To Alexis Teichmiller, it’s not just about the clothes.
The senior marketing major has that special knack for knowing what looks good, yet, to Teichmiller, it’s more about the feeling. “I want women to wear layers that make them feel confident,” she said.
Teichmiller’s message of confidence and ambition echoes through her blog, Instagram and countenance.
It’s not surprising that she started her own online clothing business and travels with her own hand-picked selections in trunk shows. Yet, Teichmiller’s initial spark wouldn’t be possible without the direction and dedication of Eastern Illinois University’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship through Education and Development (SEED) Center.
Teichmiller is another prime example of the entrepreneurship culture at EIU through the SEED Center and EIU’s business program.
Teichmiller, of Dieterich, started her business, which she calls AT Avenue based off her initials, the summer after her sophomore year at EIU.
It all started with trunk shows, where Teichmiller carried boxes of clothes, from dresses to peasant tops, to family and friends in her home community.
The initial idea ignited into a full business. She began promoting her clothes as “timeless” and started collaborating with wholesale vendors online. As her business grew, Teichmiller started showcasing her clothes to sororities and at house parties.
In the shows, Teichmiller isn’t trying to merely sell her inventory. “I try to make my inventory fit what the woman would like to wear,” she said.
As Teichmiller’s brand flourished, she started reaching out for guidance in her classes and the SEED Center.
“My classes have helped me transfer my knowledge into my business 100 percent,” Teichmiller said.
As she sits through her classes, Teichmiller scratches down side notes in reference to her business such as “cross-promotion” or “differentiation.”
Not only does EIU’s entrepreneurship program provide Teichmiller with needed pointers, but her professors take time to research and foster her business.
Marko Grünhagen, director of the SEED Center, said the program has helped Teichmiller build her business proposal.
For example, they helped her research how to connect with other campus representatives to promote her trunk business, she said.
It’s not their advice alone that inspires Teichmiller. Their tenacity inspires her to keep moving forward with her business, and make the necessary changes.
“They have taught me not to give up,” she said. “The tenacity aspect is what an entrepreneur is.”
The lesson of tenacity has helped Teichmiller move into the next direction of her business — online.
“Having a brick and mortar store doesn’t fit my personality,” she said. “I am a very flexible person. I didn’t want to be tied down to a location.”
And that’s why Teichmiller launched her own website in November because she wanted to take her business “with her” after graduation. The AT Avenue site is geared toward selling her vintage-inspired fashions.
As Teichmiller prepared for the refocus of her business plan, she was guided by researching how to make it possible. Surprisingly, Teichmiller said her direct sales still influence her online sales. She promotes her website through her trunks shows, and her recently-started blog.
Her clothes are still ‘timeless.” “I don’t carry trends,” she said. “I don’t want to go along the fashion cycle.” Instead, she describes her clothes as “timeless,” “vintage-focused” and “classy,” geared toward the college-age woman or the 35-60-year-old mom.
As she builds her brand, she provides her customers with “authentic every day” clothes. In her photography studio, she uses real models to promote her mission of “real beauty” on her website. “I want girls who are a positive influence for other girls,” she said.
To Teichmiller, fashion is about creativity and ambition.
“The world of fashion shouldn’t be about who’s skinner then me. It’s about that girl inspires me,” she said.
Beyond the Avenue
Teichmiller plans to graduate in May and plans to take her brand of boldness and ambition with her after graduation.
“A.T Avenue is different,” she said. “It’s mine and I want it to be my brand.”
Teichmiller continues to inspire women through her consultations, website presence and social media.
“One of the best feelings is seeing a 45-year-old mom feeling confident in something I picked out,” she said.
Teichmiller is determined to keep moving forward with her “timeless ambition” and use the guidance from EIU’s SEED Center.
“AT Avenue has given me so many opportunities and it is the vehicle where I want to go,” Teichmiller said.
“It’s only the spark of an empire,” said Teichmiller, laughing.