Elena Andrews’ mother first noticed her daughter’s entrepreneurial mindset four years ago.
When she was 13, Elena started teaching piano lessons to younger children. They would come to her house where she would give them 30 minute lessons.
“She started quite a studio for herself and by the time she was 15, she probably had eight to 10 students,” her mother Xela Andrews said. “Elena has always had a go-getter attitude.”
Elena’s entrepreneurial spirit has only grown in the years since. After graduating high school early at 17 years old in May, Elena began planning not only for the fall semester as a communications major at the University of Oklahoma, but for the launch of her own clothing boutique, Norma Lane.
“[Elena] came to us and told us she really wanted to do this — she created a website and said, ‘I’m all in, I'm doing this,’ and we said ‘Okay, then we are in too,’” Xela said.
Elena said her passion for fashion evolved into a business plan when she was in high school. She proposed the plan to her parents, who were receptive, but initially surprised.
“I’ve always been into taking pictures and going out with friends and I’ve been like, ‘let’s all dress cute,’ and people would always ask to borrow what I have, so I have always been that person that gives people things,” Elena said. “It really just made me think, ‘maybe I can do this.’”
Naming the boutique Norma Lane was a decision Elena said she made because it represents both her upbringing on the street she lived on in Texas and her new academic endeavor in Norman at OU.
Starting a business while juggling school has presented difficulties, including the workload of online classes amid the pandemic, Elena said. But she strives to put 100% into both school and further developing the boutique, she said.
Once the business plan was finalized, Elena began market research on clothing startups, young entrepreneurial ventures and how to get a wholesale license. She said she went through her closet, reading tags from her favorite brands and applying for wholesale directly from them.
“Most of the wholesalers got back to me,” Elena said. “There were a few that you had to be a little bigger and have three to five months of sales before having access to their products, but a lot of them you send in an application, they asked a few questions about goals and sales, then they would give you access.”
Elena said she wanted to make sure that every product sold from Norma Lane was something she would wear, because they all represent her style and taste.
The Norma Lane website went live on Nov. 20, with 40 pieces including dresses, sweaters and shoes. Elena prioritized a business model predicated on affordable prices to better target the college age demographic, according to the website.
“There are a lot of tops this launch, sweaters and comfies like lounge sets,” Elena said.
Elena said she hopes the business grows to the point where she can open a storefront while continuing the online business, but for now, she just hopes people will see Norma Lane as their go-to online shop.
“I have places I shop the most at, and would love to be that place for people,” Elena said.
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