Building A Business From Scratch with Lauren Hampton

CRS 17 | Building Business From Scratch

 

It’s a struggle to turn ideas into reality because we tend to be scared of the process. That’s what most entrepreneurs relate to when they were still kicking off their business. Some are fortunate enough because they have capital to back up their plan. However, some just have ideas. Lauren Hampton, founder of KETURAH LLC, shares the journey she went through and the risks she took in building her shoe business from scratch. On top of everything, she reveals the challenges of an entrepreneur and how to overcome them with faith and conviction.

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Building A Business From Scratch with Lauren Hampton

We were babysitting our grand-dog and he’s still a puppy, so we have to dog-proof or baby-proof the entire house. We had to close all the doors because if anything’s left out, he will surely get it. In fact, I left the pantry door open by mistake and we came home and there were crouton bags ripped open on the couch. I’m looking around but there is not a crumb to be seen. He ate the entire bag of croutons and all the crumbs. He’s actually a good puppy because he cleans up after himself. I’m sure you have had gone through some puppy stuff but it’s always fun. I am so excited. There are so many things to look forward to. This episode is no different because I have another exciting show for you. I have an amazing guest that is with us. In fact, I first met her at Auburn University. She was a student-athlete, like my daughter, who played with Gabi on the soccer team. She was born in Florida but she moved to Georgia. She’s the youngest of four girls in her family. She started playing soccer at the age of eight. She graduated at the Harbert School of Business with a marketing degree. That’s her start because she founded Keturah Inc. in 2011 which is her company. She created designs for her own shoe collection and got patented in 2011 as well. I can’t wait to talk to Lauren and hear about her story. Welcome to the show, Lauren. I am so glad to have you on the show.

Mama C, I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

I am excited because we are going to be talking about truly being an entrepreneur and really digging into your story because you started from scratch, which is a very tough thing to do. I was looking at your background and I noticed you were born in Tampa. Tampa is in the house.

Born in Tampa, raised in Georgia. I am representing Tampa, Georgia and LA. I’m representing a couple of places right now.

You’ve got all the coasts covered. When I was reading a little bit about your background, you were homeschooled until high school with your three sisters. I find that fascinating. Did you like that experience?

I absolutely loved the experience and I am biased because I lived it. It facilitated the close relationship I have with my sisters, my family and my parents. My mom, being an educator, she was a fantastic teacher. The love and care that comes with teaching your own kids, it was a big benefit to all of us.

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I think it’s a fabulous way to go and these days, you see it more and more which is great. There are so many options for people. You started playing soccer at eight. You continued playing at Auburn and you were a star captain in your senior year. Then you graduated. What did playing a college sport do for you? Did it help you in any way as you began to think about what you wanted to do and how you were going to move your life forward?

I would say playing sports in general, especially at the college level, had a tremendous impact on my life. I already would have been a competitive person, but it definitely cultivated a truly competitive nature for myself. It taught me how to be resilient and hardworking. It has served me fairly well in my professional life and with starting Keturah LLC because there’s a lot of hard work and a lot of things that can get in your way. Being an athlete has made me prone to not giving in to adversity and stress and things like that that clearly come with starting your own business.

Starting your own business is total drama. It’s totally traumatizing because you’re starting from scratch and you did it literally from scratch. Sometimes when you start a business, like the business I started, I didn’t have to create something. I didn’t have to think about a prototype. That is totally a whole different set of challenges. Any business that you start is a challenge because you don’t have customers. You’ve got to create your target market and you’ve got to figure out the messaging and all those things that come with it. When you start from scratch, you’re like an inventor.

It’s hard for me to think of myself that way. As an inventor, I hadn’t planned on starting my own business ever. This idea came to me randomly. It’s definitely been a learning experience. I’m still learning even now as I go several years later.

I interviewed Brooke Wadsworth who was another entrepreneur. Her story was totally different than yours. I wanted to get from you, how do you define the word entrepreneur?

When I think of the word entrepreneur, I take it out of the business mindset and look at it more from the artistic side. Some words that I might think of as an entrepreneur is a visionary or an originator, an inventor, a self-starter, a go-getter. Those are some of the words that I think of. Then when I think of myself, words like conviction and words like faith are the two words that I identify with the most when I think about my own journey and me an entrepreneur is how I see with myself.

CRS 17 | Building Business From Scratch
Building Business From Scratch: An entrepreneur is a visionary, an originator, an inventor, a self-starter, or a go-getter.

 

Conviction and faith, those are two strong words. You said visionary and inventors, self-starter, go-getter. Those were words that you would define an entrepreneur as. Then the words that come to your mind when you think of how you operate is more with conviction and with faith, which to me are strong words that push things forward, that believe in getting things done. Tell me a little bit more about what you mean by conviction and faith.

I think about my journey from the very beginning when this idea first came to me. I’m sure for a lot of entrepreneurs when they have an idea or they think, “I want to go do this myself,” there are so many things that come into play that would discourage you or make you think, “I’m not so sure if I can actually accomplish this. There’s so much I don’t know.” For me, what got me to this point and what kept me going are conviction and faith. It was that conviction that made me not take a look back to say, “Maybe I shouldn’t continue down this path.” That conviction kept me going forward. Then the faith is honestly the faith I have and my creator and my God, my Lord and my Savior. That faith that I have that he has me on the right path in life gives me that courage and that drive to continue to move forward.

That’s such an important concept that you talked about, having that courage to not look back and having that faith to know that what you’re doing is the right thing. Let’s talk about your journey. You created your own shoe line. How did you come up with this to begin with?

I don’t know if it’s a blasé type of story. It happened very organically and out of the blue. I was wearing a pair of shoes with the Mary Jane strap and someone complimented my shoes and said, “What a cute strap.” My response was, “Thank you so much. They’re cute and they would be as cute even without the strap.” I went on with my day and then it may have been about two or three days later I woke up with the thought on my mind, “Are there fashion shoes that you can wear with or without straps?” From that moment on, I woke up, I got out of bed, I started researching and then here we are. It took over my mind. From that day forward, I had this pull and this conviction to say, “You have to know whether this exists.” If it does or doesn’t, the design idea that I had, I felt that it was completely original and unique and a shoe that women would absolutely love. I started sketching and looking at patents and everything else fell into place.

Now you have a patent. What is your patent on?

It’s a design patent. The method in which you can attach the strap to the shoe is very unique. There are certain shoe lines that exist where you can have changeable pieces. This exact design that I have is one of a kind. It was definitely necessary for you to patent it and protect it.

We all are faced with challenges, but we can't let those challenges stop us from following our dreams. Click To Tweet

It is one of a kind because when I got my shoes, I was like, “These shoes are fabulous.” There are so many ways I can wear them. In fact, when I posted that picture on Instagram, one of my girlfriends was like, “I love that leopard strap.” I was like, “This is the design of the future. This is where we’re headed.”

That’s what I hope. We’ll see how it plays out. I know there’s so much more I’m looking forward to doing in the future. This is a great way to start.

Did you have to recreate or update your company moving from Georgia to California? I noticed in your bio it said something about that.

It was from a state registration standpoint. It was a simple thing. It was dissolving or canceling the LLC in Georgia and when I moved to California, registering the LLC here in California. It’s quite simple.

There are all different types of entrepreneurs. We’ve talked about ones that take a business that exists and make it their own or turn themselves or create a business for themselves but not from scratch. What Lauren has done here is to take an idea from a pencil and paper and turn that into a business, which is the true entrepreneur. We were talking about entrepreneurs and the different types of entrepreneurs that exist. You took your idea from a pad and a paper and brought it to life. How did you get your first prototype?

I have some funny versions of my very first prototype where I went to the store and got some fasteners, snaps and some glue which I’m proud of, I have to say. I graduated to getting an actual handmade prototype done when I moved to LA. They have these local shoe cobblers and they make custom-made shoes and I found one in Hollywood. The store is Andre No. 1. They were really into my idea. They were wanting to work with me and create something that was very unique and new. They partnered with me to create my first actual functional prototype.

CRS 17 | Building Business From Scratch
Building Business From Scratch: Everything is available at the touch of our fingers because of the age of the internet.

 

When you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t even know where to start sometimes. You’ve got this great idea and then how do you bring it to life? It’s finding the right people. It’s some challenges. We’ll talk about challenges because what happens to most people that have these fabulous ideas is they get scared. They get comfortable in, “Maybe not. I’m scared it’s not going to be me. Or what if nobody likes it?” When you think about your challenges, what were the biggest challenges that you had to deal with when you first started to make your idea and turn that into a reality?

I think the biggest challenge for me was on the startup capital side. It’s because of the age of the internet and everything is available at the touch of our fingers. It wasn’t too difficult to find or at least to try to locate suppliers and manufacturers and articles or blogs about the fashion industry and footwear. For me, the biggest challenge was being a genuine and true startup and being considered a startup, which means it’s very hard to obtain startup capital or working capital needed to pay for your patent and your attorney fees, pay for your samples and prototypes, your website and marketing. Everything that goes into running a business without having a house to sell or you get equity or having a wealthy benefactor. That was definitely the biggest challenge for me.

What did you do to overcome that? How did you get your working capital?

I was very fortunate to have a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2013 and that enabled me to get some samples done and my prototype done. That also helped out with a little bit of marketing. It helped out with some of my patent and attorney fees as well. Besides that, it was saving up and tackling each little thing as I go. It was personal loans or personal lines of credit. The Kickstarter was huge for me. Everything else is investing whatever I could, whenever I could.

Some people might not know what a Kickstart program is. Can you define that quickly?

Kickstarter is a public funding website where people like me can go on and ask for public funding for a business. You can ask for public funding for personal needs. If you have a major surgery coming up, I’ve seen people who have gone on there for health reasons as well to get public interest in people being able to find whatever you’re doing or working on. For me, the Kickstarter worked great to get my name out there and people could back me and fund my samples and my prototype manufacturing.

When you're an entrepreneur, you're in charge of yourself, your own business, and all your decisions. Click To Tweet

Basically, you put your idea out there and then the public can donate whatever they choose to donate.

Another one is GoFundMe. It’s very to that platform as well.

When you think about getting people to buy into your vision, was it difficult for you to do that? Because when you’re starting something, you know what it looks like. You have this plan. You know what the end game is. How do you get others to get as excited about it as you are?

What I’ve noticed is there is a big difference when it comes to people’s reaction when they see a picture versus their reaction when they are touching, feeling, trying on and playing with a strap. They can see all the different styles that you can create. I would say I’ve been successful whenever I’ve been able to get in front of people. The buy-in seems to happen naturally and fairly quickly. I’ve had a little bit of interaction with investors but not very much. Buy-in from a business perspective, being a startup, it has a lot of hurdles that you have to get through and it’s more difficult for people to buy into a startup than an established business. In my business perspective, buy-in can be difficult at this stage but from a product and with interacting with customers, as soon as you start playing with issues and the straps when you start creating your different styles, people get excited about it.

I think it’s critical to get people to fall in love with the product like you did. It’s hard to do that with a picture because you can see, “That shoe looks a little different than that one,” but it doesn’t tell the story. When you put it on and you put it around your ankle and the straps changed, the look changes. You’re like, “I can do this,” or “I can do that.” It’s totally different. We all are faced with challenges and we can’t let those challenges stop us from following our dreams. We’ve been talking about what it takes to bring a vision to life when you take an idea and commit to making it a reality. Another thing that stands in the way of many people is when people are afraid of taking risks. Certainly, as we’ve been talking to Lauren, we’re finding that she’s taken some very significant risks. When you don’t have a lot of capital to get your business started, that’s a risk. Can you give us some additional examples of what risks you had to take to build your business from scratch?

You nailed the first one. The biggest risk I’ve taken definitely is the financial investment that you have to put into starting absolutely anything, especially if you want to have a tangible product or a tangible good that you’re supplying. I would say there are a lot of risks made even from a psychological or emotional standpoint. I’d say there are so many challenges that come into play and nobody’s perfect. You’re going to run into what might look, seem and feel like a failure at times. For me, that feeling of not doing something right and potentially having a feeling of failure, the risk of having that be a permanent thing in your mind where you get down on yourself and you let that failure make you stop. Besides the financial risk, there’s the emotional commitment that you put into it. There are the feedback and support from your family that they sacrificed as well. I have my husband sacrifice as much as I have to support me and my goal. My family has sacrificed their time as well. They sacrificed finances as well for me. It’s not about the financial risk but there’s so much more that goes into this journey and making the decision to start your own business.

CRS 17 | Building Business From Scratch
Building Business From Scratch: There’s so much that goes in to the journey and making the decision to start your own business.

 

The financial risk is scary in and of itself because you’re putting yourself in debt. Especially at the beginning when you don’t know how fast your idea is going to take off. It takes time and more effort to make that happen. Financial risk, getting into debt. I never even thought about that whole emotional risk because it is an emotional time. You’re putting your heart and soul, your sweat and tears into building a business. One day you go to a presentation and it doesn’t go that well. Then you’re like, “Not again or could this happen to me?”

You’re vulnerable to the public’s opinion. It’s something that I never thought of as well. Since I already covered the financial acts, I’m like, “What are the other types of risk?” I definitely say those are the top two risks that I’ve taken for sure.

Anyone who wants to start a business from scratch the way you did, those are risks that they have to take unless they have this pile of money waiting to be spent. That would be nice. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen too frequently.

It’s definitely worth taking though. That right there is exactly where all conviction and faith all came into play. To say that you need to be wise about what you do invest. Thankfully, we were never in a situation where we could have been out in the street but some people, they do put every single penny into their venture. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but it is that conviction and that faith that makes you say, “I’m going to do this and we’re going to see what happens.”

You’ve created this business while holding down a job. You still work full-time.                

I have been working.

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Do you ever sleep?

Surprisingly, I do and quite well actually. There was no other option for me. Since I sell my shoes online, thankfully it works out perfectly where I can have my 9 to 5 steady job and I work on my shoes nights and weekends. That’s the time for me to buckle down and get stuff done.

When you say work on your shoes, do you have to create the straps yourself or you have other people doing that now?

My manufacturer, they create or they produce both the shoes and the strap.

I always watch Shark Tank. You sometimes hear people standing in front saying, “We’re up all night long creating the product to sell.” It does happen. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re in charge of yourself, your own business and all your decisions.

I’m working on playing around with a couple of ideas using ribbons and other types of materials where you can do bows and things like that. I have a couple of materials here that I’m working on that I’m actually making myself but no, they will not be sold. I am not that handy, but I do work on those types of sample type straps sometimes.

CRS 17 | Building Business From Scratch
Building Business From Scratch: You can save yourself a lot of headache if you are very thorough in your process of thinking and your research.

 

I am with Lauren Hampton from the Keturah Collection. We have Ashley. Thank you for being here.

Thank you. I love your show.

Thank you. Do you have a question for us?

I do. I’m someone who is hoping one day to start her own thing. I’ve been overwhelmed with a lot of the things that Lauren’s talking about. I was hoping she’d share a little bit about what has been the most enjoyable, favorite part of the process for her.

The most enjoyable part for me has been seeing my shoes on my family, my friends, my customers, seeing them on their feet. I have envisioned that moment for years now. Seeing people enjoy the shoes and have fun with the straps and getting their feedback truly has been the most rewarding part of it all.

When you can see your invention come to life on other people, it makes your heart feel fabulous.

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It’s indescribable but it makes it all worth it.

Ashley, thank you so much. Lauren, the other thing that I wanted to talk about is so many people have so many ideas. They’re good ideas that might turn into even a great idea, but they don’t always follow through. What do you think is different about you and what made you go after your vision?

Back to the conviction and faith part. The faith part, I am a woman of faith. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I’m still a young adult. My younger adult years, I tried to focus on seeking Him and asking for direction, meaning and purpose for my life. At my young twenties or mid-twenties, I didn’t have any sense of what I was supposed to do with my professional and personal life. After group family calls, my mom and my sisters were in a short prayer. Shortly after that is when I had this idea for my shoes, this feeling that I had the conviction that I had to pursue this in my mind. I understand it, some people might have difficulty understanding or getting the concept but in my mind, it was no doubt that that was an answered prayer. Because of that belief that I have and because of this feeling, the internal feeling and conviction I have that is very hard to describe, that alone made me feel so confident not in myself, but confident in the fact that I believe that this is part of what my purpose is, to have this business and to use this business in a positive way they possibly can. I won’t say that makes me different from other people, but that’s definitely what made me set out in faith and take the risk to see what could come of this idea.

You challenged your own way of thinking. You challenged getting out of your comfort zone. As you think about all the things that you’ve done throughout your life, you are a collegiate athlete in a Division-I school playing top-notch soccer. That in and of itself gets you out of your comfort zone pretty much all the time, every time you stepped foot on the field.

Especially for the Auburn Tigers. They are no joke. That’s an incredible team and we have been for years. That’s another example of that mental toughness that comes from playing sport and that definitely took me outside my comfort zone with this.

It helps you to stick with your faith and your conviction about putting your idea into a real live business that you can say that you created. Tell us about how you came up with the name because I love the name.

I can’t take much credit actually. Keturah is my second middle name. I have to give my parents props for naming me something completely outside the box.

It works so well for a shoe line.

It really does. Everyone said it sounds like couture. Any name that makes you think couture in fashion is a good thing. I was very fortunate to be given the name by my parents. It sounds so much better than Lauren Hampton Collection.

It does have a better ring to it. Your name is fabulous but Keturah, that brings it to the gold VIP level.

That’s what I was hoping for.

You’ve been in this business for several years. What have you learned and what would you do differently?

I learned so much. I’m constantly learning on a daily basis, but the two things that stand out the most is to try my hardest and to be anxious for nothing. Once I get excited and I’m ready for something, that desire to start or to pull the trigger or to make it happen, sometimes you need to slow down. Think and allow yourself to fully take in everything that you need to consider before making a decision. Not being anxious is number one. Number two, follow the line with that a little bit but not making any rash decisions or not making any impulsive decisions. There have been a few times in my excitement that I’ve done that when things worked out over time, but you can save yourself a lot of headaches if you are very thorough in your process of thinking and your research and making sure that you have covered all your basis. Those are the two biggest things that I’ve learned.

Are there any key messages that you want to leave people with?

Not to sound too cliché, but I would say that there’s no failure. The only time that you fail is when you fail to try. Don’t be scared to fail. There’s nothing worse than when you have something you really believe in, but you’re too scared to give it a shot or the unknown is too much for you to bear. Those are real fears that you can have, but you don’t want to get back on your life and wish that you had tried. That’s what I would say to anyone, is to be happy with what you’re passionate about. Go for it. Be smart about it. Do your research. Do your due diligence, but take a shot and no matter what, you can be able to feel proud that you tried.

Get out of your comfort zone and go after your dream because the dream will not come to you. You have to go after it. Lauren Hampton from the Keturah Collection, a shoe line that is unique and stylish and gives you the flexibility to change your look whenever you feel the need. I love my shoes. I’ve gotten such great compliments every time I wear them. I’m going to post another picture for you guys out there to see. We’ve talked about being an entrepreneur. Lauren shared with us the ups and downs, from starting from scratch and taking risks, creating an idea, a brand-new product from a vision and bringing it to life, going after a patent and raising money. There are so many things that go into what you’ve done. You’re an inspiration to so many of us who may not have taken that step to go after their dream. I’m so thankful that you shared your story with us. Thank you again, Lauren. Can you let our audience know how to get to your website?

First, thank you so much, Carolyn. This has been awesome. I love every second of it. You can go to my website, www.KeturahCollection.com. There’s a Contact desk page. You can email me from there and I promise you I will respond. You can reach out via social media sites for Keturah Collection and we’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

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About Lauren Hampton

CRS 17 | Building Business From Scratch

Rachel “Lauren” Keturah Hampton founded KETURAH LLC in July 2012. In 2008, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Auburn University where she was a student-athlete. She played four years and was a starter and senior captain for the Women’s Soccer program. Along with working towards the launch of her shoe line, she also currently works in sourcing/procurement for Nestle USA. She enjoys singing, sports, designing, business planning, and builder her company and preparing to launch her shoe line, KETURAH COLLECTION.

 

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