Starting your own business can be intimidating enough, but starting your own business during a pandemic can be terrifying. With a sea of unknowns brought on by COVID-19, virtually every industry was affected—and with that came layoffs, furloughs and a lot of uncertainty.
Just ask Maura McGlone. The young entrepreneur recently launched her online store, Femme Edge Boutique.
“I was climbing the ladder as best I could, and I finally found a place where I was settling in. I felt like I was reaching a point in my career that I felt good about settling in at that 1-year mark.” McGlone is talking about her time right before the pandemic hit, when she was working in events, production, marketing and store operations for a large bridal retailer.
In March 2020, McGlone contracted COVID-19 early on and after getting the OK from work to stay home, and then to continue to stay home after the fact when quarantine hit, McGlone received a call about being furloughed. It made her nervous, but she also had a similar mindset to most people: How long can it really last?
It lasted until she was let go of what she once thought was her dream job.
“I understood…but it was shocking,” explains McGlone. “[It was] obviously unexpected and I was someone who really identified my identity based on my work. So, it was a loss of identity at that point. Hearing that [I] wasn’t essential—It was a heavy hit for me. You kind of go through, what do I do now?”
After months of applying, looking, and getting disappointed, McGlone took a page from the book of small businesses and thought about what she wanted to do. The opportunity now arose to pick a new path and start again, and although it was scary, it was also empowering.
“I pulled from my love of my last corporate job with fashion and retail and decided to follow my life-long dream of opening a boutique,” McGlone says. “I taught myself everything. I had to read a ton, and searched YouTube and I took an online course. Oddly enough though, the place I learned the most was Tik Tok, which was so strange…But it became this place where I could start finding interesting videos of people lending their expertise and learn so much.”
McGlone says the Tik Tok community was surprisingly helpful, and most people who had experience in starting a business, website help and even marketing were there to help any way they could. The community arose and it helped kick start her own business. Those hacks and recommendations in the kitschy videos we may scroll past on social media were actually full of knowledge that fueled a new fashion focus in the City of Brotherly Love.
And the brand actually takes note and inspiration from Philly as well.
“What started out as a devastating loss of identity and job became me really learning a ton about myself and starting something that could be a profitable business,” explains McGlone. “I’ve lived in Philly for ten years, I love this city and I think there are a lot of things that Philly can step up on and there are so many opportunities for Philly to do things better and greater and more wonderful to really show off the city. With boutiques, I’m just craving something different. I’m craving something fun, something new and with girls that you can relate too. Bringing my friends into the project, having my friends be models and being able to buy from businesses…I’m working with girls who have similar stories to mine.”
Those similar stories include another young entrepreneur who started making handmade coasters during quarantine, and now McGlone sells them alongside her fashion options on her e-commerce site. It’s clear the community aspect from social media expanded into Femme Edge’s own business plan.
“Certainly, there’s a security of having a steady paycheck, but I think I have really learned that I will not work harder for anybody but myself. It’s up to me whether or not I make money,” says McGlone. “I have to show up every day, I have to wake up early and I have to be pushing myself to do those things or nobody else is going to do it for me. So, that’s very empowering in a way, and it feels good to be able to see the fruits of your labor. I’m humbled by that.”
Femme Edge Boutique officially kicked off in early April, and Philadelphians can check out the merchandise—which spans from shirts, to bodysuits, to handmade gifts and beyond—to see what a true dream job can look like themselves.
“I just think all of the crazy jobs and everything I’ve gone through in my career so far has really prepared me for this moment and I’m grateful for every boss good or bad in my path,” finishes McGlone. “It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but in this first week…I feel very empowered and I feel like I can do anything.”
To find out more about Femme Edge Boutique, visit femmeedgeboutique.com