Insta message: Digital entrepreneur Alexandra Nicole Nolan, a Memphian with a personal brand - Memphis Business Journal - The Business Journals

Alexandra Nicole Nolan influencer and digital entrepreneur
Alexandra Nicole Nolan; Getty Images
When Alexandra Nicole Nolan was a little girl, she started a kids clubhouse in the shed that held the lawn mower at her family’s home. The clubhouse needed a whiteboard, so Nolan decided to hold a fundraiser. She wrote a play and invited the neighborhood.
“These adults started knocking on my parents’ door. When my mom answered the door, they walked in and started giving her $1. I said, ‘Oh, that’s for our kids club. We’re trying to raise money, and we’re doing a play here today.’ And, she said, ‘What did she say?’”
Today, Nolan works as a digital entrepreneur, making six figures working with such brands as Walgreens, Pampers, Amazon, and Target.
Let’s just say, people are listening.
“At first, I would say influencer/blogger,” Nolan said, explaining what she does for a living. “But now I’m doing digital commercials for brands that I don’t even put on my page. I’m doing photo shoots for brands for their products that go on their websites.”
Nolan is a Memphian and earned a BBA from the University of Memphis. After college, she worked in sales for International Paper. She climbed the corporate ladder but found that the pace — 280 flights in one year alone — was wearing on her.
In 2012, she opened a clothing store, Ivory Closet, in Harbor Town. It was through the store that Nolan became an influencer before being an influencer was a thing.
To work around not having a marketing budget, Nolan posted pictures of herself in the store’s clothing on Facebook and started a blog around that time.
“Eventually, the audience grew, and people started asking more about beauty and fashion,” she said. “And when these other brands saw that the audience was getting larger and saw the engagement, they wanted in.”
When other clothing brands started reaching out for her to model their clothes, Nolan was initially hesitant. She wanted people to buy the brands she sold from her store. But, then, she realized the potential revenue stream, relaunched her blog — now City Chic Living — and started an Instagram account, which currently has more than 200,000 followers.
“I went full force with promoting fashion and beauty, and it grew into more of a lifestyle brand,” Nolan said. “I don’t do a whole lot of fashion at all anymore. It’s more parent products that partner with Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Sam’s Club — they’re more whole wholesome lifestyle brands.”
Meanwhile, Nolan, who by then had a family, moved Ivory Closet to Overton Square. Over time, it dawned on her the difference in the economic costs of running her lifestyle brand versus running the store.
“Overton Square was so much fun,” she said. “But the blog continued to grow and grow and grow to the point that it was more lucrative and made more income than the store.”
Nolan decided to sell Ivory Closet to a friend and devote herself to building her brand.
In creating content, Nolan is DIY. In a recent video, she effortlessly reels off no fewer than five brands in one sentence. She said she got presentation tips from Google searches.
“When you have a small business like this and are doing videos, it is trial and error,” Nolan said. “You have to figure it out on your own.”
She invested in a ring light and a tripod and uses Adobe Lightroom for editing. She noted that she runs her entire business from her cell phone.
Today, Nolan is working on a book — “The Unconventional Entrepreneur” — set to be released this fall. She launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to produce the book of her vision. She wants it to look good — like a coffee table book — and be useful.
“There are topics, such as the eight elements of an unconventional entrepreneur: the eight skill sets/characteristics you can develop; how to develop them; and a test to gauge where you’re at with each skill set,” she said.
The book covers branding, setting real-life goals, financing and monetization, knowing your worth, and building a network. It features brainstorming sessions and worksheets.
The Kickstarter campaign ended in early April and included funding enticements such as one-on-one mentorship, online courses, and the chance to have the funder’s business profiled in the book’s first edition.
“The Unconventional Entrepreneur” is being published by Susan Schadt Press and distributed by Ingram Content Group, which places books in big box retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble.
“There is an evolution of the entrepreneur. You can’t just do it the old way. It might work, but you won’t thrive,” Nolan said. “In this book, I’m teaching ways to thrive in the current small business climate for these entrepreneurs to become successful and ultimately live their work/life dream.”
Nolan’s line of work is a billion-dollar industry that just keeps growing. She’d like one day to transition into public speaking to motivate people who are on the fence about becoming an entrepreneur.
Eventually, Nolan would like to retire and teach college. She earned an MBA from the U of M and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in business.
“It’s scary as hell, but that’s part of it,” Nolan said. “You’ve just got to get out there.”
Nominate your choice today for our tenth Annual Super Women in Business presented by Independent Bank! Nomination deadline is Friday, March 11, 2022.
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