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Building a business from the ground up is a lot of work, with long hours, stress and setbacks. And if being an entrepreneur is hard, then being a young entrepreneur is even harder. With less experience and more to prove, they are constantly faced with the pressure to overcome the odds. When they push through those barriers, young business owners can, and often do, have significant impact on the future of small businesses and the retail industry as a whole. They prove that with innovative and creative thinking, anyone can be successful and disrupt the status quo. To celebrate Small Business Month, we spoke with three entrepreneurs who didn’t let youth define their dreams of opening their own retail businesses.
Retail is Small Business: 36 Lyn Refuel Station
Video of Retail is Small Business: 36 Lyn Refuel Station Retail is Small Business: 36 Lyn Refuel Station
36 Lyn is not your typical convenience store. Founded in 2005 by Lonnie McQuirter, the Minnesota store relies on local suppliers for its healthier-than-average offerings ― everything from organic eggs and vegan protein bars to chai tea and fair-trade coffee. Retaining employees is not a challenge for McQuirter. “We have a staff that cares, and they not only care about their paycheck but they care about the customers and the business,” he says. The internal workings of 36 Lyn consist of a collaborative environment where office meetings are more like brainstorms and everyone on staff can pitch and execute ideas. One of McQuirter’s biggest lessons learned as young owner is to “hire the best employees and work hard to develop them.”
Retail is Small Business: The Jeweler's Daughter
Video of Retail is Small Business: The Jeweler's Daughter Retail is Small Business: The Jeweler's Daughter
Polly Weinstein had plenty of experience when she started her business, The Jeweler’s Daughter. Having grown up in her parents’ Las Vegas jewelry store, Weinstein used to turn cartwheels in between showcases and could often be found rummaging through junk boxes filled with family treasures. Her jewelry line is inspired by her upbringing around traditional jewelry, but with an edgy twist. Although the cartwheels have subsided, she still has the same amount of enthusiasm for her business and the industry. Weinstein has become a pioneer in Las Vegas’s small business scene, becoming an advocate and organizer for community events around the city to bring together fellow retailers to collaborate and share ideas.
Retail is Small Business: Moorea Seal
Video of Retail is Small Business: Moorea Seal Retail is Small Business: Moorea Seal
Searching for an even bigger creative outlet, graphic designer and illustrator Moorea Seal had dreams of building her own brand. In 2010, she found solace in making her own jewelry and used social media, Etsy, Pinterest and her blog to make a name for herself. Just two years later, her jewelry was in 40 stores worldwide; she quickly went on to develop her website, featuring the Moorea Seal line as well as handmade clothing and accessory pieces from artists across the country. Seal has since written two books and plans to open a second storefront in Seattle. Her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Know what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals, because if you are doing business well, it shouldn't get easier, it should get harder. It’s the challenges that test you and stretch you that show you are growing as a person and as a company.”
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