Alisha Stedman: As an entrepreneur, I feel a form of empowerment
By Andrea Louis
Several businesses in Dominica are created to meet the demand and fill the gaps identified by intuitive, observant individuals in different spheres of society.
The Pretty Lady Online Store is one such entity that has made its name in the cosmetics industry. It is steadily gaining ground and growing in popularity around the island.
Alisha Stedman, sole proprietor of this company, explained to The Sun the online store is helping fill a gap in the beauty and body care sphere.
"I realized many people in the spa, nail, and hair-dressing business had little to no suppliers for the products they use and need daily," she said. "I, myself, had difficulty sourcing several items on the island. That is why I did my market research and found that fifty per cent of places have difficulty sourcing items. So, I got the items and started selling."
The Pretty Lady Online Store, easily found through a search on Facebook, is the go-to online company in Dominica for everything beauty related. It offers trendy beauty items like hair extensions, nail accessories, and spa equipment.
This then begs the question; why is the store solely online?
"Because it is small, so little to no capital," Stedman explained. "Starting a small business from just my salary, I could not afford to have a physical location, pay bills etc. Also, I feel online is convenient for people, especially with the delivery add-in. I get the products to customers right at their door or work."
The store has existed for three years, and this young businesswoman says her journey as a proprietor has been fascinating.
"It has been a bittersweet road because it is a lot of sacrifices with your own money – especially for a startup - and going for months or years with little returns," Steadman said. "Also, many times, I go to bed literally at 1 a.m. doing research, listening to my customers, and because of the line of work, I have to go with the current trend. It also takes up time to deliver to customers."
Regardless of the challenges, Stedman is committed to the task at hand.
"As an entrepreneur, I feel some form of empowerment; I feel more confident about myself, and like I am actually doing something worthy," she said.
Alisha is fully aware that others in the industry offer similar services. However, she is confident in her product and business and is not deterred by the competition.
"What makes me stand out is I have specific items you almost cannot find in Dominica, especially for nail and spa," she said. " Another thing is how I market my products", and people commend me for that. And it is like a one-stop shop, where I sell everything in kits, so you don't have to walk around looking for specific products. The convenience of delivery and quality of goods are also signature features."
Stedman goes above and beyond to ensure the Pretty Lady Online Store strengthens its foothold in Dominica. Though she has been in the business for three years, she is enlightened on steps that can be taken to enhance the climate for those who want to venture into entrepreneurship.
"Something that can be arranged is for small business owners to pay fewer port duties so we can see greater returns," Steadman said. " Because it is not that things are not selling, but when you compare sales to expenses, it is almost next to nothing. The duties should be lowered. Also, if the grants provided by the government are made hassle-free for entrepreneurs, that would greatly help."
On that note, Stedman advises those contemplating becoming entrepreneurs to "go into it with a free and positive spirit and know everything will not always be smooth," she said. "You must be ready to sacrifice your time and money for your startup." As for the future of the Pretty Lady Online Store, Alisha prefers to keep this under wraps but promises the country will find out soon.