Boss Lady - Christy Bourns Ward

Bella Vita launched a blog titled “Boss Lady” in March 2017 - after years of being inspired by the women that we are friends with, work with, or do business with, that are building their empire doing what they love.  Running a business takes work, and getting started takes courage. At Bella Vita, we wanted to take this opportunity to praise and encourage some of the great female entrepreneurs we have met over the years and we hope to inspire more young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs.  


My team and I are reaching out to the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis.  We will start with a brief background, then dive into the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.


Hi! My name is Christy Bourns Ward. I was born in New Orleans, LA (while my dad was in dental school at LSU) but I moved to Arkansas when I was 1 or 2. I grew up in Benton and majored in Political Science & Journalism at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. After a short stint in Washington, DC, after college I moved to Little Rock where I currently live with my husband, Derek, and our two-year-old son, Henry.

  1. Give us your elevator pitch.  When it comes to designing, life is my toolbox. I draw inspiration from all facets of it – travel, experiences, music, the day-to-day. I believe there’s value in cherishing life’s ups and downs and many detours. I use these inspirations to create jewelry that tells the story of where we’ve been and where we hope to go. For me, great design is a product of the heart as well as the hand.

  2. What is your business?  Robinson Lane Designs - I create hand-stamped jewelry using various metals, vintage components and stones.

  3. When did you start your business? 2002! Crazy that it was 16 years ago. It started as a hobby and I went full-time in 2004.



  4. What inspired you to make the leap? I was working full-time and Robinson Lane became a second full-time job. While I loved my career in marketing, my true passion was design and jewelry. Time-wise, something had to give. I decided to leave my job and pursue design full-time. I gave myself a timeline, set some goals and dove in headfirst.

  5. What helps you get started each morning?  Unsweet iced tea and snuggles with my son! I wish I could say it was exercise but I’m slow-going in the mornings :)

  6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  I usually start the work day on my computer – updating my social media accounts, responding to email and checking my calendar. I spend the rest of my day fulfilling orders and creating new product. The past year and a half with my son has changed up the way my work day looks. He’s at home with me so I mix in a lot of play time and usually work while he naps.



  7. What keeps you motivated?  Honestly, I love my work so much. I love what I do and consider myself lucky that I get to do it. Designing and creating meaningful pieces brings me so much joy and that joy keeps me motivated.

  8. Describe your dream day.  I love to discover and try new things and my dream day would involve some sort of ‘discovery’. Whether it be exploring a new location, discovering a new favorite food, or learning a new skill. Ideally, my husband and son would be with me!

  9. What is your greatest strength/super power?  My positivity. I’m able to look at the positive in almost any situation and make the best of any circumstance (no matter how challenging or chaotic it may initially seem).



  10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? All three! Although, I’m more active on Facebook (facebook.com/robinsonlane) and Instagram (@robinsonlane). I mainly just lurk on Snapchat…

  11. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) Currently, my favorite way to spend free time is going to the park with my son, Henry. We both love being outside and the change of scenery is good for both of us. I also love reading a good book and getting lost in a great story…

  12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? No question, I’d use it to hire an employee or two. For me, the most difficult part of owning my own business is wearing all the hats. Designing, production, photographing, updating the web site, social media, accounting, fulfillment and distribution, ordering supplies, long term planning, etc. It’s a lot. I’ve definitely improved over the years and have gotten in a groove. But, at the same time, I’m not as strong in some areas as I could be. I’d love to be able to focus on my strengths (design and production) and have help with the rest.



  13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? Besides jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 feet – the biggest risk I’ve taken is putting myself in a position to follow my dreams and own my own business. Wouldn’t change any of the successes or challenges for anything…a true growing experience.

  14. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? My husband will tell you that my weak spot is anything related to accounting/numbers. It’s just not fun or easy for me. To make it more tolerable, I’ve passed that job along to him. :)

  15. How do you handle discouragement?  I’m of the belief that how you handle discouragement is very telling of how successful your business will be. If you learn from it, analyze what went wrong and change your course of action and adapt – you will be successful. If you let it upset you, make you bitter or don’t allow for change – you will have a hard go at being a successful business owner.



  16. Which iconic person inspires you? It’s not one single person but the Female Entrepreneur. I have female friends in all walks of life who are pursuing their creative dream – whether it be film production, design, art, music, health coaching, etc. These women are who inspire me. Hearing their stories, watching them overcome challenges, collaborating and brainstorming with them. This fuels me!

  17. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? I’ve got two: Micah 6:8 – Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. The second is “Never resign to a typical life.” It’s actually a lyric from ‘Vaporize’ by Broken Bells and it encourages me to be myself, not to settle and to chase my ideas and dreams.

  18. If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose? When it comes to my business, I have two mentors: my mom and my husband. Both know me well, know my business and bring great ideas to the table. I wouldn’t be near as sane without them by my side supporting me.



  19. Who are you in your next life? Hopefully still a creative but maybe I’ll know how to play guitar….that’s been a dream of mine!

  20. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  Probably not much of a secret but you must be able to adapt and go with the flow when you own a business.

  21. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? I tell everyone that if you have a clear idea and a passion you can make it work! It takes dedication, hard work and motivation – some days will drive you bonkers – but it’s so rewarding and fulfilling. Totally worth the effort it takes…so hang in there.

 


Follow Robinson Lane Designs on social media:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

All Photos By: Saira Khan
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Boss Lady - Kendall Thomas Sandifer

Bella Vita launched a blog titled “Boss Lady” in March 2017 - after years of being inspired by the women that we are friends with, work with, or do business with, that are building their empire doing what they love.  Running a business takes work, and getting started takes courage. At Bella Vita, we wanted to take this opportunity to praise and encourage some of the great female entrepreneurs we have met over the years and we hope to inspire more young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs.  

My team and I are reaching out to the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis.  We will start with a brief background, then dive into the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.

I am Kendall Thomas Sandifer.  29 years old.  Owner, buyer & creative director of Fringe Clothing (Little Rock & Fayetteville, Arkansas).  I grew up in Little Rock, and graduated from UALR with Bachelor of Fine Arts & Graphic Design.  I am married to Blake Sandifer, who is the owner of ArkansasLiveMusic.com, Podunk Products & my business partner/right hand man at Fringe Clothing.  We live in North Little Rock, with our 2 French bulldogs, Amos & Jackpot, and our cat, Carla Tate.  My husband and I started Fringe 4 years ago and opened our first location in the River Market in Downtown Little Rock. Fringe was the first clothing store in Downtown Little Rock in 10 years. It was a total shot in the dark, but the BEST shot we could have taken! We LOVE our River Market neighborhood! 

After 2.5 years of being in business in Little Rock and running a social media account (@fringe_LR), we quickly realized we had a huge Fayetteville following and we needed to expand and make a move. So two years ago, we opened our second Fringe location in the heart of Fayetteville (@fringe_Ville). I am constantly bouncing between the two stores, managing store layouts, employees, Bulldogs, buying, doing inventory and whatever needs to be done that day. 

  1. Give us your elevator pitch. Our vision and goal for our customers is to create a fun, positive environment that our customers want to be a part of. We want to be more than a clothing store. We want to be friends. We want to make you feel good and confident in your clothes. And also, want to keep our price point affordable, so you can have fun shopping, without having to check price tags the whole time. Fringe is my favorite place in the whole world and I hope you feel a little piece of that when you walk in our doors.

  2. What is your business? Fringe Clothing is a women’s boutique. We focus on fun, cute, comfortable, AFFORDABLE fashion for women of all ages.

  3. When did you start your business? Fringe Clothing started in Little Rock in December of 2013.

  4. What inspired you to make the leap? I was inspired by being unhappy (in my corporate job) and wanting to create a happy, positive atmosphere for myself, my employees and my customers.

  5. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10-mile jog, meditation?? Coffee. I am not a morning person. Don't cross me before 9am.....

  6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. I start by drinking coffee and checking emails at home. I make it to the store around 9:30-10am and start to prep for the day. That consists of anything from cleaning the store, rearranging the floor and re-merchandising, to taking Instagram pictures and catching up with our followers. I typically work in the store during our business hours (11am - 6pm) with my 2 french bulldogs. Yes, my dogs go to work with me every day :)



  7. What keeps you motivated? I find motivation in so many things. But mostly through our happy customers, by making friends with customers in the store and our loyal Instagram followers. There is nothing more motivating than seeing people happy in a place you created.

  8. Describe your dream day. Beach. Frozen Drink. Blake.

  9. What is your greatest strength/super power? My super power is being able to stay positive and not stop. Positive attitudes change the world.



  10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Easy. INSTAGRAM (praise hands)

  11. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!)  Orange Theory Fitness is my stress outlet, you can usually find me there after work. I love hanging out with my two frenchies, Amos & Jackpot, & painting. Painting is my “side gig”. (Check me out on Facebook @ Kendall Thomas / Art or on Instagram #KendallThomasArt)

  12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? I'd invest it in a warehouse, online store & take over.



  13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? FRINGE. Opening a clothing store in Downtown Little Rock 4.5 years ago was a huge risk in my eyes. We were the first clothing store in 10 years to come in and try to make it... 4.5 years later, it was the best decision we’ve ever made!

  14. Which iconic person inspires you? Ellen, when I think of a positive, always having fun person, Ellen Degneres is just that.

  15. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? “Positive energy is the most attractive thing about a person.” It's my favorite thing to tell myself and my employees.



  16. Who are you in your next life? Amos McMann Sandifer, my 4-year-old french bulldog. Because who wouldn't want to work in a boutique, get loved on by cute girls, go out for a stroll with Daniel (the dog walker) and friends, then come home, eat dinner and lounge. I think I could handle it.

  17. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with all the different aspects of running a business. Take it one day at a time. Have a "Get Shit Done" kind of attitude every day.

  18. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs?  DO IT. Ask questions and figure out how to make it possible.

Visit Fringe in person:
at 112 River Market Ave, Little Rock, AR 72201
Or
413 North West Ave, Fayetteville, AR 82701

Follow Fringe on social media:
Little Rock - Facebook, Instagram
Fayetteville - Facebook, Instagram

All Photos By: Saira Khan

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