People often talk about how lonely it is at the top, but what they rarely talk about is how quiet it can be during the climb. For Nichole Lynel however, it's a feeling she knows all too well. As we chat, the quietness that surrounds her while sitting on the floor awaiting movers to arrive at her old showroom serves only as a reminder of her own entrepreneurial journey. "Everybody is willing to help you when you're the underdog but when you have a chance of really succeeding, it gets a lot quieter," she revealed.
It was a little over a year ago that she took the last that she had, quit her job and decided to go full fledge in the direction of her dreams. And as with most people who go against the status quo and quit their unfulfilling 9 to 5, she encountered those who were apprehensive. She explained that while she had encouraging friends and family, in the beginning, they were more vocal about their concerns than supportive. "I've always wanted to be a fashion designer, so I went through a lot. I had a support system but they wanted me to play it safe. I had always been told 'no' or pushed in a different way or told how hard it would be. But I realized the only thing that was really hard was going to work every day and hating it. If it's going to be hard, it might as well be hard while doing something I love."
And what is that something, you ask? These days, Nichole Lynel is the owner of an online store filled with designs aptly named after herself. You see, fashion, as she explains it, is the one thing that came easily and naturally to her. From her younger days when she would sketch her original designs and play dress-up, Nichole always knew she was a fashion girl. It was a way for women and people in general to become whoever they wanted to be.
Fast forward to now though, and "fashion it girl" feels like a more appropriate title for the bonafide boss woman. Recently, xoNecole got the chance to chat with her and we found out exactly how she manages to slay and stay focused on her entrepreneurial journey.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
How did you get your start with your online boutique and how did you conceptualize the idea for your business?
I had an online store but then I left that store and launched Nichole Lynel last year and I just kind of went for it. I always wanted to be a fashion designer but I've always been told "no", or pushed in a different way or told how hard it would be. I was always told how hard it was, but I realized the only thing that was really hard was going to work every day and hating it. If it's going to be hard, it might as well be something hard that I actually love.
I started at the top floor and knocked on every door until someone told me "yes". It took months between the initial idea and the actual launch date. Stepping out on your own is a whole 'nother thing… It took a while, but what really happened was I got broke. Then I had to do something because I ran out of money. So I put my website together myself, the one I still use today and when I really made the decision to really go for it. It took me a week to get everything up and running.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
"If it's going to be hard, it might as well be something hard that I actually love."
What were some of your major setbacks when owning/running your business? How did you overcome them?
In the beginning, I was going through a lot. I really took a big risk, I used my last to launch my business. Even now, growing my business, I feel like the higher you climb, the quieter it gets. Everybody is willing to help you when you're the underdog but when you have the chance of really succeeding, it gets a lot quieter, especially when you're shaking it up. And you don't have a guide to this. Nothing can prepare you for solely profiting off your creativity. That in and of itself is a struggle every day.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
"Nothing can prepare you for solely profiting off your creativity. That in and of itself is a struggle every day."
So how did you go about scaling your business and growing it to what it is today?
I'm still doing it now, I've been doing my brand for a little over a year now. So I'm still in the beginning stages. But as much as I make, I put it right back; I invest it right back in. I don't believe in taking a large salary too soon and from day one I've had my accountant, so I'm all about doing revenue-generating activities. I want to invest in things that are going to produce results or growth. It has to be growing my business or has to be profitable enough for me to be putting my energy into it in it. And I am serious about my goals, I seriously put in the work overtime.
Speaking of putting in the work, your grind and hustle seems to light a fire under a lot of women to go after their dreams. What’s something you wish more people understood about the grind of entrepreneurship?
I wish more people understood what it takes to be an entrepreneur. It's so much that goes into creating something and you can't beat yourself up for it. It takes time, you can't expect things to just happen overnight. It's crazy what it takes mentally [and] financially. I wish people really understood what it takes to produce something great and then to produce something great consistently.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
"I want to invest in things that are going to produce results or growth. It has to be growing my business or has to be profitable enough for me to be putting my energy into it in it."
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own fashion label?
Number one, trust your gut. I wish I had listened to myself so many times because I always knew. Every time something blew up in my face, I always had this gut feeling in the pit of my stomach. Number two, get your paperwork right. People are all interested in the creative part of it but, fashion is a business and you really need to do your research. Get your paperwork right, talk to an accountant, talk to an attorney -- make sure that you are structured properly. Not making money is one thing but making money and not being structured properly will take you out quickly.
Number three is do the work. It's the most important thing but it's the most rewarding thing you can do for yourself. I didn't really find confidence in myself until I completed this and I always felt like there was a hole in my heart and something missing. And now I'm so full of because I found my purpose and what I'm here to do.
Courtesy of Nichole Lynel
"Not making money is one thing but making money and not being structured properly will take you out quickly."
What are some major lessons you’ve learned thus far on your journey?
Don't be cheap when it comes to your business because you'll end up paying twice. Appreciate people. No one works harder than when they feel appreciated. You're on God's time not yours. I talk about the waiting room all the time; we're always waiting, we're always thinking that someone should tag us in the game. But we're on God's time and I never got a seat at the table until I had something to say.
What can we expect next from your brand?
I have new denim coming and I have NL the Label coming! I'm also moving into an amazing showroom downtown LA and I cannot be more excited to just show the world what I really can do.
For more of Nichole Lynel, follow her on Instagram. Check out her boutique here.
Originally published on April 22, 2019
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Writer. Empath. Escapist. Young, gifted, and Black. Shanelle Genai is a proud Southern girl in a serious relationship with celebrity interviews, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and long walks down Sephora aisles. Keep up with her on IG @shanellegenai.
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‘Sistas’ Star KJ Smith Reveals How She Learned The Value Of Divine Timing
Actress KJ Smith's inspiring journey within the entertainment industry is a testament to how believing in oneself and trusting in divine timing can pave the way for success.
Over the years, Smith, whose acting career began in 2009, has appeared in various television shows and films before landing her leading role in BET's Sistas in 2019.
Since then, the 38-year-old's success has skyrocketed as she starred in other projects, such as Fatal Affair alongside Nia Long and Omar Epps, The Family Business, and Power Book III: Raising Kanan. Smith recently opened up about her experience during Black Love's The You Retreat discussion panel.
KJ On Success
In the panel last month, Smith revealed that despite her past achievements, she doesn't consider success to be a linear path but rather a continuous process.
The star shared that she gained this logic through the numerous times she auditioned for roles and has either received rejections or landed job opportunities. During that process, Smith added that she learned that if something was ordained in her life, that said thing would come to her.
"I think the phrase ‘made it’ is a little deceiving. It's a process of continuing to make it. How you know it's for you is when it's undeniable," she said.
KJ On Divine Timing
As the conversation continued, Smith recalled a particular moment when she didn't land an undisclosed role she thought was destined for her and expressed how heartbroken she was.
Still, the actress preserved and ultimately got the next gig she auditioned for a day after reading for that role.
"Actually, my first pilot, it was written for a white male, and at the time, I had just lost out on a role I had tested for. For something that I was like, 'This is actually me!' I tested for it, didn't get it. At the time, I was so heartbroken, " she explained.
“The next thing I booked... it was the quickest audition I had ever done. I literally went into the room. I did one scene, and then the next day, they were like, 'You're booked. We need you to fly to New Orleans.'"
Later, Smith mentioned that since that moment occurred in her life, she had shifted her mindset about not receiving certain things and that divine timing plays a role in "everything."
"That was mine, and no one else could have had that. That belonged to me, so now I'm like, 'No, it's going to be good thing, after good thing, after good thing, after good thing. Because nothing happens to me, everything happens for me," she said.
Smith continues to inspire her fans by using her social media platform to spread the message about trusting God's plan for one's life.
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