When Tahnee Elliott saw a need for a quality fashion boutique, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to fill in the gap in the market, and the result was a successful business.
She started her business back in 2000 at the ripe age of 24. She had just graduated from college in Lubbock, Texas when she decided that she wanted to go into business. Having lived in the small college town for four years, she knew there was a serious need for a quality fashion boutique. After opening TC Elli’s, word quickly spread about her business and TC Elli’s began to grow into a beloved shop where luxury is about being one of a kind, and not about how much money you spend.
Fast forward to today, and TC Elli’s now has over 40 thousand followers on Instagram and customers all over the world. She runs her business with the help of about 30 high school and college-aged women. Part of the mission of TC Elli’s is to prepare and empower women to start a business, so by delegating essential duties such as social media, buying, and budgeting to her staff – she hopes to teach all of her employees how to start, run, and expand their own company if and when they decide to do so after college.
StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Tahnee Elliott to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
I started TC Elli’s in 2000, at the ripe age of 24. I had just graduated from college in Lubbock, Texas when I decided to go into business for myself. Having lived in the small college town for four years, I knew there was a serious need for a quality fashion boutique. After opening the boutique, word quickly spread and TC Elli’s began to grow into a beloved shop where luxury is about being one of a kind, not how much money you spend.
Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?
I think as far as small business go; success came pretty quickly. As I said, there was a need and I filled it with TC Elli’s. However, throughout most of the 2000’s, our growth was fairly stagnant. We were popular locally, but our reach didn’t extend further than West Texas. It wasn’t until 2015 that things really began to take off even more than I’d ever imagined. We began promoting our products on Instagram and watched traffic to the e-commerce site soar. Today, we have over 40 thousand followers on Instagram and customers all over the world.
What is your main source of income?
The brick and mortar store in Lubbock, TX is our main source of income, although the online store is picking up sales rapidly.
How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?
Marketing tactics aside, I think TC Elli’s stands out among the sea of other small fashion boutiques, because of the mission that drives our brand. I only employ women in high school and college. It was around this age that I decided I wanted to open a business. However, other than my formal education, I had very little real-world experience and knew next to nothing about running a successful business. I want to empower the next generation of women to excel in the ‘real world’ by training and teaching them everything I’ve learned throughout the years.
My employees now assist with everything from social media to buying. It’s a brand for young women, by young women and I really think that’s what makes us so relatable and unique.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
In this highly competitive market of fashion, I knew we needed to set ourselves apart from the competition, so I started researching SEO companies. Going through interviews for months, I finally found a great company but it was a very tough decision to take the risk or continue with mediocre online sales.
The level of trust, communication, and value when picking a company you will do long-term business with is a very hard decision. We have used SEO and marketing companies in the past but all of them seemed to fizzle out. CanIRank has been a huge blessing for our continued in-store and online success.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
This is an easy one! LOL, I always over order clothing! I truly have a passion for clothing, so it is extremely hard for me to say “no” when I have an amazing buyer who shows me the most amazing pieces each day.
What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?
Always stay humble and grateful to those who helped you along the way. Success is a collaborative effort of a lot of people who believe in you, trust you, and support you. Save your money when you are ahead, you might need it later to continue growth or expand.
What new business would you love to start?
After 18 years of experience, I would love to consult entrepreneurs on opening up their own clothing business.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I wish I would have hired a team as soon as I could afford to take on employees. I think for all business owners when you’re just getting started it’s not an option financially to hire a team even if you need it. So, you end up taking the huge task of running a company on yourself. For me, I got used this kind of work. I loved having my hand in every part of the business so even once I could afford to hire, I didn’t. I was working days, evenings, and weekends and was on the brink of burn-out before I hired my first full-time staffer.
Today, we have a team of over 30 employees who help me run the show. While I still play a very active role in the day-to-day business as well as behind the scenes, my work-life balance is much healthier than it was in the first few years. I only wish I had acted sooner.
Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
Absolutely! I love reading so my top picks would be 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and E Myth Mastery by Michael Gerber just to name a few.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
This quote by Rumi–
You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dream.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.