~by Lauren Tevepaugh~
This is my story of how I overcame obstacles and became a teenage entrepreneur…
When I was three years old, my grandmother introduced me to the art of sewing. As I watched her sew a button onto one of her projects, I was instantly amazed. She soon taught me how to thread a needle and hand-sew a button onto a scrap piece of fabric. Every day I practiced this skill and perfected it. Shortly after, she showed me how to use the sewing machine. It was very intimidating, since I was so little, but I quickly adjusted.
As I advanced into primary school, I started designing outfits with the color pencils that were on my desk. My parents saw these drawings and bought me a small drawing table, where I continued to draw my designs. This was a stepping stone for my passion.
By age seven, I had purchased my own sewing machine with the money I saved, and I began making my own projects. My first big project, with help from my grandmother, was a messenger bag. The bag turned out great! I used it just about every day. After that, I made various projects with zippers, buttons and snaps.
Jumping ahead a few years to ninth grade… I signed up for an apparel class, and impressed my teacher with the many skills I already had. She and I became best friends, and I even helped her teach the class on occasion. Throughout this semester class, I began to realize sewing was my passion and that I wanted to make a career out of it. So, for the next two school years, I signed up for apparel two and three honors. Most of my skills are self-taught, but a few came from my apparel classes and from my grandmother.
When I started acquiring new and impressive skills, my peers, teachers and family members encouraged me to start selling my handmade products. And that is just what I did. In May of 2014, at the age of sixteen, I started my business, Lauren Mickayla. Although many people supported me, there were many who did not. Some of my peers told me that my business would fail in a matter of time, that I wasn’t ever going to be successful, and that the fashion industry was very difficult to get into, so why bother? I used that negativity as motivation to prove them wrong; I was going to be successful.
I had to divide my time between my business, another job and school, so occasionally I had difficulties completing orders, but I learned how to manage my time wisely. My schedule was full: school from 7:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., work from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., and the gym from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. I would go home exhausted and be ready to hit the hay, but I pushed myself to get at least a few orders in before I went to sleep. On the weekends, I would sew at least eight to ten hours a day, if not more. When I first started my business, I put my it ahead of my friends, and I talked about it non-stop. My friends got easily annoyed by this. I quickly realized this was negatively affecting my friendships, and began talking about my business less frequently with my friends.
Being so young and owning a business has its advantages and disadvantages. Since I am so young, people sometimes doubt my ability to create quality handmade items, so they take their business elsewhere. This can be frustrating at times. Most people don’t give me a chance to let me prove myself, instead, they automatically shoot me down. But the good news is that some people are highly supportive of me and my business. In spite of all the challenges and negativity, I kept focused on my dreams and passion. Eventually, I expanded my business into four stores over the Wake Forest and Raleigh area.
After an article was published in my school newspaper about me and my business, people began to show me more respect, and have looked up to me as inspiration. I was surprised by some of the comments on the school newspaper article: they were inspired by me, they loved what I was doing, and to keep up the great work.
I encourage everyone to follow their dreams, and most importantly, their passions. Even if your peers judge you and try to stop to from chasing your dreams, keep chasing them. There will be many people who encourage you and give you great ideas. You should listen to their advice, but also use their negative vibes as motivation to move forward in achieving your goals.
Never stop believing in yourself!
Meet the Author: Lauren Tevepaugh
Lauren’s interest in sewing began at the age of three, and sewing soon became her passion. After dealing with numerous obstacles, she fulfilled her dream of starting her very own clothing business at the age of sixteen.
To learn more about Lauren’s clothing business:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mickayla.Lauren/info?tab=page_info
- Instagram: @lauren_mickayla
- Pinterest: @mickaylalauren