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Life & Work with Sharia Livingston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharia Livingston.

Hi Sharia, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
In 2015, myself along with my now 17yr old daughter Sha’Miah Richardson started the unisex lifestyle streetwear brand Living Rich. It wasn’t until after the brand was created, we realized coincidently it was a combination of our last names. We created this line to not only provide individuals with quality clothing, but also to encourage others to really Live Rich. Not Rich from a monetary standpoint, but Rich in life. We wanted people to create their own definition of Rich because although our journey had not been easy, we’ve gained experiences you can’t put a price on. Having my daughter at the age of 17, still in high school, still a kid myself, I started to define my own rich early on. Everyone I came across made me feel like my life was over, I was a failure, I couldn’t still be great because I was now a teen mom. Had I let that control my vision and my mind…I would have very well failed. Instead, I turned my struggle into our strength.

When we first started, we provided apparel only for women and girls. In December of 2016 we decided to provide unisex apparel. That was huge for us because at the time we had no idea how to market to the male population. Not to mention, I was still working full-time as a Registered Nurse and couldn’t devote the time needed to grow the brand. It wasn’t until year two and noticing that we had much better outcomes when we did pop-up shops and events that I decided we need to take another approach. Deciding to take a leap of faith, In April of 2018 we opened our very first kiosk inside Beachwood Mall. That was the start of the brands popularity in the city of Cleveland.

Since then, we have had a kiosk at SouthPark Mall, won a few pitch competitions, a temporary incubator inside GlenVillage, and now our very own permanent Flagship store in Richmond Heights. Where we offer much more than a casual shopping experience. We have continued to climb the ladder at our own pace while taking our supporters on the journey with us.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
This entrepreneurial journey has been far from smooth. The first 4 years of running my business I still worked full-time as a Registered Nurse. However, I was “bootstrapping” and had to do what was needed. I was exhausted many days and nights and contemplated quitting the business a few times. In addition to that I’ve lost thousands of dollars from manufacturing companies sending defective products I couldn’t sell, employee theft, as well as trying out various other businesses for services I needed without satisfactory delivery. However, all my struggles taught me valuable lessons that I continue to implement into my business and help me make better decisions. I never lost sight of my “why” and that has always kept me going despite any struggle I’ve ever encountered.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
In addition to being the owner of Living Rich, I am also a Registered Nurse. I became a nurse in December 2010, officially obtaining my license to practice in April 2011. I decided to go PRN with my nursing career in June 2020 so that I could work on my business full-time. Like many, I wear majority of the hats in my business. I do the concept creations, some of the designs, product selections, quality control, bookkeeping, and HR. I’m currently, gradually building my team and giving others an opportunity to fill some of these roles. I do outsource for graphic design, manufacturing, and photography. In addition to that I love to teach. 1:1 or in a group setting, I enjoy educating individuals and sharing my knowledge and experiences. Which is what inspired me to launch Rich Scholars for emerging entrepreneurs.

I have done many things but I am most known for the relationship I have with my daughter more than anything. Honestly, that is what I am most proud of. She is my why and I continue to not only support her, but also push her to achieve greatness. Creating a lane for us while staying true to our values and beliefs. One thing any and everyone can count on from me, is authenticity. That’s what separates me and my brand from many others.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
I have numerous favorite childhood memories. One would be going over my grandmother’s house and spending time with my family. I really looked forward to holidays and birthday parties because I knew I was going to see my entire family and have a good time. I loved going shopping! Growing up in a single-parent household with two other siblings, anytime we could go shopping was like a holiday to us. Which we could count on getting a small budget during our birthday and income tax season. I loved getting a new pair of kicks and some outfits to match. We didn’t have a car so I knew all the RTA bus routes very young. Those bus rides to different malls, doctor appointments, family gatherings, etc, was my time to dream. I always wanted to sit by the window so I could stare out and just think about my future until I eventually fell asleep before making it to the next stop. My other favorite childhood memories would be anytime I was able to make my own money. I would sell candy, help clean my grandmother’s house, shovel snow, or figure out something creative. I just loved being able to make my own money so I wouldn’t have to ask anyone for theirs.

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