At KF, we believe in the power of women. Each month, we'll introduce you to a 'Woman Who Inspires'. These incredible women are entrepreneurs, innovators and makers who are paving their own way in business, education, society, motherhood, and many more aspects of life. Learn how they started their ventures, the challenges they faced along the way and see how they are building their future - all of our futures - while inspiring others.
Store Owner and Jewelry Designer, Alicia Mohr
Imagine a place with extremely cool and unique jewelry, then add accessories, home decor and an owner with an amazing eye for fashion. That fun and successful combo is Alicia Mohr and her amazing namesake store.
We met Alicia a while back when a few pieces from our FW19 collection were matched with her gorgeous jewelry in a photoshoot. Since then we 'like', heart emoji and screen shot almost everything she posts on instagram because of her creative talent in curating a business and boutique that keeps you wanting more. [We've been eyeing this Tequila Decanter for a while and will be scooping it up!]
Hi, I’m Alicia Mohr, a marketer/brand manager turned jewelry designer and store owner. My namesake store is located at Westfield Old Orchard in Skokie, IL, just outside of Chicago.
Why did you start your company?
The stars aligned to lead me down this path. My parents were entrepreneurs. Growing up in that environment certainly influenced me. I saw them working hard, but then having time to attend my basketball games. I will always be willing to work harder and longer if it means that I have flexibility to control my own schedule and work when I want to work (which is sometimes at 2am). At the time I took the leap, I was in a job that wasn’t the right fit for me. I wasn’t happy. I think I needed to experience that in order to take the plunge. I had also always been a creative person. I wonder how things would have played out if I had gone to art school. The farther I continued down the traditional career path, the less time I had to indulge my creative side. I finally decided that I should at least try to make a career out of what I loved.
What is your biggest failure in business and what did you learn from it?
There have been so many! In all seriousness, you have to become very comfortable with failure in order to be a successful business owner. And you have to reframe these failures and look at them as being “redirections”. I think it’s very helpful to look for patterns in your failures instead of focusing on specific situations. A big path to failure for me is placing too much trust in others and not enough trust in myself. Once you decide what you want for your business/brand you have to commit to it and focus. It’s always my biggest struggle. Cutting out the noise. There will be tons of people coming to you with unsolicited feedback. Some of it is immensely valuable, but you must filter it and have faith in yourself to know what’s right for your business. Being a business owner has a huge learning curve and that process creates the perfect storm for self doubt. You have to learn to trust your instincts. Easier said than done at times, for sure, but the most successful business owners adhere strictly to this plan. I am not at that point yet, but I hope to be one day!
What is the first thing you do after waking up to jump-start your day?
Pre-pandemic, I would hop out of bed, grab coffee and head to spin class. I am a huge fan of spinning. It’s an excellent combo of strength and cardio. More importantly, it keeps my head straight and it keeps me focused. I saw a Venn diagram that featured “Spin Instructors” on one side and “Business Books” on the other. The overlap was “Brilliant Business Advice.” Not in the sense that they are telling me how to effectively run a business, more like they are telling me how to stay out of my own way and stay on a positive path. When you are an entrepreneur, you spend a ton of time putting out fires. It’s hard to stay positive at times. It’s hard to stay motivated at times. If you don’t move forward, your business doesn’t move forward. You have to remember that others can see your victories more clearly than you can see them.
When all things reopen, I am going to start setting up spin dates before coffee dates. Reach out if you want to network, we can take a class together, clear our heads and then grab coffee, get to know each other and share ideas.
What tools would you recommend anyone trying to start their own business or make your workday easier?
There were some bumps along the way, but I really like where SQUARE is going in terms of creating a one stop shop for small businesses. I use their retail platform and loyalty program to manage my inventory and customers across multiple platforms. I was able to have potential employees select interview time slots through their appointment function. My website, built through Square’s partnership with Weebly, is fully integrated as well. Once I add an item to inventory, I just have to select if I want it to be visible online and add photos. You can also have employees clock in and out via the Square POS system and conduct payroll through Square (I don’t do this yet, but I probably will eventually). They have added new marketing functionality that I am planning to learn this week. Also, I was just assigned an account manager, and he is super helpful! Their customer service just took a huge leap in the right direction.
For social media, I love MOLDIV. It allows you to resize your image to a square, create collages of multiple images for stories and change background colors easily, among other things.
For books I am reading HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST by Ibram X. Kendi. Despite having worked for large corporations and non-profits for many years prior to founding my business, I had never been through any formal diversity/antiracist training. While I had actively built a diverse team, supplier list, collaborator list and feed, I was still not well informed in terms of how to address systemic racism in the work place, our store environment and the community at large - and that’s on me. Kendi’s insights have been invaluable. During quarantine, I created a reading/watch/support list and mapped out a continued education/training/support plan. I also pulled our brand metrics, so I knew exactly where we stood, in order to set concrete goals and hold myself accountable. I reached out to my team members for one on one discussions, and I am establishing a resource library so we can continue learning together. This will extend beyond antiracist teachings to include other business skills as well. As a small business, incredibly important things like antiracist training often fall by the wayside, there is just so much to do and not enough resources to get everything done, but we must make something this critical a priority.
If this wasn’t your job what’s something else you’ve always wanted to do start or create?
I’d love to be an interior designer, furnisher refinisher, home builder or illustrator. I do all of these things unprofessionally (some, very unprofessionally :)) because I enjoy them, but I cannot claim any of the titles. I wonder, if I did them for work, whether I would enjoy them as much. Not all hobbies should be careers, says the girl who made her hobby a career.
Let's Get Deep...
What emojis do you use most when texting?
Any of the hysterically laughing ones. I don’t take myself too seriously and like to find humor in everyday things. 😆🤣
What is your go to cocktail?
A Manhattan with Luxardo Cherries. Life is too short to skimp on the cherry.
What books are you currently reading?
See above. Also, ATOMIC HABITS by James Clear. I highly recommend this one as well. I want to start keeping a habit journal, but I am notoriously bad at starting and abandoning journals of all kinds (life, exercise, food, goals, you name it). It’s ironic that the biggest obstacle to me forming new habits will be my habit of abandoning habit journaling.
Go to fave garment in your closet.
This is going to sound strange, but my spinning sets. They remind me of my strength and I love having fun with them. I show up to class covered in rainbows and leopard, sometimes rainbow-leopard.
What is your signature scent?
Oribe Shine Hairspray. I really wish they would make it into a perfume.
Early riser or night owl?
Night owl to the extreme. If left to my own devices I will go to bed between 2am-5am every night. Which I totally did during quarantine.