Alumna cashes in on dream

As the operator of her own juice stand at age eight, Arian Reed knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. 15 years later, she no longer has to fill glasses for loose change, but sits back and watches customers pour into her retail clothing store, Fabulous, in the Tallahassee Mall.

“Having my own business was my childhood dream,” said Reed, who graduated from the business administration master’s degree program last December. “And I love fashion.”

Two years ago, Reed was standing in line trying to pay her utility bill when she noticed a sign for licenses and permits. After talking to the woman behind the desk, she exited with a pile of paperwork and a mission.

“I said I wanted to start my own business,” said the 23-year-old from Detroit. “Then I had to fill out all of these forms. I didn’t even have my location yet.”

Reed acknowledged that FAMU’s business program is not tailored for entrepreneurial endeavors.

But she applied knowledge from her marketing and management courses and researched independent businesses on her own. Her commitment and the opportunities that began to present themselves made her dream all the more tangible by fall 2001. After that, it was only a matter of time.

“It took about six to eight months before it was official,” she said.

On Aug. 24, 2002, Fabulous opened its doors to the public.

Fabulous caters to the ladies, offering street wear, casual wear and club wear. Aside from keeping her store hours in sync with mall hours, Reed, as the owner, has sole authority over every other aspect of the business.

“I don’t have to report to anyone,” Reed said. “I hired a store manager and I communicate with her on a daily basis.”

Tiffany Keys, 21, has been a Fabulous employee since July and was promoted to store manager in January. Reed and Keys have known each other for three years, but said she doesn’t plan to follow in her friend’s footsteps.

“I don’t want to open a clothing retail store,” said the junior chemistry pre-med student from Albany, Ga. “I want to be a plastic surgeon.”

Keys works three days out of the week for four to six hours each day. She said, overall, business is “steady.”

Although Fabulous is still in its infancy, Reed was recently featured in the February issue of “Ebony” magazine for “Successful Leaders Under 30.” However, she said it’s only the beginning. She recently received franchising paperwork and is planning to open stores in other cities.

Reed said the first two years were the hardest because she had to sacrifice so much.

“There was a point when I was selling the clothes out of my closet and sacrificing so many material possessions like my car,” Reed said. “It meant that much to me to get things up and running.”

Now, with two year’s worth of experience under her belt, the negativity from others will not be as much of a challenge.

“There are always people that will try to discourage you,” Reed said. “That comes with the territory. Not many blacks take the risk of entrepreneurship, and we don’t support each other. In the business world, Jews support each other and Arabs support each other. It seems like [blacks are] the only ones who have that complex.”

And with the economy looking bleak and the unsuccessful black business epidemic lurking throughout Tallahassee, Reed said her success has been nothing short of miracle.

“It has been a roller coaster,” Reed admitted. “I’ve had those times more than once when I felt like I should give up, but, by the grace of God, I managed. It was definitely my faith that got me through it.”