Altrichia Cook is a woman whose online brand highlights her personality and determination, that bounces right out of the screen and into your heart. This young entrepreneur and employee shows us the true meaning of perseverance and strength. Becoming a teen mom equipped Altrichia with tools and skills that help her throughout her career. She quickly gained popularity in the fashion industry for her high-waisted swimwear without any conventional training. Altrichia has always been known for her beauty, but behind that there is talent, intelligence, and faith in God. While in college, she managed a long distance relationship with the father of her son, worked multiple jobs and still managed to succeed academically. Read more about this inspiring young woman below.
Describe your personal brand in three words:
Luxury. Fashionable. Exquisite.
30 second elevator pitch, Go!
I had my son, at age 18. Throughout college for vacation breaks, I wanted to enjoy beach trips and pool party celebrations. However, permanent scars from child bearing caused insecurity for me. I was even more disappointed realizing that none of the popular retail stores carried a swimsuit that left me comfortable enough to leave the fitting room. As a result, I designed my own highwaist bottom that exceeded the height of the normal. After uploading photos on my social media, I received a plethora of inquires about my swimsuit. Hence, the birth of my own business, Allusions by A.Lekay HighWaist Swimwear. We provide luxury, style and freedom for all spectrums of women as my swimwear was created for the convenience and style to exclusively enhance their look while enjoying any water endeavor!
What is a typical day like for you?
Each day is unconventional. Although most of the same things occur each day, my days are very thorough; being a mother, employee and business owner. I start each day as early as 5:45am and end as late at 1:00am. Working full time at each of the aforementioned job duties, I find much validity in the statement made by ABC’s Shark Tank Investor and QVC Queen Lori Greiner , “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week." As a mother, I must balance and devote time to my son Anthony from sending him off to school in the mornings to reading and completing homework assignments in the evenings as well as his involvement in extracurricular activities. Being a devoted mother is a full time job within itself. In addition to this, I am currently a probation officer and work 7 AM to 5:30PM four days a week. Balancing the dynamic of my business keeps me busy all day from supervising probation clients to preparing dinner and ensuring that his homework is complete. Once that portion of motherly duties has been delivered (and technically, they are never ending) I spend time following up with customer service related queries, working with my team regarding an array of branding ideas, marketing strategies, and proposals. In the meantime, I am thinking of new designs that are relevant with the fashion trends. I also have various projects within the community that occupy my time. I am a current mentor for teen mothers and I assist with event planning, motivational speaking, and serving on the advisory board for the Annual Teen Parent Summit.
What part did your personal brand play in getting you to where you are today?
I have always been a leader in the community, amongst my peers, and as a mother. My voice has always been heard. I was so blessed with leadership characteristics that I have been able to be a self-starter and very ambitious. I have accomplished many goals and I know that it takes any successful business person to be fearless and have tenacity. I certainly possess those qualities and with my brand and have been able to develop a following of interested and potential customers to be positively influenced. My brand has been a platform for me to personally connect with other girls and women to serve as a beacon of hope, especially when they hear I was a teen mom. My brand will continue to allow me to touch lives as well as provide women around the world to feel confident, thus, “feel luxurious, fashionable and NEVER blend in!”
What has been the greatest opportunity you have been offered?
New York Fashion Week was an intricate part of media publicity. I am so thankful that I was invited to such an illustrious extravaganza. NYFW is such a huge deal! Having the opportunity to showcase my brand there brought bloggers, local news stations, newspapers, magazines etc. to my brand. I am so humble in saying that there is a demand for my product and putting it out there created an avenue for media attention of its own. This premier experience gave my company superiority and validated my designs. With this experience, my business has catapulted. I have had celebrities wear my designs, and I have established agreements with boutiques to have Allusions by A.Lekay Highwaist Swimwear distributed in their stores this upcoming spring.
What keeps you going?
What keeps me going is my faith in Christ. I am learning so much as a designer and business professional. I have been tested and I executed my faith and perseverance to withstand when my patience has been tested. In addition to my beliefs, my son Anthony is dependent upon my success. Going to college and synonymously raising him always remains fresh in my mind that balancing life as a mother and business woman will benefit him even more. I believe that God is using my story to strengthen someone else. When I receive emails or have girls/women come up to me and tell me how inspired they have become by my accomplishments it gives me an extra push. I realize experiences that what I have gone through served as evidence that “anything is possible.” With thoughts like this, I continue trudging.
Who are some of your mentors and why?
I have been so inspired by many. It seems like from the success of someone else, I can find a piece of their accomplishment to be inspired by. My mother and father, Debora and Al Cook have been my life long mentors. They have instilled Christian values in rearing me and my siblings. Not only have they taught us the way, but they have both lived a life that reinforced what they have taught. As my life coaches, they exemplify the importance of persevering and not allowing the minor things to consume me. My dad, who is my best friend, always says, “It takes perseverance to get you there, but it takes character to keep you there.” My parents are very supportive and they believe in me. Their mentorship goes far beyond business advice, but the fact that they have been married for 34 years and have never given up on their love for each other inspires me!
What were the steps you took in college that impacted your professional success?
As a college student I had two full time jobs: being a mother full-time and being a full-time student. In addition, I also gained work experience as a pharmacy technician. In addition to gaining work experience and developing my time management skills, I developed the ability to create networking relationships. I often tell others that I had to “develop trusting relationships with others to help me successfully complete college.” As much of a “super woman” I aimed to be, I realized that I could not do everything alone. I needed others to help me with my son during the times I had to work or when I took night classes. Networking and building personal relationships allowed trust to form. With the establishment of such relationships, I was able to successfully obtain my bachelors and master’s degrees in social work while in Tallahassee, FL and also became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
What would you say to a young person who wants to work in your industry?
“Create. Research. Plan. Execute.” Create; it starts with an idea. Research; instead of reinventing the same thing, research what is already out there and how you can enhance it. Plan; you must list ways that will help you reach your goals. Execute; strategically perform your plan and simply go for it!
Words of Advice for Young Professionals:
In addition to my “Create Research Plan and Execute” philosophy, always have faith, be fearless and remember that a simple hello can exceed your expectations!
What can we expect from you in the near future?
In the near future, Allusions by A.Lekay will be featured in various fashion shows throughout Florida! Coming in Spring 2014, Allusions by A.Lekay will be distributed in boutiques in the Southeastern United States. And… sooner than later, we will land a distribution establishment in department stores such as Macys, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Neiman Marcus. “Infinite possibilities to those who are determined” is a personal affirmation that I live by and quote daily.
In 2014, Altrichia will be launching the Women Handling Their Business (#WHTB) movement, an empowerment group that commends the efforts and accomplishments of other women. Look out for that and in the meantime, use the hashtag on social media.