Looking beautiful is something that every woman desires. To help a woman realize that wish, especially on special occasions and her own wedding day is a job that gives an individual a great sense of satisfaction. Anne Metzger, CEO, of ‘Love Always, Anne Marie’ enjoys making a woman feel beautiful. Love Always is an onlinehair accessories store that consists of accessories for every occasion-big or small, always making you feel special. They offer custom-made accessories as well as accessories from all across the world.
Anne started this venture as a college project and then turned it into an online business. She always had a zeal for arts and crafts and by college she also developed an interest in entrepreneurship that made a perfect combination for her hair accessories business. Anne also believes in putting her profits to good causes and conducts charitable events a few times a year to help women- based organizations and the community as a whole.
The E-Brandz team had a chat with her to get to know more about her creative and charitable venture.
What is your business about?
Love Always is a company that was founded to help women discover their inner beauty and help them to exude confidence. We provide affordable, trendy accessories helping women look and feel beautiful. We specialize in hair accessories for weddings and special occasions. These accessories are collected from across the world and are available at affordable prices. We also offer our customers the option to work with an in-house designer to custom make a piece just for them. We know that a woman’s wedding day is one of the most important days of her life and we want to help them feel beautiful and unique on that special day. Love Alwaysis dedicated to spreading love among our customers, employees and our community. A few times a year we hold charity events that sponsor women based organizations to raise money for important causes. For example, we are donating 5% of all net profits from website sales to the American Heart Association in February 2011.
How did your journey start?
I grew up with arts and crafts falling out of my pockets. My mom and dad always encourage me to be creative, follow my passion, use my talents, and always help others along the way. I went on to receive my Bachelor’s in Marketing and throughout that, I grew another passion for business and e-commerce – so it’s no surprise what materialized! This online business is about finding new creative, trendy accessories in order to feel passionate and beautiful in everyday life. Most importantly- when you feel good about yourself, you can help others do the same. It’s about sharing your passions and talents and channeling them into a way to help others. When I did that, I got Love Always.
How did the idea for your business come about?
I began working on the business plan the summer before my senior year of college. During my final semester I rallied some of my best gal pals and we used the idea for our final senior year project. The project kept picking up steam and was generating interest among friends and family. Soon enough, I was getting requests to do the whole bridal parties!
How important have good employees been to your success?
I receive a lot of support from my husband, Ross, my sisters and my parents. Their support and encouragement has been indispensable and I consider it more important for the success of this company than any labor that anyone could have ever provided. I do have a few ladies who help with custom design when I get overloaded with orders or when I need help to fulfill a strict deadline. Employees of Love Always are so important because they communicate with our customers and they are a representation of what the business stands for.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
1.) Don’t get discouraged
2.) Have a plan, but don’t be tied to it.
3) Make sure that the business isn’t about making money – rather, it’s about helping people.
If you had the chance to start your career all over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. Things happen for a reason and God has a plan for me.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
1.) Sense of humor
2.) Ability to see “the big picture”
3.) Stay organized!
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
I never give up on an idea; however, it’s not up to me – it’s up to the market that you’re selling to. Personal tastes and preferences aren’t important. You have to let the market and your customers speak to you.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
About 12 hours per day.
What motivates you?
Jesus is my motivation. I think that we’re in this journey called “life” and it can be tough at times. I believe God’s greatest gift is love and we can spread it in all kinds of ways. My 94 year old grandmother is also a blessing and a big motivation in my life. She is such an inspiration who motivates me to work hard and to help and love others.
How do you generate new ideas?
Most ideas are generated by research. Besides, evaluating my strengths and weakness, looking at market opportunities, keeping up with the latest styles and trends and going to tradeshows and fashion shows have also helped me in coming up with newer ideas.
What are your ideals?
Honesty and integrity are both really important when you’re running a business. I believe that keeping your head focused on the business and the reason why you started, is easily lost once success is gained. It’s easy to get distracted by other forces that will try to knock you down, but again, with God on your side, nothing else matters. As long as there is a purpose for the business other than just selling product and making money, I believe, success will happen.
How do you define success?
Success is making a difference. Before I started this business, I thought success was achieving a goal; however, after doing this for almost a year, I’ve grown to learn that goals change every day. Goals are just what get you from point A to point B. The overall big picture of the business is to have a social purpose and make a difference in the lives of your customers and your community. The market will dictate your goals and objectives, but if you stay true to your purpose, you’re successful.
How did you obtain investors for your venture?
I saved up! I didn’t want to start “in the hole” so I reduced my number of shopping trips, cut out unneeded expenses and secured orders before I bought material. My parents also invested some money once I landed my first display in a retail store. I needed extra fluid money in a short amount of time in order to have enough inventories for the display. The longer you do this, the more money you have to invest back into the company. Starting each period at $0 rather than at a negative number is a whole lot less stressful and allows you to focus on creativity and marketing rather than sales! If we can pull customers to us, instead of pushing products onto them, we find it to be a lot more effective for our business.
How did you decide on the location for your business?
We decided to have an online store only because we wanted it to be available to people across the world! It’s more convenient for our customers. As the demand for the products grow in a certain geographical region, we scout out retail stores to carry our products.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Every day is different and new! Being an entrepreneur allows me to explore ideas that normally would be ignored or stifled in a corporate, large environment. It gives me the ability to make decisions at the drop of a hat, and I’m able to empower other people working within my company to do the same.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Customer testimonials are pretty great to receive. Seeing a picture of a beautiful woman wearing a Love Always piece in her hair on her wedding day, one of the most important days of her life, is very rewarding. I can’t help but to think “I helped her feel beautiful!”
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Different strokes for different folks! Everyone is different and everyone seeks different comforts in their jobs. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone and working for someone else is not for everyone either.
What kind of culture exists in your organization?
We spend so much time at work – we have to love what we do. Love Always is laid-back, flexible, and encouraging. We put our customers first and strive for 100% satisfaction. We want our customers to feel as though they are having an experience and receiving a gift. It’s not just any internet purchase- it’s something more. It’s going above and beyond what you thought you could feel. It’s putting the final touches on a look that you thought couldn’t get any better. The purchase isn’t over once you hit the “order” button on our website. The item comes straight to your door step individually, hand gift -wrapped. After the sale, we want to hear from you. We want to see pictures of your special day! We want to hear stories of all the great compliments you received! We want to hear your suggestions!
What do you do in your non-working time?
I love to sew, paint, take photographs, design stationary, plan events and weddings, go shopping, and moreover, I love spending time with my amazing family!
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 to 20 years from now?
I see Love Always as being a place where women come to learn more about the latest trends and accessories in the market. They will not only learn about the trends but also know how to incorporate them into their own lives. We will eventually provide all kinds of accessories, not just hair accessories. As we grow, we will be able to be more socially conscious and try and give back to our customers and communities.