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An Interview with Tiffany Smith of LAV Label About the Complexities of the Retail Industry

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Tiffany Smith was born and raised in Chicago. Later in life, she relocated to Atlanta for 10 years where she was the director of a children’s daycare. Tiffany spent much of her time helping the daycare business scale up and open two new locations. Although she would eventually return to Chicago, she found her time in the childcare industry rewarding, as it allowed her to foster positive development in numerous children and help families communicate better with one another. Tiffany prides herself on being amicable, personable, and the type of person that others seek out for assistance.

 

Currently, Tiffany Smith is the owner of LAV Label, an online retail store where members earn money by referring others to shop there. LAV Label was created when Tiffany, an avid coupon enthusiast, decided to create an online system for easily locating specific coupons. From these humble beginnings, LAV Label has evolved into an e-commerce success story; a place where its numerous members can not only find vast discounts on their favorite consumer products, but also gain the experience to become prosperous entrepreneurs by setting up online storefronts.

 

Why did you decide to go into online retail?

 

I wanted to help make the discounts and sales available online more accessible to a larger crowd of people, many of whom operate on tight budgets. Originally, I was sharing coupons with a small group of friends who were already in my social circle, but taking my operation online helped expand it and make it more accessible to people all over the country.

 

What trends in your industry excite you? 

 

In retail and affiliate marketing, I’m excited to be able to help people earn money by referring others to our product. Giving people a place to both save and earn money is really important, especially right now because the price of everything is so high. Those few extra dollars mean a lot for many families.

 

What would you tell others looking to get into your industry?

 

I would tell anyone interested in entering the retail industry that you’ll want to have a solid business plan in place and you’ll definitely want to assemble a dependable and talented team. Something else to keep in mind is that it’s really difficult to source products when you’re starting out. There’s a lot that people don’t understand about that aspect of retail going into it, and it’s just one of those things you have to experience first-hand. I would also encourage business owners to go into retail energetically and with an open mind. It is a really beautiful thing to be able to solve a need that people have.

 

What is one thing you would change in your industry today if you could? 

 

I would simplify the sourcing process because it’s a lot of work to find new products to sell right now. It’s still a very analog process. You attend trade shows and speak with the manufacturers directly, who then manually take your order. Sometimes you have to wait weeks or months for delivery of the order. Sometimes they sell out of things, but they’re not able to let you know about it up front. 

 

Who has been a role model to you and why?

 

My sister has been a fantastic role model. She’s the one who gave me the idea to start my own company, and she’s been very instrumental in helping me set things up because of her background in business and technology.

 

How do you maintain a work life balance?

 

It’s very difficult. I’ve been a business owner for six years, and I still don’t think I’ve found a proper balance. I’m only now starting to not work as much during the evenings. In the past, I’ve worked 16-hour days five days a week and then 12-hour workdays on the weekend. I’ve been doing that for a long time, but now I want to focus more on taking care of myself.

 

Explain the proudest day of your professional life.

 

Earlier this year, I found out that we paid millions of dollars in commission to our affiliates last year. It made me feel really happy to have such an impact on so many people’s lives and help so many people accomplish their goals and dreams.

 

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome? 

 

Having to restructure the business. Affiliate marketing and direct selling is a tricky business and being able to overcome a lot of the chaos that goes along with it was a big accomplishment.

 

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

 

“Things done in haste make waste.” I got that saying from my grandmother years ago, and it’s really stuck with me because it taught me to stop rushing. It taught me to stop wanting to hurry and get something done just to cross it off a to-do list. It’s not about crossing something off, it’s about how effectively the task was executed. I had to start asking myself questions like “How productive are you being while you’re accomplishing the task?” and “Is this done to the best of your ability?” Previously, I would find myself rushing through things and it would come back to haunt me later on. Now, I live by my grandmother’s advice because I was wasting money and time by hurrying through things. I will say that I had to properly train my mind to not feel like I had to rush through stuff just to cross it off a list.

 

What is one piece of advice you would like to leave our readers with?

 

I would tell everyone to start thinking of backup plans in life for your income and finances. There are a lot of uncertainties in the world right now. Start thinking about creating different revenue streams and tucking away a nest egg to protect yourself and your family from any kind of financial crisis that might happen.

Based in LA, Alice Blake is a senior reporter for Kivo Daily. She primarily covers entrepreneurs.

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