CoCo Grand started in 2014, but at the time, I had no idea it would be what it is today! I was 18 years old and I really needed extra cash for my senior spring break trip. Remember when flower crowns and headbands took America by storm? Yeah, that's how we started! I made a few headbands an I sold them to my close friends for eight dollars. Once I graduated high school, I soon learned that all of the awesome things I had the time and freedom to do, cost money! So I signed up to sell my headbands along with some jewelry at Peace Fest at L.A. Cafe in Waterford.
Back then, I really didn't know what I was doing. I had a tailgate table, an old shower curtain and few items to sell. I did my best, I told my friends to come see me and it felt great knowing that people out there were going to wear what I was creating! Throughout the summer, I continued to learn and create new items.
When I went to McKendree University in the fall, I still needed to find a way to make money to feed myself and partake in other college activities (bar tabs and late night runs to McDonalds). I decided to work really hard on opening an Etsy shop because I had heard great things about it from fellow vendors. I was a student, an athlete and juggling the adaptations to starting a new life in a new state. I spent all of my free time and late nights figuring out SEO and how to format photos. I launched my Etsy shop in December 2014 and that was the first time I officially anouced CoCo Grand.
When CoCo Grand first started, I created anything and everything. Pinterest was my best friend and I would spend hours looking at tutorials. Once Etsy was up and rolling, I put a lot of effort into packaging each order, building my following, and really connecting with my customers. I loved Etsy, but when 2016 came knocking on my door, I made it a goal to open my own website. Do you ever make little goals in your head, but you don't put in a ton of effort and then they come true and everyone is shocked but you were secretly expecting it all along? That's kinda what happened in March of 2016. I happened to be stuck in a job I didn't like, my Etsy was still steady but I just felt something bigger coming my way. That was when I met the owner of Kat's Closet. I met Kat at a sorority event and I immediately fell in love with her fashion truck. We both began chatting and I soon realized it was the first time I had ever talked to someone who "got me". We clicked right from the beginning and our talks about fashion, patterns, prints and trends just flowed. We kept in touch over the next couple of months and Kat was extremely helpful when I decided to launch my website!
I will never forget staying up until 4 a.m. trying to figure out how to build my website and utilize Shopify...And then getting up in the morning and going to my economics lectures. But in the end, it was all worth it when I launched my website in April of 2016. Now, don't get too excited. I didn't have a line of people waiting to buy the very small selection of products. I'll keep it real, my sales that month were $56.00 *que the champagne*. But if I have any advice for any young woman wanting to start a business, it's don't stop. You have to be authentic, consistent and patient because Rome was not built in day and neither will your business, following and income.
Fast forward a few months, I worked my tail off all summer. I researched local events to attend, I increased my margins and I really focused on what CoCo Grand could be. I was so excited but also lost and confused. I was 20 years old, I had big dreams and no idea how to get there. Going into 2017, I worked with what I had, I tried new things and I made 1 big goal. I really wanted to go to MAGIC in Las Vegas. MAGIC is a wholesale trade show that goes to Las Vegas twice a year. This is where boutique owners go to meet with brands and designers, look at their samples and order product. These trade shows happen all over the country but MAGIC is like a fairytale land where every obstacle is an Instagram moment, everything is glamorous and I mean who doesn't enjoy free champagne?
In August of 2017, I achieved that goal! I took my college roommate and best friend Lindsey, with me to Las Vegas. We shopped, we ate and we just had an amazing time! That trip for me was a big turning point in my business, that trip introduced me to so many new ideas and I met a ton of influential people in the boutique community. I saw all of these women owning their passions and living the life I wanted. That was when I had a huge moment of realization and it truly lit a fire inside of me. After MAGIC, I hustled and I hustled hard. At this point, I was going in to my senior year of college, I had just returned to Michigan and bought a condo, I was taking all of my classes online, working full time as a waitress AND trying to be a #BoutiqueBoss.
So I'm sure you're not surprised when October rolled around and I was feeling burnt out. How can something so right feel so wrong? I love being my own boss but being an entrepreneur is a long and lonely road, no one besides you will understand your dreams and visions. At this point, I had been looking for a truck to renovate for over a year and I kept coming to a dead end. Until one day I finally stopped looking and guess what happened...I found this beautiful green truck basically in my backyard!
And here we are, renovating this truck and making dreams become reality! Buying this truck has been such a huge move in the right direction and I cannot wait to show it to all of you. I know this blog is a little all over the place and I am not a professional writer but I love sharing my thoughts and stories with you guys. I know that there is a girl out there binge watching The Hills thinking "damn I wish that was me", only hoping to land her dream fashion job, because I was that girl. And sadly, a lot of universities don't have fashion, design or retail programs. So I am here to tell you, its okay to make your own path, be your own boss and find your own way!