For many people, the idea of running their own business summons two emotions – both of equal measure and magnitude. Firstly, excitement. Hot on its heels, a substantial dose of terror.
Of course, like most ideas in the same category, this makes it something worth pursuing. Where some choose to leave business notions in their daydreams, others dare to shape theirs into reality.
A graduate of fashion marketing, when Laine Soderberg set up her first pop-up store at a local retailer, selling clothing was still, in her words, “a full-time hobby”. Only after she sold almost all 50 items of stock in one weekend did she realise there might be something bigger at play. Now the owner of Vancouver-based clothing store Little Mountain Vancouver, Soderberg credits the store’s growing success with a strong support system and establishing human connections.
“Reach out to people in your industry and develop relationships with them”, Soderberg advises. “They have a world of knowledge and will help you look at things in a different way.” Creating a consumer vision is also something Soderberg views as crucial to business success. “You want to establish who, and what, is important to you. What does the customer look like? What is it that you want to get across to them? Once you figure that out, don’t change these core values. Develop and grow, but never lose sight of why you started this in the first place!”
Launched in 2017, Little Mountain Vancouver is named after one of the city’s most iconic areas. Little Mountain is known for its unique fashion, and its namesake store takes its inspiration from Vancouverites’ laidback street style.
With clothing racks of garments as chic as the store’s interior, it’s obvious from first glance that ‘effortless chic’ is Little Mountain’s MO. “The goal has always been for our customers to feel good in our clothes, and that our quality and price point exceed their expectations”, Soderberg explains.
“We hope our customers feel that they get the best service, and know what to expect from us”, she says. “We also want them to feel like they are a part of the LMV family every time they shop with us, whether it’s online or in store.”
Like any business, challenges are never far from the door. For Soderberg, one of the major challenges owning a business poses is being your own boss. “You call all the shots, and it can sometimes be overwhelming. This is especially true if it’s something that makes you uncomfortable, and you don’t know what the right direction to take, or decision to make is.”
This is where the benefits of having a support system come in handy, she explains. “Surrounding yourself with people in the industry becomes so crucial. It allows you to make confident and informed decisions. The most important thing, though, is knowing it’s OK to ask for help.” The old adage seems more relevant than ever when it comes to owning a business: if it was easy, everyone would do it.
So, with an enviable Gastown location, a pristine Instagram feed and walls lined with stylish threads, what could possibly be next for Little Mountain? “Our vision for the future is to expand and perfect our e-commerce store”, Soderberg explains. “We want it to be an effortless shopping experience, and for our customers to feel the same way they would if they came in and shopped with us in store.”
As for budding business owners, her advice is simple: “Just do it. Identify your values and use them to be the fundamental core of your business. Start small but don’t limit yourself to stay small for long. Be able to adapt and grow, and learn from every up and down.
“Don’t forget to celebrate the smallest of victories, and above all believe in yourself. You are the only one able to stand in your way of success.”