We’re so excited to welcome Alicia Chester, founder of Our Southern Gentlemen to the King’s Korner. Alicia creates the cutest baby and toddler bow ties, t-shirts and accessories to help boys be, act and dress like a gentleman! Read below to learn how Alicia balances entrepreneurship and motherhood and what raising her two young kings means to her.
What inspired you to start your company?
I have always loved men’s wear… like I wanted to work in men’s suits stores. I had already made a few bow ties and neckties for my husband and friends (adult and child sized) and had posted some to Etsy. They sold alright but it was just a hobby. After having my son, I realized that dressing him the way I wanted was going to be difficult… SO I started making my son bow ties. We dress up a couple times a week so I started to make them interchangeable for my own ease. Two months after my son, my nephew was born and I started making them for him. Eventually people started asking about the bow ties, so I started posting them to Etsy. My sister is a graphic designer so in exchange for bow ties, she did graphic work for me. Eventually t-shirts came into the picture because the phrasing I often saw on t-shirts was inappropriate, degrading to women and just overall not how I would ever want my boys to speak or behave.
How do you find time to balance being a mother and an entrepreneur?
First having an extremely supportive husband! When he sees I need to spend more time on the business, he steps in and will do all the parenting so I can get caught up. He has been cheering me on even before I really wanted to start a business. I will say though that balance is a tricky thing. I find that there really is no real “balance" – there are simply priorities. I will never be able to provide equal attention to everything in my life. I choose in that day or moment what needs my attention. This means something else is being sacrificed because of it. SO maybe the house is not as put together as I’d like (spoiler alert: Its not! ) or the boys are left to play together without me so I can accomplish something, or I don’t get nearly enough sleep because I'm up late sewing. I just know that first and foremost my BIGGEST priority is my family. When you put the big things first, everything else will fall in place.
If you could choose one thing that your children could take away from you as an entrepreneur, what would it be?
I hope they see that mommy went after something she really wanted. That I worked really hard. I always tell them what I am doing and when we take packages to the mail they always know if we are mailing Our Southern Gentlemen items. My. Mother had her own in-home daycare growing up and I saw how hard she worked and juggled everything. It looked effortless! Now on the other end of that, I can see how hard it must have been to do what she did. I hope they will grow up and be able to see the same thing – their mommy was always there when they needed her AND she worked hard for something she loved.
What does raising a young king mean to you?
Raising a young king means raising a man you would be proud of. Raising a man that would be a helper to his family and community. In my opinion that all starts with instilling in them manners and gentlemanly qualities. I have always had amazing examples of true gentlemen in my life… my grandfathers, father, father in law, husband, uncles and friends. I want my boys to be looked at fondly the same way I have looked at the men in my life. I want their future wife to be proud to say they are their husband, and I want my future grandchildren to be in awe of them.
What advice do you have for parents who have boys?
SO MANY THINGS! But teach them to care about their appearance! When you go to a store and you see the girl section vs. the boys section, and wow… it's obvious that girls are taught that their appearance and how they present themselves to the world is important. There are tons of clothing and accessories for girls… then on the boys side there are some shirts with bugs or dinosaurs and some shirts with flirty comments on them. Let’s show our boys that they are worthy of more than that. Their appearance matters too. Caring about their appearance will garner the type of attention and respect they deserve.
A huge thank you to Alicia for sharing her story and perspective! We hope everyone will check out her business Our Southern Gentleman for all of your baby and toddler accessory needs :-).
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