VIXEN: What was the inspiration for the “Hustle Hard” t-shirt line?
Blair Sandlain: We just started a friendly campaign called Girls Hustle Harder, then we incorporated each state. Of course we started with Philly, and we even have Eagles now which are doing really well. Michael Vick tweeted a couple of them, and since he did that, we’ve had even greater buzz from the Eagles. We’re actually rolling out Universities as well. It’s a statement letting other women know that you’re doing tour thing basically [laughs].
I noticed how quick they’re selling…
BS: Yeah, especially if you live in another state other than your hometown. I Iive in Philadelphia, but I’m originally from Michigan. I always wear my Detroit shirt in the store.
You guys need to make a “Maryland Girls” shirt! [Laughs]
BS: Should I do “Maryland” or should I do “DMV”?
Well, you could do DMV ones. Those’ll sell like crazy! Now, what mainstream trends have you been noticing, and how do you want to incorporate into your accessories or your apparel lines?
Kijafa Vick: We see a lot of jackets with the denim and leather combo, and I definitely want to introduce that into the store. We’ve already started introducing a lot of pieces.
What are a couple of things you’ve learned from being in the business of fashion and style?
BS: It’s a whole business behind it, you know? Monitoring your inventory levels, making sure you have enough inventory to cover the season. I want people to understand that although Kijafa and I like fashion, we are in the fashion business. It’s a whole numbers game behind what we do.
Indeed. Has it been hard to learn the business?
KV: It was a little difficult for me. Blair has come from a numbers background, so I learn a lot from her. She teaches me a lot; she makes me pay attention to a lot of things that I haven’t noticed before.
Blair, what was tough for you?
BS: I would say the transition from working in corporate America to working at your own business. You don’t have any vacation days.
Sometimes friends and business just don’t mix, but talk about the relationship between you two and how you approach business together.
KV: I don’t like Blair at all she gets on my nerves! [Laughs] No. Since Blair moved to Philly, I have really, really just loved her like a sister. She left her job and she came down here to run a store, and I respect that. A lot of people couldn’t do that.
BS: When I moved to Philadelphia our relationship definitely did get closer. I learned a lot from her as well about not only the business but how to be patient and how to protect yourself. It’s very evened it out; I’m the edgier one and she’s the girly girl in a sense. We just have this respect to know what we expect from one another on a business level.
What have been your biggest sacrifices with building Pnk Elephant and becoming full-time career women?
KV: I sacrifice a lot of time with my family. Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision, but I balance it out as much as I need to. I would love to be in the business a lot more but I have to be with my kids. I’m definitely always gonna lean towards my family but the store is right behind family, because it means so much. It’s like a second child.
BS: I don’t really go home a lot because I’m kinda like a control freak, so I’ll just be at the store. It’s our first year of business [in the store] since we opened last year and I wanted to know what our numbers would be every day, so I’ll be able to look back on the history.