First up in Driven Media's Women In Business Series is Allison Demirjian– owner of Al's Articles! Driven Media has committed itself to highlighting outstanding women-led businesses, and, after speaking with Allison Demirjian, her dedication to her craft has blown our company away. Today, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Allison to learn how Al’s Articles came to be the successful business it is today.
Who Is Allison?
Allison Demirjian is a twenty-three-year-old MBA graduate student currently enrolled at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business. She grew up in a small town in Southern New Hampshire, but, even in a small town, Allison was determined to pursue her love for fashion.
What is Al’s Articles?
Al’s Articles is a sustainable fashion business that upcycles second-hand clothing and resells them to customers. Allison’s products include second-hand clothing, jewelry, accessories, shoes, and even some custom pieces made by Allison.
The Road to Entrepreneurship
Allison launched her business in 2020, when she realized that she could turn her love of clothing and thrifting into a business model.
“So I started thrifting many years ago– just kind of casually and for fun– around the beginning of college,” Allison said, “That was when I really started to pick it up. I would especially thrift while abroad or traveling anywhere. I also always looked for vintage shops just to check them out.”
Allison expressed how unique pieces, like any of those items you may find at a vintage shop or thrift store, were her favorite kinds.
“I started to learn about sustainability, and everything revolving around fast fashion, and realized how toxic it was. So, once I started collecting items and thrifting more often, I started to use that as my own shopping rather than going to a mall or retail store,” Allison recalled.
“When I used to buy pieces that were trendy, I would love it for a little bit and then not love them as much. I didn’t want to just throw them away or just donate them because I knew there were people out there that would enjoy them as well,” Allison continued.
She knew that her love for sustainable fashion and the message behind it could be shared with customers. Her company’s overall message reflects and encompasses this sentiment: “Spreading Secondhand Love.”
The Impact Being a Woman Has in Business
As a woman in the business field myself, I understand how sometimes our gender can impact the way we as women are treated. I asked Allison how being a woman has either positively or negatively impacted her business, especially with her work revolving around fashion. She expressed that her experiences with customers, who are mostly– if not all– female, have been positive.
“The majority of my customers are female customers, because on my online platform– Instagram– I pretty much only post women’s clothing. I do have unisex pieces, but I don’t have a male model to model the clothing for me,” Allison said.
“I don’t like when other platforms just post the clothing pieces; I like to see it on other people, which has led to me modeling the clothing myself. So, my online audience and customer base is mostly women and I’ve never had a bad experience in that case,” Allison explained.
She especially expressed how supportive women are and how empowered she has felt because of their interest.
“I get people who ask me questions about what I do, how I do it, and then people who just love to support me and my company.”
When asked about the negative experiences she has had, Allison mentions that most of her struggles came from explaining to men that her business was more than a hobby. However, she mentions that the male audience she attracts during her pop-up shops on campus are supportive and positive.
“The male audience I get at my pop-up shops are always super respectful and happy that I have a men’s selection. But, I’ve noticed that when I explain to my family, friends, and grown men what I do as my business, they try to make me feel very small. They say things like, ‘Oh, that’s a great hobby!’ and I’m like ‘It’s a hobby, but I actually turned it into a business, and it’s a profitable business and I’m loving what I do,’” Allison explained, “I really have to kind of elaborate and stand up for myself as a business owner rather than having them be super supportive and excited for me.”
After bonding over our frustrations about how little we sometimes feel as businesswomen, Allison shared a more detailed description as to everything she does for Al’s Articles, and, spoiler alert, it’s a lot.
“They probably have no idea that I actually go through and do all of my finances and spreadsheets. But, I also don’t want to have to explain that. I don’t want to have to get to the point where I’m like, ‘Okay, here’s what I can tell you to back up that I’m actually a successful businesswoman.’ It’s very frustrating and, unfortunately, way too common. It’s a lot and I feel like people don’t necessarily know what goes into it, especially because I am running this business on my own,” Allison said.
The Future of Al’s Articles
Being that the success of Al’s Articles is only increasing, the future of the company appears bright. Allison shared that within five years time, she would love to take her business on the road.
“I don’t know if it is an attainable goal for this summer, but, within the next couple of years, I would like to take a summer and travel around the country; start sourcing and go to various vintage fairs and pop-up locations. This allows me to encompass travel as well, because travel is another thing I am really passionate about,” she explained.
Allison feels that this is a way to build Al’s Articles into a full-time position, which is an opportunity she is excited about exploring. Another dream of hers is to expand her business in order to have a storefront for Al’s Articles.
Still, Allison expressed that since her interests vary so much, and change with time, that she doesn’t know if this will be her entire career. Nonetheless, she knows this is something she will always like to hold onto, because her love for fashion has been a constant for her entire life.
Advice for Young Women
Simply put, Allison’s advice for young women is: “Honestly, just do it!” Though a short statement, the words carry a lot of weight and could have changed the founding date of Al’s Articles if she had heard them herself.
“I wanted to start Al’s Articles much earlier than when I did. I had been thinking about it for probably six months before I actually opened up my platform on Instagram and started working. I think this was because I felt I wasn’t educated enough to do so,” Allison recalled.
Allison, although currently a MBA student, was actually a student for the Quinnipiac Health Sciences program on the pre-med track during her undergraduate years. Allison knew the basics of what she’d have to do to get her business off the ground, but the overall idea of running a business with limited knowledge was intimidating.
She expressed that this hesitation came from the belief of needing to be perfect. Over time, though, Allison realized businesses aren’t perfect and neither is she.
“When you start, you prepare so much and everything has to be ideal. But, that doesn’t exactly work. A lot has changed since I started and that is kind of the beauty of this. I learned all different aspects of business even before I became a business student just by doing it. That's kind of how you perfect and find your groove within your own business.”
To learn more about Al’s Articles and to keep up with them on social media, visit her contact links below!
Where to find Allison:
A Note from Allison:
Al’s Articles accepts clothing donations! If you would like to get in touch with me, please use my number.