Wednesday, August 27

The Beauty and Brains Behind Sugar & Spikes (Part 1)

You're getting to know Sugar & Spikes, but how much do you know about the beauty and brains behind the brand?  In this two-part blog post, we will introduce you to our #girlboss owners, Keli Smith and Belinda Jackson.

Name and Title:  Keli Smith, co-owner Sugar & Spikes Boutique

Nickname: Kels or Kelise

Three words to describe your personality: nerdy, creative, carefree

Describe your personal style: Classic with a twist...  I prefer timeless pieces that exude elegance and femininity with a pop of color.

Favorite clothing brand(s): Chanel, CĂ©line, H&M

I'm terrified of: Rushing water and roaches.. AHHHH!

My secret talent is: A secret!

My favorite part of my body is: My eyes

I feel prettiest when I'm wearing: A flowy dress with natural makeup and a bold lip color

Favorite ice cream flavor: Superman

I can never say no to: anyone, that's the problem! 

One thing off of your bucket list: Visit Spain

What is the first thing you would buy/do if you were gifted a million dollars: Pay bills, buy my dream home, and invest the rest

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?  The 1950s... I love the style!

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  I toyed with the idea of being a doctor and originally went to the University of Illinois to become an OB/GYN.  My true desire though was always to be a wife and mother.  I love my role as Mrs. Smith and being a mommy to my three favorite people!  

What is a typical Friday night like for you?  Friday night is "Mommy doesn't cook" night!  We gather in the living room around takeout and enjoy a family night with games and movies.

What is your background?
I attended school at the University of Illinois, as well as Columbia College Chicago.  By profession, I am an agency-signed model and have worked as an Administrative Assistant for the past seven years.  Working as an Assistant, I find that I have a slight advantage since I have been helping someone else to operate and grow their business, and I have had the opportunity to see first hand factors that can contribute to the success or failure of a company.

How is work divided between you and Belinda?  
Belinda and I seemed to have fallen into our roles naturally, by focusing on the areas of the business that pointed to our strengths.  It works perfectly that where I lack knowledge or experience in a particular area, Belinda has robust understanding, and vice versa.

How is Sugar & Spikes different from the competition?
Simply put, Sugar & Spikes offers more than the competition.  Most women, like myself and Belinda, wear several hats and operate under several roles.  We are modern, yet hold on to traditional ideals.  I have not found a boutique similar to ours, that accepts our customers as the multi-faceted women that they are, and addresses their concerns so eloquently by offering two separate yet cohesive collections, 'Sugar' and 'Spikes', that allow them to pick from one or both, depending on their identity.  

What has been your biggest challenge so far with starting your own company?
The most challenging task in starting our new business has been finding our voice.  Who are we?  What do we represent?  While we know who Sugar & Spikes is, the task has been articulating it in a way that our customers will identify with and want to connect to.

Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
While hindsight is always 20/20, I firmly believe that every decision we have made has brought us to the place we are today, and everything happens for a reason.  God has us right where He wants us, and everything works according to His will.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a small business?
My advice to any aspiring entrepreneur would be to do your research and be a fan of whatever product or service you provide.  As the saying goes, "love what you do and you will never have to work a day in your life".  In addition to loving what you do, you must be knowledgeable about what you do and be the best at it.

What's next for you?  I try my hardest to live a green lifestyle, so the next step in world domination is an all-natural beauty brand specializing in indulgent body butters and luxurious hair products.  You will here more about the unveiling soon, so be sure to follow me on Twitter @keliise to experience it first!

Find out more about Sugar & Spikes and owners Keli and Belinda here.