Online shopping has become more popular because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s one reason Kylie Cockrell, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major, launched her online boutique Blonde Boomerang in January.
There, you can find an organized assortment of turtlenecks, sweater vests, corduroy pants, and even a pink metallic puffer coat. While shopping at Blonde Boomerang, you get a sense of what fashion means to Cockrell.
Cockrell, a Madison, Mississippi native, decided to create an online boutique after working at Arco Avenue, a clothing boutique in Ridgeland near her hometown. During the first few years, she worked the floor, styled customers, paid bills and made purchases, later managing the store. After Cockrell learned what it was like to run a small business, she created the online boutique.
Cockrell is on the creative team of Square Magazine at the University of Mississippi. Part of her role is to help with planning and designing photo shoots for the website and social media accounts, and to figure out innovative ways to make each photo shoot unique, whether that is the shoot location or the hair and makeup for the models that correlate with a specific article written by the editorial team.
Being able to incorporate what she has learned from her involvement at Square Magazine and through her IMC fashion promotion and merchandising specialization led Cockrell to create the business.
“I didn’t really know anyone else in college who had started a business or who I could turn to for advice,” she said.
Her previous boss, Katie Miller, at Arco Avenue helped.
When it comes to everyday fashion, Cockrell said her go-to outfit is a pair of straight-legged, light washed jeans, a white button-up shirt and a pair of orange Nike Air Force Ones.
“Those are my prized possession,” she said excitedly.
Cockrell used the time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to pursue her dream. That allowed her to complete all the necessary business tasks. This involved getting sales permits and tax licenses that took many months. Then Cockrell realized she needed a name for her boutique.
“My mom was actually the one to come up with the name,” she said.
In an Australian Aboriginal language, “Kylie” translates to “boomerang.” Cockrell’s mom, Vicki Welch, thought this would be an innovative business name since Cockrell has blonde hair. Before she knew it, Blonde Boomerang was born, and on Jan. 24, Cockrell officially launched her online boutique.
Welch has supported her in creating Blonde Boomerang. She has seen all the hard work Kylie puts into developing her business.
“She did everything,” Welch said.
From making important phone calls to designing the website and choosing inventory, Cockrell took charge. Welch knew customers would fall in love with Cockrell’s unique sense of style.
“Throughout this whole process, I have seen Kylie become so independent,” she said.
Kylie Cockrell and some of her merchandise.
Welch said this is the perfect time and age to get involved with something you are passionate about, and to not be afraid to fail while doing so.
“I know she has what it takes to make this business go further,” Welch said.
Cockrell said, “There were so many times I second-guessed myself.”
However, she adopted Miller’s motto, “You never know until you just go for it.”
Although Cockrell was nervous about launching her boutique, she was excited when someone from Connecticut purchased an item from Blonde Boomerang.
“It’s the little things like that that remind me of how glad I am to have started my business,” said Cockrell. “It definitely makes my day.”
As a full-time student taking 18 hours of classes, being involved with Square Magazine, and running an online business, Cockrell said it has taken a lot of self-discipline to stay on top of her everyday tasks.
“The business staying up and running relies solely on me,” she said.
If you are a student who aspires to create your own business, it is important to stay confident and true to yourself. Whatever you are passionate about, make it happen, said Cockrell.
“The more work you put into something you are passionate about, the more benefits you will get in return,” she said. “Once you make that commitment to yourself, you are already one step further towards your goal…You can only go up from there.”
Cockrell aspires to open a physical location for Blonde Boomerang.
“Make it from the ground up, and gradually it will become what you want it to be,” she said.
This story was written by Cloi Bryan for Oxford Stories.
Are you a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student who has created their own business? If so, we want to hear from you. Click this link to share your business story.
Click this link to learn more about our undergraduate and graduate programs in IMC and Journalism.