Welcome to "The Talk". Here you will find interviews with kick-ass influential individuals. Each interview will include tips, tricks, and much more. Enjoy!!
WELCOME, ALI GRACE!
Ali Grace is a young entrepreneur with an incredible work ethic and drive. As a young adult, she launched her own business which has become very successful. We are obsessed with her work and own multiple pairs of her custom jeans!! She's amazing!! Below is an interview between THE 411 and boss babe Ali Grace.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Ali Grace. I am the CEO and founder of aligrace. At 21, I started my brand aligrace, a company that repurposes vintage Levi’s in all sizes for all body types.
As a child, I was raised by a single mother in Massachusetts. From a very young age I was immersed into the world of design by my Mother, an entrepreneur herself. She is the founder of Grace Publishing Group. I watched and learned the basics of Adobe Photoshop and eventually created/designed my own advertisements for businesses in her local publications. I was obsessed with being creative from the very start.
I went to UMass Amherst where I majored in Data Science, Math and Creative Entrepreneurship. I was in the BDIC program which is a specialized major that allows students to draw in classes from different departments to create a concentration that is uniquely their own.
During my senior year, I entered a business accelerator called Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) outside of my education at UMass. This accelerator started with 300 businesses and the semi finals narrowed it down to 12 - I was one of these top 12 and the youngest and ONLY college student. I pitched my business to a panel of older men and women that had a hard time understanding why anyone would cut holes in their expensive jeans, but I made them listen. I was awarded $2,500.
After the completion of this program, I knew I needed to put my all towards aligrace and making this sustainable business thrive.
You are the owner of aligrace, tell us about your business.
Aligrace is a sustainable fashion brand that creates one-of-a-kind pieces from high quality, vintage Levi’s in ALL SIZES. In the world of fast fashion, quality and ethically made denim is a rare find - and it’s even more rare that it fits perfectly, but we make it happen.
When did you start?
I started this brand in the summer 2016 - unofficially, but had been making pieces for myself and friends since I was in high school. In July of 2016, I had my first instagram post, a cute logo, and a shell of a somewhat functioning website. My first pop-up shop was at a cute boutique in New Bedford, MA called Calico - this was in July of 2017. Just one year later in July of 2018, I opened my own shop in Fairhaven, MA.
What inspired you to start?
When I was in high school, I could never find denim shorts that I absolutely loved...it really aggravated me spending so much money on denim at various stores. From there, I started experimenting and creating my own pieces. Once I got into Levi’s, my friends began asking me to make them pieces, and then asked for their friends. It was then that I knew I was onto something.
Where do you see your business in 5-10 years?
I have plans to expand my brand to more than just vintage Levi’s. Finding high quality denim that actually FITS every body type in all sizes is extremely difficult and annoying, and I want to change that. I want to create a denim line (on top of my vintage Levi’s line) that fits like a DREAM, in every size.
Do you have any tips for people starting a business?
Take all the necessary steps and do not try to rush things! What is your product/service? What is your story? Who is your target market? Who are your competitors? What is your advantage over them? What will be your sales channels? How will you retain your customers? What/who do you need to make this business thrive? This sounds daunting but these questions are essential and are the foundation for starting a business of your own!
What are the biggest challenges you faced in the process?
The biggest challenge(s) I’ve faced are staying on task with long-term goals and not getting down on myself if things don’t happen right away. Everything is a process and there is no rush in getting to your goal, I always remind myself of that and remember how far I have come!
What is your favorite part of running your own business?
My absolute favorite part of running my own business is getting to know all my customers and hearing how obsessed you are with your piece! I talk one-on-one with every one of you to make sure you are getting exactly what you want. This method of contact has actually created so many lasting friendships between me and my customers across the globe! (Sara & Julia being two of them!!). I love following up with all you babes on Instagram and commenting on your posts. Nothing brings me more happiness than supporting the girls who support me.
What do you do when you feel stressed or overwhelmed?
I stop - everyone needs to be okay with taking a break, and if it’s a long one that’s okay. Sometimes time can get away from us, and all of a sudden you feel like there are a million things due at once. When this happens, I remind myself that this exact moment of stress will not matter in a year from now - in fact, I probably won’t remember this moment or how I’m feeling at all, so why stress as much as I am?
You recently moved to California, what is the biggest transition you've struggled with?
I always knew I’d move here and I actually lived here briefly before college because I thought I was going to go to school here, so the transition hasn’t been difficult at all. However, moving is always a huge pain so balancing work and moving into a new house was of course tiresome.
Who is your fashion inspiration?
I’m having a lot of trouble with this question because I don’t think I have any one individual that inspires me, and that’s the truth!
Who is your favorite account to follow on Instagram?
I absolutely love following my customers & young creative artists of all forms on Instagram. I don’t have one favorite account I follow.
What is your all time favorite quote?
“ Better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission” - I know this quote sounds a little weird, but it’s something my mom always told me and something I have always lived by! Take risks, go for it - if you feel that it is right...deal with the consequences later.
Best way to find/contact you?
Website link - www.shopaligrace.com
Instagram - @shopaligrace
Facebook - @shopaligrace
Chat with you next time on "The Talk"!! Let us know what you think!
- Sara and Julia
Sara and Julia in their custom Levis by Ali Grace
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