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19 Dec '15

The Hustle: Things I Learned My First Year of Business

Posted by Ari Takata-Vasquez

The shop is officially 1 year old! In this time I've learned A LOT. So I've put together a list of the most valuable things I've learned as a small business owner. 

Little Things Make All The Difference.

It's easy to get so wrapped up thinking about the big picture items, but it's also important to remember the little things. As a small business, money is usually pretty tight, so you have to leave some of the 'luxuries' behind with your nine-to-five job. When I first opened the shop I cut back on pretty much all things beauty related: no regular haircuts, no new make-up products and no manicures or pedicures. Now a year in, I still don't spend much on those things but I allow myself a mani/pedi every once in a while. Even though it's small, it's really a good pick-me-up and moral boost. After all, if we've learned anything from Parks and Rec it's #TreatYoSelf.

treat yo self

Learn From The Best.    

There are so many hurdles when starting a new business. But it's not the end of the world, and you're not alone. Any problem you're having has been solved before and it's easy to learn from other's experiences. 

Before I opened the shop I met with other business-owners to ask "what do you wish you knew when you were starting your business?". 

Awesome shop owners like Kate from Crown Nine, Rachel from Owl N Wood, and Alyah from Show & Tell took the time to meet with me and gave me the low-down. 


The amazing thing about Oakland is the local love. Oakland business-owners like Alanna from Urban Stitch, Tommy from Two Jacks Denim, Keri from Marion & Rose's Workshop and Terry and Julia of Qulture Collective are great sources of support and inspiring to be around.

 

 

 

If It Can Happen, It Will Happen.
I know Murphy's Law is cliche but it's beyond true. I signed the lease for the shop in October of last year and busted my butt to get it open as soon as possible. For a minute there, it really felt like the world was against me. In December, the Bay Area was hit by the biggest rainstorm in two decades. The skylight on the shop blew off completely and it was quite literally raining in the shop. This was the day after we finished staining the floors and setting up for paint. Then, after a couple weeks of protests, my doors were graffitied. And to make matters worse, I was hit with a pretty nasty cold. 

From all of this, I learned that control is really just an illusion. I put together extensive budgets, timelines, and construction schedules, but at the end of the day I could have never predicted what happened. This taught me to be more comfortable with being uncomfortable (although I still fight it). 

 

Everyone Has a Story. 

In the last year, I've met so many incredible people with a multitude of different backgrounds and interests.  Everyone has a story and when you just take a second to listen most people are happy to share it. Oakland is filled with so many interesting, creative and passionate people. I've learned to slow down and take the time to find something in common with most of the people who come through the shop, and I've been able to turn customers into friends. 

 

Enjoy the Ride.

The first year flies by before you know it. It's important to enjoy the process and not be only goal oriented. Looking back on this year it's be incredible. I now have an awesome employee (shoutout to DeShara), have expanded our product offering to include art and beauty products, and we've been on Thrillist, 7x7, and Days with Zahrah. We've donated to organizations like Rock Paper Scissors, Flight Deck, The Rose Foundation, and Oakland Animal Services. The cherry on top of this year has been siting front row at New York Fashion Week. That was an experience I never thought I'd have. It was surreal. 
 
There you have it, some of the highlights of things I've learned in the last year. Hopefully you find some of this information useful and this gives you some encouragement to start your dream project! 

 

Thank you for your support during our first year and see you in 2016!

Ari 


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