Following Small Business Saturday, I wanted to highlight one of Charlotte’s most well known small business owners, Jordan Dollard. Jordan is the founder and chief retail strategist of Esther and Elsa, a retail consultant company that has coordinated fabulous events all around the city and showcases other local businesses and give a different meaning to the saying “Charlotte’s got a lot.” I admire Jordan because she shows that it’s never too early – or too late – to do something you’re passionate about doing.
MILAN CARTER (MC): When did you first know that you should start your own business?
JORDAN DOLLARD (JD): I never imagined I would be doing what I’m doing today when I started. I knew my whole life I wanted to be in charge, whether that be in a corporate setting or my own company, but after college and being in a toxic work environment, I decided I wanted to make my own decisions and grow a positive company culture.
MC: What was the general timeline of events between having the idea and opening your business?
JD: Just a few months. I’m a spur of the moment kind of person, so once I had the decision made that I would open a women’s shop, I had a timeline in place to begin.
MC: How did you keep yourself grounded while working to start your own business? Who was your biggest supporter?
JD: It’s easy to keep yourself grounded when starting. You’ll take a lot of hits when first starting, as you try to figure things out. My parents were there for me every step of the way, but I know there were times where they questioned if being an entrepreneur was the right decision for me. Parents don’t want to see you broke and stressed.
MC: How would you describe your role?
JD: My company pivoted this year, from women’s boutique to retail consulting firm (specializing in non-traditional retail). I went from my only employee doing everything myself to having a staff of five. My new role is Chief Retail Strategist, and I manage my team and coordinate and nurture new partnerships and campaigns.
MC: What’s the biggest perk of being your own boss?
JD: Having a schedule that allows for a life when I want to live it. If I want to stay in bed until ten, that’s no big deal. The time will be made up somewhere if I want to grab a manicure at 2 pm on a Thursday: easy. I work 6-7 days a week, so taking time off when I think best has been key.
MC: Where do you see your business in five years?
JD: Thriving with a small staff. Necessarily, I’d love to be still doing what I’m doing. I’m pleased with how things are going, and I would like to find more stability in what I have and even get to work with great people.
MC: What was it like to reinvent your business after the physical retail shop was closed?
JD: It was tough at first, and now it’s just tough. Not extremely tough, just tough. I was terrified of what people would think of the closing, and I hated the idea that people would think I failed. Today, we face different problems and stressors, but it’s all been worth it. I work every day not to care what others think or let their words affect me and my work.
MC: What can local consumers do to support small businesses on a regular basis?
JD: Buy their products and use them over big box. Think about where and how you can find a local good or service as opposed to a national chain. Eat local. Shop local. Drink local. Try local! [Editors Note: Not just on Small Business Saturday or during National Women’s Small Business Month!]
MC: What’s one thing you wish people knew about what it means to be an entrepreneur?
JD: I think it’s tough for all entrepreneurs, especially makers when someone says “oh, I could do that.” This is someone’s livelihood or passion that you’re downgrading to something simple and that’s hard to hear. A lot of people say they can do what I do, and a lot try, but I’ve worked for over three years to get a quality equation for success at these markets.