Self-made entrepreneur Tiffany Young has the perfect solution for your daughter’s wildest party dreams. Seven years ago, Young opened The Pink Hotel, a 10,000-square-foot party hotel featuring a cupcake cafe, six hotel suites, salon and spa, arcade, dance club, library, fitness center, ballroom, movie theater, craft room, test kitchen, event hall and more. The one-stop shop has become a top, premiere venue space in Atlanta. Rolling out spoke with Young recently about her future plans for business expansion, life after corporate America and the harsh reality of being an entrepreneur.
What ignited the spark in you to start The Pink Hotel business venture?
I love kids! My favorite color is pink, of course. I wanted to think of something that every kid would want to do for their birthday. Some girls want their nails done, some want to go to the movies, some want an overnight sleepover or play dress-up. I tried to put all of that in one place and that’s how I came up with The Pink Hotel.
How did the idea for your business come about?
When I first started my business seven years ago, I didn’t have enough money to lease a space for my business and pay rent for my home. I needed to live in my shop for a little bit until I built up the business where I could afford both. I was embarrassed that I was living in my store, but look where I am now. My path was destined.
How did your family react to you quitting your corporate job? Were you discouraged?
Oh yes! I never got discouraged because I was the first in my family to graduate from college. When anyone needs help they come to me and I’m always happy to help, but I felt alone because I wondered who could have my back. I was a pharmaceutical rep and I was selling millions of dollars worth of Ambien. I was winning all of these awards and I would cash out the trips to save for the business. When I finally got my total to start my business; I put in my notice to quit my job. My family looked at me like I was nuts. Since nobody was investing in me but myself I wasn’t really listening to what they had to say. It took two years for me to get it off the ground.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
You have to know how to get the money together. A dream without money is just a hobby. Once you have money behind it, then it becomes a business. You have to be a hustler. It’s called being a lender and not a borrower. I saved up $18,000.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
I didn’t have a marketing budget, but I did have a masters degree in marketing. I did a lot of guerilla marketing. I found a location in a plaza. I needed a location that would already make me money and bring me, people. I went to every single store around my business and gave them free coupons, free candy, and free cupcakes.
How did you build a successful customer base?
Every party that I host has ten girls, which means ten parents. I do eight parties every weekend. I would have 320 eyes on my place every Saturday. I would have the parents refer their friends to me and I would send out email blasts. I would have a discount for referrals. I had one lady who referred seven people and her party was free. I guarantee an excellent party every time because I am there. There is not one bad review about my business that I have had for seven years.
If you had the chance to start your business over again, what would you do differently? Yes, I would. I wouldn’t have a boyfriend. They are a distraction. I would be so much further along. That’s why I do women’s seminars because we have a way of letting men stunt our growth. Once you get a taste of what you can do without one it will help you make a better decision when you do get one.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
I got married and he didn’t see the vision. He was still in shopping mode and business means saving. That didn’t work well and we’re divorced now. I wanted my family and marriage that much that I would have sacrificed it all, but not anymore. The next guy better come correct! [laughs] It is difficult if everyone is not on the same page. Business is a family effort!
To what do you attribute your success?
What got me here today is having nothing when I grew up. It built a hunger in me. Nothing was ever given. I worked for everything. I have been working since I was 14-years-old because my mom couldn’t buy the sneakers, the violin, the clothes, or pay for cheerleading. I had to do it. I attribute my upbringing. I grew up in the projects and moved from shelter to shelter. Growing up with nothing was the biggest blessing of my career.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
There are so many things. If I could narrow it down to one thing it would be my staff who were with me since I started. They saw me move out of my shop after sleeping there for two years. They watched me for two years pinching pennies and helped me move into my own home.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
I like to create jobs. College teaches you how to get a job, but entrepreneurship creates jobs. When you get to a certain point in your life and you have everything you need, you’re not fulfilled because you can only do so much for yourself.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
I had to give up the luxury items. I don’t have fake nails or fake hair. I don’t go out to eat. I don’t have expensive clothes. I made my clothes. I made tutus and aprons because this is my uniform.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 5-7 years?
I am starting something new for the boys, The Man Cave. It’s right next door to my current business. For the next four years, I want to get The Pink Hotel to make at least a million dollars a year. Once I get it there, I want someone else who is passionate and ambitious to take it from here. I don’t want to be rich on my own; I want to pass the torch.