Growing up without any influence to have a strong business mindset, being an entrepreneur didn’t come as an idea to Helen Getts until at a much later time in her life. Raised by young parents who came from a communist country, it’s not something that was really on the table for her.
Growing up, she had to be independent, which was a great life lesson for her but which also lead her to struggle during her teenage years and eventually drop out of high school. But that hiccup in her life didn’t discourage Helen at all. She managed to get her act together – she got her GED (General Educational Development) and continued her studies at a 4-year Business University, where she received high academic achievement.
While in college, similar to most students, she took on several oddball jobs. These jobs eventually took a toll on Helen which in turn pushed her to find a better way to earn money – and that’s through selling products she loves online. After a period of time, she realized she didn’t want to just earn from this side hustle – she wanted to turn it into an actual full-time business. As a result, she ended up dropping everything else and she has been working on the e-commerce sphere now for the last 6 years.
In the first two years of being in business, Helen failed in all the things she tried, followed by three years of struggling to break even. It was only really this year that her company Topfoxx got a big break. As with many startups, she had an apartment-turned-stockroom with only four sunglasses designs to start. In a span of four years, Topfoxx has now grown into an all-female team of eight and carries over 70+ eyewear designs in styles and colours made to fit every unique personality. The Topfoxx brand has also built a community of over 260,000 followers (Boss Babes!) on Instagram alone and their designs are loved by top fashion and beauty influencers. Celebrities such as actress Brittany Snow, Kardashian’s make-up artist Hrush Acheyam, country singer Raelynn, and more have been spotted in their Topfoxx sunnies. You can also find Topfoxx on notable fashion publications such as InStyle, Elite Daily, Bustle, and more.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Helen to discuss her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
We are a company that goes beyond just selling eyewear – Topfoxx has become an online community of over 260,000. Our brand presence is strong because our message on women empowerment is strong. It resonates with our mostly-female audience, especially when we collaborate with women of confidence and inspiration. It’s also the ladies who share Topfoxx love with their community that aids in our brand’s growth. Even as we aim to inspire women, we actually get our inspiration from these women themselves. Supporting each other is part of our core and has helped our business grow with the community being with us every step of the way.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
We engage a lot with our community on Instagram, which is where most of our audience are active users. Instagram is a visual and interactive platform, which is important for us as an eyewear company because we want to show how our frames are made to fit a diverse group of women.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
We make sure that our content is fun, fresh, and relevant to our community. Topfoxx is more than just a brand of sunglasses – with everything going on in the world, we want to be a daily dose of positivity for everyone out there.
Aside from engaging our audience with inspiration, we have only collaborated with influencers who share the same values as ours. Our only two collaboration collections were with individuals who give back and make an impact on their community like we do.
We know we can be very selective in who we work with because we want our partnerships to be intentional and in line with our mission to help in any way a startup business can. In this sense, we only needed to be true to our purpose to create the influence that we only hoped to achieve.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
With the recent pandemic situation, we had to temporarily shut down our operations due to this. While we had the option to continue, the safety of our employees is a top priority. Of course, this had an impact on our day-to-day functions, most especially the timely delivery of our customers’ orders.
Eventually, as more safety measures were rolled out and we had more information on how to go about our new normal, we gradually set up a system where we can continue working without compromising our team’s health. Having the right perspective on the whole situation goes to show that we made the right decision before slowly restarting.
What new business would you love to start?
To be honest, it is not easy to build a business, let alone sustain it. At this point, I am very happy with how I’ve built Topfoxx, and to nurture this further is something I would love to do instead of starting a new one. But I do have some ideas in mind for the future; it’s not clear yet but I’ve been thinking about what I can contribute or create as an individual before I leave this earth that will be sustainable and will have a positive impact in the world. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a product—it could be a service, we will see.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
As a business owner, I am very hands-on in almost every department. But one thing I would have done differently when I was starting is to learn how to delegate tasks. I enjoy being a part of each process, but it can be quite exhausting, especially wanting to do everything on my own at first to save up on overhead costs.
While old habits die hard and I still like to be involved in the nitty-gritty, I do have full trust in my team and I’m happy that each one has their own abilities/expertise that helps grow our brand. Each person is an asset and I value them for their unique contributions.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Don’t take things personally. When I started out, I would listen to every opinion—including criticisms— that came my way about my business and how I should be running it. Eventually, I learned to filter these and know when to heed advice. It’s important to be open to constructive suggestions and what others are saying, but you can’t let every word affect you. Someone will always have something to say, but no one knows your business as well as you do. What’s best will always be your decision.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Don’t be overindulgent when you start a business—get rid of all the frou-frou. It’s very tempting to go all-out: a prime office space, hiring a big team, getting upgrades, and living glamorously before the business has taken off can be a recipe for disaster. These add-ons can always come at a later time, but you need to focus on what’s important, which is to grow and sustain the business with your available resources. There’s nothing wrong with going big, but do make sure it doesn’t take the focus away from your main goal of sustaining what you have started.