We had the good fortune of connecting with Abby Alley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Abby, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking is something I’ve thought a lot about over the course of my life. I’ve never considered myself to be a big risk-taker as I’ve always been somewhat calculated in the decisions I make, careful not to come too close to failure. That said, from a young age, I knew I’d have to fight against my natural tendency if I wanted to accomplish anything truly great or experience all life has to offer. Over the course of my adolescence, high school, and college, I credit playing sports (I played lacrosse at Northwestern University) for teaching me how to fail…and therefore how to take risks. In sports, someone is always coming for you, whether it’s another team or perhaps a teammate trying to take your spot, and it’s in these moments you have to rise to the occasion to put everything you have out there, not knowing the outcome. You might experience the elation of victory, but you might suffer the devastation of defeat. And to me, that’s the definition of risk. Putting yourself out there, hoping to achieve something big, knowing full well the world may see you fall on your face. I got used to this kind of risk taking playing sports and experienced both the highs and lows that come with attempting to achieve greatness. And although the mountain top moments were worth every minute of the blood, sweat, and tears, it was the valley moments that gave me the confidence to keep taking risks and laid the groundwork for being an entrepreneur. It may sound counterintuitive, but to be an entrepreneur, you have to have get really comfortable with failing, hearing no, and people doubting your ideas. The failures I had playing sports taught me I can come back from anything. They showed me I can survive the worst of times and figure out a way to get through it. They taught be to be creative, trust myself, and how to adjust in the midst of adversity. When it comes to taking risks in my life, I try to live “in the arena” as Teddy Roosevelt said, because I fully believe there is no victory without defeat.

What should our readers know about your business?
One of the things I’m most proud of is my partnerships with the artisans I work with in Kenya. I’ve been working with them for over five years and in that time, we have both experienced so much growth. From being able to invest in new equipment to hiring more artisans, I’m so proud of how far we’ve come in just five years. When we started and to this day, it’s not common to hear about luxury fashion accessories coming from Kenya, but I hope we are beginning to change that!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Some of my favorite spots in Chicago are in Logan Square, where I live.

Lula Cafe – one of the best restaurants in the city
Scowflaw – the best cocktails and the best burger
Middlebrow – for sourdough bread, pizza, beer
Felt – for shopping
Fleur – for flowers and shopping
Damn Fine Coffee – for coffee and donuts

And of course we’d have to stop by the Logan Square Farmer’s Market.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to give a shoutout to my family – they are so supportive of all my crazy ideas and are always willing to listen and offer encouragement and advice.

I’d also love to shoutout my dear friend, Melissa Moriarty Lubin, founder of Azulina Home. She and I have similar businesses and have basically decided to be co-workers. Solo-preneurship can be a bit isolating at times, but being so involved in each other’s businesses has been a game changer!

Website: www.abbyalley.com

Instagram: @abbyalleybrand

Image Credits
some are Nicole Defilippis photography

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