By: Lexie Newhouse
Photos by: Deniece Griffin
Charlene Baker (B.B.A.’18) speaks with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute from translating those concepts taught in ENI classrooms to applying it to her clothing brand business, CLoTHING JUNKY.
“Everything I’ve learned through my ENI classes, I’ve applied to my business.”
– Charlene Baker
How many ENI courses have you taken?
I have taken ENI 3101: “Entrepreneurial Thinking for Startups,” ENI 3102: “Product-Service Design for New Ventures,” and ENI 3103: “Business Model Validation.”
Describe your experience in your ENI classes.
They were amazing! Dr. Leonard Jackson is one of the best professors hands down. He shares with students the best business practices and proper protocol. Things that could only be taught from years of experience. I experienced a ton of those “Ah-ha!” moments. The kind of realizations you would not have necessarily reached on your own. But when you begin applying those concepts from the classroom to your business, everything clicks.
What inspired you to start your own business?
In ENI 3103 with Dr. Jackson, a guest speaker visited our class. The speaker was two years older than me, owned three businesses, and was essentially a millionaire! After listening to him speak, I felt inspired and motivated to create my own business. I searched the internet with ideas of “how to start a business with low investments” to then discover on-demand printing.
What products does your business offer?
CLoTHING JUNKY is an on-demand clothing line. We currently offer t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, and long sleeve shirts. We are planning on expanding into the pop socket market to tap into the for cell phone market too!
What avenues do you sell your products through?
Initially, I sold shirts through a bunch of different websites like Teespring, Etsy, and Printful. As more sales accumulated, I then applied to sell on Amazon. That’s where I’m doing most of my business currently. To sell on Amazon, you have to apply as a merchant and pass their approval process.
Most valuable thing you’ve learned since starting a business?
You just have to go for it and do it. That was something that Dr. Jackson stressed. Something that his guest speaker stressed. It’s just a matter of committing to it. Then later when you check and see sales, it makes your day to realize that customers bought a product they love.
What was your biggest sacrifice when starting a business?
Time. Especially in the beginning, I wanted to upload enough t-shirts to give customers a variety of options. This required a lot of time in the planning and researching stages, especially when trying to navigate niche markets geared towards consumer preferences. You can launch a shirt, but if it’s not geared towards a specific audience, then you won’t sell any. You have to do your market research, which takes plenty of time.
What mistakes have you made along the way?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to do your research prior to launching a company or new designs. When I first started off, I was more concerned with creating shirts versus focusing my time and energy on research. Another mistake is that I should have spent more time learning about Amazon’s algorithms and how they operate as a company. How you phrase the title of your product, for example, plays a key part in where your product shows up on an Amazon page.
What three words would you use to describe a successful entrepreneur?
Go-getter. Motivated. Fearless.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
The word “hustler” immediately comes to mind. As an entrepreneur, you have to hustle to succeed. As Dr. Jackson said, “Anyone can become an entrepreneur.” It’s just a matter of how you train and prepare yourself.
Where do you see CLoTHING JUNKY in the future?
I want even more people to be aware of the CLoTHING JUNKY brand. I want to be walking down the street and then pass someone wearing a CLoTHING JUNKY shirt. That’s my dream. To achieve that, I’m going to continue pushing my products and launching new designs.