Mississippi Young Entrepreneur Finds Success in Fashion
Looking for a great place to shop for the latest styles? Marissa Simms, owner of Royal Bleau Boutique in Jackson, MS would have you visit her business stocked with the latest fashion trends. Simms was a college student at Jackson State University majoring in Communications when she envisioned opening a boutique. “I had a passion for fashion and always dreamed of owning a boutique and clothing line,” said Simms. “With only one year left of college, I decided the time was now, but I had little knowledge of the business world.”
Simms sought out a mentor and contacted Sydney Brown, Director of the JSU Small Business Development Center and attended several seminars. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) assistance small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs by providing a variety of free business consulting and low-cost training services including: business plan development, manufacturing assistance, financial packaging and lending assistance, exporting and importing support, procurement and contracting aid, market research and healthcare guidance.
“Mr. Brown assisted me with my business vision, my business plan and understanding my target market,” said Simms. “I found being part of the “fashion business” was more business than fashion, but fashion always gets you in the right door. Starting Royal Bleau Boutique was an intriguing yet eye opening experience. I learned so much in such a little time and am so grateful for the assistance I received.”
Initially, Royal Bleau merchandising was targeted specifically to college students; however, after opening the doors, Simms realized quickly that the potential market was larger than she imagined. “This is where I had to use all my skills to focus not just locally, but internationally,” she said. “I needed to establish a brand for my company and explore new markets through an online presence.”
Simms has mapped out a detailed five year plan to build her business. “My passions lies between fashion, business, and creative writing,” said Simms. “Although I understand the importance of college, nothing is more valuable than knowledge gained through real world experience,” said Simms. “I was afforded the opportunity to open a business as a senior in college and enjoy challenging your ideas, taking calculated risks and jumping in the deep end and building systems so that they last forever which honestly is what business is about.
Simms attributes much of her success to her parents Kermit and Camille Simms, who taught her the value of education and to follow her dreams. “I’m ecstatic about the future of Royal Bleau Boutique,” said Simms. “We are currently approaching our 3rd year in business, and have since launched our own brand of clothing called ‘Bleau Clothing Company’ and are remodeling and restructuring for future expansion.”
Simms’s success was recognized by the Mississippi SBA Office as its 2014 Young Entrepreneur Award winner.
For more information on SBA programs and services, visit the Mississippi SBA website at www.sba.gov/ms.