Let's start off by letting the people know who you are and what you do.
My name is Lailah Yon and I am 20 years old. I am a full time Organisational Psychology student at UCT. I will be completing my degree next year  which I am so excited for because I will be pursuing another degree God willing. I am also the CEO of Shop Chic Clique. I do everything for my brand. From marketing to product sourcing to shipping and dropping off for delivery.
What would you say drove you to becoming an entrepreneur?
Since high school, I knew that I was business oriented. As a full time, student, it is very difficult to get a job or get a job that suits your schedule which is why I finally took that step and opened my first business.
When did your entrepreneurial journey Begin?
I started my first business back in 2018. I was a freelance makeup artist and then opened a new business in 2019 which was doing gel manicures. Once COVID hit, I didn’t think that I would ever be able to take on clients again which is why I started a product-based business. By the time I started SCC [Shop Chic Clique], I had an idea about how to run a business but because it was no longer a service-based business, things were a bit more challenging, I would say.
Is there a story behind the name of your business?
When I was thinking about what to call my business I sat down and really thought about what type of vibe I wanted for my business. I knew I wanted it to be modern and chic. I then just added that keyword to a business generator and it gave me Chic Clique, I then added Shop at the beginning to let everyone know it’s a store not some sort of agency or group.
For those who don't know, please break down the SCC brand.
My brand is still very new to the scene so as time goes by, the brand will become more established and more professional looking. It’s a start up business right now. I work from my bedroom (or bed if I’m feeling lazy) and do everything myself basically. But for my brand, I value and enforce great communication with my audience and customers, trust between my brand and the customers, honesty and great customer service.
How do you build trust around your brand?
I believe that if the communication is consistent and insightful, the customer will never have to question the validity and integrity of my business especially because I am only one person running it at the moment, there has to be that trust in me.
I strive to be as transparent and honest with my customers as possible because at the end of the day, some small businesses lie to their customers and tell them what they want to hear and what makes me different is that I tell them what they need to hear. For example, if I have a customer that pre-orders a bag that I dropship, that customer will receive an email when I have ordered the bag, when its leaving the supplier, when its arrived in the country and when to expect the delivery.
If there is a custom delay, I will let them know that too because the more they know about what is going on with their package, the more they will trust you.
I had an instance where a few customers placed orders for a product that my supplier abruptly stopped producing, I then emailed those customers immediately to let them know what is going on and gave them store credit. That sort of communication and customer service builds trust.
How do you go about marketing your business and which tactics have proven to be a charm for you?
Before launching my business, I worked through a few workshops on Instagram marketing via later.com. They have tons of blogs and workshops that one can work through for free and I have tweaked a few things here and there to best suit my brand, but Instagram and email marketing has worked amazingly for my brand.
How many hours a day would you say you dedicate to your business?
As a business owner, the day never ends. It is not a 9-5. I am always on the Instagram account throughout the day. I am constantly on my phone or laptop working but it’s a job I really really enjoy.
What does a typical day in the life of Lailah look like?
It really depends on the time of year but let’s stick to how its been the past 2 weeks. I wake up at 8, have breakfast – btw Toasted cranberry bread is underappreciated. I then start my regular 9-5 job working as a customer service agent and during my teas and lunch break, I am checking my Instagram etc. After 4, I check my university emails and complete any outstanding assignments.
I have supper and try to exercise thrice a week – emphasis on try. I shower and get ready for bed which is where a lot of my new business ideas for SCC generates in my head. I then type them in my notes and fall asleep watching a movie.
How did you raise capital for your business? I mean Capital is a big issue for many startup owners.
I mentioned that I was doing gel nails 2019 to Feb 2020. I then sold that business and used that money to fund my business. I bought my first inventory with that cash but had NO idea how customs worked and all that other stuff one doesn’t think about when starting out for the first time.
I am super interested to know about the time leading up to your launch and the day of the launch of your business. How did you prepare for the big day? Were you nervous? How did you feel? Did everything go as you planned it? Did people receive your business the way you wanted them to?
watched a TON of “launching a business” YouTube videos so that I can launch the business correctly. Days leading up to the launch was exciting but very nerve-wrecking only because you are so fixated on making sales because you see successful small businesses making bank, but nobody tells you that in the beginning, sales are SLOW.
You are so lucky to even get one sale in your first month. I was nervous that I wouldn’t get sales at all because there are many other accessories businesses out there that people know, and trust already so why would they come and purchase from me?
But once I launched, all those nerves went away because I connected with other small business owners who offered advice and support especially because SCC was brand new and they were once where I was at the time. A lot of people I already knew, received it the way I wanted people to and that’s sort of how the word got out about SCC- via family and friends.
How long did it take you to build the following that you now have for your business?
I am currently on a little over 400 and that took me 3 months. Not too bad but it could be better. I am working on new marketing strategies as we speak and hopefully it will help a ton.
How do you get your followers to become more than just followers but customers as well?
I think converting followers to customers is about trusting. When someone lands on your business page and they like what they see, they will heart your post. A few scrolls and website visits and they sort of know more about your business and then comes the final step, trust.
They want to know that you are not going to scam them in anyway. Therefore, I have a “happy customers” highlight on my IG. So that they can see the customers who have purchased and what they purchased. They also need to see that people got their packages and what the items look like up-close.
Do you still remember the time that you received your very first sale? How was that experience for you?
That was honestly the most exciting day of my life. That first sale meant so much because I was really doubting my business and myself at the beginning. I was wondering if the business was a mistake but once that first sale came through, I knew I made a good decision to open it.
After how long after your business was running did you receive your first sale?
I received my first sale two weeks after the launch day. Which is not bad at all?
People tend to portray the mostly ‘successful’ side of entrepreneurship and running a business which is okay but I think it is also important to document the not so glamorous side of it. So lets talk about the challenges that you have faced thus far in your journey and those that you continue to face on a daily basis?
Running a business by yourself is tough. I’m not even going to sugar coat the daily challenges I face because people have this misconception that having a business is all money and success which is not the case.
People don’t see the struggle of having to find a good reliable vendor who isn’t going to send you the wrong order – that you cannot get a refund for – from another country. As a business owner that imports, customs are the worst hurdle to get over when ordering from your supplier because customs is so unpredictable.
I would love to expand my business in one go and order accessories left right and center but that is not how it works when your business is new. You must gradually grow to that point where you can expand and buy all sorts of inventory.
Was there ever a time that you felt like throwing in the towel and giving up? If so, what brought that on?
Yes! There was time in the second month where I was posting every single day, but sales just died for a solid 3 weeks. I was so frustrated because I was out here busting my butt everyday to create content and schedule it and there are no sales coming from it. I then reached out to a fellow small business owner and told her how I was feeling, and she said it happens. I just must push through that it will be worth it.
What motivates you to keep pushing and to keep developing your business and your brand despite the challenges that you face?
I look up to Rabia Ghoor (Owner of Swiitch Beauty) because her brand started with one product and look where it is now. They have headquarters and she has multiple people working for her. That is what I would like to achieve one day. It took her many years to get where she is today, and she made me realize that having a business is not a race. It’s a very gradual, patient thing.
What has been your most satisfying moments in your business?
Getting a “new order” notification.
What can people expect from Shop Chic Clique going forward?
2021 is a big year for SCC I can feel it. I am working and planning many projects for SCC and new additions to SCC that will drive growth within my business so stay tuned for that!
For the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, what advice would you give them for starting out and staying in the game?
Honestly, the best advice I could give is just do your research. I mean research everything and think it through or else you are going to face obstacles that you did not prepare for and it is going to throw you off.
Prepare yourself because having a business is a serious commitment. If you are looking to open a product-based business, reach out to people who know about customs (if you plan on importing), look up profit margins, research courier companies etc. Know exactly what you are getting into for each department of your business and along the way, you will learn the rest.
With all the being said, having a business is still the most rewarding thing. having the privilege to say, ‘I own a business’ – is by the far the best thing that can come from a female today.