Could you realize your dreams if you just had $2000 to start with? Liz Haan, the founder and owner of Marie La Mode Boutique, did just that. Marie La Mode began as a mobile boutique and now boasts a gorgeous storefront and online store along with the mobile boutique where it all began. Liz grew up with a passion for style, a generational gift from her grandmother, which manifested itself in putting together eclectic outfits curated from second hand stores. She started Marie La Mode after a short stint ‘behaving’ and following the rules of regular business. She hated her day job and dreamt of starting her own boutique with all the style and flair she flaunted in her own wardrobe.
Liz started slow. With just $2000, she had enough money to display a few pieces at shows or farmers markets. One thing led to another, and she moved to part time at her normal, acceptable, business job…and then quit all together to launch the business of her dreams: Marie La Mode Boutique. She bought a trailer and hauled her mobile boutique to private parties, farmers markets, shows and more. She did it all with no debt. As demand grew, so did her brand, along with her inventory, allowing her to reach more customers. Soon enough, she had the demand to open a retail store. With an incredibly small loan, she got creative with her displays, snatching up second hand mannequins, and putting in all the hours with her husband to build her dream storefront.
It all sounds like this entrepreneur lived happily ever after, right?
Liz opened up on the Shine Strong Podcast & to Leaders in Heels, sharing the nitty gritty details and all the struggles behind the scenes. Let’s dive into Liz’s authentic advice on owning your dream business.
1. It won’t always be easy
There are so many times when Liz finds herself crying on the couch with her two dogs and husband wondering what’s going on. She says, “Just cry. Just let it all out, and then you’ll be fine.”
Another way to put it is, find your outlet. If that’s crying — great! Cry your beautiful eyes out. Release it. If it’s going for a run, run as far or as fast as you need to in order to release what you’re wrestling with. If it’s something else, do what you need to do in order to move on. Holding onto it with white knuckles is only going to make things worse.
2. Know Why
Marie La Mode is unique to Liz’s style and personality and the pieces are unlike anything you’d find at another boutique. Everything has been hand-selected by Liz herself. This is because she knows what her style is, and she knows why she founded MLM. She advises, “Stay your path. Be who you are.” No matter what— no matter if you see a similar business with a different style achieving success — stay true to who you are and why you started down your path in the first place.
Sometimes “your path” isn’t always as clear as one would think. You might find yourself veering to wear a certain outfit because you saw someone else pull it off really well. There is a difference in experimenting with something new and veering off your path. To help you stay true to who you are, it’s a really good practice to sit down and write out your passion. Why are you doing what you do? What ignites your soul on fire? Is there a reason bigger than yourself? Dig deep into your soul and dedicate at least a few hours to this practice.
And if you haven’t launched your dream business yet, Liz says with all her heart, “JUMP!! Just jump ‘cause the worst thing that can happen is you fail, and fail…you learn.”
3. Be realistic
Sometimes entrepreneurs can overestimate themselves. Sometimes they underestimate themselves. The best thing you can do is get very realistic with your situation, what you’re capable of, how much capital you’re working with, and make a plan.
Liz (someone who hates numbers) created countless spreadsheets to crunch the numbers before she quit her day job and launched MLM. She has come to realize that talking to herself is a good way to get real on what she can actually pull off. She says, “Just talk to yourself. Ask yourself, can I be this person? Can I pull this off?”
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs think they can do more than is actually possible. The best way to truth test yourself is to establish your goal – and then backtrack to identify everything needed to get from your goal back to where you are today. When Liz does this, she’ll realize, “Wow, this will mean I need to work 7 days per week for the next 5 weeks. Can I really do that or will I burn out?”. She knows herself well enough to know that by the end of that 5 weeks, she will be completely spent and need a long weekend away, with no contact to the outside world. A stretch of work that hard and long will leave her empty and it’s not something she can do over and over again, but it is possible. Clearly laying out what it takes to accomplish a goal helps her remain realistic.
4. Outsource what you can
As a business owner, focus on your unique talents — the things that energize you and embody your mission. Liz found herself spending countless hours tagging merchandise when she could have been focusing that time on finding new pieces that would wow her customers. She realized that it was a more profitable decision to hire an employee to tag merchandise and to hire an accountant to do the books. Now, Liz has more time to focus on the things that make MLM the best boutique it can be.
5. Be aware of your inner voice
Liz says, “I think that your inner voice in your head is your biggest rooter, and also your biggest downfall”. Allow your inner voice to cheer you on, give you the courage to take huge jumps, and take your dream to new heights. But at the same time, be aware of the negative things it’s telling you, too. You are the only person who hears it, so you are the only person who can control it. If it’s being more of a bully than a supporter— it’s up to you to keep it in check.
Liz’s voice tells her, “You can do more. You can do better.” That type of message can be motivating — but it can also lead to a destructive behavior of never stopping. Liz has realized when she needs to quiet the voice long enough to realize if it’s motivating her or being destructive.
6. Get out of your comfort zone
Finally, as the style and fashion expert, Liz offers one last piece of advice. Most of us don’t have the eye for incredible pieces that Liz has, nor do we have the style expertise to know what to put together. Liz encourages us to get one piece out of your comfort zone. Notice how you feel in it. Wear it out and notice the way people look at you or the compliments you receive. Then, decide if you want to explore other options similar to this style.
Leah LeRae is the founder and host of The Shine Strong Podcast. Shine Strong creates a place where driven women can come to be encouraged by the authentic, vulnerable and experienced women who are guests, like Liz, on the show. Hosted by Leah LeRae, new episodes are released every Monday at shinestrongpodcast.com, on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.
Find Liz and Marie La Mode at marielamode.com. She also has
Facebook: Marie La Mode