UNPLUGGED: How does it feel to be a store owner in Columbus, Ohio?
STEPHANIE: Amazing! I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world! I’ve wanted to do this for as long as I could remember but I kept putting it off for a variety of reasons. I didn’t think it was feasible. I thought it would be much more intimidating than what it really was. And life took over. I was laid off from my job and at that point, I made up my mind that I am never going back to corporate retail. I’m never going back to working for another boss. I’m opening my own store. I’m being my own boss. And since that decision, I’ve never looked back! It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.
UNPLUGGED: What was it like to transition from an employee mentality to an employer mentality?
STEPHANIE: Very hard! I read articles, books and how-to guides in order to transitioning myself into a business owner and an entrepreneur. However, I discovered there is nothing that can prepare you for the experience of truly being your own boss. You just have to do it! I went from having 1 job to having multiple jobs. When I worked for Express, I had 1 job – purchase women’s outer wear. Now that I own my own store, I have to be the CEO, CFO, COO, and Human Resources. I have to run my own marketing campaigns. I have to hire people. In essence, being your own boss means you wear multiple hats but I love it. I am the one who makes the decisions for everything in the store and I wouldn’t trade for anything!
UNPLUGGED: Does being an entrepreneur give you a fresh perspective regarding things you may have taken for granted as an employee?
STEPHANIE: Absolutely! The amount of time and detail it took to open a store is unimaginable. Everything in the store I had to hand pick. It’s made me appreciative of all the work small businesses and large corporations have to do to make their store shine. Truly, I understand what it takes to be successful because I’m doing all the things that I took for granted or never even considered.
UNPLUGGED: What would you say to a woman playing with the idea of being her own boss?
STEPHANIE: DO IT NOW! Seriously! I kick myself for waiting so long to believe in myself. I should have done this five years ago when I graduated college. Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for my job after college. I learned a lot but I should’ve been doing this from the beginning. I hear people say what they wish they could and I say do it now! Don’t delay. Stop making excuses. Just do it and you will figure out the specifics as you go! It’s not going to be easy but it’s so worth it. Besides, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
UNPLUGGED: Some entrepreneurs have family support while others have no support when launching businesses. Which were you?
STEPHANIE: At first, my family was skeptical and a bit unsupportive. However, when my family saw my resolve and realized this was real for me, they became supportive. But finding a business loan to get started was the challenge of challenges. Ironically, I thought it was going to be so easy. Boy, was wrong and in for the rudest awakening I’ve ever had. I created this 30-page business plan. I presented that plan to (what felt like) every bank in the city only to be turned down one bank after the next. It became very disheartening. I just found this wonderful space to lease but I didn’t have the money to lease it. Then one day, my husband (who’s an accountant) approached me about an idea. He talked to me about online lending. At this point, I was desperate and ready to try anything so I said let’s do it. Before I knew it, we had the loan and construction on the store began.
UNPLUGGED: So tell us about the location and the store.
STEPHANIE: First, I wanted to be in the Short North. In my opinion, the Short North is the go-to-spot for your high fashion and entertainment. So much to do here. Fine dining. Night Life. Music. Art. Fashion. It’s all here. I wanted my boutique in the Short North because there wasn’t a boutique like mine here. “Jolie” means “pretty in French and everything in here from the décor to the clothing, from the accessories to the mirrors has a pretty feminine feel to it. It’s feminine. It’s girly. It’s affordable. It’s Jolie! We purchase items that make women feel pretty and comfortable in their own skin. We diversify ourselves so our clientele can purchase for date night or a wedding. When we found this location, everything was grey and empty so we painted it white and filled it up. Cabinets were custom made. My dad helped me install these fixtures. In essence, we took on the task of taking everything out of my head and into reality.
UNPLUGGED: What is one lesson you learned taking on the birthing your dreams into reality?
STEPHANIE: No one can prepare you to chase your dreams. You just have to do it. It’s scary. It’s intimidating. It’s daunting but it with that said…IT’S VERY POSSIBLE. You’ll go through frustration, disappointment and setbacks. You’ll have periods when people doubt you and then they believe in you and then they look at you again skepticism. Some days you’re bring in the money and other days it’s quieter than a closed down church. Come what may, you can’t be afraid of the future. So just go for what you want. Make it happen. Will it to happen and except nothing less than it happening. Love all of it because you just never know what’s going to happen next!