So Worth Loving with Eryn Erickson
What happens when you give an art director/musician a can of spray paint, a stencil, a t-shirt and a powerful message? You get a influential clothing company that is changing the way people think about themselves. Eryn Erickson is the energetic entrepreneur behind the clothing company "So Worth Loving." Eryn's path to launching her company was truly unintentional. Eryn was working full time as an art director for a non-profit by day and by night was an emerging musician . She was building a significant fan base through Youtube and decided that she wanted to give back something to the fans of her music, something different than they would get at other concerts. She got a stencil and a few t-shirts and after playing with a few different phrases she painted the words "So Worth Loving" across the front of a shirt.
She soon found herself spray painting the message on her friends’ and co-workers shirts and the impact of this message became more obvious to her. Soon afterwards she did the nearly unimaginable. She gave out her home address and asked fans to send in their own shirts. She had no idea how many fans she had until she soon found herself with 100's of t-shirts to spray with her message of self worth. At the same time she began asking people for their stories so she could share them on her blog. A big turning point came when people begin asking for shirts with the message already on them. A true movement had begun.
Eryn found herself with a huge decision to make as she was still working full-time as an art director. She enlisted the help of a few mentors and they told her "if you believe in this message strong enough you need to put all of your efforts into it."
She acted on her belief in this message and took the risk of quitting her full-time job to launch So Worth Loving (SWL). The first few years she worked from various spaces around Atlanta and leveraged her growing social media following to transition SWL from a project to a growing business. Five years later, she now leads a team of creatives in building her business online, at her local shop and in wholesale partnerships.
Eryn faced a few realities when launching her company:
- A project is different than a business. "For 2 years I saw this as a project. It wasn't until my mentors confronted me with how significant this movement had become that I realized it was time to treat it as a business.”
- Family and friends weren't necessarily her customers. "My family and friends have always been supportive but I realized early on that they were not my customer base." Her customers came from all over and were buying into the message of self worth as much as they were into the clothing itself.
- "Some people like the weak version of me." One of her biggest obstacles has been her own struggle with self worth and confidence. Through the use of mentors and start up communities like Plywood People and Foster Atlanta, Eryn was able to build her confidence as an entrepreneur. "Not everyone liked the more confident version of me, this was a little disappointing to realize.”
- Being vulnerable to her team is vital. As they have grown the team, Eryn has had to learn to be vulnerable with those she works with all day. "I'm with my team all day, they are my family. In order for them to do their job and help build this company I have to let them see my weaknesses.”
photos by Jack Fussell