New Business Owners Learning Lessons Of Entrepreneurship

By Lindsey Adkison The Brunswick News, Ga.

Lindsey Pegram has had a lot of sleepless nights in the past six months. That's when the Glynn County resident decided to open her own business, Mad Maggie's, off Exit 29 in Hyde Park Commons, Brunswick.

The boutique, which specializes in monogrammed items, bags and jewelry, opened around Thanksgiving. And, Pegram says, she's been running at full speed ever since.

"I started (monogramming) at my house and was doing shows, but it ended up becoming just too much stuff for my backyard and apartment. So there was a spot available near my house so it just sort of happened," she said.

Her shop, sandwiched between Larry's Giant Subs and the Winn-Dixie, is the first retail store in the area and has proved to be a success.

One reason, Pegram says, is the location. Like many other first-time business owners before her, she's finding out that location is indeed critical.

"I just knew that there was no retail out in that area. And I knew that if I was going to open a store I didn't want to be on St. Simons or in central Brunswick because there are other shops that do it there and I didn't want to step on any toes," she said.

The value of a prime location and an unsaturated market are just some of the many lessons Pegram has learned since she opened her doors.

"You never sleep again," she said with laugh. "When we first opened up, I never thought we'd be as busy as we were. I'd been here all day and night then I'd go home to sleep for an hour or two, shower and get back to work. But you get through it."

Many young, local entrepreneurs are finding the same things Pegram is discovering. Like Pegram, Melody and Richard Vasquez recently opened their business, Flophouse, an eco-friendly shoe shop, at 202 Redfern Village, St. Simons Island.

"We opened a month ago. It's called the 'Flopshop,' but we carry more than flip flops, even though the name is a play on words.

We carry all eco-friendly shoes and sandals. We have four main brands that we work with and are all fair trade and handmade shoes," Melody Vasquez said.

The couple, who met and married in Arizona, relocated to the area in January to raise their family in Richard's hometown. They also decided that it was the ideal time to fulfill their dream of owning their own business.

"We had thought of doing a sandal shop out in Phoenix because it's nice and sunny, but it never came to fruition. So we decided that now, since we were making this new start in life, that we'd go ahead and do the sandal shop but to be more specific and do a natural shop," she said.

"We actually met while working in a natural food shop so that kind of combines our natural products with shoes and sandals."

They researched the concept first. "It definitely took a lot of research and a lot of working with different shoe companies. A lot of these are smaller companies from all over the place -- Ethiopia, Nicaragua -- so we had to do a lot of research and put in a lot of work," Melody Vasquez said.

Now that their business is off the ground, the couple can breathe a sigh of relief. That's not to say that their long hours and hard work are finished. But the Vasquezes are ready for that challenge.

They encourage any other would-be entrepreneurs to put in the work and take that same leap of faith.

"Neither of us have a MBA or have any experience in building a business. It takes time to do it and willpower to get through," she said.

"But once you get over that hurdle, you are the one making your own decisions and taking your business in the direction you want it to go. It's worth the initial sweat. It's our baby."

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