Tell us a little about yourself and the road that led you to starting your business. Where does your creative fire come from and how do you feed it?
A little bit about myself… I’m a 25 year old, non-traditional bridal dress designer based in Southern California. I’m a lover of lipstick, cake and of course my Midwest roots. I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from the University of Missouri–Columbia, receiving a degree in Textile and Apparel Management with a business minor. My company, Kirsten Paige, was founded on July 4, 2014, after one of the most influential conversations with my father. I will never forget, moments before my biggest interview (mind you this interview was with one of the largest bridal brands in NYC), my dad asked me, “Why would you want to design for someone else when you can design for yourself?” That one sentence carried with me throughout the entire interview. After that interview I knew the moment walking out the door I was meant to created Kirsten Paige. What can I say, my family is made of entrepreneurs.
“Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. … Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Everyone constantly learns something new, and it is never silly to ask for help.”
My creative fire comes from various things such as movies, architecture, or things I’d love to wear but haven’t seen in the industry. When I get together with other creatives it fuels me to strive to create something new and fresh for myself however, sometimes I get into slumps—which is totally okay. What I do is take a step back and focus on other tasks. It’s like writers block, but for design, and when I least expect it I create my favorite gown when I don’t overthink.
What was the biggest obstacle to starting your business? What challenges have you faced and how did you conquer them?
The biggest obstacle to staring my business what where the world to start?! For example where to find my fabric suppliers? How much fabric to order? How to file legal documents? What documents do I even have to fill out? How do I create a website? And the list went on. A few valuable things I’ve learned to conquer these challenges is becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. What I mean by that is push yourself out of your comfort zone. Everyone constantly learns something new and it is never silly to ask for help. Something I recently faced was filing legal paperwork for my business to continue selling and manufacturing when I moved to California from Missouri. Mind you I knew nothing about this topic until I did my research and called the California Board of Equalization. I called a million times until I finally completed all the paperwork requirements and here I am. I felt silly not knowing all the information but I became comfortable with being uncomfortable, and now calling them is no problem!
What have you loved most about this adventure in being an girlboss? What Have you loved least (and despite the hard parts, how do you keep such a bright outlook? Or, on a difficult day, how do you push yourself to keep going?)
What I’ve loved most about this adventure of being a girl boss is how far I can push my limits and the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment after achieving what I think is the impossible. Of course there are always highs and lows however, when I bite off more than I can chew I just have to take a step back and look the big picture. Sometimes I think, “why do I do this to myself? Why do I care so much? What is the point?” But then, when I see a bride truly happy and overjoyed about finding her perfect dress, every stress or low point vanishes. Luckily, I also have a HUGE support system!
What do you see in the future for your business?
What I see for my company in the future is that we would be in boutiques all over the country as well as expanding into evening wear and bridesmaid gowns. Then eventually owning various boutiques strictly carrying Kirsten Paige. To achieve these goals, I set a 5 and a 10-year plan, all the while keeping in mind that life happens and everything doesn’t always happen to plan. However, I’m hoping the direction of the company will expand rather quickly into boutiques within the year. Our brand awareness will rise as well as profits, expanding the company with more employees allowing me more time to allocate to design and branch into evening and bridesmaid markets.
What the best piece of advice for women who are interested in starting a business? What do you wish you had known when you started?
The best piece of advice for women who are interested in starting a business is SHOOT FOR THE STARS! Seriously….super cheesy right?! But it is so true! Find those people who inspire you and push you to strive for your largest dream. That is what my family always reminded me. You can do anything you want, you just have to put your mind to it and put the work forth. Nothing happens overnight, but slowly results will show!
What I wish I had knew when I started was that no one ever has everything together. The best of the best in my industry always faces new challenges. Looking back I needed the challenges that I hated most to be where I am today. Without facing those difficult struggles I wouldn’t be able to overcome my new challenges that come forward. There will always be something new that you didn’t expect to face, but you just have to push forward and then laugh about it afterward!
Kirsten Paige Vitals