Interview with Christen Johnson, Founder of SophisticatedChic Brand
The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.
Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!
Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.
Ricky: Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Christen: Christen Johnson and I am the Founder and CEO of Sophisticatedchic Brand; a boutique personal styling and branding company for busy professionals and their businesses.
Ricky: Where did you go to school?
Christen: I attended North Carolina A&T State University and graduated with a B.S in Business Management and Entrepreneurship.
Ricky: Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?
Christen: There are so many to choose from. I had to think hard on this one. But the one that stood out to me the most was when I was let go from my first full-time position post-college. I was working for a fashion retail start-up in Washington, D.C as a personal stylist. I thought it was my dream job and that I’d build a stable career there, but surprisingly I only lasted eight months. It wasn’t because I didn’t have a good sense of style but because I lacked some of the skills of actually running a business and keeping track of a large book of clients.
I learned so much from that job from how to professionally communicate with people via email and over the phone, how to build lasting relationships with strangers and how to properly sell myself and clothing to meet challenging sales goals. These are all real issues that businesses face, and if I wanted to be my own boss, I knew it was vital for me to be challenged. I was very upset when it happened but later realized that it was all a part of my journey. Everything that I learned from that job and others afterward has followed me into my business and made me an even stronger person and entrepreneur.
I say all of that to say, the job or career that you’re in now is shaping you for something better. Use this time to learn, grow and fund your dreams while you can.
Ricky: We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?
Christen: There isn’t anyone specific that I can think of but I usually gravitate towards women and men in business who understand that entrepreneurship isn’t always pretty. And that has a story to tell that confirms this belief. I enjoy grabbing any piece of advice from business owners who have been in business for 20+ years and have learned to adapt to all the changes we go through as a society while remaining humble.
Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.
Ricky: What is the name of your company?
Christen: The name of my company is Sophisticatedchic Brand which is a boutique personal styling and branding company for busy professionals and their businesses. Under that brand, two platforms showcase my love for entrepreneurship + business and style + fashion; The Goal Digger Workshop and Black Women Who Style. Both of these platforms are unique but ultimately were created to educate those who are eager to learn.
The Goal Digger Workshop was designed to bring like-minded, women entrepreneurs + creatives together to expand their network and net-worth through visionary planning. We focus on creating vision boards to give us a clear understanding of where we are and where we want to go.
Black Women Who Style is a platform that was inspired by our lack of recognition in the fashion industry. Wardrobe styling is a skill that many women of color portray, and we want to acknowledge them. Our hope as an organization is to connect stylists all over the world with opportunities by showcasing them and their work, forming collaborations amongst other stylists to create a bond and celebrating successful stylists and their overall achievements.
Ricky: Where is your company located?
Christen: We are located in Baltimore, MD but plan to expand within the next year or two.
Ricky: What services or products does your organization provide?
Christen: My company offers a variety of styling services such as virtual styling, brand photo shoots, and private shopping sessions, to name a few. Along with branding services like content creation and media kit design. These services were specifically created for those in need of guidance when it comes to their personal style and overall brand but don’t have the time to focus on it themselves.
We are also planning to expand into offering merchandise to our clients as well, such as clothing, accessories, and e-books.
We also coordinate and host our own events that are heavily entrepreneurial and fashion based.
Ricky: What problem is your business trying to solve?
Christen: My business is currently solving a problem that most of us as business owners and professionals face which is lack of time. Not being able to think about to wear to your next event or speaking engagement is added stress that can be avoided when you have an expert stylist on your team.
Ricky: How is your business unique against your competitors?
Christen: My business is unique because we build a personal, one-on-one relationship with each of our clients by really understanding their preferences and needs while also keeping their best interest in mind. We check in with our clients every month to determine whether their needs have changed and to accommodate them with any upcoming events or situations where they need our services. We ideally want to save our clients time, money and stress by educating them on what brands and styles best suit them.
Ricky: How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
Christen: My business actually started off as a fashion and lifestyle blog back in 2013. I was in college and always enjoyed writing. So, my blog was mainly an outlet for me to talk about my interests at the time and to showcase my talents. I would style different outfits and post them for my readers to see.
Ricky: Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?
Christen: You can check on my site at sophisticatedchicbrand.com! From there, you can also see the other two platforms I mentioned under the “Brands” tab. You can also find us on social media at:
@sophisticatedchicbrand on Instagram/Facebook/Linked-in
Ricky: What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
Christen: That’s an excellent question. My three tips would be to network, network, and network. You have to put yourself out there for people to know who you are and what you do. You also have to get comfortable with pitching and selling yourself to people. When you’re confident in what you do, networking becomes very easy.
It’s also important to network across. That means, networking with people on the same level as you. You never know who could be in their circle who may be in need of your services or who could connect you with someone else in need.