#WomenWhoWin: Featuring Shantel Collins and Lil Ms. Sophia for International Women’s History Month


How did Lil Ms. Sophia Designs come to fruition?

Wow!! Just thinking about the journey makes it even more unbelievable. LilMsSophia Designs came to fruition by way of my daughter. I started in business as a designer of handmade greeting cards; the kind you make with scrapbook paper, embellishments and glue. I tried that out and nothing really happened much beyond a few sales here and there. Now, that was back in 2009­/2010. I migrated the business towards digital designs at the end of 2014. Then 2015 was my blowup year. I mean I got sales all year for the first time since launching my business.

What challenges did you face in building your business during the early stages?

The most challenging aspect of building my business is that I work it on a trial and error basis with no real concrete plan in motion. The idea is that I want to discover a way to work and build my business where I go against the traditional realm of how things should go. I enjoy the risk taking involved in this method of operation. For the first time since I have been in business, I actually started writing a business plan on paper and I’m glad I waited because I write what I know from experience, whether it works or doesn’t work.

Did your move outside of Michigan create any issues when it came to obtaining new business?

Actually the biggest issue with moving outside of Michigan was the lack of support I received. It seemed like when I was in Michigan “friends” and co­-workers were super supportive. Now that I have moved, I’ve lost a many friends but I’ve actually because a lot more stronger and vigilant in my quest to build a strong business for both my daughter and I. Yeah, I was super excited about relocating to another state and starting fresh, but I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I wasn’t scared. Truth be told I was scared sh*tless. I was leaving a job I had been employed with for almost 18 years to go to a new city and state with less than $5,000 in savings a six year old daughter and business bringing in blah sales.

At what point did you decide to create a brand for your daughter and how has that impacted your business?

I always promised God that if he blessed me and allowed me to have kids that I would make sure that I would do right by them 100%. So starting a business for my daughter was about me keeping that promise to God. I’m thinking long term and in the future. I want her to avoid all the i’ll moves I made like relying heavily on student loans for college. I figured, if I let her start a business now at six years old and we keep it going, not only will gain real world experience but she’ll also be able to put her own self through college. Additionally, having a business gives her a built in summer job throughout her teens and while she’s in college.

How does it feel to manage your own business venture while helping your daughter build a sustainable business?

It feels absolutely FABULOUS!!!! I get to be a full-­time mom for my daughter-taking her to school each morning and picking her up each afternoon. I don’t have to worry about who’s going to watch her in the summertime when school is out. I can still take her on family vacations without wondering who will run my business because my business is completely mobile. Whewww Lord!! Talk about being blessed. Yes that would definitely be me. I feel blessed beyond words!!

What word of encouragement do you have for people who may want to leave their home state to pursue new business opportunities?

My advice: GO!!! LEAVE!!! Quit that boring job that you do not like and throw caution to the wind. You only live once so it’s definitely worth the risk. Having doubts? Talk about your plans with a business coach. They can help you put things in perspective and assist you will devising a plan that makes you feel comfortable enough to take the leap.

What’s your advice to business owners who don’t have a very active support system while getting their business off the ground?

Let your biggest support system be your own faith. I have several conversations a day with me, myself and I. We talk about our fears and remind ourselves about our faith. People come and go but faith is forever. As long as you believe in you…baby you don’t need no one else. I learned that the minute I stepped foot on DC ground.

Sophia, how does it feel to be a young business owner? 

It’s fun!!!! My mommy shows me how to do everything and I help take the pictures too.

Where do you get your inspiration to create such trendy jewelry?

We first saw the chunky bead jewelry at the store.

How important is it to be fashionable from a kid’s perspective?

(Shantel Collins) She laughed at this and shrugged at this question. I guess even a spunky six year old can be speechless at times! (LOL).

About LilMsSophia Designs and LilMsSophia Accessorize Me Please

LilMsSophia Designs helps their customers live creatively through designs. LilMsSophia Accessorize Me Please offers cute and stylish jewelry and accessories for little girls ages 4-14 years old. Additionally, the company loves to collaborate with party planners and photographers to provide cute accessories for staged events and photo shoots. For more information, visit them on the web or connect with both companies on social media at the links below.




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