Let’s start with me introducing myself. My name is Brittney Shoulders and I am currently a 21 year old sophomore at McPherson College. My endeavor is the creation of my business, Cherry Doll, which is a retro purse company. These purses are made from automotive upholstery vinyl which comes in almost any color you can think of. There is also a metal flake vinyl, which has sparkle in it. These purses are made to be similar to classic car upholstery. They are unlike any purse you see when you walk into a store today.
The company started when Austin, my boyfriend, made me a purse as a birthday present in May 2010. I loved the fact that it was made from scratch! I received many compliments from friends, family, and even people that I didn’t know. I was proud to show it off. That September I received my second purse which matched the interior of my 1963 Thunderbird. I was ecstatic! This purse had a metal flake blue in it. This purse was definitely retro. I received even more compliments from people, and it made me realize that I needed to pursue this idea.
At that time, McPherson College had began offering the Horizon Fund, which gives students grants for good entrepreneurial ideas. I thought; hey why not go for it? So I set up an appointment with the Horizon Fund committee and pitched my idea. Any ideas on what their reaction was? Oh yes, they all loved it. I received my first grant of $450, which allowed me to purchase a part for our Consew industrial sewing machine, and a bulk of materials so I could begin making more purses.
Business started slow, and I had a hard time trying to balance my homework and trying to figure out what starting a business was all about. Boy, was I lost. I needed advice and direction. I talked to some people that have started businesses before, and did a lot of research on my down time. I found out some basic ways to get a business started, and some “what to do’s” and “what not to do’s.” Another round of the Horizon Fund came about in the Spring time, and this time I applied asking for funding to help me promote myself. I received another grant and used the money for a lot of business cards and pamphlets to hand out at car shows. Business was still slowly accelerating because I was nervous of making the wrong move.
Over summertime in 2011 I talked to a few family friends about ideas that will lead me in the right direction. When I went back to McPherson for Fall semester I had some questions for the new Director of Entrepreneurship, Kori Gregg. She has been helping me a lot with what I need to do, ideas on promotion, and people that will be able to help my business expand.
I have to say that I would not be where I am today without the help of the Horizon Fund. I would not have had an open door to walk into that turned my idea into a reality, and possibly my career. I am receiving funding, advice, and guidance in the right direction. Today, I am receiving orders at a steady flow and am averaging two purses a week. I am so excited that this dream of becoming a business owner is unfolding before my eyes, and I cannot wait to see where I will be in the future!
For any of you aspiring entrepreneurs, interns, and young professionals out there; do not hold back on your ideas. You never know where they can take you. Use me as an example when I say this! I went into college not having a clue what I would be doing with my life, and within three months a journey began that has changed my life. All of that is the result of me not being afraid to share my idea. Trust your instincts when they tell you something is good! You won’t regret it. Be yourself and present what you have to give. It will be a great feeling knowing you are being recognized for who you are and what you are doing so well!