Liseda Shelegu graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in 2010 and began working as a sales coordinator for a luxury home fragrance brand. She thrived and tripled the business’s presence in boutiques across the country. During that time she developed a love for small business development and a knowledge of inefficiencies that she wanted to eliminate. Shelegu created The Main Tab to simplify the buying and selling process and help Main Street small retailers.
Where did the idea for The Main Tab come from?
I wanted it to be about Main Street, and centralizing the wholesale process in one place, like a digital tab, so the name became The Main Tab. Also, I tend to have at minimum 50 tabs open at any given time, and always wanted just one main tab that housed everything.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Each day varies, but I do try to keep some sort of organization for my sanity. Every day requires me to speak with our clients, both retailers and brands but generally I tend to break the week down like this: Monday and Tuesday is spent either working with Retailers or Brands, whether it’s helping with orders that came in or introducing new brands or new launches to our retailers. Wednesday’s first half of the day tends to be creative day; this is when I strategize social media content and email campaigns. The second half of the day ends to be more business-focused, whether meeting with investors, fellow founders and other small businesses and brainstorming ideas. Thursday is a phone day — this is me at my best, checking in with new and existing clients! Fridays are quiet days which means research — research new, up and coming brands, retailers, etc.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Execution really is everything! When you’re trying to do it all, sometimes you can get flustered and drop the ball on something. So intensely focusing and giving yourself a deadline on something is really helpful.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The clean beauty space! It’s up and coming still, but it’s become a force. Also, the shift of people supporting their local retailers more than ever!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Hand written to-do lists! I have post-its scattered all over my desk, and a notebook filled with scribbles and notes. There’s so much satisfaction when you complete something and cross it out or crumble the post it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Build a solid network! I had the naive belief that hard work is all it takes but have learned that who you know is most important. Luckily I’ve met some incredible people in recent years, but wish I had known this many years ago.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think people are beginning to see this now, but a few years ago when I would say “Independent and Small Businesses are the backbone of our economy and Independent Retailers are more powerful than you know” no one believed me. Unless you’re in the Retail world particularly, it’s hard to wrap your head around this. When I’d tell them Small stores generate over $800B a year in revenue, heads would spin.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Let things go. I think, also coming from a sales background, you learn to take rejection well. I’ve had brands on our platform who tried to circumvent us and take the retailers we got them offline, to avoid paying commissions. Or retailers tell me they’re going to our competitor because they offer NET terms and free shipping (and have over $150M in funding!). These instances hurt when they happen, but it’s not personal, it’s just business. So letting go and moving on has been a difficult lesson to learn but so incredibly helpful.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Customer Service and authenticity. I truly love, love, love our retailers and brands, and would honestly do anything for them. In fact, we’re giving our retailers 10% cashback because so many are still recovering from covid shutdowns. This week, I personally financed a Retailer’s Order. I think providing the best customer service and doing it because you genuinely care is of paramount importance. That’s been our secret to growth. We don’t have funding for advertising and marketing in the traditional way; all we have is our phones, emails, and passion, so put that together and you’ve got something meaningful.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Well, going into my business full time in January 2020 can be viewed as a failure, given we had to shut down shortly after due to covid. We haven’t had any failures, frankly. Hope we never do. We have setbacks each day, but that’s just the rollercoaster ride.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An app that has all your communications in one place — IG DMs, Facebook messages, whatsapp, chat, linkedin, email, twitter, etc.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Lunch with my new Sales Coordinator, Kamila, who is a rockstar!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google/GSuite! It’s like all in one main tab 😉
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I read Bad Blood a while back and it has really stuck with me. Lately we’ve seen a lot of companies who raise incredible amounts of capital because the founder/CEO is a great talker and then later learn there wasn’t much there. It’s a really good book that shows that the facade can’t be kept up for long, no matter how many millions you’ve raised.
What is your favorite quote?
So many but lately, I’ve been repeating ‘put yourself in their shoes’ as everyone’s going through something difficult right now and empathizing with them and trying to understand and help can go a long way. A little kindness really goes a long way.
- Set some sort of structure for maximum efficiency.
- Customer Service and customers first is the only way to go and grow.
- Lead with kindness.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.