Starting a clothing line is no simple task; it takes both creativity and business acumen to make the brand work and turn a profit. A creative flair will allow you to create products that interest your target market, while your business sense will see you through the difficult early stages and allow you to grow your start-up into a healthy, thriving, and successful brand.
Thankfully, if these aren’t skills you already possess, they’re skill that you can learn, or at least outsource. In this article today we interviewed Leonie Malie who launched a new brand this year called 199XLM.
How did you start 1994xlm? Have you started by yourself?
I did start my company by myself, I have always known I wanted to own a brand and my own business for a while, didn’t know how to go about it at first but honestly, I prayed on it and started working on it actively and consistently, all the pieces started coming together, from finding the perfect vendor, to building my website and finally launching my company.
How did you become an entrepreneur? can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Leonie, 25, born and raised in Cameroon. I grew up with both parents and 4 siblings. My mom was a teacher she’s now a nurse and my father is a business owner, he buys and sells fabric. Growing up fashion was always my thing, I remember I would draw outfits I designed in my head, I was always creative, and I cared so much about what I wore. We moved to the US eventually and after I graduated I went on to nursing school and became a nurse but I knew that was not my passion. I started doing YouTube videos and started freelance modeling just to keep my creativity alive, I wasn’t sure how to go about starting my clothing brand, but eventually, I decided to just start. I believed in myself so much and I did my research, found a vendor I trusted, placed my first big order, built my website, planned my launch party, and introduced 1994xlm to the world and I couldn’t be more proud & excited.
Who are your customers?
My customers range from women, men, kids (coming soon) of all ages and sizes. My focus is to provide everyday wear to everyone.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
My main motivation is my family, I have a lot of extended families back home In Cameroon, most of which are not as fortunate to have the opportunity and resources I had to build a future, so I’m really driven by my ability to be able to help my family out financially. My mom worked 3 jobs at one point to care for my siblings and me, I want to be able to do what I love which I am and at the same time be the person my family can come to in times of need.
How do you make sure you keep your clients happy and satisfied?
My priority with my customers is providing what they need and at an affordable price, I focus on providing variety to my customers, great quality items, affordable pricing, I do polls on social media where my customers can vote on designs and just interact with what they want to see more, their thoughts and feedback. I also do local deliveries and pickups at a storefront in Frederick MD.
What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?
I love designing and having complete creative control. I have so many ideas and visions for what I want to create and what I see my company growing into in the next year. I love researching, picking out fabrics and patterns, letting my vision come to life and when I finally have it in my hands it gives me all the joy. And ultimately being my own BOSS.
Which businessperson or company do you most admire and why?
I admire Rihanna and her companies Savage X Fenty and Fenty beauty. To me, she is the definition of being true to yourself and being remarkably successful. I love how inclusive her brands are, I love her diversity in products, models, campaigns, fashion shows, etc. She is very innovative yet relatable. I admire her drive and consistency, she is constantly coming out with new products, keeping her brand fun, and makes everyone feel their best in her products. I aspire to be that successful.
What are your current areas of focus?
I am focused on growing my customers nationwide and eventually worldwide, I am focused on being consistent with new items to keep my customers coming back, I am focused on the quality and durability of my items, my engagement on social media, and overall growing my company to its utmost potential.
What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?
I think all women should learn to be assertive and have creative thinking. It allows building confidence, control of your life, and respect. Women need to learn to speak their minds and learn to be independent of a man, Go out, chase their dreams, and get it on their own.
Some tips on how to become a happier and healthier person?
Over the last couple of years, I can say I have truly found myself and I have never been more at peace and stable with my life, and it’s all thanks to God. I am very spiritual and I believe in the law of attraction, prayer, hard work, consistency, taking care of your body and mind, exercising, staying hydrated, having a good support system, reading, researching, and overall doing what makes me happy. I feel so blessed to be doing what I have always wanted to do and it’s all because I believe myself wholeheartedly and I am grateful to God for all the blessings I have and I cant wait to see what life had in store for me and 1994XLM.