Regardless of what movies say, college is not all fun and games and being a student is tough. Not only do you have to worry about grades, projects, tests, jobs, clubs and a social life but for many of us it is the first time living without our parents and navigating the adult world more or less by ourselves. What if you added running your own business on top of that? Crazy right? Not for Lexi and Sam, the brains and beauties behind Wild Belle.
It was clear that these two had creativity written all over them once I stepped foot into Samantha’s cozy apartment. Her comfy grey couch, which matched her plush rug and well thought out knickknacks, made the place so warm and inviting. Her fairy lights and personalized decorations resembled something you would see on Pinterest and dreamed of having in your own home. You could probably tell by the name, Wild Belle, that it has something to do with bohemian pieces which the girls both agreed fit into their personal styles. Lexi is a sophomore at Colorado State University and Samantha is a senior. Both of them are studying Design and Merchandising with a business minor and started the process of their own online store last year. Gone are the days where you could get a job just by having a four-year degree, and now a degree is no longer a guarantee, even in our chosen field of study so they decided to take their financial fate into their own hands.
“How did you two meet?”
Sam: “I worked at Cira in Old Town, Fort Collins for over a year and Lexi started in May. We began working together more and hanging out and realized we wanted to do the same thing. We were both kind of freaked out about our future and what do we wanted to do with our career.”
“Why did you start a business?”
Lexi: “I’ve been obsessed with boutiques for the past few years and I’ve always wanted to have a cute little store. We kind of just started it for fun but didn’t realize how much work went into it!” she admitted while laughing at the irony.
“What made you start now?”
Sam: “For me personally it’s been a way to set up my future just because I’m graduating. I know with Lexi it’s a lot of pressure thinking ‘where am I going to go?’ Also the staff at CSU, like our fashion professor Carol, have been so supportive. Some people have been asking why are you doing this now, it’s crazy! But I won’t have these resources once I graduate. It’s been a way for us to put in what we want and really reflect on who we are. If it wasn’t for Cira we wouldn’t be doing this. They inspired us. We’re still learning, we don’t know everything” she shared “and when people say we can’t do it, that just gives us more motivation.”
“What was it like getting started?”
Sam: “The original name of our boutique was Blue Bell instead of Wild Belle but we changed it to be more free spirited and we were worried it sounded too much like cows and ice cream!” they both laughed cringing at the thought. “I spoke to someone who asked me about all this legal stuff that we had no idea about but we finally got our business registered and it didn’t take too long. We knew a couple whole sale brands already and we had to start budgeting. We also hired a graphic designer to do our logo who is also a student at CSU.
We focused on the clothes first and how we want our brand to be perceived. It’s been a long and hard process but we’re getting down to it now. You have to do things you never thought you would have to deal with like creating a P.O box, fax number, customer inquiries and stuff like that”.
“How do you choose the items that will go into your store?”
Lexi: “We pick based on look and quality. We don’t want it to be too pricy because we’re appealing to college students”.
Sam: “I asked so many friends, even my boyfriend and his friends! I asked my mom and clothing brands through email. You have to go through your reliable sources.”
“How will you balance this new business with school and other obligations?”
Sam: “I no longer work at my old job and it was sad because I grew close to them but now it’s a good thing because we have more time. Classes are not as demanding. I like having multiple things going on because it helps with time management. It seems like a lot but it’s very beneficial and I can apply what I learned in class to our business”.
“Any tips for students wanting to start a business?”
Lexi: “Just do it. I was talking to my uncle who said ‘if you just think about it down the road while you’re working a miserable job you hate, you’ll regret it.’ If you love it then it will be worth it.”
Sam: “Don’t focus on the money, put everything you have into it. Don’t give up on it. We put so much time, money and effort into it. Do a lot of research! Make sure you’re passionate about it and don’t gave up easily.”
Check out Wildbelle’s site for their latest fashions at www.shopwildbelle.com and on their Instagram @shop_wildbelle
Daniel de La Fe Photography