It Girl | ASHLEY ALDERSON
By: Danae Edmonds
This month's It Girl is Ashley Alderson. Ashley created The Boutique Hub out of a need that she personally had to make fashion more accessible. Consider The Boutique Hub your matchmaker, finding you the latest fashion from all over. "We put all the stores you love in one place so you can browse by style, specialty or location and shop with your favorite boutique directly!" Ashley talks about how she came up with the idea, balancing life as a mom and entrepreneur and that no matter what, you too can achieve your dreams!
Name: Ashley Alderson
Age: Newly 30 :)
Job Title/Company: Founder, The Boutique Hub
Education Background: Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications and Public Relations, followed by 8 years working in the marketing and business development field.
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
I’m a jewelry addict, business owner, momma of three wild kiddos – Hadley (5), Easton (3), Jayde (1), best friend & wife of Eric, Packers fan, sarcasm speaker and lover of boutiques. I grew up on a ranch in North Dakota and recently moved to the land of cheese and beer (Wisconsin) two years ago with my family. 2. How did you find your passion for changing how we shop?
Growing up in North Dakota, the only place to shop was online. I was 60 miles from a community with a Wal-Mart and 3 hours from a mall or any cute shopping. I loved discovering cute boutiques and Indie retailers when I traveled, whether it was at vendor set-ups or in the downtown areas of large cities. The problem came up when I got home - unless I had a receipt, I couldn’t find those stores online to shop with again. I wanted to create ONE simple place where shoppers could discover cute boutiques from across the country by browsing them by style, specialty or locations. Once found, they could either shop the stores that fit them best directly or save them as a favorite for later. There are SO many options for online shopping today - I know that others don’t have the time to search the web, so The Boutique Hub is about making it simple!
3. Who are you most influenced by?
I can’t say that there is one person I’m most influenced by, but rather the direction of many. I love seeing the drive, passion, and creativity of others and discovering how I could put something like that to work in my own life. I was always raised to believe that any dream was possible, so creating something like The Boutique Hub was about following through on a wild idea. I will say my husband is great for feedback and has been a huge influence and supporter in the process. 4. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
My first career out of college, where I stayed for 6 years, was as an Executive Director of an Economic Development Corporation. I managed the economic & small business development efforts for the county where I lived and 3 cities. I LOVED it. I really enjoyed finding solutions to community problems, creating business plans, and implementing ideas. I also loved working with entrepreneurs who wished to start or expand a business. This is where a lot of my passion for the marketing aspect of The Boutique Hub comes from.
5. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
Goals are always fluid! When we first launched The Boutique Hub just a few months ago, our goals were initially just to focus on helping the boutique owners reach a new community of shoppers online. While that is still the focus of our site, we’ve expanded our mission to include several marketing services and coaching for our member boutiques because we hear this as a need daily. 6. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned from being an entrepreneur?
Focus. I think entrepreneurs can have a bit of squirrel syndrome - where they are always jumping from one idea to the next and fail to follow though on what’s important. It was important for me to recognize this and to focus my efforts, and that of our team, to build a solid foundation for our company, and avoid scattering into multiple directions.
7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I should be able to answer that right? Hmmm, ultimately our family values are faith and family first, so being able to build a company that also allows me to be present for the activities in our kids’ lives is a big part of my drive and determination. I know that the boutique owners I serve often share that same goal, so the more I can help them to be successful, the more rewarding it is across the board. I love what I do and getting to see the success of others is a major perk. 8. What is a typical day like for you?
Chaos. Running a company and having small children has a unique set of challenges. Our team works remotely the majority of the time, so when I’m working at home, there are typically others in my company that are creating a tornado wherever they go. Each morning after the kids go to school and the sitter’s, I like to focus on my 5 things list – the five most important things to accomplish that day. Getting those items accomplished may come early or maybe not until after everyone has gone to bed that night. As an entrepreneur, you learn to work in the most flexible way possible.
9. What was the biggest obstacle you faced so far in the process of pursuing your dreams?
For me, it’s been time. I am a big picture thinker and like to strategize for what’s coming 18 months down the road. That means my list is always full with little time to spare.
10. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
To enjoy the journey! Often we only focus on the 1 big end goal and forget to celebrate the small wins along the way! 11. When do you get your best ideas?
Laying in bed at night. It’s my time to daydream about the future and put the puzzle pieces of my business together.
12. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
Honestly, I fail daily. I’m human and it’s a constant struggle to learn from my mistakes. I think about this all the time with kids, and being able to admit to my kids that I may have made a mistake has been really important to me. They need to know it’s okay to fail so long as you’re trying your best.
13. How do you unwind?
I drink wine. Enough said, right?
14. What would you tell someone else who wants to start their own business?
Go for it. Create a really good business plan so you truly understand all of the aspects of your business, but just know that you’ll make mistakes and part of the journey is having the blind faith to get started. 15. What do you hope people take away from your story?
I know too many people who feel trapped in their careers, and I want them to know that they can create a business that revolves around what they are passionate about too. With the popularity of online learning, social media, and e-commerce, the possibilities are endless. YOU can create your own career to be passionate about just like I did or the boutique owners I work with did!
16. Anything we missed that you would like to share?
Be sure to take a peek at our newest boutiques & create your own list of favorites on www.theboutiquehub.com! I’d love to hear what they are, so tweet at us or share your list on Facebook and tag us!
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