By Alexandra Pappas, Arch Tags
I moved to NYC in 2004 with under a thousand dollars in my wallet. I had attended Savannah College of Art and Design but decided to leave and hightail it for New York when I couldn't find my calling.
My "plan" was to become a celebrity makeup artist and while I believed I could, everyone else shrugged and wished me luck, not expecting too much. It's a hard business to break into and my family was very education-oriented and not happy that I chose to leave college.
Fast forward to nine years later, and here I am in the head makeup position at a NYC hit morning show. I have done makeup for everyone from Sean Connery to Carly Simon to American presidents to Arianna Huffington herself! It took me quite some time to build this first major dream into a reality, but I managed to accomplish that goal.
I've never been comfortable staying in any place too long and am constantly searching for my next opportunity to learn and grow. So I decided to put some of my creative ability to use and start a small jewelry company -- just to see if I could. I created a nice website with Shopify, and a few weeks later I was selling.
With the demand that product brought, I gained confidence in myself and realized that people would actually pay for my craft! I registered my LLC and launched my current business, which is an innovative line of shoe accessories.
Arch Tags are totally unique and the first accessory of their kind. There has not been a product developed to cover the soles of high heels for decorative purposes. The soles of high heels are typically left "naked" by the shoe designer.
I thought that was a great opportunity to capitalize on! Women love shoes -- that's no secret. But a lot of women can't afford the designer shoes with colored bottoms. I wanted to give everyone a chance to give their soles some soul and never have a "naked sole" again!
I have grown my business organically, without any real business acumen -- learning as I go while working the early shift for my makeup job. I wake up every day at 2:30am for work, go to the gym, and finish the day by working on my passion project. I read all day long absorbing business tactics like a sponge and getting excited by others' success stories.
Since our launch on Shopify, and despite the fact that I lack business or marketing training, we've been featured on QVC.com as well as Glamour, in Essence Magazine and the Today Show. We sell internationally in more than 10 countries.
The journey has been the most rewarding part, although I constantly have to remind myself that this is a process that takes time, persistence and, most of all, patience.
This past January, I lost my strong, healthy mother to an aggressive cancer that took her in only eight months. Losing a parent so quickly showed me how life can truly change overnight. There is no reason to wait to do what you love or follow your passion -- or to just try.
I certainly don't want to wonder what I could have done differently or wished I had pursued a dream. This may mean I will make more mistakes than others and sometimes make a fool of myself. The day my mother passed on, however, I promised myself I would do my best, try my hardest and have no regrets.
May we all strive to set an example for other budding entrepreneurs and dreamers alike. May we encourage them to be passionate about something -- anything, because where there is passion, there is potential. I am incredibly grateful to those who saw and see my potential, inspire me on a daily basis and support and buy from small businesses like mine.
When you support small businesses, you not only get a cool, useful product, you give the business owner hope and confidence to continue living their dreams. There is no greater gift.
Alexandra Pappas currently works as a celebrity makeup artist in NYC for a top morning show. In her free time, Alex enjoys Bikram Yoga, painting and biking in Central Park with her new husband, David.