Aaliyah Kissick is ready to take her community by storm, introducing her used clothing business, AK Boutique, while also finishing her high school degree.
"Even though it is difficult to be a senior and an entrepreneur, I wouldn't have it any other way," Kissick, owner and founder of AK Boutique in Athens, told Illinois Business Daily.
Kissick was inspired to create the boutique business by her love for shopping and fashion.
"Thrift shopping started as a hobby for me, then grew into an endeared passion, and finally became the way I coped with hardship at the end of my junior year," Kissick said. "You never know what people are going through, and I know that a 'new' dress can make a world of a difference with a woman’s confidence."
AK's approach to fashion is centered around offering elegant and classy pieces that are unique and "pre-loved," as Kissick puts it.
Even though Kissick is confident in her abilities and has a clear vision for the way she wants to impact her community, she has had her fair share of obstacles as a minor who is also trying to build her business.
"While I love being 17 and a senior in high school, there are some unique difficulties that arise around my age," Kissick said. "For example, I can’t create a business account for the store until I turn 18. This makes business purchases more difficult to execute."
For Kissick, being in school and running a business can be a sticky situation, as both are demanding of her attention in completely unique ways.
"There’s also the fact that I have class for six hours a day," Kissick said. "I love my education, but I don’t love having to duck under the desk to take important business calls. I’m not even supposed to have my phone in the first place, so I’m always afraid it’s going to be taken."
Kissick has had a steep learning curve in her entrance into the business world, such as logistics and payments.
"It is said that it takes some spending to start earning, and I now see that phrase in a whole new light," Kissick said. "Once I invested a substantial amount of money into my business, I was immediately incentivized to work harder at doing the not-so-fun parts of running the store, like budgeting and scheduling. I now put daily work into the store despite my extremely tight schedule, and I could not be prouder of myself."
Kissick's hard work is already starting to pay off, but the journey has been full of adventures and is not over yet.
"I might not be a mom yet, but I know and deeply respect how much work mothers put into nurturing their children," she said. "In the same way, I spend hours growing and developing my brand, stocking inventory, and reaching out to others with the content I’ve created. From an online store with five listings to a brick-and-mortar that can be found on Google, I’ve watched AK Boutique grow and change before my very eyes."
It is that evolution of the business that will keeps Kissick motivated for what the future holds.
"AK Boutique is not just a store anymore," she said. "Slowly but surely, it’s becoming a live community that others can interact with. I’m emotionally attached, so being the store owner means the world to me."