Editor’s Note: In the interest of transparency, the writer of this story is on Ball State’s Philanthropy Education Council with Emma Schneider and the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity with Andre Askew.
When Ball State sophomore Emma Schneider launched her own fashion apparel company Reflections Boutique two years ago, she had a specific vision in mind — for people to look in the mirror and love the reflection they see, feeling confident from the inside out.
Schneider is double majoring in apparel design and fashion merchandising with a minor in entrepreneurial management. When she was a senior in high school, Emma knew that she wanted to partake in an experience that would help benefit her in her field of study in college, so she decided to open up her own online boutique on February 14, 2019.
“I chose the date of February 14 to represent a ‘love letter’ to myself for the hard work I had put in to get my business started,” Emma says. “My inspiration for starting my business was by going into boutiques and finding only one item I loved. I wanted to shop somewhere I could buy more than one item that I could cherish. I hope customers find multiple items they love when they are shopping with me.”
Emma’s professional career goal is to own her own clothing line one day.
“I would love to see that come to fruition through my boutique,” she says.
Emma didn’t launch Reflections Boutique on her own. With the help of her family, she was able to see her vision of owning her own store come to life.
“My family is at the heart of my company. They helped me get started, and still to this day encourage me, believe in me, and help me oversee all the operations for the business,” she says. “This past year my family and I hit the road, and although it was during covid, we found great success. I see Reflections on a path to continuing to travel to craft shows and festivals, as well as expanding our online audience.”
Emma says the boutique also does live online sales.
Reflections Boutique offers a wide variety of styles and sizes for apparel and accessories, which is something Emma takes a lot of pride in.
Emma offers women and children’s clothing ranging in sizes from 2T to plus sizes. She handpicks items like pants, jumpsuits, and accessories that she thinks would fit her ideal target market, and even takes custom orders.
“When you see an item on the site, I can assure you time and thought went into picking it out to be just as unique as my customers are,” she says.
When it comes to uniqueness, senior Andre Askew understands how important it is to celebrate who you are and the story you carry with you. Andre is majoring in computer technology with a minor in business administration, and he is the brainchild behind the apparel line Curly Waves.
Launched in 2017 out of his parents’ home and inspired by his cousin with his own clothing line, Andre started his fashion company.
“I realized when I started to invest in other companies instead of investing in myself that I wanted to create my own apparel line,” Andre says.
“I chose the name Curly Waves for my company because most people wear curly hair or waves. I just put the two together and it popped,” he says.
Curly Waves offers a large selection of apparel such as shirts, hoodies, long-sleeve tees, and jackets.
Andre can also embroider patches, and he says it’s been one of his favorite products to make for his brand.
Entrepreneurship comes with challenges, and owning an apparel line can certainly prove to be difficult.
“The hardest part about operating my boutique is managing my work-life balance,” Emma says. “One of my professors just said that if you lose track of time doing your work, then it’s something you truly love. Sometimes I can spend hours editing the website, shopping for merchandise, or planning a live sale. I have definitely utilized setting the timer to make sure I create time for my school work.”
Andre says advertising is a difficult process for him as far as owning and running his own business because sometimes it can be hard to know where to begin in creating a campaign.
However, with challenges come successes, and Emma and Andre have seen their fair share of them with their brands.
“The best part is meeting people and networking. I have been to a few craft shows and festivals, and I love meeting people and telling them about my business,” Emma says. “I want to reach as many people as possible, and I hope to bring confidence and joy to everyone I come in contact with whether that is in person, through social media, or through the merchandise I sell.”
Andre has big plans for Curly Waves.
“I see my brand eventually being more than a clothing brand,” he says. “I want to make accessories to go with my clothes.”
Owning a company may not be a career path for everyone, but Emma and Andre shared a lot about what has worked for them and what could work for others who aspire to own a fashion brand.
“I’m merely a beginner, but my best advice would be to not get in your own way,” Emma says. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and if you ever feel like you should just wait until the ‘right time,’ don’t! Believe in yourself and the beauty of your dreams and try your best.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask other fashion lines how they got started to learn and grow from it.”