New York fashion model Jennifer Larkin has founded the fashion brand Ava the Label in August 2020, setting itself apart from other brands by focusing on sustainability. With her brand, Jennifer aims to create an inclusive space for those with different body shapes, sizes, race and sexuality.
Ethical sourcing is one of her core values, therefore she invests a portion of her monthly budget to the black community in the form of buying products from amazing black-owned businesses.
Jennifer hopes to empower her customers to be powerful entrepreneurs and live a more sustainable life, while also keeping up with modern trends.
1- Can you tell our readers about your background?
I am a 25-year-old fashion model turned entrepreneur. I have been in the industry for 10 years and saw the harms of fashion in the environment but I’ve always loved fashion, so I wanted to start a boutique that had those sustainable and ethical morals at heart.
From there, that’s where I started my online sustainable boutique, Ava the label.
2- What inspired you to start your business?
I wanted to make a change. To ripple effect a difference in my clients’ lives. I am also the daughter of 2 entrepreneurs and I always wanted to be my own boss!
3- Where is your business based?
It’s online but I am based out of Philadelphia, PA!
4- How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
A lot of hard work. An idea, vision, research, planning, and a lot of action and time. Community and connections were everything.
All of the little conversations I had from idea to launch helped me get to where I am today. It also took a lot of trust and belief!!
5- What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Word of mouth and social media. Reels & TikToks for days. All of my connections have led me to new sales and so on.
6- What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Time and money have been my biggest challenges.
Not enough time in the day for me to do everything I want to do by myself, and not enough money coming in yet to outsource what I’d like.
7- What personal sacrifices have you made throughout your career?
I’ve given up going out a lot to work on my business. It’s paid off and it’s continuing to pay off. It’s definitely not always easy to balance work and personal life.
“I didn’t want to give up my love for the environment and my core values for money.”
8- How do you stay focused?
I stay focused by batching time. Making lists/schedules. Meditation. Journaling. Moving my body. Resting. My goals! Getting the business to where it needs to be.
9- How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
I differentiate my business with my values. Because I did not get into business to make a quick buck. I see all of these small business boutiques selling tons of fast fashion and they have grown exponentially faster than my brand, but I didn’t want to give up my love for the environment and my core values for money.
10- What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
My community has been the most effective marketing strategy for me. Facebook groups, Clubhouse, genuine in-person connection have all helped me get my business out there.
I have also had success with Tik-Tok and Reels on Instagram. The reach on these channels is tremendous.
11- What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
JUST GO FOR IT.
It’s so easy to get in your own way & get stuck with the “perfectionist” side of this, but you can dream about it forever if you don’t just go for it, you’ll never know.
There’s never a “perfect” time. and there is always room for growth.
12- What’s the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?
You never know unless you try or it’ll always be a no unless you ask.
13- How do you manage self-doubt?
This one is tricky! I step away from what triggers the self-doubt. I journal, talk with friends, take a therapy session, record a voice memo to try and figure out where the true source of self-doubt is coming from.
And I try to do self-care too.
14- What’s your favourite app, blog, and book?
Probably Instagram, I spend more time there than any other app.
But apps that really help me with my mental health are “The How” by Miki Ash, Insight timer for meditation and the book “You’re a badass”. It really changed my life!
15- What’s your favourite business tool or resource?
It’s good old networking. Get out and talk about your ideas and watch the universe hand, you the right people. It works wonders. You never know who could introduce you to who.
16- Could you name a woman who’s inspired you the most?
I feel like the typical answer would be my mom, but I really am a complete accumulation of all of the women I have met in my life.
We learn something from each and every person in our lives. No matter what aspect of our lives.
17- How do you balance work and life?
This is another tricky one. Again, I step away, do self-care, try and really time batch or schedule time for activities like self-care, socializing, or spending time outdoors.
Reading a book and turning off my phone notifications help too.
18- How do you unplug from work?
Meditation, dance, driving, singing, baths/showers, grounding in earth 9ocean, beach, ground, etc). Naps / rest. Self-care. Love massages, guasha, etc.
19- What do you have planned for the next six months?
Really shifting! Re-clarifying my ideal client and shifting the types of inventory I sell.
A lot of amazing collaborations are coming out, too!
20- How can our readers connect with you?