Meet Kendra Barnes, the creative founder behind wedding supply and gift company Aisle Always Love. We admire Kendra for running her business outside of her full-time job, and totally owning all of the territory that comes along with a side gig! Learn more about Kendra's journey to launching Aisle Always Love, as well as what's next for her brand below.
Q: Prior to launching Aisle Always Love, what lessons and experiences in your career drew you toward the path of entrepreneurship and ultimately launching your own online marketplace?
A: I am an Agricultural Economist by day...so as you can imagine there is absolutely no overlap between my day job and side business. How and Agricultural Economist came to own an online shop that specializes in wedding gifts...that’s a whole other story, but let’s just say, I took the traditional route- picked a major that sounded good, and went to undergraduate school and graduate school because it seemed like the right thing to do. Along the way, I realized that I enjoy what at what I do, but I am not fulfilled by it. I’ve always had the drive to become an Entrepreneur and when the opportunity presented itself- I leapt. One thing that graduate school taught me that I have carried into my journey as an entrepreneur is that I am capable of way more than I think. Graduate school pushed me in ways that I could have never imagined and I came out of it thinking…”Wow, I didn’t know I was capable of that! I can do anything I set my mind to!”
Q: Where do you look to for inspiration when brainstorming ideas for new products, as well as maintaining Aisle Always Love's overall brand?
A: For the products themselves I always think back on my wedding 2 years ago. A few of the products came from things that I actually incorporated into my wedding. The other products were developed from asking myself the question- “What do I wish I would have incorporated into my wedding to make it more unique?” or “What kind of gift would I have liked to receive if I was in the bridal party?”
I get color inspiration from Pinterest and Wedding blogs. When I started my sock line I could only afford to do 3 colors (starting a sock line is harder and more expensive than you think!). I found that yellow and gray is such a popular wedding color combo and yellow and gray argyle socks are hard to find- so that helped me decide which colors to choose for my line. I am also a firm believer that gifts should be fun, practical and affordable and you can really see that reflected in my brand.
Q: How does Aisle Always Love differentiate itself from other vendors in the wedding industry?
A: Our products set us apart from the rest of the industry. Most of the products you see in the shop can’t be found anywhere else!
Q: Walk us through what a day in the life is like while working full-time and running Aisle Always Love – lots of coffee, meetings and prioritization?
A: Working full time, plus running a company and being a wife takes lots of time management, coffee and prayer! (not necessarily in that order!).
I normally get up at 5 am on weekdays to fill orders or do administrative tasks before getting ready to go to my full time job. That way, when I get home I can really focus on spending quality time with my husband and unwinding from the work day before getting consumed in business tasks. We all know that time flies when you’re having fun, and I have so much fun running this business! I also do everything alone- from accounting, to social media management, to order fulfillment. So I could easily come home from work and do business related tasks until it’s time for bed, but I try to be mindful and make sure I’m not heading toward burnout. Sometimes that means getting up at the crack of dawn before my husband is awake to get things done, or waiting until the football game is on to dive head first into filling orders…because let’s be honest- the World stops when football is on :)
I have my most productive days when I create Success Lists. I read a book called 'The ONE Thing' by Gary Keller and it was such a game changer for me! In the book he talks about To-do Lists vs Success Lists and he basically says that a to-do list is simply a list of things you think you need to do. The first thing on a to-do list is simply the first thing you thought of to write down...not necessarily the first thing you should do to achieve your goals. To- do lists are long. Success Lists are short. One pulls you in several directions while the other aims you in a specific direction. Using this approach and tackling things one at a time and day by day has helped me achieve much better results.
Q: For other women looking to launch their own online businesses, what would you best piece of advice be before taking the leap? A: 1. Follow your heart! 2. Do not give up! Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear! 3. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals that will encourage you and keep you grounded.