“Find a niche!” says Baruch double alumna Jenny Kim to potential fellow entrepreneurs. In 2006 Kim started the business Overall Baby by taking old-fashioned children’s overalls and updating them with unusual fabrics and prints. She began selling her wares through Etsy.com, a popular website for handmade products. In its first years of existence, Overall Baby was more like a hobby; now it is Kim’s full-time job and sole source of income.
What propelled this Baruchian to become an entrepreneur is becoming an all-too-common story: she learned she was going to be downsized from her job as a global financial analyst. Unhappy working in accounting and finance, Kim decided to find more fulfilling work and recalled a college job with a well-established workwear manufacturing company. “Looking back, I realized I was happy because that job allowed me to be creative,” she says.
From her earliest years, Kim’s creative side meshed with her entrepreneurial ambitions. In middle school, she shared her classmates’ passion for making keychains, friendship bracelets, and other novelties from lanyard strings. She supported her expensive hobby by buying the strings in bulk and selling them to her classmates by the yard. So it is no surprise that she was “elated” to learn that her college of choice—Baruch—offered an undergraduate major in entrepreneurship and small business management.
After graduation, though, Kim put her entrepreneurial dreams on hold. “I had one thing on my mind: a steady income. I had student loans to pay off, credit card bills piling up, and expensive shopping habits to support,” she explains. When fate intervened and she decided to revisit her desire to create and run her own business, she found her undergrad training invaluable.
In hindsight, her choice of product—overalls—would turn out to be genius, especially in a weak economy. Overalls offer practicality and functionality; hers also include a fun element. “Take something old, and make it into something new,” she advises. Overalls are traditionally made of denim; hers are cotton, corduroy, linen, and canvas. Her bright, untraditional prints feature, for example, sushi, robots, peace signs, and skulls and crossbones. Best of all, her “boutique” overalls are affordable: no pair retails for more than $45.
Kim and her business have come a long way in a short time. Overall Baby has a robust U.S. customer base and also boasts significant business overseas, with stores in such locations as Milan, Italy, and Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, selling her line. “Every month marks a milestone,” the entrepreneur enthuses.
Visit OverallBaby at http://www.etsy.com/shop/overallbaby
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