Yaslynn Mack is the Owner of The Mack Agency, a multi-line Brand Sales and Consulting Agency specializing in luxury brands and women’s apparel. They provide turnkey solutions for companies that want to launch new brands or expand to new markets.
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Worst Entrepreneur moment
- When you run out of runway, disaster strikes, Fire Nation!
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- An Entrepreneur drives their own ship. What more could we ask for?
What has you FIRED up?
Small Business Resource
- Insightly: The easy, powerful and affordable online Customer Relationship & Project Management Software used by over 400000 small businesses world wide.
Best Business Book
- The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
- TheMackAgency.com – (Sorry! This link was active when this episode was first published in 2015. This site is no longer available.)
J.L.D: Absolutely, yes. Yaslynn is the owner of the Mack Agency, a multi-line brand sales and consulting agency specializing in luxury brands in women’s apparel. They provide turnkey solutions for companies that wanna launch new brands or expand to new markets. Yaslynn, say what’s up to Fire Nation and let us know what’s going on in your world.
Yaslynn Mack: Well, hello Fire Nation. I’m very happy to be here. Well, the Mack Agency serves as a liaison to help our clients navigate the business of building or expanding fashion brands. And we help companies that either have a fashion brand or those who want to start one, [inaudible] [00:00:40] manufacturing, licensing opportunities, retail placement, and we do marketing and PR and sales. So like most people that enter into entrepreneurship, I started this business because I felt unfulfilled in my corporate career.
While my corporate career was lucrative, I felt I wasn’t being true to my authenticity. I wanted to follow my heart, and I certainly wasn’t utilizing all of my natural talents. So I knew I always wanted to be a successful business owner. Because I’ve been reading about entrepreneurship and business and financial independence for many years, I decided it was time to start implementing some of the things that I had read about. And EntrepreneurOnFire actually played a big role in that.
I would listen to your podcasts while working and driving, and even traveling on airplanes while I was going to meetings. So I immersed myself in the entrepreneur mindset, and your podcast was one of the things that sort of inspired me to step up to my talents and follow what I was passionate about.
J.L.D: Well, Yaslynn did you ever think that you would be episode 914?
Yaslynn Mack: Absolutely not.
J.L.D: Well, welcome. I’m excited to No. 1.) Have played a part in your journey, and No. 2.) To really share your journey today with Fire Nation entrepreneurs around the world. And I wanna start with some mindset questions. I really wanna dive into your mind; get some insights from you, Yaslynn, as you transform from corporate tie into entrepreneuress. So let’s talk about No. 1. Ideally, what do the first 80 minutes of your day look like?
Yaslynn Mack: Well, I meditate, and I read. I heard a saying years ago, and it said you have to give yourself to yourself before you give yourself away. So I’ve always sort of applied that to my life. I mean, it was much harder in corporate America, but now it’s so much easier. So I definitely meditate and read when I first get up in the morning.
J.L.D: You have to give yourself to yourself before you give yourself away. Priceless. Yaslynn, I love that. So let’s be honest, entrepreneurs, we have strengths and we have weaknesses. What would you say your biggest weakness is as an entrepreneuress?
Yaslynn Mack: I’m very independent and so I really have to force myself to get out and network because I know how important having a good network is to business. So I would say that’s probably my biggest weakness.
J.L.D: What’s your biggest strength?
Yaslynn Mack: My biggest strength’s probably my creativity. I’m naturally a very creative person, so I apply that in business coming up with really strategic and creative ideas on how to help my clients. I’ve been able to use that when partnering with the clients that I work with.
J.L.D: We do see that a lot Yaslynn, so I kind of would like talk with this maybe for a minute about the weaknesses and the strengths that you highlighted here because networking, building relationships, those are key components to building a successful business. That’s one of your weaknesses that you just shared. How can we as entrepreneurs counterbalance that if that is one of our weaknesses?
Yaslynn Mack: I think when you know it’s a weakness you tend to work at it much harder. You try to overcome it. So I literally have an action plan that I try to follow every week. And one of the items on my action plan is to go out and do something in the community at least once a week. So I go to a networking event, or any sort of social event just to make sure that I’m out, and I’m actually networking and meeting new people.
J.L.D: Network, Fire Nation, if it’s gonna happen it’s gotta be in the calendar. So Yaslynn you put it in the calendar, and guess what, magically it happens. And then to kind of flip-flop onto your biggest strength as an entrepreneur that creativity – now for our listeners who are saying I’m just not like Yaslynn; I just don’t have that creativity bug in me – was that something that just comes naturally to you or do you have to foster that?
Yaslynn Mack: It does come naturally for me. I think we all have natural talents. Like we talked about earlier there are things you have to work at. But for me it’s just a natural talent from childhood that I’ve actually gotten better at over the years. But I think anything you can learn you can develop it as a strength.
J.L.D: Couldn’t agree more. I mean, one of my favorite quotes, Yaslynn, is if you want to be, do. If you wanna be more creative do creative things. If you want to be a podcaster, podcast. If you wanna be a writer, sit down and write. If you wanna network or be a networker, get out and network, and know you’re not gonna be an all-star day one, but you have to do that thing.
Yaslynn, let’s talk about a habit that you wish you had.
Yaslynn Mack: I wish I was better able to compartmentalize. Now, I don’t know if that’s a habit, but that’s one of the areas that I notice sort of spills over into my personal life and business. I’m just not the best compartmentalizer. Everything sort of runs together in my mind, so I’m always working on that: how to sort of separate things. When one things going wrong doesn’t mean everything’s messed up. It just means it’s just that one thing. So I’m definitely trying to get better at that.
J.L.D: I kinda think of a cruise ship in that regard where just because that cruise ship might get punctured in one area, they can compartmentalize it. They seal it off so the whole ship doesn’t sink. So when we get that one email, or that one letter, or that one comment it shouldn’t sink our whole ship. We should be able to compartmentalize that and have the rest of what we’re doing still functioning at full capacity. I love that Yaslynn.
What is one thing of all the things that you have going on that has you the most fired up?
Yaslynn Mack: I am fired up about my podcast called Fashion Confab. And of course you inspired me to do that. So I started this podcast where I actually interview fashion industry icons and trailblazers. And I brought on a new cohost. Her name is Ashley Elizabeth. She’s young and fired up as well. So we’re doing that right now. I’m also fired up about doing pop-up shots, which is something new that I’m going to be doing in the Atlanta area starting in March. So I’ve got a lot going on that I’m fired up about.
J.L.D: That’s pretty awesome. It’s a good show to be on when you’re fired up. Yaslynn, you know EntrepreneurOnFire. You’ve listened; it’s inspired you. It’s got you through some difficult times. And you know that we’re all about the story. We’re all about the ups, the downs because they’re both a part of the journey that we’re on as entrepreneurs. So what’s your story? What’s your worst entrepreneurial moment? Take us to that moment in time and share that with us.
Yaslynn Mack: Well, I am sort of a serial entrepreneur. So I’ve tried a lot of business ideas. But I’ve always tried these businesses while I had a full-time job. So this was the first time that I actually quit my job to fulfill a business goal. So I wanted to build this fashion empire. It was sort of a dream of mine from college. So I started a clothing store, and I started to do PR for the fashion industry many years ago. I had some great creative ideas because I’m just naturally creative – like we talked about earlier – that were working, but I did not have an effective financial plan.
So for example, here’s where I was really creative and it actually worked. I actually quit my job at Gateway Computers to start the business. And their concept was to show people at no cost how to use the computers that they bought, which was a great idea. So I took that concept of giving free classes, and I implemented that into my clothing store. I called the classes Tips over Tea. So while I taught fashion styling, and I had other speakers come in and talk about fitness and make up, I also served tea.
So I thought this is a great idea, and it was. It proved to draw in customers. It was a lot of fun for people, and they bought things while they were there. But because I didn’t have that solid financial plan, I started running out of money really fast. So no matter how creative I was, I could not make enough money to sustain this business. I thought when I first started that I would break even quickly and start turning a profit quickly, but it just didn’t happen fast enough.
So I learned that financial planning is so important, especially for a business like a retail business because you have so many overhead costs. So what I needed to do was project these overhead costs for at least five years. I also realized I should have done more market intelligence because while Atlanta’s on the map now – you know everybody knows Atlanta – at that time, fashion wasn’t a big industry in Atlanta. I was way ahead of my time really. But I was following my creative ideas, and really not looking at it from a profitable business prospective.
So I was doing that, and I was also trying to divide my time between the clothing store and doing PR, and financially I just couldn’t keep it going, so I sold the businesses. The bottom line is – and I’m sure we’ve all heard this – if you failed to plan, you planned to fail.
J.L.D: Yaslynn, there’s so many takeaways from this, but the one thing that I want to pull out for Fire Nation is you are your runway. And by that I mean, your financial runway. We only are gonna be able to continue to create, and to iterate, and to pivot, and to do the things that we need to do running businesses as long as we have the money, the runway, to do that. So you need to guard that runway. You need to keep your overheard as low as possible. You need to be a thrifty entrepreneur. Yaslynn, you know that now, and you maybe knew that then, but you just weren’t able to get that runway long enough that you needed to successfully take off as a business.
So that’s my big take away for Fire Nation In just one sentence Yaslynn what do you want our listeners, entrepreneurs, side preneurers, small business owners, what do you want Fire Nation to take away?
Yaslynn Mack: You can be creative, and you can draw customers, but if you don’t have the money to maintain the overhead costs, you don’t have a business; you have a hobby. You’ve gotta think of it in terms of a business and really plan for that,
J.L.D: Yaslynn, this is not hobby on fire am I right? So let’s shift here. Let’s talk about another story in your journey. This one is going to be a happier one because it’s an ah-ha moment, a lightbulb, an epiphany. But just like your worst entrepreneurial moment take us to your ah-ha moment. Share that with Fire Nation.
Yaslynn Mack: I have several, but I’ll start with a situation where I had a big brand that approached me. So this was what I worked so hard for: to get someone with a credible reputation to work with me. So they reached out to me to do business together. We got to the point where we were ready to sign a contract. So this person that I was working with sent the contract to me – first of all in my name rather than in my business name. The terms were so unreasonable that it just blew me away.
But I redlined the contract; I sent it back. And the bottom line is he would not budge. He would not change the terms. He did not want to take the contract out of my personal name and put it in my business name. It was just so many red flags there. So for me knowing that he would not compromise it just didn’t sit well with me. So in that experience, I had to decide what was important? That it was not just to get the business anymore. It was more about operating from my own value system, and that’s the reason I left corporate America is so that I could sort of control my destiny and control how I do business.
I know when I worked in corporate America a lot of times I would do just whatever it took to get the business. I didn’t care about operating from my values so much like I do now. And so that was my ah-ha moment: that you’re in control now. You don’t have to do all these sort of shady things just to win business. So I walked away from that opportunity. But I felt so empowered from that opportunity from not accepting that opportunity. I realized what was important to me in that process.
J.L.D: In Fire Nation that’s why we become entrepreneurs, so that we can make these decisions, so that we can steer the ship, so that we can be the captain; be in control. When you dig layers deep into why entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs, that bottom layer is freedom. Freedom to make choices about what we’re doing day-to-day, about what we’re serving; what we’re creating. Any adjustments or [inaudible] [00:14:57] that we need to make – of course, we need to serve our clients, our customers, whomever – but it’s on our terms.
And when, Yaslynn, you had that breakthrough it must have been so liberating, so freeing to know that I can do this. I can say no to this person. I’m not beholding. I don’t have these golden handcuffs that are forcing me to say yes. That is just such a freeing and liberating thought. I have to commend you for that.
So Yaslynn, I’m not letting you go anywhere, girl because we have some really cool stuff coming up, specifically, the lightening rounds. But before we get there let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors.
Yaslynn, welcome to the lightening round where you get to share incredible resources and mind-blowing answers. Sounds like a plan?
Yaslynn Mack: Sounds good.
J.L.D: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Yaslynn Mack: Well, for the second time it was more about making sure I did the proper planning like we talked about earlier, and just making sure I was financially ready to take on the task.
J.L.D: What is the best advice you ever received?
Yaslynn Mack: I love Oprah; I follow her a lot. So I heard the commencement speech that Oprah did at Selman Collage in 2012. And she said that she earned her success, and she guarantees your success if you operate from excellence. And it sounds simple, but I think it’s a really hard thing for some people if they’re not thinking in terms of excellence. So she says let excellence be your brand. She said give people what they don’t expect of you. And she said when you’re excellent you become unforgettable. So I try to live my life and I try to run my business based on this.
J.L.D: Operate from excellence; I love that phrase, amazing. What personal habit do you have, Yaslynn, that you believe contributes to your success?
Yaslynn Mack: I really believe in being self-actualized. That means pursuing knowledge, expressing your creativity, and trying to be the best that you can be. So I work out; I read a lot to broaden my business knowledge. And I meditate, and I try to fulfill the highest expression of myself. I do mindful meditation just sort of letting your thoughts run and accepting whatever thoughts come up.
J.L.D: Do you have an internet resource like [inaudible] [00:17:28] that you can share with our listeners?
Yaslynn Mack: I use Insightly to manage my contacts and notes around my conversations with my contacts. So if no one’s heard of that it’s a no-cost CRM that you can use for managing your contacts.
J.L.D: We like no costs. And if you can recommend one book for our listerners what would it be and why?
Yaslynn Mack: I tried to come up with something that no one has said before but I couldn’t. I’m gonna stick with Miracle Morning. That is one of my favorite books. It’s a quick read and inspiring. I’ve seen it inspire others. I’ve recommended it to people. I’ve seen how it changed their habits, and inspired them to pursue their goals.
J.L.D: I love when my guests share what they truly believe is the best recommendation at that time in their life because right now, Yaslynn, you’re having listeners who are resonating with you. And they may not have resonated with past guests as much who might have recommended the Miracle Morning. But now that you’re recommending this, they’re gonna say, wow, I’m gonna go check it out because Yaslynn recommends it. And of course Fire Nation if you like Miracle Morning, I had Hal Elrod, the author, on EntrepreneurOnFire for an incredibly inspiring interview.
And guess what? I know you have audio too, so I teamed up with Audible, and if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at eofirebook.com. And Yaslynn, this next question’s the last of the lightening round, but it’s a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter taken care of. But all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Yaslynn Mack: So the first thing I would do is take some of the money to buy art supplies and do something creative like painting. Something to express myself creatively, which is very important to me. And then I would spend time for the next seven days at maybe the local coffee shops and networking events introducing myself to people to find out how I can serve the community with my business and creative skills.
J.L.D: Fire Nation take some time. Get those creative juices flowing. See what may come. Yaslynn, I wanna end today how we started on fire with you sharing one parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, then we’ll say goodbye.
Yaslynn Mack: Well, I’ll share another quote from Oprah that hopefully will inspire everyone. She says, “Know that all that is possible is also possible for you.” To reach me you can go to my website at www.mackagencyonline.com. I’m also on Twitter under my name, Yaslynn Mack. And also I have a website for Fashion Confab and that’s fashionconfab.com.
J.L.D: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with Yaslynn and J.L. D. today, so keep up the heat, and head over to eofire.com. Just type Yaslynn in the search bar. That’s Y-a-s-l-y-n-n, and her [inaudible] [00:21:02] page will pop right up. Yaslynn, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and will –
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