My sister introduced me to Londoner Lizz Choi of Onnix Bags with the following opener:
Michelle meet my insanely talented and ambitious friend Lizz. She has finally followed her dream of designing her own brand of luxury (yet functional and ethical) hand bags. She taught herself marketing, digital media, production etc etc (Lizz you can fill in the blanks here) all while living in a new country and raising a 2yo daughter. Her bags have just launched and I couldn’t be more excited or proud.
I was so impressed that of course I wanted to hear more about her gorgeous, functional bags. Lizz kindly agreed to answer all my questions and as always, I learned so much from what she had to say.
If you are just as impressed as me, head to their Kickstarter page and fund them so they can start their journey!
Tell me about your background.
A daughter of missionaries I’m Korean, but grew up in the Dominican Republic, moved to New York after school and am now living in London with my husband and toddler girl.
I started out as an intern in TV and broadcast journalism during my university studies. After Uni I went onto Wall Street, NYC hedge funds operations, before leaving to join the startup world. I went back to intern for a female entrepreneur, then I worked at an adTech company.
What has been the biggest challenge?
In my case, it’s prioritizing all our to dos aside from production. From all the different social channels, thinking of retail, partnership conversations to HR / hiring interns, managing time and making sure that we are making traction so that our brand is recognized “enough” to get a push on Kickstarter. You need 30-40% of your project “funded” before you launch. As in you should know who these backers will be before you launch so that you’ll have a successful campaign. Kickstarter is a 0 or all game, so if our campaign is 90% funded we will be producing NO bags.
Why make Onnix Bags Sustainable?
Sustainability is a by-product of what we care about. We believe in fair working conditions, fair wages and a minimalistic lifestyle. That said, I love fashion and believe it to be an artistic form, a way of self-expression. So, I wanted to break the mold that sustainability is boring and ugly. We also care about the long-term effects on the environment, in my case especially since having become a mum, and the future of the generation to come.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
It wasn’t given to me, but as I was reading “Lean In” the quote that kept resonating was “done is better than perfect.” There’s a lot of good advice in the book, however I think this struck a cord with me, as an entrepreneur, woman and perfectionist. A lot of our pride, confidence and ego ride is in what we do and we feel vulnerable sharing our project and businesses with the world until it’s “perfect”. As we all know there’s no such thing as perfect, so I would be waiting forever until burn out to launch anything. At least with an almost finished project or business people can give you feedback, help you and speed things up.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
Learn how to read data. Whether that’s Google Analytics, outsourcing someone to make a report for you or your own spreadsheet, you have to know where your customers are coming from so that you can keep marketing at those channels, and improve the areas where your customers are not responding.
If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?
Go to more real life events. Maybe it’s due to my extroverted ways, but nothing beats real life interaction, to connect with others and even sell products as you can get non-verbal cues as to what is and is not working from your product or services.
What business books/resources would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
The 5 love languages – I’m a big believer of human relationships and connection. I think it’s at the essence of business as well. We all speak a different language of love. The way we understand, accept and give love tends to be the same. However if the person you are trying to communicate this with does not understand your language they’ll never feel it. If the above doesn’t make sense, read it! It helps your relationship with your spouse, children, friends, colleagues, employees and yourself.
The Lean Startup – it’s a very commonly referenced startup book, and I’m a big believer in it.
The startup podcast – after the birth of my daughter I tend to listen to more content than read. This podcast really help me relate to other people starting a business.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
If ONNIX were a person with her own unique identity, how would you best describe her?
She’s a free spirit, she is strong, she is curious and she loves to travel. She knows that it’s a tough world, but that she is empowered to create her luck and happiness. She works in a male dominated field yet confidently shows her style. She is a bad-ass hard-core woman and may keep her femininity hidden at times, but she embraces and loves it. She is always learning, growing and wants to leave a lasting legacy. Onni means happiness and luck in Finnish, and our hashtag is #CreateYourOnni.
Onnix Bags are made with Italian leather, Swiss-made zippers, British design and an interchangeable clutch. They are functional and beautiful so check them out!
You can also follow along with them on Instagram.
See more from some great entrepreneurs here.