Editor’s Note: In the interest of transparency, the writer of this story is on Ball State’s Philanthropy Education Council with Emma Schneider and the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity with Andre Askew.
When Ball State sophomore Emma Schneider launched her own fashion apparel company Reflections Boutique two years ago, she had a specific vision in mind — for people to look in the mirror and love the reflection they see, feeling confident from the inside out.
Schneider double majors in apparel design and fashion merchandiser with a minor of entrepreneurial management. Emma decided that she wanted to have an experience that would benefit her college field. She opened her first online boutique in February 2019 as a senior in highschool.
“I chose the date of February 14 to represent a ‘love letter’ to myself for the hard work I had put in to get my business started,” Emma says. “My inspiration for starting my business was by going into boutiques and finding only one item I loved. I wanted to shop somewhere I could buy more than one item that I could cherish. I hope customers find multiple items they love when they are shopping with me.”
Emma’s professional career goal is to own her own clothing line one day.
“I would love to see that come to fruition through my boutique,”She says.
Emma didn’t launch Reflections Boutique on her own. Her family supported her in achieving her dream of owning her own shop.
“My family is at the heart of my company. They helped me get started, and still to this day encourage me, believe in me, and help me oversee all the operations for the business,”She says. “This past year my family and I hit the road, and although it was during covid, we found great success. I see Reflections on a path to continuing to travel to craft shows and festivals, as well as expanding our online audience.”
Emma claims that the boutique also sells live online.
Reflections Boutique offers a wide variety of styles and sizes for apparel and accessories, which is something Emma takes a lot of pride in.
Emma offers women and children’s clothing ranging in sizes from 2T to plus sizes. She selects the items, including pants, jumpsuits and accessories, that she believes will appeal to her target market. She can also take custom orders.
“When you see an item on the site, I can assure you time and thought went into picking it out to be just as unique as my customers are,”She says.
Andre Askew, senior, understands the importance of uniqueness and how it is important to celebrate who you truly are and the stories you carry. Andre is a computer tech major with a minor of business administration. He is the founder of Curly Waves, an apparel line.
Launched in 2017 out of his parents’ home and inspired by his cousin with his own clothing line, Andre started his fashion company.
“I realized when I started to invest in other companies instead of investing in myself that I wanted to create my own apparel line,” Andre says.
“I chose the name Curly Waves for my company because most people wear curly hair or waves. I just put the two together and it popped,”He says.
Curly Waves offers a variety of apparel including shirts and hoodies as well as jackets and long-sleeved tees.
Andre can also embroider patches, and he says it’s been one of his favorite products to make for his brand.
Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. Owning your own apparel line can prove to be difficult.
“The hardest part about operating my boutique is managing my work-life balance,” Emma says. “One of my professors just said that if you lose track of time doing your work, then it’s something you truly love. Sometimes I can spend hours editing the website, shopping for merchandise, or planning a live sale. I have definitely utilized setting the timer to make sure I create time for my school work.”
Andre believes advertising is difficult when it comes to owning and managing his own business. It can be difficult to know where to start in creating a campaign.
But with all the challenges comes success, and Emma, Andre, have seen their fair share with their brands.
“The best part is meeting people and networking. I have been to a few craft shows and festivals, and I love meeting people and telling them about my business,” Emma says. “I want to reach as many people as possible, and I hope to bring confidence and joy to everyone I come in contact with whether that is in person, through social media, or through the merchandise I sell.”
Andre has big plans in Curly Waves.
“I see my brand eventually being more than a clothing brand,”He says. “I want to make accessories to go with my clothes.”
While owning a company is not for everyone, Emma and Andre shared many of their experiences and ideas about what might work for others who want to start a fashion business.
“I’m merely a beginner, but my best advice would be to not get in your own way,” Emma says. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and if you ever feel like you should just wait until the ‘right time,’ don’t! Believe in yourself and the beauty of your dreams and try your best.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask other fashion lines how they got started to learn and grow from it.”