What led you to start your own company?
I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug. I think that comes from having two parents who both started their own business. When I was 15 I started my own line of cosmetics and sold them through a national drugstore chain. After college, I worked for an L.A. fashion startup called StyleHaul and loved what they were doing but couldn’t resist the urge to take a risk and try my own thing.
Where did you get the startup money?
In the early days, I bootstrapped it with my own savings. I was then fortunate enough to be accepted into the L.A. incubator Start Engine, which provided additional early stage financing. A few months later, I raised a small round from two L.A.-based angels who are now also strategic partners in the business, Richard Ashbee, of apparel manufacturer RGS, and Dennis Ho, of Digital Jungle, where we shoot and produce all our own original digital content.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is to keep everyone motivated day in and day out, even when you’re having one of those days.
What was the most important lesson you learned?
Being flexible enough in the beginning to pivot the business to what your customers and the marketplace are telling you.
How many hours a day do you put in?
When you run your own business, you’re very aware that there are only 168 hours in a week and need to use every one of them efficiently. I work a lot.
Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers?
I think if you asked that question 20 years ago the answer would be yes. But I think twentysomethings have done enough in the past decade or so that youth is no longer viewed as incapable or inexperienced. Being a young woman in business has its advantages and disadvantages.
Will you start another company?
Could you ever work for someone else?
You always work for someone, whether it’s your employer, your investors or your customers. Customers are the toughest to work for, but the most rewarding when you get it right.
What do you do to relax?
I love hiking. Being outside relaxes me.
HILARY NOVELLE HAHN, 29
Style Club, online shopping platform, Los Angeles
Financials: $220,000 in
startup investments, including manufacturing and distribution partnerships.
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