Connecticut entrepreneur Allegra Anderson launched her first business Allegra Anderson Photography in 2013 (read CT Photographer Enjoys Building Her Business in the Hartford Region). At the time, Allegra noted, “People always ask me: What do you do when you’re not taking photos?” Here, she talks to MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about how she turned a passion into a new business, Allegra Home and Lifestyle.
NAN PRICE: How did you develop the concept for a lifestyle brand?
ALLEGRA ANDERSON: The idea started when I was pregnant with my son and I started thinking more about food, beauty, and household cleaning products that were better for my body and the environment. As I did my research, I found that a lot of the products better for the environment often weren’t packaged in plastic—and they weren’t really easy to find. The further down the research hole I went, the more educated I became about things that were good and bad for the environment. It became an obsession to find things.
The business concept also ties into my photography business with some of the clients I work with in the health and wellness industry. I love to work with clients who have mission-based companies like mine.
NAN: When did you officially launch this new venture?
ALLEGRA: It’s been a dream to do this store for several years. A couple of years ago, I did a full brand overhaul and redid my logo, colors, and fonts with this mission and shop in mind.
I had originally wanted to do a brick-and-mortar store, which obviously requires a lot of overhead. Behind the scenes, it was something I was planning, but I didn’t know when it was going to happen. I was still in the fundraising phase and thinking about the employees, rent, and utilities I’d need to pay was overwhelming.
When COVID-19 hit, I started rethinking my approach and realized it needed to be an online store for now. This was at the beginning of quarantine when a lot of people weren’t going out and people were already transitioning to online shopping. I thought: Perhaps I just start with this and then see where it goes. I would still love to have a brick-and-mortar store someday when things are a little different.
NAN: You already had a following with Allegra Anderson Photography. Were you able to use that business as a platform?
ALLEGRA: I’ve been building upon the brand that was already there and, using the Instagram account and the newsletter, I’m able to share with the audience I currently have through my photography brands.
I had to build a totally new website for the shop because it’s an ecommerce-based website, but when I created the Instagram account, it’s really building upon this Allegra brand. I have my parents to thank for giving me a beautiful name that means joyous.
The businesses tie together because, when people hire me as a photographer, they’re hiring me and, through this extension of the brand, I can share things that I’m passionate about and bring them to the public.
NAN: How are you sourcing products?
ALLEGRA: The business model is wholesale. I don’t make products myself. It’s a carefully curated collection of products for cleaning, bath and body, and lifestyle, which includes things like reusable tote bags—all with the mission of reducing waste and going plastic-free.
When I started the business, it was important to me that it was a community collaboration. As a mission-based company, I wanted to highlight the people behind the businesses making the products I’m selling. A lot of these products are also mission-based with founders who saw a need and wanted to bring their products to the community. I’m interviewing a lot of these business owners and sharing their stories as well as mine.
NAN: As a mission-based business, do you plan to incorporate any give-back incentives?
ALLEGRA: Definitely in the long run. Right now, I’m trying to figure out which kind of nonprofit I want to support. I’ll probably give to 1% for the Planet, because it ties in so nicely with my business.
NAN: How has your experience as a business owner helped in terms of launching a secondary business?
ALLEGRA: It made it much easier. First, I had all my branding set up so I didn’t have to worry about a new logo and font, everything was already in place with that. I also have a very strong team of people helping me with this business.
With my photography business, I am the photographer, so I’m always the one doing it. But with this new business, it was about building a brand where I’m not doing everything. So, I have teammates doing content writing for me and handling my social media. That’s something that’s a little bit newer for me. But the systems are already in place with my photography business, so it was kind of a seamless transition.
However, the ecommerce aspect is new for me. Previously, I was a service-based company. The challenge has been figuring out what the best shipping methods for products.
I’ve been learning along the way. I had a little time when the world was shut down because of the pandemic. That’s part of what empowered me to take this on. Having a lull in my photography business gave me the gift of time to research things and get this new company up and running.