Q&A with Soul Diem’s Alejandra Tenorio
By Samantha Cupero
When we think about college, the first thing that comes to mind is class and getting an education to prepare us for a career. We think about making friends and memories that we can cherish forever and eventually tell our kids about: maybe a night out bar hopping or a movie night with the girls on a Friday night. But for Alejandra Tenorio, her college experience also
Includes running an online boutique. She’s normal college student who is also taking on the boho-chic fashion world with Soul Diem. So how does she do it? We sat down with her to hear the vision she has for her store.
Alice: What made you first want to start an online boutique?
AT: Well I have been working in retail since sophomore year of high school. My senior year in high school I did visual merchandising and that was what made me fall in love with the retail aspect of the fashion industry. So that’s kind of what started my passion for the fashion industry, and I never wanted to let it go.
Alice: Was your boutique always going to be online?
AT: The reason it’s online is because I am a sophomore in college, and so I don’t live in south Florida, my hometown, nor do I live in Tuscaloosa full time. I do want Soul Diem to have a store front as I get closer to graduation, just haven’t figured out where exactly yet.
Alice: What are some of the challenges you face with being a student, managing an online boutique, and having extracurricular activities?
AT: I get that question asked a lot, ’How do you manage so many things?’ I am a firm believer that if you do what you love, you don’t work a single day in your life. But it is a lot, I’m not going to lie. What helps is just Just a lot of support and a lot of help from my close friends and family. Not just on the boutique side, because I do most of that myself, but it’s also having friends who understand and support that I might be missing for two days from our friend group, and it’s because I am doing a lot of things.
Alice: What was one of the things you never expected to face when you started Soul Diem?
AT: To do every aspect of it by myself. I knew I was going to, but I didn’t think I would have my business partner and my mom’s trust like that. I am 20 years old, and there’s so much trust in me to run this store and this company.
Alice: What was the best piece of advice you have gotten?
AT: To just follow my heart and gut.
Alice: What direction do you see Soul Diem heading? Do you hope it grows outside of Alabama, Florida, and the Southeast?
AT: I don’t want to put a time frame on it, but I want it to in the near future ship internationally, and that’s something we are working for right now. I do want it to be a place where everyone can come to and feel the best at. Not a boutique that has a specific body type or certain physical appearance, but rather a place where everyone can find their boho-chic in themselves in the boutique.
Alice: Tell me about Soul Diem’s models.
AT: Three of them are my sorority sisters, I am a Kappa Alpha Theta, and that’s how I met them. They have been my friends since day one of college, and they have supported me from day one. I like working with them because of the energy and how easy-going and natural they are. I thought they were the best fit for Soul Diem’s image.
Alice: Is there anything that people may not see when they first glance at the website that you would want them to know?
AT: That’s a good question. I think that to anyone who doesn’t know much about it, it’s just another online boutique. But I want people to know that it’s a place that has been formed with love and passion and a place where young girls and women can look at and hopefully feel inspired. I started off not knowing what I wanted to do, and I kind of fought for what I wanted. And that’s why I want it to be more than just a boutique. Soul Diem was founded with the purpose of encouraging young girls and women to do what they want to do – no matter the industry.
Alice: You’re a journalism major, right?
Alice: How do you see that helping you expand Soul Diem?
AT: Well what I love about journalism is that you can apply everything you learn in class and in the field itself to anything. You learn communications, PR, marketing, advertising, and you learn how to express yourself and your thoughts. So it can be applied to anything. When it comes to Soul Diem, I feel that it can help me with anything I want to do.
Alice: What kind of social media do you have for the boutique?
AT: We have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. We have a media intern coming in, and I hope she takes the reigns of running our social media sites.
Alice: How do you feel about jumping into the adult and business world before finishing college?
AT: I wrote a 45-page business plan which I presented to my mom, who is also the vice president of Soul Diem. From there, she never treated me as her daughter. She’s an architect with her own firm, and she read it with those eyes, and I am so thankful for that. I also owe so much to the University of Alabama. I am very prideful of our university. Our community is so inspiring, and there’s so many people from so many backgrounds and cultures that people may overlook.