It’s that time of year, the time many of us have been waiting on. The days are longer, the sun shines brighter, and the weather gets significantly warmer- we know, summer is coming soon! Summer days bring lazy and relaxing evenings, barbeque-centred gatherings, and most importantly, trips to beach and pool parties. But what happens when your summer body does not come out quite as you had planned or perhaps you do not want to show off too much- you know to protect others, because they can’t handle what they’ll see? Well if you’re like many others you’ll try in vain to find the perfect swimsuit, and realize that it’s a daunting tasking. Or you may get discouraged with your prospects and sit this beach season out. Altrichia Cook could’ve chosen to do just this, but she decided to take matters into her own hands and the outcome has been phenomenal.
Cook, a twenty-something year old mother of an 11 year old son, recalls being a young mother in college and feeling a bit self-conscious about her post-baby body. Cook recalls, “For spring break trips and summer vacation for pool parties I never wore two piece swim suits. I appreciated the scars [from pregnancy] because that’s where my son came from, but I was young and I chose not to share that side of me with the world. One year I was going on vacation with my sorority sisters, I had just lost a lot of weight and I wanted to feel sexy and confident. I was looking for high waist swimsuits and I couldn’t find one that masked those imperfections, so I worked with a tailor and I designed my own swimsuit. Later whilst uploading pictures from my trip on social media, I got an immediate response from some of my followers.” Cook’s situation is the essence of turning something negative into something positive. With a mere idea and being propelled by social media, Cook’s idea for a business came to life and Allusions by A. Lekay Swimwear was born.
Cook, who has always considered herself to be a lover of fashion, never believed that she would start of fashion business. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs she believed her business would be of a more philanthropic nature, so fashion seemed to be farfetched. Despite not having much knowledge in field of fashion, she persevered. “Google has been my best friend. I was so hungry for success so I looked for it. I reached out to people, I’ve been told no a lot but I have also been told yes. So to me no doesn’t mean no, it means not right now.” Cook credits her drive to succeed and internal motivation to achieve greatness to the many influential and positive supporters in her life, all of whom have been driving factors in building her business into what it is today.
Even with the sheer desire to be successful at her pursuits, Cook has encountered her fair share of challenges. “Having a dedicated team of people working for you is hard. It’s hard to convince people about your vision, when you’re just trying to manifest it yourself. Then there’s also the issue of capital, it’s like this cloud that hangs over any entrepreneur head. Those two things have been very arduous to overcome.” When it comes to describe the path to success, Cook recognizes that it will not be the same for everyone. With remarkable candor Cook comments that she wishes she had known college was not the only path to success. “If I could see into the future, I probably would have not gone to college. I probably would have gone to a trade school to learn sewing, that way I would’ve been able to produce the designs on my own. College is something that helps with success, but college teaches how to receive it in a particular field or study. The key to success is your desire and your ambition to be great. College is still one of the best experiences of my life, but it was not what allowed me to create my business. I’m not knocking college because again college is a part of my story, but it wasn’t college that made me successful.”
Cook has been fortunate to be surrounded with positive individuals who not only inspire her but also encourage her to pursue her goals. Her fiancée, to whom she was recently engaged earlier this year, has been a great source of support. Additionally, Cooks comes from a loving family that encouraged her to be ambitious. Yet, her son, who she found she was pregnant with in her senior year of high school, serves as the ultimate motivator. “I found out I was pregnant one month before I graduated from high school. That within itself is enough to deter someone from what can be a bright future. I didn’t see it as a road block; I used it to catapult me. I knew the child I was carrying was dependent on my success. Success is my only option. Although distractions come they shouldn’t consume you.”
To upcoming entrepreneurs, Cook encourages them to not allow distractions and rejections to deter them from their goal. “Being an entrepreneur is not easy. It’s requires sacrifice. People don’t always talk about the hours spent and being tired, and the money-having to move money from one account to another, it’s a lot. But it’s all worth it. If you want to start a business or do something, find people who inspire you, learn from them, study what they have done and build on that.” Cook continues to demonstrate that it is not how you start, but how you finish. In the face of challenges, Cook has risen and proven that she is a force to be reckoned with. We are excited to see how Cook will continue to inspire others with her life story and through fashion.
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By: Natacha Lorius
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