What were you doing when you were 9? Lily Hochfelder was starting a business! And she did it as a means of giving back! Still in High School, this amazing young woman is proving that you are never too young to make a difference and never too young to make your dreams a reality. Nuff said. Let’s hear from Lily:
1 – How did you start your business? How did it transition from “hobby” to business?
Beginning as a ‘hobby’ in 4th grade, making personalized stationery for myself as well as my friends was extremely satisfying just for the positive feedback I received. I think it shifted to a business when I decided to sell my creations in order to raise money for the Jacob’s Cure Foundation. As a 9-year-old, raising a couple of thousand dollars was extremely validating and motivating. That success pushed me forward to create the business that it is today.
2 – You are running Lily Hock Creations, keeping up with a demanding school, sports and friends. How do you do it all?
It is very challenging and can be frustrating at times. Being a good student is definitely my priority, but there are times when I need to focus on LHC also. There have been multiple instances where I have missed school to participate in a trunk show or charity event. I rely on my dedication and resourceful time management to make it work. For example, every afternoon Monday-Thursday, I play a sport after school, and I work with a tutor at least 3 times per week after sports. Sometimes my commitments don’t end until 9:30 at night. If I haven’t finished my homework yet, I will often have to stay up until 1 or 2:00 AM. To avoid this, I try to use any opportunity I have during the school day to get a head start on my homework. I try not to waste any time but also need to fit in time to relax, see my friends and spend time with my family. It’s a balancing act.
3 – Do you ever find that you aren’t taken seriously because you are such a young entrepreneur? If so, what do you do when that happens?
Persistence is definitely key. If reaching out once isn’t enough, I reach out again and again until I hear back. It is easy for industry people to disregard a young entrepreneur as a hobbyist, or someone not fully committed to their work. I am very proud of my work, and I find that if I show my determination and commitment, I am taken more seriously.
4 – What makes you feel confident?
When my work is appreciated and taken seriously, that makes me feel very good about myself. But I think more so, the independence of running my own business gives me great confidence. I feel capable and take great pride in hearing adults who have business experience tell me how awesome it is that I’m only 15 years old and running this company by myself.
5 – What inspired you to make philanthropy a part of LilyHock? What’s your advice to other young women about giving back?
Lily Hock Creations really formed in the beginning as a way to raise money for Jacob’s Cure Foundation. At that time, 100% of my proceeds were donated to charity. As the business evolved, I have been able to maintain my dedication to charitable donations while also covering operating costs and turning a profit. I think giving back is one of the most important things that a person can do and it doesn’t always have to be money – time can often be more valuable than a dollar amount. Outside of Lily Hock Creations, I am also part of a teen leadership committee called J-Teen. This service-oriented group works both locally and through service trips abroad to make a difference in the world by mobilizing motivated and charitable teenagers.
6 – What is the most challenging part of being a young entrepreneur?
The most challenging part about being a young entrepeneur is that it is very difficult for me to devote everything to my business because of school and extracurricular activities. BUT, because I love what I do dearly, I find time to incorporate my work into my daily routine. It is difficult for me to keep up with the “business talk.” There are so many terms I have never heard of, and there are times where I’ll get an E-Mail that looks like pure gibberish. However, partaking in this fabulous industry has not only expanded my vocabulary, and helped me learn about how stores run and logistics, but it has helped me grasp a better understanding of how the working world works.
7 – What are your plans for your business? Are you growing? What are some new designs you have introduced?
I am just living in the moment, and taking it one year at a time. I think that it will be very difficult for me to keep this up once I graduate High School, but I’m hoping by then I will have a team behind me ready to hold the fort. I like to keep a good amount of my designs trendy, so if emojii’s are super in, I’ll make some desings featuring emojii’s. I have recently come up with a College Line, but I am always open to new ideas!
8 – Do you think you will keep LilyHock going in college and beyond?
Ideally, I would love to keep LHC going until I finish college. I have always envisioned myself working at a fashion magazine, or being a designer of some sort. LHC has been a fabulous adventure, and from that I hope to carry with me my creativity, skills, and experience into the fashion world.
9 – Do you ever have to choose between friends and your business? What do you do?
It is extremely important to me to maintain my friendships, and not drift away from my friends because of my business, so I balance the two. It is nice because my friends LOVE taking part in LHC and are always there to support me, whether its spending an extra hour at a store so I can chat with the buyer, or doing me a favor and delivering packages for me in their neighborhoods. They love getting a first-hand look at how I run my business.
10 – If you could meet one woman who inspires you (business, media, sports or anyone else) who would you choose and why?
I would choose Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal, and author of #GIRLBOSS. Sophia is now 31, and the Founder and Executive Chairman of Nasty Gal. Quoting from her book, “At seventeen, Sophia Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery…Her story is extraordinary—and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS. This aspirational book doesn’t patronize young women the way many business experts do. Amoruso shows readers how to channel their passion and hard work, while keeping their insecurities from getting in the way. She offers straight talk about making your voice heard and doing meaningful work.”
11 – What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you? How does someone become “Fit to Lead”?
Someone who is fit to lead doesn’t need to be a “pretty” or a “skinny” girl, nor is she stereotyped as “perfect.” Someone who is fit to lead is anyone who is devoted to doing what they love while being unafraid to speak their mind.
Thanks Lily! You can check out Lily’s amazing stationery products on her website and her Instagram. You can also meet Lily, and shop her line at our #ConnectToConfidence event on May 21, 2016 in New York City. Learn more:
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