These Teens Know How to Express Themselves

These Teens Know How to Express Themselves
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the girls at workIf you were to peek inside Express Yourself Clothing in St. Paul, Minnesota, you might think it’s just another cute boutique. But take a closer look and you’ll notice something different about this used clothing store: it’s conceived, and run, on teen fuel.

It was two years ago that high school students Janyesha Jackson, Kelsey Heider, Stella Richardson, and Perquila Rogers started thinking about what type of business they wanted to create through a Business Enterprise Program run by local nonprofit, Youth Express. Eighteen months later, the doors of Express Yourself Clothing opened for business.

Like a Boss recently talked with Janyesha, Kelsey, Stella, and Perquila about what it was like to launch their company.

LABG: You spent a long time researching and developing your idea before you actually opened Express Yourself. What were the benefits of taking that time to plan and prepare?
Janyesha: I think that if we didn’t research, we wouldn’t know anything about how to target our market or even know that we wanted to open a clothing exchange. Also, researching made us more confident in how to buy and sell.
Kelsey: I also think that it helped us see what people liked and how to shape our store to fit what people want.

LABG: Makes sense! What has been one of the best unexpected outcomes of starting your own business?
Kelsey: The best unexpected outcome for me was the look of the store once we opened it. I think that we all had different ideas of how it would turn out and in the end it was better than we all expected.
Perquila: We’ve had three articles in the newspaper which were very successful in helping us get our business started and getting people to come in and see what four young teen girls are capable of doing.
Stella: A great unexpected benefit I got out of co-founding and working at Express Yourself clothing is that I’ve become extremely interested in the work I am doing, which has made me reconsider what I’m interested in for a major in college. Also it has been a great place to get cute, inexpensive clothing!

LABG: Isn’t it great when things work out even better than you hoped? What do you know now about being an entrepreneur that you wish you knew before you created Express Yourself Clothing?
Janyesha: It’s possible. I never thought this could ever happen and I wish I had known it could earlier because I would have started a store a long time ago.
Kelsey: When we began, I had no idea that it would take so long to get the store up and running and then to draw customers in.
Perquila: Even though there was and is a lot of work involved, it’s a fun experience.
Stella: Entrepreneurship takes a lot of brainstorming, planning, decision-making, and great ideas to be successful. I didn’t expect it to take as long and take as much thinking and hard work to get the business up and running.

LABG: Creating and running your store has truly been a group effort. What were the benefits of collaborating as a team?
Perquila: I think it’s always better to have more than one opinion on things, especially when starting a business.
Kelsey: If you work alone, there’s no one to call you on a bad idea or mistake waiting to happen.
Stella: With a lot of brains working together, we were able to come up with the best possible outcomes and learn new things about entrepreneurship with and from each other. Also, it really helped to get the work done because we could split up the jobs evenly.

LABG: Sounds like you all worked great together. Last question: What advice would you give to other teen girls who want to become entrepreneurs?
Kelsey: There isn’t instant gratification. Starting a business is a long process that never seems to end, but once you open the business, there’s a sense of pride in knowing you were part of something many people will come to appreciate.
Janyesha: If you can find the space and the money, anything is possible. You’ve just got to research what best fits you, your space, and your budget.
Stella: I would tell other girls to really commit to it and work hard – it takes a lot of concentration to come up with good ideas and get the work done. I would also say to be creative and let your mind wander.
Perquila: If this is something you really want to do, put your mind to it and it can be done!

You can read more about Express Yourself Clothing by visiting their website here or liking their Facebook page!

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