The Vulnerability of Starting a Business – Guest Post by Scrunchie Club Founder Alyssa Kaplan

Welcome Alyssa Kaplan, founder of the Scrunchie Club to Positive Publicity! In addition to being a business founder, Alyssa is also an expert brand manager and baker extraordinaire. She’s also been a friend for nearly 10 years, from when we met at Penn State. Alyssa is sharing her nuggets of wisdom of starting your own business and how to say no to the inner voices of self-doubt.

Let’s all admit it – it’s human nature to care what others think of us. As a small business owner (and uh, a human woman living in 2020), I’m not proud to admit that it’s on my mind frequently. I want to be thought of as someone who is intelligent and quick-witted, especially by people I admire.

Oftentimes, when successful people business offer advice for those interested in starting something new, they’ll say “just start” or “take the first step”, and that’s because so many of us don’t start out of fear. Similarly, my journey to found The Scrunchie Club has meant that I needed to come to terms with opening myself up to opinions and judgements – from both strangers and the people I know and love. I’ve always tried to protect myself from being vulnerable, and starting a business has forced me to recognize this pattern and deliberately do the opposite. For a long time, I didn’t “start” out of the fear of failing. But as the great Mindy Kaling said, “Why not me?” 

In January (pre-pandemic times, remember those?) I attended an event with a panel of female business founders. Narie Foster, Co-Founder and Former COO of womenswear brand M.M.LaFleur, told the audience something that I wrote down and have remembered at least once a week in the following 6 months: “Become shameless and it will pay off.” If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, why should anyone else? As a one woman-operation, my voice is the brand’s voice, and it’s a voice I believe in deeply. 

The idea for The Scrunchie Club began when I couldn’t find what I was looking for at traditional big box stores – scrunchies that reflected my interests and values as a dynamic, single twenty-something. At first, I began working on the project quietly, slowly bringing my closest friends and family into the know when it was further along. I’ll admit that sharing this project with those closest to me did make me nervous at first, but with each conversation, it gets easier. The people that love you want to support you, and I’ve been so lucky to have an incredible support system.

To many, creating a brand of scrunchies sounds like a nonsensical endeavor, but at our core, our mission is to prompt moments of joy throughout an otherwise ordinary day. As I’ve grown into my adult self, that’s always been a guiding light for me – how can I help a stranger in a small, but emotionally meaningful way? Building a business means you are also designing the life you want to live, and your values are a vital part of that puzzle. So, are people probably going to be judgemental? Yeah, probably. Let’s accept it and focus on the bigger picture.

Does this all mean that I don’t experience that voice of judgement, everytime I go to post updates on LinkedIn? Absolutely not. But it does mean that the voice holds a lot less power than it used to – Because why not me?

Alyssa Kaplan is the founder of The Scrunchie Club, which partners with independent artists to create unique, limited edition hair accessories that also give back to your favorite causes – 15% of the profits from each design are donated to an organization of the artist’s choice. Prior to founding The Scrunchie Club, Alyssa has spent her career working in social media advertising and influencer marketing. She calls New York City home, and prefers her pizza well done.

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