Owner of Royal
way up when you realize you can step up and say,
'This is who I am, this is what I have, and if
you can't use it, well, fine, thank you and have
a good day!'"
— Quela Mikell
Quela Mikell began
sewing at the age of nine, when she and a friend
would create fashionable outfits for her Barbie
dolls using discarded materials like separated
egg cartons and old nylon stockings. After receiving
formal sewing training in high school and junior
college, Quela worked as a quality control inspector
in the garment industry. She eventually left her
position to start a business that would recapture
the creativity that sewing initially inspired.
When Quela came to Women's Initiative for business
management training, she had already launched
Royal Jewelz Loungewear, a line of unisex boxers,
long pants, dashikis, kimonos, and bathrobes made
of high-quality, 100% cotton African fabrics.
"I thought that if my product is good and everybody
wants it, I'll just go out there and sell it,"
Quela explains. She discovered that running a
successful small business was a more complex endeavor.
"It's knowing who your market is, how to find
your market, what the market will bear and what's
popular," she says.
Quela admits there were parts of her Women's Initiative
training that were challenging, such as developing
cash flow statements and a business plan. However,
her small business consultant helped to push her
over these hurdles, reminding Quela of all that
she had accomplished and encouraging her to reach
for more. Atlhough she graduated from the program
in 2001, Quela continues to seek guidance from
Women's Initiative in the form of business consultations
to stay focused and develop realistic expectations.
Today Quela runs a successful "mobile retail unit,"
meaning that she sells her designs at fairs, festivals
and other venues throughout the state of California.
When customers at these events try on her full-length
bathrobes in royal blue and purple, their posture
improves and they get a bit of a swagger in their
step. Such reactions demonstrate that Quela has
succeeded in creating loungewear that is, in her
own words, "not just a fashion statement —
it is wearable art."
| » Return To Top