeps her pushing to expand.
She knows a big expansion won’t be feasible until the market has stabilized. All of the money she makes goes right back into the business, which makes it difficult to hire staff. For now, she is focusing on building her brand and helping customers find what makes them happy and confident.
The Hurdles of Starting a Business
Allen still works a full-time job for the state; which sometimes makes it difficult to find time to run Shek. Despite her busy schedule, Allen makes Shek her priority in every free second she has. From her lunch breaks to the minute she clocks out for the day, she is taking pictures, making videos, and researching vendors. Allen’s drive keeps her going: She wants to show others that you can make your dreams happen while working a 9-5 job.
Luckily, one thing Allen didn’t have to make too much time for was the bonding process. Although she was under the impression that working from home meant she wouldn’t need a sales tax bond, she found a simple solution when she was told otherwise. Allen’s sister-in-law had already had a positive experience with SuretyBonds.com and was able to make a recommendation. Allen says our quick and experienced account manager was able to get a quote to her inbox while they were still on the phone. Because of this, Allen knew she was in good hands and recommends to others that they work with SuretyBonds.com as well.
Advice for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
Allen is an advocate for not being scared to ask for help, urging others to reach out to entrepreneurs who have experience. “Talking to somebody in that field of interest can help you find out a lot of things,” she says. Likewise, she says entrepreneurs need to not be afraid to help. “There’s no reason to not help other people be successful,” she declares, a statement that Allen backs up with her actions. When meeting others who hope to become business owners, she passes them her business card and invites them to give her a call or reach out via social media for support.
The other big mistake Allen sees others make is overextending themselves. She recalls meeting someone whose business wasn’t successful because the owner wasn’t bringing in as much money as she was spending on inventory. Allen says this is common among clothing companies: They want to deliver specific items to their clients, but there is not enough interest in a particular line or style to bring in a profit. Her approach to this is always making sure that her profit is double or triple the cost of purchasing the item. She urges others to look at the big picture when it comes to financials, rather than try to scrape up small profit margins.
Plans for The Future
Shek Korture has only been open for seven months, but Allen already has big plans. She hopes to have a brick-and-mortar store open within the next three years, which will enable her to hire employees. Because of the support she has already received from the community, she wants the store to be able to give back by hiring those who want to become entrepreneurs themselves. Allen’s biggest reward would be providing a training ground for people who haven’t had experience or been given the opportunities they need to contribute.
Allen’s 10-year vision is to have Shek Korture established in her hometown before moving to Texas and starting another location. She hopes to continue bringing new ideas and helping her customers find happiness in their own unique style. As Allen points out, pursuing your personal goals — regardless of the obstacles in your way — never goes out of style.