CAUTIOUSLY CREATED SERIES 06 | CHRISTINA SUN
Meet Christina Sun, a native Texan and the woman behind the Houston based online shop, SUNCHILD. I had been following Christina on Instagram (@lovesunchild) for quite some time and recently reached out to her and to see if she would be interested in answering a couple of questions for our Cautiously Created Series. She kindly agreed, and below are her answers.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I am a Texan - born in Dallas, went to school in Austin, and now based in Houston. While I've spent a lot of time in Texas, my heart belongs to NYC & Paris. Any opportunity I get, I'm traveling to one of those two cities. I am also very into food - I work out so I can eat whatever I want! I have owned Sunchild (www.shopsunchild.com) coming up on 4 years and am loving it so much. Follow my shop/travel/food adventures on Instagram @lovesunchild
How did your business come about?:
Sunchild started as a collaboration between me and my dad. My dad had an entrepreneurial mind and I had a dream. Sunchild's name is a dedication from me to my dad who encourages me to follow my passion of inspiring others to love their style. We wanted a shop name that had personal significance and Sunchild felt right. We set up shop in the Summer of 2012 with our motto 'treat our customers as our friends', worked really hard and never looked back.
Describe your typical day:
I'll describe a typical Friday since those are a little more fun. I wake up early and my mind immediately starts running through the things I need to accomplish that day. I begin responding to customer emails and packaging orders - online shops don't get to sleep in! I like to ship packages as soon as I can after receiving an order since as a customer, I am impatient when it comes to waiting for packages. Then I'm on my way to the post office to drop off packages and grab lunch with friends or my husband. My husband is in the restaurant industry so there are always new restaurants we're looking to try. Shortly after, I'm most likely posting my meal on Instagram! My Instagram is sometimes more food than fashion and I'm okay with that. Afterwards, I'll get back on email and take care of customer requests that have come in while I was indulging in a greasy burger + fries. If any shipments like new items or restocks have come in, I'll set up the studio, take photos, and edit them on Photoshop. From the time an item comes in, I like to get it on the site as soon as possible so our customers can start enjoying them! At the end of my day, it's Friday night and I'm getting drinks with friends - work hard, play hard!
Describe one challenge that you've faced since starting your business :
About a half year after Sunchild started, we changed concepts. We were previously selling trendy clothes that were not made with our quality standards. I had a tough time relating stylistically to the pieces we were selling. We talked about the changes that needed to be made to get to where we wanted. We wanted to carry designers who were authentic and cared about their wares. It was an incredibly hard time, lots of tears and sweat went into Sunchild’s makeover. We came out on the other side with our current lifestyle shop, which I am now incredibly proud of. The more I built a shop I believed in, the more successful it was.
Describe your greatest achievement so far:
There are so many moments in Sunchild’s last 4 years I’m so proud of. We’ve been featured in magazines, pop ups with big players like Refinery29, collaborations with incredible bloggers like @designlovefest, but if I had to pick one it would be how we consistently take care of our customers. We realized from the beginning that if a lot of the same stores were selling the same type of things, we needed to differentiate ourselves. One way we do that is by making customer service a priority. We listen to our customers. We’ve adjusted our shipping prices and return policy based on feedback, not based on what stores like us are doing. We’ve implemented a notify me feature on each product listing in which you are notified once an item is back in stock. If your package is lost, we work tirelessly with you to figure out a solution. If you email us, we respond really fast. It’s the little things that make our customers happy and that’s what I’m most proud of.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start their own business?:
When you own your own business, you will most likely work many more hours than if you worked for someone else, but it's a labor of love and something you can feel extremely proud of. Build a cohesive brand and connect with your audience using social media. Make your posts and comments as honest as possible so your customers don’t feel like they’re constantly being advertised to. If something feels like it's not working, don't be afraid to change and adapt. Set goals and celebrate the milestones you achieve. Always look ahead to discover ways to grow and develop your business.
What inspires you?:
Travel, Instagram, and people's stories.
What's one thing you can't work without?:
My planner! I'm the last person on the planet who hasn't caught up with the times and is still using a physical planner to write my to do lists. I love crossing things off so I'll probably never move to an e-planner. If I lost it, I wouldn't know what to do that next day.
Coffee, tea or neither?:
Coffee! I love the smell of it, but I will also be wired the rest of the day.
What would you say is the most challenging thing about working for yourself? And what is the most rewarding?:
The most challenging and rewarding thing about working for myself is not having someone to tell me how to do things. I do the buying, advertising, emails, etc. (the list is long) for the shop, so there are a lot of decisions that need to be made daily and many that I've never encountered before. I am naturally not a very decisive person so it's tough when I second guess myself. Is this style coming in or going out? Will this color do well? Should we bring in this new designer? How do I handle this customer's issue? I don't have someone else to tell me how it's done so I find out by experiencing it for myself. At the same time, this aspect is the most rewarding thing about working for myself. I love that I'm growing as a shop owner and a person. I'm learning how to tackle new situations and growing from them. I love it when I follow my intuition on something and it blossoms.
And just for fun, what's something people don't know about you?:
I love to karaoke but am extremely terrible at it (at least that's what Snapchat says). In my head, I'm Beyonce!
A huge thank you to Christina for being kind enough to answer a few questions for us. If you're interested in learning more about Christina and SUNCHILD, please head over to her shop and be sure to follow her on Instagram.
*all photographs utilized in this blog post are property of ©Christina Sun of SUNCHILD.