We had the good fortune of connecting with Alisha Michelle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alisha, how do you think about risk?
I have never been much of a “risk taker”. Every move I make in life is a “calculated risk”, a safe move. People often ask me about the risk I took starting NPTressTreats and to be honest there were not too many risks involved. The biggest risk was failure. No one wants to fail. But one thing I have learned in life, in my career, and with my goals is that you have to take risk to grow. I found that when you do not want to take risk you may not be living to your fullest potential and may be missing out on opportunities. I have seen people not willing to take any risk and so opportunities have passed them by. They never went back to school, they never started that business, they never went on that date, and so on.
One thing that has held me back from taking risk is I have always lived my life in a world of “what-ifs” and I have always cared about the opinions of others. Growing up that was always an issue for me. Like if I take this risk or if I make this move, “what will they say”, “what will people think”. Not sure who is they or who are people? It was not until recently that I have focused less on what people think and what I want to do for myself, what will make me the happiest.
You have to take the risk for yourself and not worry about others. I think the fear of other’s opinions is what stops many of us from taking risk. We are not necessarily afraid of the outcome of taking the risk, but what others will think or say about the outcome. I have learned we have to take risk for ourselves. Someone will always have an opinion. Often times, the opinion is a projection of their own fears and insecurities.
With business and in life, everything seems like a little bit of a risk. Do I add this product? Do I add this print? Do I post this? Do I go to this school? Do I move here?
Recently I took a huge, calculated risk and quit my job of 17 years to focus 100% of my time to my business. I say calculated because I weighed my options, I made sure I saved enough money, knew I had a “fall back plan” (because that is my personality), but honestly, I do not need a fallback plan because MY BUSINESS WILL GROW, MY BUSINESS WILL BLOSSOM, MY BUSINESS WILL SUCCEED. I water it each day, I manifest it. This will be one of the best risks I have taken.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
NPTressTreats is short for No Preservatives Tress Treats (say that ten times fast). The name comes from the idea of No Preservatives meaning “real”, as in real women have to deal with the hustle and bustle of their daily grind and do not have time to style their hair. They/we just want to sleep cute, wake up cute, and not have to spend hours on hairstyles. The second part Tress Treats is exactly what it means “treats for your tresses”. The name is long, but I love it. When customers send me messages saying they did not have to refresh/style their hair and saved so much time or when they tell me they feel beautiful in their NPTressTreats, those comments are what defines NPTressTreats.
NPTressTreats is known for satin bonnets. NPTressTreats bonnet customers are “Bonnet Baddies”. Customers are also called “Wrap Royalty”, “Pineapple Princesses”, and are all part of the NP Family. I also make satin scarves, satin scrunchies, satin pillowcases, and satin-lined shower caps, which have recently become a hit, and satin headbands.
What sets NPTressTreats apart from other satin product lines is the customer service, unique prints, size availability, customization, and the unboxing experience. There are a lot of satin products on the market, especially recently, but I offer more than 50 colors/prints. Additionally, NPTressTreats are handmade to order so I can make items as small or large to fit your needs, I can mix and match colors, I can create items with your business logo, etc. The options provided by NPTressTreats are endless.
Customer service is huge for me. I take pride in the relationships I build with my customers. I have been invited to customers’ homes, parties, dinner, events, etc. NPTressTreats is more than a business it is a family. As part of my customer service is the unboxing experience. I package each item with love and my customers feel the love when they are opening their package.
I am most proud of my ability to take a piece of fabric and turn it into something people feel beautiful wearing. In the past, bonnets have been looked at as something unattractive to wear to bed. I love when customers send me messages to tell me their NPTressTreats bonnet is the best bonnet they have ever owned, and they feel pretty wearing it. That is what makes them a “Bonnet Baddie”. Additionally, I am most proud that I started this business from the bottom, and it has grown and is flourishing. I started this, no one else, no family money, no sweat shops, ME, MUAH, this is my baby.
I started NPTressTreats in October 2016 and it has certainly not been a smooth road from finding work/home life balance to mental health to time management. I am basically a one-woman team. I recently was sent an assistant; I say sent because she has been a God send. She is amazing and helps with a lot of customer service. She is great. At the moment, I still handle everything else for my business including website design, running social media, sewing, packaging, networking, and I operate two additional businesses. I have recently started working with a seamstress, which has had its challenges because I am a perfectionist. I even have a collection in my store, called Imperfectly Perfect, for the “not so perfect” pieces. Sometimes managing all these things can get very hectic so I had to learn to manage my time wisely and effectively to dedicate enough time to each area. But each day is a learning experience. I have learned to step away when necessary and to listen to my body. My business is my baby, but I cannot run a business if I do not take care of myself.
One challenge is trying to get orders out fast enough to keep up in this world where everyone is used to Amazon prime and next day shipping. But also provide the quality I promise.
Although it has not been a smooth road, If I had to start over, I would not change anything. The mistakes I have made have helped me to become the business owner and person I am today, and I am grateful for those experiences. Additionally, as a leader, it is imperative to examine and learn from past stumbles so that you are constantly improving and growing. As uncomfortable as reminding ourselves of our mistakes is it is completely necessary for valuable learning lessons. It is impossible to chart where you are going without knowing where you’ve been. The entrepreneurial process is one of growth and challenges that I have accepted and value.
Although there is nothing I would do differently, a few things I have learned as I have grown as a business owner is to
1) Ask for help when it is needed
2) Know that social media likes/follows equals exposure, not sells
3) Do not compare your growth/progress to anyone but your own
4) Be your biggest cheerleader
5) Be true to yourself and your passion
6) Flow do not force
7) Have fun
8) Turn your phone off when necessary
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh my goodness, where would do I begin? We would definitely stay close to Long Beach. I would take her to do yoga on the Bluff, we would do breakfast at Schooner’s (Schooner or Later) one day and The Attic another day. We would walk on Second St. in Belmont Shore and get a michelada from Panama Joe’s and grab lunch or dinner from Nick’s on Second. I would also take her hiking at Griffith Park. I love being outside, so everything would be outdoors. We would go bike riding in Hermosa and depending on our mood we would ride from Hermosa to Santa Monica. OMG, I would definitely take her to the West Side to grab cookies from Diddy Riese.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are several people who deserve recognition for helping and inspiring me along the way. NPTressTreats is coming up on five years and it has definitely taken a village. People who have been there when I needed to laugh, cry, vent, cuss, yell, scream. When I needed advice, when I needed to bounce ideas off of, when I needed help setting up events, when I was ready to give up, helping create content, helping with customers, buying a cup of coffee, being a supporter, buying my products. Thank youuuu Tony, Krystal, Mom, Ivan, Rashi, The Sunbeams, Lorraine, Gerald, Alyssa, Shane, Manny, Chris D., and really anyone who has supported my business through a follow, a referral, a purchase, and just love and positivity.