Encouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.
Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Wevly Wilson, a shoe and accessories designer who left Corporate America to follow her dreams. She has designed shoes and accessories for Ann Taylor Loft, Land’s End, Etienne Aigner, and Joe Fresh. She started her namesake brand of jewelry in 2009 and launched her online store in November 2013.
D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?
My dream is to build a successful fashion company that not only offers beautiful shoes, bags, and jewelry, but also supports its employees to lead full and balanced lives by providing flexible hours, generous vacation and personal time off, work at home opportunities, bring your pets to work, and to have on site child care. I want to provide an atmosphere of creative freedom, trust, and respect. I also desire for my company to support our community and students specifically by allowing them the opportunity to live their dreams by providing scholarships and other financial assistance. For me, it’s not just about profits and notoriety, I want to change how the American workforce operates.
E is for Education. What is your educational background and how do you use it daily?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration from Tennessee State University, a Master’s degree in Health Sciences from the University of Central Florida, and an Associate’s degree in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design. I use the business skills that I learned from my undergrad and graduated education everyday when negotiating with suppliers and my factories, setting my retail and wholesales, prices, and just running the business in general. My design skills are utilized not only by contributing to my creative process but by being able to instruct factories and sample makers on how I want my product made.
R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?
Being that I spent 7 years in Corporate America, more specifically in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry, I came into the fashion industry with a business mentality, something that most designers lack. Therefore I was able to understand the business side of fashion along side the creative aspect.
R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?
I knew I was ready to change careers when I realized that at the height of my Corporate career I was still unhappy. I knew that if I didn’t try to fully jump into fashion then that I would never do it.
I knew I was ready to start my own business when I saw other people around me branching off on their own. It reminded me that I never changed careers just to work for someone else, I always wanted my own line. So when I had a concept that I believed in, I put one foot in front of the other and started small.
I is for Individual. Name at least one individual in your network that others should learn more about and why?
Juliette Bench, founder and designer of Cape Cod Shoe Supply. Juliette is my fearless friend and former co worker that left her great job to follow her dreams of designing the perfect flip flop that reflected her beloved Cape Cod. She is an inspiration to me and also got me my first wholesale account!
C is for Challenges. What challenges have you had to overcome?
One of my biggest challenges is funding as it is with most small businesses. I overcame that initial obstacle be securing financing through the Tory Burch Foundation. With that money I was able to produce my jewelry in a factory in Shanghai China that also produces goods for Coach.
K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?
My biggest key to success is to take baby steps and start somewhere. It can be overwhelming to look at a huge goal and wonder who you are going to accomplish it with limited time and resources. But if you decide to do 1 thing every week that will get you closer to your goal, that momentum will push and inspire you to keep going. Also read about other people that did what you want to do. There is always something that you can learn that will be of great value to you.
Visit Wevly Wilson for more information.