The Art of Small Business

Words by Wayward

Owning your own business is often not as glamorous as it sounds, but the struggle is well worth the reward. We recently sat down with a few of our favorite badass female entrepreneurs (whose products we’re proud to carry at Wayward) to hear more about what initially inspired their journey, where their business is at today, and the struggles—and triumphs!—unique to them and their stories.

 

Jen Oishi of Lost Commodity

What sparked the initial idea behind Lost Commodity? How has your initial inspiration evolved into the business you run today?

The idea for Lost Commodity actually began with an annual surf trip to Mexico. My boyfriend (and now business partner) Henry and I had been going on this trip to Baja for the last few years and every year, our gear would get absolutely wrecked by the elements. The original idea was to design and build the most durable bags possible that would survive 10 days camping on the remote Mexican coastline. Long story short, none of the bags survived the trip…

Back in Seattle, we reflected on what went wrong with these bags and what we would do differently if we had another chance. We found that what makes a really durable product so great is its ability to face any situation and survive to tell the story. Something that started as a fun project for one of our adventures quickly turned into an obsession to perfect a craft. Hundreds of designs, dozens of prototypes, a million little tweaks and countless sleepless nights later, we officially launched Lost Commodity.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

When I was a kid, I was convinced I would be a singer when I grew up. Turns out (after years of voice lessons) that I’m not a very good singer… but my love for music led me to be a part of musicals + theater in school, which introduced me to costume design where I learned to sew. So I guess it wasn’t all for nothing!

What’s the biggest struggle or sacrifice you’ve encountered in your career?

My biggest struggle since we started Lost has been finding and making time for the other things I love. While it has been such an incredibly fun experience building this brand from the ground up, we definitely don’t take enough time to just go have some fun and not talk about work.

What stresses you out? Relaxes you?

What stresses me out the most is that constant feeling that no matter how much work I put in, I could always be doing more to push the company forward. There is just not enough time in the day!

Getting outdoors always helps to relax me. Whether it’s getting out of town and going on a hike, or surfing, or just riding my bike around the city, or going for a quick swim in the lake, I always feel rejuvenated after getting some fresh air.

What’s a business goal for 2019?

A big goal for us this next year is to move our whole operation into Henry’s workshop (Jump Ship Workshop) on Westlake. Currently everything has been made in our live/work loft in The Old Rainier Brewery, but giving Lost its own dedicated space will be a huge move for us.

Shop Lost Commodity in our Seattle and Chicago stores. Keep up with them on Instagram at @lost_commodity.

 

 

Chanel Marshall of Goldstruck Goods

What sparked the initial idea behind Goldstruck Goods? How has your initial inspiration evolved into the business you run today?

Goldstruck Goods stems from a marriage of a few roads intersecting. When working as a wardrobe stylist in Southern California, I had the pleasure of connecting with a great group of creatives passionate about their work. The unfortunate flipside to that was witnessing the insane amount of waste within the fashion industry. We would buy tons of cheap clothes to dress a model for 5-10 minutes, then throw it away. It never felt good. I always collected vintage and love scouring thrift stores. Why not implement that into my work? I started marketing myself as a vintage stylist, promoting using vintage or thrifted items and re-styling the pieces already in your closet rather than participating in fast fashion. Iʼd start styling vintage in with other brands’ pieces at shoots and gained an obsession with creating mini vintage collections. At every shoot a model, creative director or makeup artist would ask where to purchase my finds, so I started selling them. My husband and I made the decision to move to Chicago a year ago, and I resolved to sell vintage and promote repurposed styling via my website and blog as my main focus. It allows me to travel for new finds, focus on the web in the winter, pop-up all over the city when the weather permits and allows flexibility to still take on styling and hair and makeup gigs here in Chicago or back in Los Angeles. I still get my hands in creating beautiful collections without participating in the typical waste of the fashion industry and without supporting large, inhuman factory-sourced brands.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

It was obvious to me (and everyone around me) that I would do hair or “play dress up” for a living. As the girl braiding everyoneʼs hair on the soccer field and changing my outfit multiple times a day as a kiddo, there wasnʼt a question in anyoneʼs mind.

What relaxes you? Stresses you out?

Hangin with my glorious pup Bruce and sharing a fresh joint with my husband typically does the trick. Curling up with a good book, sipping coffee at a mellow spot and making lists also chills me out. Yup, making lists… unloading the to-doʼs and all the mess in my head is so satisfying.

Not being able to live in the moment stresses me out. Thinking too far into the future always gets me wired. Itʼs been a pretty stressful (yet very exciting!) year so Iʼve really seen some new stressers pop up since moving across the country. Driving in the snow, not knowing where I am going ever and relying heavily on my phone to get around and run my business gets at me.

What’s the biggest struggle or sacrifice you’ve encountered in your career?

Not having a consistent reliable schedule, paycheck and/or benefits has been heavy on me and my little family. My husband has taken on a lot. I am always thinking about the business in one aspect or another, which can be exhausting. Not complaining, passion is good…. but I have certainly sacrificed life balance for the time being. Iʼll get it back 😉

What’s a business goal for 2019?

Continuing to connect with inspiring creatives, allowing some help — Iʼm horrible at accepting help — and forming a physical location of some sort, whether it be a shared creative space or a collective retail location with a like-minded brand.

Shop curated Goldstruck Goods in the basement of our Chicago store in Wicker Park. Keep up with Chanel on Instagram at @goldstruckgoods.

 

Elea Plastino of Covet + Keep

What sparked the initial idea behind Covet + Keep? Why Braille? How has your initial inspiration evolved into the business you run today?

It was a moment in an elevator. I was having a really rough day and I had some things that I wanted to say, just not necessarily out loud. I was looking at the Braille on the elevator buttons and it hit me that I could express my message to the world, but it didn’t have to be in a way that threw it in others’ faces. There are many aspects to my own personality: I’m soft, sentimental, kind, caring, edgy, strong-willed, convicted, funny, and sometimes inappropriate. I wanted a way to express all of myself without being overt with it. This inspiration guides the essence of the company and all of our designs. Each piece is intended for the wearer to be able to say what they want to say in a coded and subtle way. It is intended to create a circle of people — we call them “keepers” — that know and understand this message.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

A grown up. Haha. Now that I’m a grown up I’d love to have the freedom of being a child again. Adulting is hard!

What relaxes you? Stresses you out?

I relax by walking, hiking, cooking, having good conversations with family and friends or joking over a bottle of wine. I really unwind when I can get out into nature.

I get stressed when I delve too deep into the thoughts of the current world issues: the state of our planet, minority groups that are still treated with prejudice, victims unheard, wars being fought, incurable diseases, and the list goes on. I have a huge heart that has trouble drawing boundaries of what it takes on as its own pain. I get stressed thinking about all of these issues. That… and when my dog goes bounding off into the forest after small animals and won’t listen to me to come back. He’s a little monkey that causes no end of stress.

What’s the biggest struggle or sacrifice you’ve encountered in your career?

The biggest struggle with Covet + Keep is drawing boundaries. I get out what I put into my business. I struggle to stop thinking about it and at times I struggle to get my head into the game of the small things like invoicing and logistics. The biggest sacrifice is the safety of a consistent paycheck, benefits package, and structured hours. It’s also the biggest pay off. Maybe it’s the dichotomy of self employment.

What’s a business goal for 2019?

Growth, but that’s pretty vague 🙂 We have some really exciting new things coming in the pipeline. There is a new collection that departs from Braille, but still carries the same essence of self expression that the brand is based on. We’re pretty excited about sharing it with y’all!

We carry Covet + Keep jewelry online, and in our Seattle, Bellevue and Chicago stores. Keep up with them on Instagram at @covetandkeep.

 

Kate Day of Dovetail Workwear

What sparked the initial idea behind Dovetail Workwear? How has your initial inspiration evolved into the business you run today?

Kyle and I had a gardening business, and hated our workwear uniforms. We couldn’t believe there weren’t more choices on the market for rad women who wanted to feel capable, empowered, and feminine. We met Sara, who had a magic toolkit full of apparel know-how, and that was how it began. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, however. As soon as we told female friends that we were designing a work-pant, they came out of the woodwork.

We are motivated to give women real tools in the form of apparel. Maybe it’s the groundbreaking way these women are carving paths in all kinds of fields, but our ladies carry themselves with such strength and grace. We aspire to be a brand that sees and celebrates their remarkable accomplishments.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Wonder Woman. Had the Underoos.

What relaxes you? Stresses you out?

Gardening has and always will be my go to therapy. It’s reliable, forgiving, and bestows a lot of beauty and natural connection. Growing a startup is especially challenging when you are already well into midlife (with other careers, commitments, interests, and family underway). We all feel chronically spread thin; there is never enough time in the day.

What’s the biggest struggle or sacrifice you’ve encountered in your career?

In my twenties, I had a Master’s degree and interesting professional work as an urban planner that evolved into international development work overseas. But I always had imposter syndrome and the strong conviction that everyone else in the room knew more than me. That self doubt even carried over into motherhood — always my own worst critic. I did a lot of therapy in my thirties to get over the roots of that and it helped tremendously. Oddly enough, I am now in a line of work and business for which I have no formal training, but I feel more confident and valuable than ever before.

What’s a business goal for 2019?

For Dovetail Workwear to be carried in every part of the United States so that women can access our products.

We will be carrying select Dovetail Workwear pieces in our Seattle store starting mid-October. Keep up with them on Instagram at @dovetailworkwear.

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