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Living And Breathing Your Why: SmartGlamour

Living And Breathing Your Why: SmartGlamour

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Living And Breathing Your Why: SmartGlamour

It sounds cool to say you’re an entrepreneur. There’s a mystique to the word, a mystery that suggests a daring, someone trying to spin gold from the air.

That appeal can seduce the person saying it as easily as the person they’re talking to. Anyone can say they’re their own boss, but the harsh realities of running a business – making sales, dealing with clients, filing papers, and paying taxes – are deeply unsexy. That commitment is what weeds out the ‘wannabe’ from the ‘will be,’ and it comes from belief.

Not just a belief in themselves, but a belief in what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. After all, if you’re going to live and breathe your business, it’s gotta be something that you’re passionate about.

“I think too many folks start businesses just to say they’ve started one, to call themselves an entrepreneur, without understanding how truly difficult it is,” Mallorie Dunn, the owner of SmartGlamour, said. If you don’t have a passionate ‘why’ behind your work, you might want to quit. But if you can zero in on that reason, you can stay the course and stick out the storms.”

Mallorie Dunn SmartGlamour

Dunn’s ‘why’ is SmartGlamour, a fashion label she founded in 2014. The company was founded with the vision of creating equity within the fashion industry: a label that offers clothing for all body types, made from ethically and sustainably sourced materials.

Dunn said she’s always been interested in fashion as a form of self-expression, creativity, and art but that the industry is “pretentious, exclusionary, and exploitative.” After seeing this firsthand while working for corporate brands, she described the experience as high stress, low creativity, and wasteful, so she quit.

“I turned to freelance work, and that’s when I came up with the idea for SmartGlamour,” Dunn said. “(I figured) if I didn’t like what the fashion system was, why not reimagine it?”

At the core of SmartGlamour’s mission is the belief that fashion should be empowering for everyone and ethically made. SmartGlamour challenges the harmful beauty standards perpetuated by the media and promotes a more authentic and body-positive image by showcasing models who represent the full spectrum of human diversity. With a made-to-order, direct-to-consumer model, the company minimizes waste and ensures that each garment is crafted with care. By utilizing deadstock fabrics and upcycling scraps, SmartGlamour reduces its environmental impact and demonstrates that fashion can be both stylish and eco-conscious.

Beyond its clothing line, SmartGlamour is dedicated to driving change within the fashion industry. Mallorie Dunn actively works in the education space, striving to inspire and guide fashion professionals towards a more inclusive and sustainable approach.

While Dunn learned that fashion is not just about making and selling clothes – there’s a lot more to it.

Much of her income during the early years of the company came from freelance work while she built up her company.

“I honestly do not remember the very first stranger who ordered from SmartGlamour. Honestly, at the start, only a handful of friends and family ordered from me. After that, we gained customers very quickly as people are starved for relatability, inclusion, kindness, and welcoming, so leading with that type of natural, authentic marketing worked very well and worked very quickly.”

SmartGlamour Fashion

“(Social media) is free advertising, and it helped us build an organic audience. Even after Meta (formerly Facebook) bought Instagram, and post-TikTok, using social media in an authentic, transparent way cannot be overstressed,” Dunn said.

Even after SmartGlamour became her main source of income and she needed a team to help her, she was still the company’s only employee. Financiers at the time were only interested in funding tech companies, she said, so she kept running into walls and had to do the work of multiple people to keep the business afloat.

SmartGlamour Styles

Tools like WordPress and WooCommerce, an e-commerce platform, helped her manage the workload. Even though it helped her focus on what she loved about the business – designing clothes – she had to keep her eye on the other parts too.

“It’s easy for me, a non-coder, to use and to update—especially when I’m my own webmaster. I created products, wrote blog posts, updated the homepage—WordPress made that more than feasible,” Dunn said. That being said, anyone can make a plugin for WordPress, and sometimes those things break or don’t play nice with other plugins, and you have to stop everything to sit down and fix your website ASAP.”

Without a belief in herself and the business she was undertaking, Dunn said she never would have made it as far as she has.

But, she added, that passion can be a double-edged sword.

“I can’t stress enough how much work being an entrepreneur is. I want folks to have a realistic picture of that,” Dunn said. Be prepared to have to actively find time for yourself, your friends, and your family. Work-life balance is so important, and when you’re the boss and you’re passionate about what you do, it can consume your life. Make sure to make time for the people you love and for yourself.”

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Your Turn

Overcoming obstacles is an inherent part of the entrepreneurial journey, and just like Mallorie Dunn, you too may face challenges such as limited funding or the need to wear multiple hats. However, don’t let these hurdles deter you. If you’re considering starting your own business, take inspiration from her story and identify your ‘why.’ What drives you? Once you’ve found your purpose, take the first step, no matter how small, towards making your vision a reality.

What’s one thing you can do this week to challenge yourself and expand your knowledge? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Suggest a Story: Have you or someone you know started a business with an inspirational story that should be featured on StartUp101? If so, please let us know here.

Living And Breathing Your Why: SmartGlamour

Living And Breathing Your Why: SmartGlamour

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