Too often in our society, people picture men in their heads when they hear words like, “boss”, “entrepreneur”, or “CEO”. Being a small business owner has put me in touch with so many successful female business owners and entrepreneurs that when I hear these words, I often picture a woman or I just don’t assume anything at all. Women are obviously just as capable as men when it comes to the business world and it is high time that women business owners and entrepreneurs are more visible in the media in our society. This is where the idea for Women in Business was born. Women in Business is a monthly feature that highlights female entrepreneurs and business owners. Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to learn more about small businesses in various fields, but it is a great shopping guide for supporting small businesses.
An Interview with Carmen from The Flair Exchange
Tell us a little bit about your business. How did you decide to start The Flair Exchange? What exactly do you do and how long have you been doing it?
Sure! So, The Flair Exchange really started as a hobby and an excuse to invite my girlfriends over for themed parties like Cinco De Mayo and Oktoberfest. I quickly realized that my aesthetic for party decor was unique and trendy. I wasn’t able to find the kind of decorations I wanted at big box party stores. As a naturally crafty gal, I made my own. I sold a few of the decorations to close friends and then launched an Etsy store in 2010. I’ve since grown The Flair Exchange to be a full e-commerce website, where we have over 50 retailers here in the USA and internationally. I’m responsible for product design and development.
What is your favorite product that you offer?
I’m currently crushing on our ‘Sugar-Plum’ Tassel Garland Kit. It’s bright, but the combination is a tad unexpected with hints of rose gold. I’m really loving rose gold right now.
What are some of the pros and cons you experience from working at home?
Up until May of this year, I ran The Flair Exchange from my home office. We moved the office into a commercial space to accommodate our growing team and an expanding product line. So, while I don’t operate from my home anymore — I did for a bit. Working from home is great, but you’ve got to be disciplined. I’m a worker by nature, so turning off the computer at 5 was really hard for me. It was really nice to have zero commute time, and my favorite coffee within just a few steps. Also, I never worked in my pajamas. I don’t understand how anyone can be productive in them!
You work with an awesome team of women. What was the process of hiring them like?
I couldn’t agree more! My team is really awesome and I don’t know what I’d do without them. I started with adding our customer service gal, Sarah. She is a contract employee so adding her was fairly easy. The gals that work here in the studio are true employees, so the paperwork for them is a little more labor intensive. I rely on my accountant and attorney for a lot of advice when it comes to all of the legal stuff. They’ve been incredibly helpful with the hiring process.
What/who inspires you and your work?
When it comes to products I look for trends in fashion, but personally re-charge in the wilderness.
Do you ever find it a challenge to balance your business and your personal life? How do you find your perfect work/life balance?
Sure. When I worked from home and did almost everything on my own it was tough to turn the lights out, but I think every entrepreneur struggles with that. As we’ve added team members balancing work and home has been easier.
What was the best piece of advice you were given?
I read a lot of business advice via blogs, magazines, books etc. I just can’t get enough of it. When it comes to social media; if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything. I’m totally guilty of feeling like we need to be sharing something on Instagram or Facebook everyday, but if we don’t really have anything to say — we take that time to comment on other businesses’ status updates now. It’s a much better way of building community than forcing a status update.
What is your favorite thing about owning your own business?
I love being my own boss! It requires a lot of work (I mean way more than you could possibly imagine), but it’s really great being the one that calls the shots.
What has been the most surprising element of owning a business?
Growing the business has come with quite a few surprises and mostly financial ones. As we expand, our overhead does too. It’s so important to make sure our pricing allows for us to expand and grow.
What goals do you have for your business over the next five years?
Over the next 5 years, I’d love to see The Flair Exchange expand to offer more lifestyle items. Currently we focus solely on party pieces, but our party philosophy easily spills into everyday life.
How do you define success as a business owner?
A key measurement of our success has always been repeat customers. I know we are doing something right if people are coming back or sharing our products with friends. Sure, there is an indication of success in the traditional sense if we look at figures and stats. But, the customer is really where success begins.