Small Business Intervew: Yewande Durojaiye, Laydee Boutique
I'm excited to present Yewande Durojaiye, owner of Ladyee Boutique, a contemporary women’s clothing, accessories and chic lifestyle store and wardrobe styling service. Yewande is a wife and mother to 3 beautiful children and transitioned from working in the real estate industry several years ago to pursuing her dream of owning her own business in the world of fashion. She successfully manages her business on two continents and just recently opened her first brick and mortar store in Atlanta GA this year. Yewande is sharing some great advice and tips based on her experience so far in the retail fashion industry.
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your business. What is it called and what services / products do you offer?
My name is Yewande Durojaiye and I am the founder of Ladyee Boutique. Ladyee is a boutique retail shop that features a well edited selection of contemporary women’s clothing, accessories and chic lifestyle essentials that cater to the discerning woman. In addition we offer special event styling and general wardrobe makeover services to our clients. We focus on finding chic and feminine clothing that make our clients look and feel beautiful.
Can you share a bit about how you choose this line of business? What transition did you make to owning your own business?
I worked in the real estate industry as a senior land acquisition analyst with Kaufman and Broad, a top five homebuilder and land developer in the United states and France, I oversaw and got financial approval for several projects including a 500 plus home development project featuring the Martha Stewart home collection from land purchase to home sales in the Atlanta area, amongst many others.
As much as I enjoyed working in the corporate world, I have always loved being a part of making women look beautiful. As a child , I helped my mum pick out her work outfits every evening for the next work day. I would pick out shoes and tell her when to wear her hair up, down or swooped to the side, party weekends were my favorite as we could really get creative.
I never thought much of this but as I got older, my closest friends and family would continuously seek me out for opinions on special event looks whether it be looking for the perfect standout dress, seeking opinions on a particular look or simply helping them reorganize their closets and figure out what looks best suit their figures and made them feel the the most attractive. I absolutely loved this, it made my subjects feel great and it was so therapeutic for me, it made me happy. It got to the point whereI would cram my 8-10 hour work day in to 4 hours so I could spend the remainder of the day searching for dresses online to feel style requests and create sample looks.
After being consistently disappointed by the overly mass produced and in some cases exorbitantly expensive options at shopping malls, a great deal of thinking and a ton of trepidation, I decided to open Ladyee boutique and work on it full time. I figured if I could work tirelessly at a career which I had come to realize that I wasn’t very passionate about, I could certainly work diligently at a venture I knew I loved and enjoyed. It wasn’t perfect timing as I had just gotten married and was pregnant with my son shortly thereafter but I knew no time would be perfect, so armed with prayers, savings and a supportive husband, I took the plunge and took Ladyee Boutique on full time.
Do you have any special training?
No, I do not have any special training. I am completely self-taught, I read a lot, pretty much everything I can, and pay attention to the tiniest details. I am always open and eager to learn, listen and ask a million and one questions when given the opportunity.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a business owner?
One of my biggest accomplishments is putting together several Ladyee Boutique shopping events in Lagos, Nigeria where with the help of my amazing family and dedicated friends, we single handedly catered to over 250 ladies in 8hrs at our busiest event with absolutely no hired help and mostly word of mouth organic advertising.
What mistakes have you made with your business? What did you learn from the experience and how did you bounce back?
I have made countless mistakes, the ones that stick out the most involve me not trusting my instincts. I however have never been deterred, I learn from my mistakes, I don’t wallow in them, I get back up, make amends where I can and strive harder.
What do you consider the most important elements of running a successful small business?
I consider passion and consistency the two most important elements in running a successful small business. Doing what you are completely passionate about will get you through the low, grimy and mostly unglamorous times while being consistent will help you see progress and keep you on a upward trajectory. In addition, when you are completely passionate about your business and anything in life for that matter, it’s easier to find creative ways to get through tough times and focus on the good times ahead.
Do you have any start-up advice you can share with women reading this who would like to launch their own businesses?
Recognize and know your target market. Start your “start-up”, baby steps if you must but just start.
Do you have any advice on managing your small business finances?
There is a difference between net profit and gross profit, know the difference and reinvest at least 40% of your earnings back into the business. Invest in yourself, pay yourself, reward yourself no matter how small.
How do you balance work and life owning a small business?
Balancing work and life while running a small business can be a lesson in life, all in its own. I always put family first, no matter how tired I am, I make the time to prepare dinner, no matter how quick and simple, I make time to go to the park, get ice cream and as many simple pleasures as I can think up.
I try to make a schedule and adhere to it, as owning a small business also means most things fall back on me, however I prioritize as much as I can and delegate where I can, if I can. I am learning to take breaks when I need to, recharge and reset my expectations when I need to. It can be a moving target but it’s important to remember being a small business owner also means being able to enjoy the little perks that come with it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years
In five years, Ladyee Boutique will be outfitting and making more women world wide feel amazing and additional brick and mortars ( we opened our 1st one in Atlanta this summer!).
Please share a fun fact about yourself
I absolutely love pretty paper :)