Business 101: Girl Bosses, Mogul Misses & Brand Babes

What does a fashion forward online boutique owner, a progressive styling service, a gifted hairstylist and a success hungry realtor all have in common? They’re central to Hampton University’s campus, they’re women and they’re all young perpetrators of the entrepreneurial spirit. Meet Lauren Kingsbury, Mia Foster, Tiffany Livingston and Autumn Ellison who all started their own businesses after finding their separate passions. They’re making a profit, making a difference in the black community and are all small businesses. Going off into the deep and into business for yourself is a hurdle that much of the current workforce can’t seem to get their leg over. These four young women, all seniors, saw a need on campus and pursued a market of college students and beyond.

 

TIFFANY LIVINGSTON: @SHOPSOTIFF

Meet Tiffany Livingston. Tiffany is one of the newer kids on the block when it comes to having their own business, but a veteran to style. On her Instagram feed, you will find a page littered with looks that she’s worn on campus. Just this November, she introduced “Shop So Tiff” an interactive online clothing boutique after she became worn down with the daily inquisitive of, “Where did you find that?” While the business is still in its infancy stage, the vision behind it is larger than life and Tiffany Livingston is hoping her business will branch out into the mainstream fashion market.

 

 

HC: What was the main inspo behind branding a boutique? Where did “Shop So Tiff” originate?

TL: People always ask me what I wear, where I get my stuff from or if I can consult with them and give them ideas. I feel like this is a peak in my platform. Before I leave Hampton University, why would I not start what I wanted to for a long time?

 

HC: What do you say when you hear people talking down on black business?

TL: I say that you get what you pay for and that you’re putting funds into the black community, whether you see it or not. Just how we support other people, we have to support our people. You pay extra money when you buy something overseas, so why not put that money into your community? And it’s like unique items most of the time from people who have a whole lot of culture in them as opposed to mainstream companies.

 

HC: Who is one style icon that you look up to?

TL: I have three! Tracee Ellis Ross, Rihanna and Ryan Destiny, she’s great! I have another one but I can’t give you all that.

 

Can’t get enough of Tiffany? Follow her store @ShopsoTiff and follow her feed @_february4

 

Mia Foster: @A.R Stylez

Meet Alexis Foster, a mostly self-taught hair stylist and senior entrepreneur who capitalized on coming to a university where the female to male ratio is unevenly stacked. Building her empire hasn’t always been easy especially as her talent came to fruition and she became a hot commodity on campus. Just this fall, Mia banked on a hype market: HAIR. The ‘Alexis Re’Na Collection” features 4 luxurious textures, up to 30 inches of hair and also has closures and frontals up for grabs. Mia’s business has become a success because her passion aligns where her talents lie. From a dorm room to a styling room and soon to be a wig franchise, Mia Foster has vision for her gifted hands.

 

HC: If someone were to ask you how your business makes an impact on Hampton University’s campus, how would you respond?

MF: I try to expand and I hire braiders so my goal long term is to create jobs. So now, I’m trying to find young entrepreneurs to help grow their skills in braiding or doing hair. I want it all to come full circle.

 

HC: What’s the hardest thing about being a hairstylist?

MF: One of the biggest downfalls is finding people that believe in you and believe in the work that you’re doing and finding people that think you’re worth it because when you have young entrepreneurs like myself, you may not always be taken seriously. People also may not want to pay the price that you think you’re worth. With that being said, I say stick to what you believe and charge what you’re worth. All money is not good money and that’s what I had to learn in this industry.

 

HC: When you look at your brand what do you see?

MF: I don’t know, that’s a good question. You know what? I look at it as myself, I see it as a young, up and coming business and I’m a young entrepreneur and at the end of the day, some business may start from nothing because honestly, I started from nothing and I’m making something now! At the end of the day my goal is to expand and to be able to supply other jobs to other people and that’s it.

 

Want to get your hair touched by Mia? Follow her hair page @a.r_stylez

 

LAUREN KINGSBURY: @Lkingsburykw @MillenialsMovingOut

She’s one of the few, the brave, the branded: meet Lauren Kingsbury. Not only is Lauren a novice realtor but she’s also a teacher to those who want to start accumulating wealth at a young age just like herself. Under her belt, Lauren has her signature business “Millennials Moving Out,” her realty license buying and selling homes and is even trying her hand at philanthropy with her very own nonprofit called the “Prom Me Project.” While her net is widely cast, Lauren wants those around her to see the value of keeping wealth within the black community and also teaching that being a young mogul like herself, isn’t as hard as you would think.

 

HC: How would you describe your business to someone who is unfamiliar?

LK: I’m trying to think about which one I want to tell you about! “Millenials Moving Out,” is your guide to more money and more freedom, it’s events that I host for consumer education. It’s encouraging young adults, people that are in college just to explore the world of real estate.

 

HC: As a young black business owner, what’s the biggest hurdle you face?

LK: Being the youngest in the office, for sure. When I got my real estate license, I was 18 and like I said, I was surrounded by 40 and 50 year olds so it was different for me to be around people that age and try to make my impact greater within the office and on campus. It was two wrapped in one: 1. It was being the youngest and 2. using that to my advantage. Also, getting millennials and college students to be interested in real estate is difficult, so marketing it in a way that makes it attractive is important too.

 

HC: How do you feel about being one of the few people on campus doing realty?

LK: I feel really good about it. I’m not sure if I’m the only one doing it but literally I’m using it to “come from contribution.” I’m taking this class and we learned “come from contribution,” right? So I’m the type of person that when I learn something, I want my community to follow so I want everyone to know how to buy a house, how to receive their real estate license and things like that. I want to help cultivate solidarity and that’s the only way you can grow, that’s what sets me apart from the other people that do real estate on this campus.

 

Do you want more money and more freedom? Follow Lauren @Lkingsburykw and follow her regular feed if you love Monday Motivation @youknowitslo

 

 

Autumn Ellison: @So.FVSHIONABLE

 

Meet Autumn Ellison and yes, you could call her “So Fashionable,” indeed. Autumn’s business, “So.FVSHIONABLE,” offers apparel and styling services for every occasion where you need to dazzle your competition, floss for your boss and of course serve a look. Yup, you heard right, you’re one consultation away from being styled by the best! Not only is Autumn a styling consultant, a brand babe and a Youtuber, but she’s also a small store owner for her very own apparel. Autumn took her business into her own hands when she simply needed an outlet for her creativity. Her feed is fetch and her style is a stance. Once a snowball is now rolling into an avalanche and she wants to help get you, “So Fashionable.”

 

HC: What did you anticipate for “So.FVSHIONABLE” before it was branded?

AE: Honestly, I did not think anything! I just needed an outlet for my style and to express my love for fashion, I was 18 years when I started it. As time progressed, I saw that there was a bright future for “So.FVSHIONABLE” and for how far I could take it.

 

HC: Are you familiar with “Crayon Case Cosmetics” and how the CEO and Founder @Supa_Cent just made her first million? What’s your reaction?

AE: Look at God! When you have hard work, dedication and consistency, things happen. It makes me want to go harder and go the distance for myself and my brand because anything is possible. Even though they say the market is oversaturated and there’s no room for anyone in any industry, even in the makeup industry, look at her, look at that. Here’s an example: there’s so many different types of bread and people still buy it.

 

HC: Do you have a certain quote pertaining to fashion that you live by?

AE: I don’t have any fashion quotes even though I do live by quotes BUT when it comes to fashion icons oh my goodness there are so many stylists that I freaking love! Cardi B’s stylist, he is like someone that I hope to be one day first off. Then you have people in this industry like Rihanna and even like Michelle Obama and, I know that’s like two different scales but Michelle Obama shows you what a classy woman should be like. But then Rihanna brings the pop culture and I even like a little sexy like Cardi B. The way I want to see my brand is to grow, is like a happy medium between both of those things.

 

 

Can’t wait to get wait to get fashionable like Autumn? Follow her: @So.FVSHIONABLE @Aayauty