Just like Rent the Runway’s co-founders, there are a ton of women who have leapt into the uncharted, often-insane world of entrepreneurship. We’re inviting these risk-takers to be part of a community we’re calling The Real Runway: a collection of voices to motivate and inspire your own runway, whatever that may be.
It all started with... a healthy craving.
Anne M. Owen is the founder of Owen + Alchemy, a Chicago based "juice apothecary.” With beautifully packaged products resembling modern elixirs, Owen + Alchemy has become a go-to for Chicago’s locals, tourists and businesses (Soho House and Eataly are partners). Here’s what Anne has picked up after swapping a glamorous career in publishing for the raw life of an entrepreneur.
Jumpsuit, La Petite Robe di Chiara Boni; Dress, Halston Heritage
Can you tell us about the transition from publishing to entrepreneurship?
It took me about four years to build up the courage to leave my job in Miami. It was terrifying. But in hindsight, taking the leap wasn’t the most difficult part. As I built the business, the months to follow were the most challenging. There were some gut-wrenching, dark moments when I questioned my ability to keep my head high and move forward. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely place, so you really have to be your own champion and cheerleader during those scary moments.
Dress, Halston Heritage
What were those early days like?
The first big step was finishing my business plan — putting your thoughts, ideas, and dreams down on paper isn’t easy. But it’s so important to create a thoughtful and detailed plan. We’re still a young company, so every day truly feels like a game of Russian roulette; some days are incredible and some days test the strength of your character. It’s made me really appreciate the people on my team. A business is defined by the people who drive it, and we believe so strongly in what we are trying to accomplish that we keep bullying forward.
If you truly, deeply believe in what you are doing, you will find the motivation to keep going.
Jumpsuit, La Petite Robe di Chiara Boni
How do you push through those dark moments?
A new business is very fragile and there are so many things that can go wrong. The days when you’re not sure you’re going to be able to pay your rent, or you run out of bottle caps (that happened) or bottles (that happened also), or an employee quits with no notice... those days can be hard. You can try to prepare for these moments, but it’s inevitable that they’ll sneak up on you. That’s when you need to rely on your support system of people who believe in you — and you have to find your own primal belief that you will make it through.
Jumpsuit, La Petite Robe di Chiara Boni
What’s it like being a female entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve done professionally, but I love the support and encouragement I’ve received from other female business owners. It’s a special club. My peers include some badass women who are incredibly inspiring. Finding new ways to work together and collaborate is truly one of my favorite parts of the business.
How does style come into play as a business owner?
I had never designed a physical space before, so creating the look of Owen + Alchemy was so fun — it definitely forced me out of my comfort zone. People often comment that the store reflects my personal style. Most of my closet is full of black or neutrals, which makes it easy to pair things together. It also lets me get playful and creative with shapes, textures and accessories.
There’s nothing more gratifying than building something from the ground up.
What motivates you?
I don’t know how to live outside of hustle mode. When I want something, I go into attack mode, for better or for worse. But when I hear questions from customers about how to recycle our bottles, the farms we work with, our stance on conventional versus organic, what it means to have a plantbased diet, or, better yet, when I see people taste the juice for the first time and love it... when I witness curious people connecting with our little business, it make me giddy. I’m reminded of why I chose this life.
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