When thinking about the bootstrapping success stories of the self-made American Dreamers, Monica Phromsavanh is definitely one of them. Founder and CEO of ModaBox -- a retail concept that combines personal styling with e-commerce -- Phromsavanh started before she even arrived in the United States.
Born and raised in a refugee camp in Argentina, Phromsavanh dropped out of school at 15 years old and got her first job at a wholesale clothing company in Buenos Aires to support her family. Selling sweaters through a wholesale distributor and watching her mother sell clothes on the black market was how Monica first developed her business savviness.
Like many young New Yorkers, Phromsavanh arrived with $200 in her pocket and a dream. She worked her way up the retail ladder, and eventually quit her 5th Avenue job to start her own business.
I featured Monica Phromsavanh in the latest episode of my docu-series about creative entrepreneurs, "Maker's Lane." She is an incredible reminder to live life passionately and fearlessly. Regardless of the circumstances, Phromsavanh demonstrates a life without boundaries.
Her first business, Modalistas, grew from a 100 square feet kiosk in The Limelight to a 4,000 square feet space within three years. Although wildly successful, Monica sought to grow her vision into an e-commerce brand in order to reach more people. Combining a brick and mortar, personal styling and online shopping, Phromsavanh built ModaBox.
In Spring 2014, Phromsavanh opened the doors of her second business, ModaBox, in the South Street Seaport District where her unique vision contributes to the changing area. Initially desolate post-Hurricane Sandy, Phromsavanh hopes for ModaBox to flourish in the Seaport District as the area booms with trendy, new businesses -- including the infamous Smorgasburg food fair setting up shop this summer.
Excited about ModaBox's new home, Phromsavanh is a firm believer of the saying, "It takes a village." "The Howard Hughes Corporation is so supportive of small and growing businesses like ModaBox here," said Phromsavanh. "No doubt, as fashion slowly creeps further downtown -- Vogue moving to the WTC and all -- Seaport Disrict will be the next go-to shopping and fashion mecca of N.Y.C."
Sounds like ModaBox isn't going anywhere but up soon.
Learn more about Monica Phromsavanh's vision and path to success by watching the episode above. Check out all episodes of Maker's Lane here.