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The Creative Entrepreneur’s Index to Success

We’re honored to tell

the unique stories of many incredible creative entrepreneurs and small business owners. From fashion designers to digital mavens, each of the featured individuals in today’s story kindly shared their go-to resources that have helped shed light on how to start a modern business, engage with their local communities, stay true to their personal style and redefine boundaries both personally and professionally.

So in the spirit of following through on our mission, we’re proud to share this edit of what we consider to be some of the most relevant information and tools our community have collectively shared throughout the past few years. Discover the full list below and be sure to revisit each featured interviewee’s story for a refresher on who they are and what they hope to achieve.

*THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN December 2015 AND REFLECTS UPDATED LIST ADDITIONS AS WELL AS CHANGES TO THE LAYOUT AND INTRODUCTION.

Bianca Caampued, co-founder of Small Girls PR

“There are a lot of technical things one might need to do and learn when starting their own business, but would it all be worth it if you didn’t know how to be present and were mentally bogged down by all the startup stress? Meditation is something that that can help you get out of your head and see things for what they are, or help you gain the clarity to take the next right action and also be grateful for what you have.

I’ll have to admit that this is still quite a work in progress for me, but it’s not about perfection. We have a meditation booth in our office (which also doubles as a phone booth), that I’ll sometimes sit in when I need a mid-day mental break. I also swear by apps like Headspace and Simply Being.”

Nikki Chasin, Fashion Designer

“A flexible business plan is really important for aspiring designers- you need to create a road map for your company that you can constantly refer back to. Investigate every aspect of your business, and ask as many questions as possible to all of your vendors. I love Makersrow.com and the CFDA resource page for factory information.” Nikki Chasin, Fashion Designer 

Bridgette Pentecost, Owner of STILL&SEA

“Every city offers free small business resources and they’re truly something everyone should capitalize on. I took advantage of free classes offered that ranged in topic from basic legal formation to applying for business loans to permitting for commercial construction, and the information I received was instrumental.

Austin has several phenomenal small business development programs, three of which I highly recommend (and suggest that anyone starting a business also look into similar small business programs that their city offers): Austin SBPBiGAUSTIN,  and SCORE (a national resource, so definitely reach out to your local chapter).”

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Rebecca Rauth, Owner of BONMOT Clothing

“I also enjoy reading and learning about other industries (on all my devices of course!). You never know where you’ll find inspiration. I love Jason Hirschhorn’s Redef newsletter. I really like Wait, But Why and Medium for longer pieces.”

Nicole Heim, Founder of CIENNE NY

“I find most of my inspiration outside of the fashion industry, and read a lot of non-fiction books and publications like The New York Times, Fast Company, and entrepreneur.com. I love the publishing platform Medium and find that the real stories and experiences of others are the best resources. The Business of Fashion and CFDA are both great resources that cover the fashion industry as a whole. NeueHouse requires membership, but they’re always doing amazing events around culture and creativity.

Meetup has fashion related groups that cover a diverse set of topics. Specifically related to design, I think the most important thing for aspiring designers to focus on is materials. Le Souk is an online platform that allows you to connect directly with mills and suppliers, both locally and internationally, and focuses on everything from artisan-made materials to low minimums. Nest and Piece & Co. are organizations that support artisans in developing countries.”

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Ivy Elrod, co-founder of WILDER

“I did a small business incubator in NYC called WIBO. It absolutely changed the course of our business development (I hatched the idea to launch in Nashville in those rooms) and ultimately the course of our lives.  I also learned Quickbooks through a free course with New York Business Solutions.

Marcia Patmos, Fashion Designer

CFDA has a great wealth of resources to tap into once you are lucky enough to become a member. I love the Textile Art CenterPlaces like PrattBrooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator and F.I.T have great talks, exhibits, and classes. 

BoF and WWD both have great articles and resources and insight on the larger scope of the fashion industry. NYTWSJ and The Economist are good to read for both fashion and trend as well as pure business and world knowledge. Everything affects everything else… Chinese currency, earthquakes, strikes and more.” 

Chelsey Nordyke, Fashion Designer

“Not knowing anything about the business side of things I hired a consulting company, V Mora. The Founder and CEO of V Mora, my mentor, is Anna Livermore. If I hadn’t found Anna I would still be sitting in my bedroom with 200+ sketches and no way to do anything with them. I would be nowhere.

She really took me under her wing, taught me the basics, shared her sources and I am forever grateful for her. I tell anyone that has a similar passion to contact V Mora. They really made all the difference in my journey.”

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Eva Alt, Social Media at Glossier

“I think social media is the most current avenue into the creative world. Making a Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, [and so on] are all really great ways to put your personal vision and voice out there in the world. It’s also a way to connect yourself with people that you admire.

Emily WeissAmy Astley, and Eva Chen were always huge inspirations to me, and I was able to effectively connect with the latter two via Instagram and now I work for Emily. It’s a powerful thing.”

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Heather Day, Artist

“Sometimes I find it hard to remember to do these things when I have a lot on my plate so I like to find inspiration and encouragement from various sources.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Fast CompanyEntrepreneur Magazine, and autobiographies from artists or curators. My new favorite podcast is SheDoes and I keep up with a lot of artists on Instagram.”

Sarah Radcliffe, Owner of The Yo! Store

“Take the leap of faith – believe, you can do it. If you don’t someone else will. It is hard work owning a small business as you don’t ever switch off 24/7 (and owning a business with a toddler is next level) but if you’re doing something you absolutely love, are passionate about and truly believe in then others will too.
My other advice would be to spend $175 and sign up the 6-week small business course at Mercy Corps Northwest. I don’t think I would have started Yo! if I hadn’t done this –  it’s a non-profit organization and full of amazing advice and all the nitty gritty bits you need to know when starting up.”

Adam Ross and Michael Pollak, co-founders of Heyday 

“It’s all about using a few key systems and resources that (1) take time and cost out of a lot of administration so you can focus on the front end of the business to effectively engage with consumers, and (2) lower your fixed costs so you can better manage your cash flows.

We used resources ranging from Slack (significantly lowered back and forth on email), to Breather to rent meeting rooms by the hour. And don’t be afraid to speak to people – it will involve a lot of “coffee meetings” but little bits of advice here and there are incredibly valuable – it all goes to making your business the best it can be.”

Laura Housgard, Owner of  Johan

“I recommend starting with your local Small Business Development Center. I went to the same one in New York that Carol and Humberto went to while developing the idea for Opening Ceremony. It’s also helpful to have role models, people who are doing exactly what you want to be doing in 25 years. My role models and the source of most of my advice below are Paul Schneider and Lauren Eulau of Twist.

It’s also really nice to have someone to talk to about the nitty gritty, day-to-day issues that come up, someone who is not a direct competitor, but who is at a similar stage of growth. For me, that person is Ursula Wurster of Midnight Collective.”

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Molly Yestadt, Designer of YESTADT MILLINERY

“I recently completed the DENYC mini-MBA program, which I would strongly recommend to anyone with their own fashion business.”