The savvy entrepreneur shares how she turned her passion for fashion into a profitable business that inspires and empowers plus-size and curvy women.
As a teenager, Kendra Porter had difficulty finding clothes that flattered her curvy figure. Her quest to find stylish clothes and desire to assist other women with crafting a polished look sparked an idea for starting a professional image company. After two layoffs, Porter answered her calling in 2011 and started image consultancy Honor You. Here’s her inspiring story.
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Name: Kendra Charisse Porter
Title: Founder, Honor You
Location: Hartsdale, NY
The gig: As an independent consultant I work with my clients on their personalities, budgets, lifestyle, body shape, and their personal coloring. It’s all about making sure I’m embracing who they are as an individual and featuring them. As a stylist it’s more about featuring the clothes at the editorial and fashion end of things. As an image consultant, I focus on working with my clients one-on-one, getting them to embrace who they are and what they’re trying to communicate with their clothing. I try to get to the heart of the individual and their personality.
The journey: I started my company after being laid off twice. I knew if I didn’t take the leap then, I would have never taken it. I have a passion for women embracing themselves, their bodies, and who they are. This passion started back in high school. I was bigger and taller than everyone else, so it was hard finding clothes that fit. I wanted to offer a service to people who had those experiences. As I saw girls and young women deal with peer pressure and low self-esteem, the focus of my business broadened. I’m a plus-size woman, so I understand those difficulties. I started as a plus-size image consultant, but my goal has always been to help women in general, it just happens that I have a specialty in plus sizes.
Becoming a business owner: The idea of starting a business starts way before you start trying to execute. In high school I had the idea of starting a jean boutique, but it wasn’t until grad school that I started to think of it in a more in-depth way. So I started to do research. Exploration and education are key. I thought about what I wanted to do and what I needed to learn to open a business. I took a course at NYU on entrepreneurship. I also took a weekend retail workshop. This gave me an opportunity to learn about and research the market I wanted to get into.
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Her top startup tip: Someone I met when I first started Honor You said during the first five years my business would change and grow, and I needed to be willing to grow with it and not be stuck on what I thought the business should be. I took that advice to heart, and my business has changed and grown. Opportunities I didn’t think about, and things I never thought about, as far as possibilities for revenue, are things that are now happening. Have a mission or purpose for what you want your business to be but also be open to how that is executed.
Her best advice: Be open to opportunities. I’ve gone through a practice of saying ‘yes’ to everything because it teaches you what you do and don’t want for your business. You may have a view of how you want your company to be, not necessarily knowing there may be other opportunities that can help grow your business.
Transitioning from a 9-to-5 to CEO: Gain experience while you’re at your full-time job. And when you’re making that transition from working full-time to an entrepreneur, you need to prepare your parachute. Make sure you have enough money to pay your bills and expenses. The consistency of your paycheck may vary, so you’ll need to learn how to move forward. You need to prepare and know how you’re going to execute your business.
Her beauty must-haves: NARS tinted moisturizer or Smashbox Camera Ready BB cream, Laura Mercier Bonne Mine in bronze glow, and Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel.
Her tech must-have: My iPad and the Evernote app.
Her power style accessory: Scarves.
Her mantra: Honor you.