Mompreneurs in Africa
Meet the Mompreneur who founded Encore Clothing
Today we chat to Mompreneur Lara Rocchi, the founder of Encore Clothing (the online store that offers a boutique experience without boutique prices, from the convenience and comfort of your own home).
If you are a mom who is building a startup or who already owns a business, please get in touch! I want to feature you.
Meet Lara Rocchi
The mom who enjoys road running!
My name is Lara Rocchi and I am 34 years old. I am mommy to a gorgeous 2-year-old girl, Noelle, and wife to a wonderful, handsome man, Anthony.
When I’m not playing with my girl, running my business, spending time with my husband or managing a household, I am learning to tango, and enjoy road running. I have completed a few marathons and the Two Oceans Ultramarathon.
About Encore Clothing
Encore Clothing is an online consignment boutique for women’s upmarket clothing, shoes, and accessories. I list and sell items that are in excellent condition on a consignment basis. How awesome does this sound?
Encore Clothing sells upmarket, almost new (and sometimes brand new), ‘high street’ clothing, shoes and accessories – including brands such as Zara, Aldo and Country Road.
Encore Clothing offers the boutique experience without boutique prices, from the convenience and comfort of your own home.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
Encore means “again” / “a repeated or additional performance”. The name suggests a new life for a gently worn item with a new owner.
How long have you been running your own business? What were you doing before this?
Encore Clothing was started in September 2017. Prior to that, I was at home with my daughter for two years, and before that, I was a corporate attorney for a number of years.
What is the hardest part about running your own business?
Last year I found it tricky to make time for the business. I often worked after my daughter went to sleep so that I was an available mommy to her during the day. But – bad mommy confession – I let her watch Peppa Pig while I answered emails or listed items. She has just started playgroup so hopefully, I’ll be able to get work done in the mornings while she is at school and I can devote the afternoons to her.
I’ve also found it difficult not to stress about sales. When a week goes by and no one has bought anything, it can be disheartening. But I have to remember that this is a new business and it takes time for people to trust you and your brand.
Which social media platform do you love/hate the most and why?
I like using Facebook because it is user-friendly and it gives you the opportunity to engage more with your audience. I use Instagram, but I’m not a huge fan because I find the way you have to communicate (predominantly through pictures) limiting.
Name 3 goals for 2018 that you want to achieve?
- See my business featured in print and online media.
- At least 1,000 followers on Facebook.
- At least double my sales per month.
What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
I’m not a morning person, but my daughter gets me going! She comes running into our room in the mornings and wants her milky and cuddles. So I have to surface at least enough to respond to her.
How do you manage your successful career while being a mom?
As far as I’m concerned, being a mom is my first and most important job. I don’t think there is any magical formula for getting it right. We just do it one day at a time.
Laugh sometimes. Cry. Drink wine. Have mommy friends who understand and support you.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood?
At my baby shower, a friend told me “be gentle with yourself”. It’s such a difficult thing for us moms to do, as we tend to be overly critical of ourselves. I’m often reminded of this, and I try to give myself room to get it wrong and to need help, but honestly, I still find it hard to implement.
What has surprised you the most about being a mom?
How hard it is! I love my daughter with my entire being and I would give anything for her. But it’s hard being a mom – especially since you never get a break and your precious child is so dependent on you for everything. That said, I wouldn’t change it or wish it away for anything.
What are your top tips for balancing work life and home life?
My first priority is my family. Unless something is super urgent, I always try to put them first and manage my work around my family.
I think it’s important to get organised – keep lists, label things, work out systems for shopping/menus etc. That way you aren’t fussing about irrelevant things and can focus on what’s important.
What popular entrepreneurial advice do you agree/ disagree with? Why?
“Do what you love”… it’s a double-edged sword, in my view. Yes, you should do something you are passionate or at least interested in. But that’s not enough. You have to do something that is also needed or desired by other people. There’s no point marketing a service or product that are passionate about but that no one else is interested in.
Who has been your inspiration in the business world?
My inspiration has been the top two men in my life, my husband, and my father, for different reasons. My husband spent many years in the corporate world and then started his own business. I am inspired by his leap of faith, his fierce determination to make his business succeed, his incredible work ethic, and his faith in God through the ups and downs. My father, now retired, was a formidable businessman who ran the finances of a listed company. I admire his ability to see the big picture and the detail, his patient and practical approach to solving problems, the value he places on investing in people, and his unwavering trust in his God.
Share some of your failures and the best lessons you have learned from them?
A lady with gorgeous items to list wanted me to substantially lower my commission rate to sell her items. I was sorely tempted to comply in order to list her items, but I decided that I needed to stick to my guns. I work hard to earn my commission, and I do not want to devalue myself or my business in order to win someone over.
How do you define success?
That’s a tough one. There are so many dimensions to success. Conventional definitions include wealth, respect, fame. More inclusive definitions extend to happiness, impact, and quality of life. For purposes of this question, I’ll limit the answer to business success, or I may not come up with an answer for weeks.
Success for Encore Clothing would be best defined by the words of Deborah Hopkins (Chief Innovation Officer of CitiBank): “Success is not having to describe what’s been accomplished…others do it for you”.
Top 3 mobile apps that make your work more effective?
I’m still experimenting with different apps. I’m currently using Wunderlist to keep track of business and personal to-dos. Other than that, I’m open to suggestions!
What do you think is missing in the mompreneurs community in South Africa?
I’m not sure if this really answers the question, but I think a feeling of legitimacy and value is missing. I find myself downing my ‘little business’ as if it’s a hobby, but my husband reminds me that I’m running a legitimate enterprise with all the elements of a real business.
What advice would you give to a Mompreneur who is just starting out?
My husband told me something very valuable: “Do something every day that makes your business better”. Whether you have an amazing day of sales or cinch a great contract, or you have a more mundane day where you contact a client, post something on Facebook or read an article on marketing, do something to make your business better and grow your skills.
For more information and to take a peek at the beautiful clothing for sale, visit www.encoreclothing.co.za.
Photo credit: Alexander Smith Photography.
Catch up on our previous interview with the Founder of Babes & Kids.
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