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Life and Work with Sonnet O’Kane and Mindy Flynn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sonnet O’Kane & Mindy Flynn.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
When we, Sonnet O’Kane and Mindy Flynn, started Rebel Villa, it was a side hustle for us as we both had demanding full-time jobs. Our initial thought was to develop and produce products to sell on Amazon as supplemental income, with aspirations of making it a full-time business one day. We didn’t have an elaborate business plan, in fact, we had no plan at all, but we knew how to design and to produce products, so we started our journey there. We had $5,000 dollars between the two of us and we used it to research, test, develop and purchase our first collection. It was important for us to build the business without debt or involving investors, we wanted to be in full control. Fast forward to March 2020 when COVID hit and we were laid off/furloughed from our corporate jobs, which ultimately pushed us to move a lot faster than we had planned. At first, we thought that the global pandemic would hinder our vision of a new, online business, but it actually ended up being quite the opposite. As it turns out, it was a great time to launch a home decor company as so many people were locked up at home and wanting to remodel and decorate their space. We were faced with a number of hurdles throughout the next year, but we continued to pivot and to make it work. We didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what our next business move would be, we just moved. Sometimes, it’s best not to overthink it all and the risk is worth the reward. We used that mentality when deciding to sign a lease for our brick-and-mortar store amidst the pandemic. We now have a great little space in Carlsbad Village where we are able to express our creativity while fulfilling our online orders and having the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people on a daily basis. We have come so far in the past year and we are looking forward to our future endeavors!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
We have endured many bumps in the road…we joke that we could write a self-help manual documenting all of our mistakes. Being new to building a business, we didn’t exactly know what we were doing. We spent a lot of time on the computer researching anything and everything. We watched thousands of YouTube videos and we did learn a lot. We also made so many oversights along the way, from setting up our selling platforms wrong to not understanding how to properly file state sales taxes, but it is very true that you learn through failures and that they bring opportunity. We were definitely faced with unique challenges throughout the Covid pandemic, but we learned to pivot and to creatively come up with solutions. When our overseas factories were shut down, and our global artisans couldn’t ship out products that they were making, and we had no more inventory to sell, we started handcrafting our own products to supplement income for the company. We made the best of it all, but we did end up losing a fair amount of money from pre-payments to vendors that did not survive the shutdown and whom never re-opened. With all of this said, we feel that the struggles have made us stronger and we try to laugh it off, as much as possible, in hindsight.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Sonnet’s previous job was Director of Development and she is certainly the creative piece to Rebel Villa. Not only does she develop new products and handle the social media/marketing, but she designed our flagship store and constantly changes the merchandising and artistic aesthetic. Mindy’s previous job was Director of Sourcing & Production and so she works with factories and artisans around the world to bring the developments to life. She handles all of the online orders, the business reporting and, most importantly, she manages the budget and spending. The best part about Rebel Villa is the creative angle we take on our collections and the unique flair that we give to our handmade products. We specialize in modern bohemian home decor, but we love to add a rebellious twist. From our retail art wall that changes monthly, to the products that we craft by hand, we are always looking for ways to have fun and bring unique items into our customer’s homes. Our favorite handmade items include our soy candles, dried floral arrangements, cement pottery, air plant terrariums and succulent arrangements. Each of these products take time and love, but we keep our prices low and affordable.

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