Client Profile: Alexandra Reich
You might call Alli Reich an overachiever... and you wouldn't be wrong! Her story encompasses a true entrepreneurial journey of exploring her passions. Lucky for us she took some time to tell us about it.
Tell us about Alexanda.
I grew up in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, PA. I was an all-star high school cheerleader, my family competed in triathlons, and we owned our city's local Ice Cream Shoppe, Sprinkles. I chose to pursue a bachelor's degree from KSU in fashion merchandising, and decided that the way I was going to make that happen was enlisting into the United States Army. Due to my father losing his job and not having a college fund I knew I had to sacrifice what I knew and do the uncomfortable to discover discipline and self growth physically, mentally and spiritually.
Upon enlisting I simultaneously contracted with ROTC and became an officer in training. In 2018, I commissioned as a logistics officer in the Ohio Army National Guard (OHARNG) and graduated from KSU. Since then I have worked for multiple local businesses in the areas of web design, leather production, event planning, visuals and merchandising. I worked as an assistant buyer and have pursued different avenues of entrepreneurism. I have run a bed and breakfast Airbnb at my house in Louisiana, pursued skin care consulting with Rodan+Fields, Brand Champion with Sword & Plough, and my own startup, Brotherly Love.
Brotherly Love focuses on upcycling military fatigues by creating one-of-a-kind fashion pieces. I also take service members' old uniforms and quilt them into home decor. I plan to hire veterans, manufacture in the U.S. and donate back into veteran organizations, specifically to the Ashley White Stumpf Foundation. (She was a former KSU ROTC cadet who was killed in combat.) Kent State has truly been the incubator to who I have become. The University has funded all of my schooling, pushed me out of my comfort zone to pursue the most intense profession, the military, and has helped me find my niche in the fashion world. Not only that, but I have been blessed as a grad student to be a D1 athlete on the KSU cheerleading team. I am so excited to see how I can grow and nurture my business over the next year and a half, how cheerleading will connect me to new networks and how my professionalism grows as I continue to climb the ranks within the OHARNG.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture? How did the idea for your business come about?
In high school I was part of the Gold Medalists for the Congressional Award. I quilted mermaid tails for little girls in the hospital and found my love of service, my love for fashion, creativity and uniqueness (I had to stand out from the other standard rectangular quilts!). As I searched for schools, I found Kent State and recognized its student success rate and knew that if I came here I would find my path.
If I am being honest, through my years I have discovered that I am a harder, more determined worker for myself. I had a harder time finding motivation to fit the model of working retail, loving high end designers, and wanting to eventually become a buyer. The term entrepreneur became a discover term in one of my marketing classes, and I began to look at the areas in my life that would set me apart … That was fashion & the military. I knew I would have to create something that meshed these two passions. I then started to intentionally complete all my school assignments with these two concepts.
I researched the influence of each industry on the other and started to find correlations. Then I took what I was good at—quilting—and started to create. The quilting eventually combined with my tendency to patch my old jackets with flowers and butterflies and became upcycling military fatigues.
In my early military days, my peer evaluations would have comments like: “Flower child; She lives in a world of rainbows and lollipops; and She sees flowers as cover and concealment.” But then my peers would say things like: “She is the glue to our program; She is extremely personable and organized; and It will be hard to compete with the high standards she set with planning and executing the military ball.” I think my growth has allowed me to stand out, and my combination of experiences has really allowed me to creatively paint a story and a brand that reflects my brand's image.
What's been your best entrepreneurial advice?
It's not a mistake if you learned from it and you can’t learn without failing, SO, do ALL the things!
I love this because when you are an entrepreneur you never stop dreaming and adding to the "things I need to accomplish" list. Your mind races with new hopes, desires, goals and passions. I believe that you can do all the things. Yes, you may have to do one at a time to succeed in all the things, but never say never! And don't ever stop trying something due to the fear it will fail, because you never know when you will be blessed with success.
So always be prepared and count your blessings even in a failure because you at least came out with a learned lesson.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
My greatest fear is death; to die being unknown to the world. This has been my fear since I was a child. I find my fear quite overwhelming yet fascinating due to being a very faithful person. I also find it interesting that I have pursued a career choice centered around the sacrifice of life for our country. Although, I think my faith has been the greatest factor to facing my fear.
I think that Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace from the Fault in Our Stars said it best. Augustus said, “I fear oblivion; I fear it like the proverbial blind man who's afraid of the dark.... And I fear that I won't get either a life or a death that means anything.” Augustus wanted a more meaningful life, one that would go down in history for his heroism.
But Hazel responds "I just want to be enough for you, but I never can be. This can never be enough for you. But this is all you get. You get me, and your family, and this world. This is your life."
I think this puts into perspective a life of quality over quantity, which is something I aspire to because it is the people who see me that matter. The people who see me as important and meaningful. God has gifted us with life and a purpose to do His will not our own. I believe leaning on these reminders helps me manage my fear.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
My hobbies are all over the spectrum!
Cheerleading, I absolutely love the uniform (even the military one). The uniform is a sense of discipline, strength, achievement, pride, and teamwork.
I love to listen to worship music while strength training, podcasts while walking on the treadmill, and self help books in the car.
I love to cook/bake “healthy substitutes for unhealthy foods” (Never really works out).
OH! I and absolutely just love love love trying new ice cream shops! Sometimes that requires me to go to 3 ice cream shops in one night, especially in new cities (and I don’t just get the small size!).
I love to travel, especially to warm sunny locations. I think Rincon, Puerto Rico is still my favorite place so far.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Sword and Plough is a socially conscious brand that works with American manufacturers who employ veterans. The company recycles military surplus, incorporates that fabric into stylish bag designs, and donates 10% of profits back to veteran organizations.
KIND’s mission is to inspire everyday acts of kindness. They use the business as a vehicle for social change. KIND was inspired by Lubetzky’s father's Holocaust stories. His father was in a concentration camp as a child and was given a rotten potato by a Nazi guard. The Nazi would’ve been punished if he had been seen helping a Jew. However his father credits the potato — and the guard’s actions — with helping him survive. Employees carry ‘kindawesome’ cards that they give to strangers in public for spontaneous acts of kindness.
What are you most excited (or passionate) about?
Currently, my time here at Kent. I love campus, what I am studying, my apartment, and cheerleading! Seriously, my professors are so encouraging and reignite passion in my dreams everyday. Also, I just got a kitten to help me de-stress during these next few semesters.
Looking ahead, being my own boss and making a small difference in the business I plan to own.
What made you laugh today?
No matter what this show never disappoints me with a good laugh.
What have you always wanted to try?
Competing in a Physique Competition. I want to know I possess the discipline to train hard and can dial in self control. I also find it inspiring the grit every girl has to be dedicated and determined behind the glitz & glam of walking on stage.
Also, I believe health is the foundation to accomplishment. That goes for spiritual, mental, and physical health!