Recently, I had a great time chatting with Ava Ronning, a teen entrepreneur from New York City. We met a few months ago and it’s been an amazing experience to see her grow her business and also launch her first Stick and Poke collection. No matter your age, you will be inspired by how Ava is stepping outside her comfort zone and pursuing her dreams.
What made you decide to launch Stick and Poke?
Sustainable fashion has always been important to me, especially since fast fashion has
become so popular. I want to give people cute, sustainable, and well-crafted clothing, and I decided that pants would be the way to go. I also thought that learning the business side of the clothing industry could be a really beneficial experience.
How did you decide on pants?
I’ve always liked the funky pants with a basic tank top kind of look. Over the summer I was going through my closet and found all these shirts I didn’t want anymore. I couldn’t bear to throw them out. I was wanting to buy some fun pants anyway, so I figured why not make them? I ended up using those old shirts and turning them into pants. I loved them and turns out other people liked them, too. I wore them to my job at Brandy Melville and got so many compliments. That’s when I started thinking about making them to sell.
It must be hard juggling school, hobbies, homework, extracurriculars, and Stick and Poke. How do you balance it all?
I make schedules planning out all of these things a week prior so it doesn’t feel so stressful the week of. I create time blocks of doing each thing, and try to stick to it as much as possible. I’m still trying to find the perfect balance. If anyone has any tips, feel free to reach out.
Have you experienced any setbacks? How did you handle them?
I have experienced some setbacks. Being a full time student and having a tendency to procrastinate are both things that have created some problems. I’ll get home, do homework, and by the time that’s done I procrastinate for an hour until it's too late and I’m too tired to make pants. I’ve started to address this by setting reasonable goals for myself throughout the week. I originally thought that I had to make a bunch of pants as fast as I could, but now I set smaller goals each night so that I’ll have one pair at the end of each week.
Another setback, or rather a struggle, was getting comfortable promoting myself and Stick and Poke on social media. Honestly, I was worried what people would think, but turns out I’ve got a really supportive and encouraging community.
What advice would you give to a teen who is thinking about starting a business?
I would tell a teen to go for it. The lessons you learn from creating and sustaining a business are so beneficial now and I’m sure later in life. It’s also really cool to see something you create out in the world. It takes a lot of work but it’s totally worth it.
How did it feel to see your pants worn on people?
It feels amazing seeing people wear Stick and Poke. Thinking back to the beginning of the process, where my website, pants, and business were all hypothetical and now seeing all of it come to life well …. it’s just so so awesome.
What are some of the things you have learned being a teen entrepreneur in WIT?
I’ve learned time management, promotion through social media, and that taking risks is worth it. I’ve never really been good at managing my time. Before WIT I’d go by the “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it” type mentality. Starting this business, I have not been able to sustain that mentality. I need to plan out when I’ll work on the pants, and have big and small deadlines in order for me and Stick and Poke to thrive. This type of time management is such a vital skill to have in life. I’ve also learned how to promote my business through social media. And last but not least, I’ve learned how to take risks. I’ve never been one for taking risks. Being at WIT I’ve had to take so many risks. Even the first week being a part of WIT, I had the opportunity to be interviewed on TV. I could have said no, but instead I stepped outside of my comfort zone and did it!
Any goals for 2023?
I have many goals for 2023! I’ve always wanted to have my pants featured in a boutique, specifically, Café Forgot. I’ve only recently found out about Café Forgot but I absolutely love all of their super cool, super funky clothes. I love everything about their brand, and I want everything that's on their website. I’ve been making clothes for a while and have only recently started to sell them, but ever since I started making them I have wanted to send them to Emma Chamberlin. I’ve always admired her style, and she's just been a really big inspiration to me forever, and it’d mean so much if she wore a pair of my pants. I think I’m going to name a pant design after her and send it to her!
Anything else you want to share?
I want to thank a few people who have been helping me through this process. My
middle school art teacher Nicole Schorr has been an incredible help working out all the quirks in my original pant design. Also to all of my close friends who graciously agreed to model my pants for my website …. LOVE YOU ALL!!! Fun fact … my different pant designs are named after my friends.
And of course my parents, who believe in me and Stick and Poke.
You can check out the Stick & Poke website here - https://www.stickandpokefashion.com/
You can check out the Stick & Poke instagram here - https://www.instagram.com/stickandpokefashion/