Since Lauren and I took the leap into starting our own business, I find myself regularly coming up with ideas for other businesses I would love to start and run, if only I could clone myself. As our current business is a service based one, I find that my day dreams most often run to the “own a beautiful little shop” variety, likely for a change of scenery. When I first found Alexa Aron’s online shop LilleHus I was instantly inspired to think of a dozen boutiques full of carefully chosen beautiful things. While the number of hours in a day is certainly a barrier to me actually making any of these day dreams a reality, so too is the fact really I don’t think I have the artistic eye that some gals like Alexa seem to breathe when it comes to realizing their ideas. Alexa has done a gorgeous job of creating a real personality and spirit for her online store (soon to expand to a physical domain in Brooklyn) that goes a long way to making you feel a part of her vision rather than like just another faceless online customer.
In addition to having an incredible eye for colour, form and function, Alexa ranks as one of the few female entrepreneurs I know who actually has some formal training in business/economics. Of course, like many of us she also took a winding path to where she is today, read on to learn more about her experience as an entrepreneur and plans for the future of LilleHus.
1. How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been in business for nearly a year now.
2. In your own words, how would you describe your business?
Lille Hus is really an extension of my longtime obsession with creating beautiful and tranquil domestic spaces. I made the financial decision to start with an online shop, and my plan is to open a store in Brooklyn in the near future.
3. What kind of experience do you have/did you have before starting your business?
I got my B.A. in Economics from NYU, so I have some business classes under my belt. After college, I spent 2 years working at architecture firms that specialized in high-end, residential work. The jobs were great because they loaded me up with tons of responsibilities, which I eagerly grabbed. For example, I got to oversee an incredible, private design library, full of rare books, which I spent many hours pouring over. Working for a partner in one of the firms, I also had to master software of all sorts to create reports, schedules, expense sheets, etc., so I honed all the admin skills that are so crucial to running a business. But most of all, the jobs gave me an entrée into the world of New York, high-end architecture and interior design.
In a more general sense, my mother’s extensive background in art and art history sparked my interest in the visual world, and even at an early age I had a trained eye. As kids, we spent a lot of time immersed in some aspect of design—visiting a museum, hitting the flea markets, or reveling in the fun of learning how to refinish an old piece of furniture.
4. What was the best piece of advice you have been given as a business person?
Think Big! Don’t limit your vision. If you think small, your business will never grow.
5. What has surprised you the most about being your own boss (owning your own business)?
The thing that has surprised me the most is the about being my own boss is the enormous pleasure I derive from doing exactly what I want to do every single day. It never gets tiring, no matter how many hours I put in.
6. What are your top three measures of success? (That is, how do you define success for your business?)
My top three measures of success are:
1. I am staying true to my philosophy, and the things that got me to go into business in the first place remain central to the company.
2. Unconditional customer satisfaction.
7. Was there a moment you knew you were making the right decision to do your own thing?
Yes, there was a moment when I know I had made the right decision. It was when my website launched earlier this year. It was great to see all the positive feedback. It gave me tremendous confidence.
8. What keeps you going on the tough days?
My collection of Danish home magazines and source books are what get me through the trying days. They take me back to my time living in Copenhagen, wandering the streets and ducking into shops. If I can reconnect with that feeling, I can reconnect with the energy I felt when I first decided to start my business.
9. What is the wildest success story you can imagine for your business’ future?
My wildest success story includes my own beautiful shop in New York, a thriving online business, frequent travel to Scandinavia, and shops in cities around the world including Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo. Oh, and a franchise for my mother in the city of her choice.