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Exploring Life & Business with Ursula James of Pretty Couture

Hi Ursula, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I always had a love for apparel. I enjoyed playing dress up in my closet and shopping with my mom and friends on the weekends. Growing up, my friends would always ask for my fashion advice and then it turned into late night or early morning phone calls from them asking if I can bring this or that garment to school for them to borrow lol. Even since that time in my life, I knew I wanted a clothing store I just didn’t know how to achieve such a thing. Fast forward, I got to college and I realized more of my friends continued asking for my advice on fashion and during that time June Ambrose and Rachel Zoe were two of my favorite reality television personalities. Although my degree is in public relations, I still studied women designers and labels. I focused on trends, read fashion magazines, and would look up internships with Conde Nast.

Moving along, I took my love for fashion and started seriously styling my friends for their special events and taking photos and posting them to my Tumblr, which I called the PRnista Files (I’m laughing as this takes me down memory lane). From there, people outside of my inner circle of friends started to hear that I was styling and I would take on more clients. Jumping to present time, I kept feeling the itch to go ahead and start my store. I mean, what was I waiting on. A couple of years ago, I started researching e-commerce because although I wanted a brick and mortar clothing store, I knew that e-commerce was the best route to keep my overhead low. I officially launched shopprettycouture.com in January 2020 and here we are today.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The process of starting an online store was not simple by far. However, I am a big researcher and when I want to do something, I will figure it out. Thus far, I have experienced a few challenges from having the proper license that I thought I applied for when it came to shopping with certain vendors, or here we are in a global pandemic and factories closing due to COVID-19 where my merchandise was coming from. Here I am a new business, with an almost sold-out inventory for my launch and I am preparing for my next drop but only for my vendors to refund my orders because factories were closed and were unsure of when they would reopen. Thankfully, I am a serial entrepreneur so I had additional streams of income. However, I was still prepared for my business to take off. Now that the world is beginning to reopen, factories and the postal services are more careful with shipping and customers are feeling more comfortable shopping online again. For the safety of our customers, we did go on a hold from shipping just to be sure we did not continue spreading the virus through the many hands packages would be going through.

As you know, we’re big fans of Pretty Couture. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Pretty Couture is an apparel and lifestyle brand that offers chic, ready-to-wear garments for women. Pretty Couture is more than an e-commerce store, it is a lifestyle brand that affirms a woman’s physical beauty but accentuate the inner pretty woman through clothing. What makes me most proud is to see women feeling confident in their garments that I have selected for Pretty Couture. When I was thinking of the name for the store, I wanted it to have a feminine name that highlights high-end beauty because I believe you should feel luxurious even if you cannot afford luxury.

Luxury to me is first a feeling, then you demonstrate that by how you carry yourself, how you honor yourself, and then by how you wear your clothing. Have you ever heard someone say, ” you’re wearing that well?” That means you are put together nicely… PRETTY! The story can go deeper if you have time lol. Pretty Couture currently offers women’s apparel in sizes S-XXL in most garments but not all. We will be launching our signature logo collection this year, which will be a staple of the brand and I am so excited! We are growing and continuing to add more to the site and may even be adding another collection to be mentioned in 2021…

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
My friends and I have been traveling to Miami for years, sometimes even for day trips! I love that Miami is only a few hours away yet, it’s literally almost like you’re in the Caribbean. I enjoy the shopping, we love to hop on the speedboats, and try all the new restaurants that pop up in the city. There’s always something we haven’t tried when we travel to Miami. One thing I dislike about Miami is the parking lol. That’s about it.

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