Angelique Sloan, Owner of ShopMucho
Memphis, Tenessee ("hip-artsy neighborhood") — Despite having to wipe away many tears, 33-year-old Angelique Nicole Sloan proves she is determined to turn her dream-business ShopMucho into a great success.
Her online boutique, which is lovingly known as "Mucho," sells Modern-Mexican and Southwest-Style clothing, as well as, accessories and home decor. Angelique talks to us about what it takes to start a business and how to "keep it going" through those trying moments.
How and when did you start your own business? ShopMucho started on a routine evening walk, in February of 2016, with my husband Randall, and our dog Toast. I told my husband I wanted a Mexican-style boutique called "Mucho." It has always been in the back of my mind. I originally wanted to open a boutique in Memphis, since we have nothing like it, but I was working full time as a photography stylist and not sure how to make it happen. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if Memphis would appreciate it the way I hoped they would. So I started working on a website full-time in October and launched on Black Friday.
What is your favorite part about being a business owner? Being my own boss and doing things my own way. I am allowed to be creative without having someone to hold me back and I can be more flexible.
What have been some learning experiences for you in starting a business? There is so much to learn! My brain hurts. Once you get to know me, you will learn that I am a very determined person. When I put my mind to it, I’m going to do it. I started to Google at every spare moment I had — at work, on lunch breaks, trips to the bathroom (ha!) in the evenings, you name it. I researched so much and sourced vendors online — with my job there was little opportunity to get out there and find resources in person. I learned from articles, blogs, and even Pinterest. The biggest thing I have learned is that I have to be patient and that’s tough.
What does ShopMucho bring to the table that is different from other Mexican-style shops? I’m blending modern and urban products and offering a large variety. I make sure that I am selective in what I choose so that the modern and Mexican styles complement each other. I am also working on designs for T-shirts, hoodies, necklaces, tote bags, maybe some mugs and beanies that will be original to Mucho and the brand.
You mentioned that you are running everything out of your house. What’s that like? Yes, I do everything at home now. Thanks to support from my dad, I am able to work on "Mucho" full-time. It’s rough at times, but manageable. Our house is a single-family home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Our workout room is now divided into a small workout space and the rest is packed with "Mucho" inventory. I’m keeping it as organized as I can with shelving, labeled boxes, and bins. The other spare room is my office where I run my website and do a lot of the photography.
You also happen to run your website, graphic design, social media, inventory, shipping, and photography…wow! How do you manage to do everything? Have you had a ‘what am I doing’ moment? I’m not going to lie, there have been many tears. There are times when I’m spending hours working behind the scenes on something technical with the site. My sister has even told me “girl bosses don’t cry” and to "be a shark." There is A LOT of pressure for me to do my very best because that is the way I am. I also left a very good and stable job to chase a dream. It’s scary, but at the same time I’m so grateful and determined to grow.
I designed the logo. I do the research and buying. I shoot all the products, model, and edit them. I write the blog posts. I lovingly pack up each order and send it on its way. My sister, Gina Gonzalez, is helping part time and I’m still working on how to manage it all. I focus on what I feel is most important for the day or week. There is so much to do that some days I don't know where to start. I work pretty much all day, every day. My husband has been very supportive. He helps so much by cooking meals, cleaning up, and keeping the puppy entertained. He always reminds me to take a break.
How do you go about selecting your products? Well, I do love to shop; so this is the fun part and it almost feels natural. Like I said earlier, I’m currently sourcing through vendors mostly online and it can be difficult to communicate and ensure that I get what I want. When I was first envisioning the boutique, I wanted it to be full of products where you could spend hours browsing all the unique items. "Mucho" is a go-to store for Mexican dresses and other traditional items, but I also incorporate modern-Mexican and Southwest-inspired trends. I choose items that I think can test the lengths of time and will always look on point. The modern items I choose are meant to compliment the Mexican products and give my customers variety. A lot of the goods I choose are unique. No two Mexican products look the same because many of them are handmade. I love that. But there is extra work since I have to photograph almost everything and show all the different details.
Which are your favorite products that you sell? That is difficult because I truly love and want to keep at least one of every product for myself. I love the shawls, the detailed embroidery on the fanny packs, and the lotería T-shirts make a fun statement. The enamel pins probably are my top pick, but ask me tomorrow and that might change. Oh! And I love the Mexican dresses and helping my customers figure out different ways to style them.
One of our favorite products are the Southwest-style shawls. Tell us a little bit more about how you decided to sell these? Do you have a relationship with the original designer? Well, my grandmother loves her shawls and always has to have one on before she leaves the house. So she is part of my inspiration (aside from loving them myself).
The shawls are gorgeous and very popular, although they are not one of the handmade products that I sell. Each one is unique; I think that is why they feel so special. If you like one, you should get it quick because there is a chance that it might not come back. Funny enough, my sister was eyeing one before I launched and she stayed up until after midnight, the night we went live, to get it. That shawl has not come back and I’m so glad she got it!
How has being half Hispanic influenced your business decisions and aspirations? I have always felt a little different, in a special way. I enjoy sharing the small parts of my Hispanic culture with my closest friends, whether, through food or just telling them that I love them “mucho mucho” — a family phrase that is very endearing to me. I think it just goes back to sharing my culture and the beauty behind the craft. It is also a way for me to learn more about it too.
What is your favorite part about being Hispanic? My favorite part is the food. I loved eating at my grandmother’s restaurant and have fond memories of visiting a great aunt in San Antonio that made the best homemade refried beans. I really love refried beans! I crave them all the time. Food brings family together.
How did your grandparents, who were originally from Texas, influence your life? My Gonzalez grandparents, Guadalupe and Beatrice, have always been very special to me. As small children, my siblings and I were very close to them and we traveled all around Texas. But when our parents divorced, our mother did everything she could to keep us away from my dad and grandparents. We only started to rebuild our relationship with them in the past 13 years or so. I think that is a big part of why I hold on to my Hispanic background. My angry Italian mother frowned upon it for so many years. So, now that I have my family back, I am embracing my background and trying to absorb and learn everything I can. They are proud and it makes me proud.
How did your grandparents inspire you as a professional? My grandmother was a girl boss. She ran a very successful restaurant. So I know that working hard and pursuing a dream runs deep in my blood.
What are some of your most vivid memories from your grandparents' Texican restaurant? Grandma would treat us so special when we came to visit. She would let us go to the kitchen and get our own Cokes from the fountain and chips and queso. I felt so cool, like I owned it. I remember the decorations too. My favorite were the Mexican marionettes hanging from the ceiling.
Tell us how starting your business has made you learn more about your family’s heritage? My grandmother has opened up to my sister and I about her past. She told us about her mother passing away when she was very young. Her mother's death forced her to move from Pharr, Texas, to Tampico, Mexico, where she was raised by her aunt, who was very tough towards her. She was the only girl of six siblings. Her aunt’s stern ways taught Grandma to be strong. She made a point to be equal to her brothers. She learned to ride horses like them and even hunt with a bow and arrow. She believed she could do it and she did. I believe that is why she was so determined to open a Mexican restaurant in Memphis and make it successful.
You mentioned your sister Gina helps you with naming the products. How has working with a family member been beneficial and why is it different from working with someone you’re not as close to? Gina names the products, using our funny form of Spanglish, and she writes the descriptions. Having her help is awesome because she is my sister and best friend. She knows me and my style better than anyone else. She is the writer in the family. She is creative in ways that I am not so it works out great.
She is branching out to help me with other parts of the business. Soon, she will be writing blog posts along with me. She works full time as a hairstylist and I try to find things she can help me with from home. We meet up at least once a week to discuss things. I like to bounce ideas off of her and I’m super grateful that she is so supportive.
You’ve even started learning Spanish as a second language! How’s that going? Do you go to class? Sí, I am working on it. I took classes in college but only the required amount, which I regret. I have been using the Duolingo app for almost a year now. I understand more and more; I can read it better than I can speak it. My sister is learning too and I’m hoping that we can take classes together or take private lessons. We really just need to go visit grandma and grandpa more and have them talk to us in Spanish.
I was worried when I was starting "Mucho" that people would look down on me because I could not speak Spanish. People would give me a hard time growing up as a Gonzalez and not knowing the language, but I didn’t want to let that stop me from creating "Mucho," and it hasn’t.
What are your goals for 2017? There are a lot of goals.
- Travel to Mexico City and San Antonio.
- Make as many connections as I can with vendors, bloggers, businesses, etc.
- Improve the blog on the site and add more content like sharing grandma’s recipes, fashion inspiration, and other products related to style, healthy living, and home.
- Partner with local agencies or non-profits to help out with the community.
- Keep learning Spanish.
- Complete designs for original merchandise.
- Create local pop-up shops for Mucho in Memphis.
What is your dream for ShopMucho? I want Mucho to be a place online that people know and love as much as I do. I want people to feel the nostalgia that I have when I think about my childhood and visiting markets. I want it to be the go to place for people who dream to travel to Mexico or Texas but never do, or for the ones that didn’t get that beautiful blanket they were eyeing when they were there.
Is there anything else you would like to add? I mentioned Mucho has a special meaning to our family and for as long as I can remember we have been saying, "I love you mucho mucho." I’m sure we are not the only ones that say that, but over time it was just “mucho mucho” and then just “mucho.”
Mucho means love (to me and my family). Everyone that is close to me knows that and associates Mucho with love as well. When my grandmother heard the name of my shop she was so happy and told me the story of how it was my dad that started that. She said that she asked my daddy how much he loved her. He opened his arms and said “this much” and she teased him by saying “that’s all?” Then he yelled out “MUCHO MUCHO!” I knew then that I had chosen the right name and that Mucho would be special.