Self-Starter Stories: From Wall Street to becoming the Founder of a Luxury Fashion Brand
By: Nadine Burzler
This week's Self-Starter Story features Lizz Choi, founder of Onnix Handbags.
Onnix produce innovative luxury laptop handbags for women using Saffiano leather and are designed to stay with you all day, evolving to suit your needs.
Lizz Choi interview:
Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: My parents. They are entrepreneurs and are entrepreneurial. They gave my sisters and I a life that was more fulfilling than we realised, until we were older. They definitely shaped who I am today.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Its a cliché but it was simply: starting. I used to get hung up on the name of the business, then looking up the domain to see if it's taken, or what type of logo, before even making one step to seeing if I could create the business or seeing if there's a demand. I would say to my old self now, buy a landing page, write a description of a product or service that I'm interested in selling or creating and then ask and talk to people and see if I can garner interest. Anything but sitting behind a screen "thinking".
What did you want to be when you were a child?: Business woman or a math teacher
What was your last job?: I was working on a different startup called Bump & Bliss. It was a marketplace for mums and baby services. An online directory of sorts, to make parenting a little bit easier.
What did you learn from your worst boss?: Choosing empathy. My "worst" boss didn't take the time to remind himself how it felt to start out, how it felt to fail, how it felt to be belittled. I choose to put myself in the other person's shoes first and lead any conversation that way.
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: This is so instrumental for all small business owners to do. We cannot wait around for others to recognise the hard work and dedication towards our work or the type of business we are creating. It will take a while to be chosen if we wait. People only recognise you until you are a value to them and not during the process when you are trying to create something of value. I decided to choose myself after a very dark period last year, where I was depressed from this journey of starting a business. I poured my whole self, or at least to the amount I could with a small child, and I felt under-appreciated and devalued. I realised that others will only value you, when you see the value in yourself. Once you learn to pick yourself, you will start to be picked.
What is your favourite business book and why?: The 5 Love Languages. Learning how to navigate relationships are vital to business as well as friendships and our happiness. This book taught me to evaluate how I feel loved and appreciated, how to express my love and appreciation in ways that the other person understands. I totally recommend it!
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I am very fortunate to have a business partner that is my opposite. We "outsource" our weaknesses to the other person. For time sake, we also outsource photography and our instagram channel. We are also starting to outsource copy writing as it's our weakness.
What is your productivity secret?: Pomodoro technique and having a child! When you are a parent, you need to be productive as you are time poor and you also have a major priority in your life that is not business. In order to maximise my working hours and parenting hours, we use a technique called Pomodoro that trains your brain to focus. It's hard!
How do you market your business?: We market through social media - Facebook and Instagram and through live events.
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: We launched our product through a crowdfunding platform called Kickstarter. We started a Facebook group that worked like a focus group, and they were our first paying customers.
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: Through social media, kickstarter and email marketing.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Meet others that have done it, ask for help and start with small actionable steps.
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Richard Branson. He's built a global brand but continues to experiment. I would love to know what drives him, his productivity hacks and how he thinks the landscape has changed during the years.
To follow Liz's journey, you can do so via her social media channels and website linked below.
Lizz Choi has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.
Voting for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017 will take place in November 2017 so make sure you get your entry submitted to qualify.