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Women in Business Q&A: Milysan Troche, Founder, MyHauteCloset

02/23/2015 05:13 am ET | Updated Apr 25, 2015

Since 2011, Milysan Troche has been the go-to source for fashion-savvy women to consign and purchase luxury and contemporary merchandise and when the demand to buy and sell grew too large to manage herself, Milysan launched MyHauteCloset.com to take her new age consignment service to the masses. Praised for her talent to provide accessible, entertaining, and concise style commentary, Milysan Troche is an expert in everything fashion related. Milysan has been featured in high profile media outlets including The New York Times, Mashable, Business of Fashion and many others. Her knack for style and business-savvy has most recently landed her on the fashion panel on Hollyscoop, a popular fashion and celebrity news show with over 45 million viewers.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I spent much of my 20's exploring and attempting not only to figure out who I was but where my strengths lied. I never felt rooted to any one industry or career path. What seemed like a hazy focus or a dissatisfaction with my options (or lack thereof) at the time I would later discover was really a need to build something I believed in from the ground up. I hadn't yet found a place career wise where I felt that I belonged, or that I was given the opportunity to thrive, sometimes that lack or opportunity forces you to go and create your own, because you really have no other recourse and in retrospect I'm grateful for that.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at MyHauteCloset?
My first job in the fashion industry was Personal Assistant and Website Administrator for an Outerwear Designer at his showroom in NYC. He was tough as nails and extremely eccentric, it was definitely my boot camp "Devil Wears Prada" initiation into the industry. I also went on to Intern while attaining my degree for the MAGIC Show in the Global Sourcing Department, the PR & Marketing Department of the Kellwood Company, as well as an International Buying Internship for BCBG Max Azria. There was a lot of good, bad and ugly but I loved being able to dip my toe into the pool of so many varying corporate cultures while learning the ins and outs of such different career paths. Internships really provided me with a chance to take the best of all of those key learnings and apply them into operating my business. You take the best of and whatever doesn't work, chalk it up to a learning experience/character building.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at MyHauteCloset?
I started a Luxury business with a $3000 investment ($500 for site build and $2500 for a high quality DSLR camera to shoot product (not that I knew how to shoot) and an Instagram account. I completely relied on building an organic following of savvy socially connected women to both curate and sell product to. Essentially, everyone thought it was a cute pet project. I had no tech experience, eCommerce experience or any idea what I was in for, but knew that there were other women like me who liked to mix high and low, affordable clothing items with luxury bags, shoes & accessories so I shared bits of my life and personal style and quickly built a rapport with some seriously amazing women. Being a Solopreneur was not without it's set of challenges including building trust and having to take on every role from managing every social media account, answer every email query, logistics, and photography/editing/copywriting for every item on site. I had many many "mini burnouts" and am constantly concerned with scalability.

What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
DO NOT wait for the encouragement, praise, validation or permission to begin from anyone. Peers, family or otherwise. Just start. Maybe you don't have that perfect on paper VC buzzworthy business plan. So what!? Learn as you go, push yourself to commit to the time needed to bring your vision to fruition. Get creative to launch should you not be one of the fortunate few to have initial investment, it's what will build your tenacity and endurance necessary to be an Entrepreneur. Seek mentors, I didn't have many who I knew personally but sought out women whose stories I found personally inspiring and whose business ethic I wanted to emulate. Never stop educating yourself and learning, I sincerely feel that nothing is ever wasted every job, failure, misstep will help you to develop the thick skin needed to launching your own venture.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Stop doubting and questioning the journey. We are always in a rush to reach this milestone, to earn this much, to push to this level of sales, followers, job title, what have you. In that pursuit of looking over "there" we miss what we've accomplished so far, and once you stop appreciating and staying grounded in where you are you're no longer present. You can't be on autopilot when running a business, especially in the fast paced digital environment that businesses sink or swim in and there will be days where you fall into the autopilot trap, but I've realized that you have to shake it off, and trust in the process, that's really when the good stuff happens career and otherwise.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I'm a workaholic. Ironically I just finished reading "Thrive" and realized that I am always what Arianna Huffington describes as feeling "Time deficient". I don't think it was until experiencing my pregnancy that I learned to step away from the computer, text, or whatever distraction and have a catch up lunch with a friend, enjoy a day of doing absolutely nothing in particular with my husband or take mid day siesta which I never would've been caught dead doing pre-pregnancy. Working 15 hour days aren't best for your business or your personal life, you have to learn to allocate "you time" and not go into panic mode thinking you need to be on 24/7. My current pregnancy really forced me to reevaluate how I lived my life and how askew my priorities were.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Many of us still walk on eggshells and are afraid of how we will be perceived for speaking up. We are "yes" women by nature, and know it is frowned upon to be considered too ambitious because we are aware of the double standard that women face in the work place. I think gender inequality (equal pay, breaking the glass ceiling, paid maternity leave, sexism, negotiating salary) is still a huge issue, and one that we will continue having to consciously have a dialogue about in order to keep progressing.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Truth be told I didn't have mentors that I knew personally when launching my business, I relied heavily on books by Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Eric Ries, and various media outlets/news sources such as Mashable, TechCrunch, and Fast Company to name a few. I was ravenous for information an inspiration because I wasn't exposed to it in my every day life. Again I feel like the lack of mentorship/opportunity forced me to attempt to create and carve out a place for myself, and it was really just training for having to figure out the ins and outs of business on my own as this is what the beginnings of Entrepreneurship is, being a self-starter.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I admire Sheryl Sandberg immensely. She plugged away in an industry where women were such a minority and has reached some serious heights in her career while inspiring other women with her candidness in the process. Her book "Lean In" was so honest and empowering. Marie Forleo is another woman who I am just in awe of. She has an addicting YouTube Channel mentoring would-be entrepreneurs and business owners with a combo of infectious humor and really solid advice. She's worked with Oprah, Richard Branson and also participates in Philanthropic work. I also admire Sophia Amoruso Founder and CEO of NastyGal/Author of #Girlboss. Her book echoed how I felt most of my life until I found my path. She was a total misfit and was so open about her string of odd jobs and lack of direction until finding her passion and massive success with Nastygal.com. She has now launched a foundation which provides financial grants to budding entrepreneurs seeking to pave a way for themselves in music, fashion and the arts. I tend to be inspired by women who not only have accomplished career success but give back in some capacity turning their success into a resource for those who want to pursue their dreams. We need more of that, I hope to do the same.

What do you want MyHauteCloset to accomplish in the next year?
We're currently in the process of making MyHauteCloset not only an eCommerce site that offers pre-loved Luxury items at a steal but a destination site for fashion features, interviews and more. We are also looking to add verticals such as Men's items and possibly Home and Baby at some point as well.