We had the good fortune of connecting with Jala Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jala, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The idea for my business was definitely an idea that I pondered upon for years. I knew that one day I would be my own boss, I just didn’t know what I would be the boss of. When I was younger, I knew fashion was part of me because I stayed in my mom’s closet like it was the store, literally. As I began to get older and went off to college, I struggled a lot with discovering my true purpose, thinking that school wasn’t really for me because I struggled in business school. I went to school for business marketing , thinking maybe I’ll luckily land a job at a huge marketing firm or something after graduation (which was ideal), but things didn’t happen that way. I’ve always wanted to have my own business. I just didn’t know what it would be, what it would be called, how I was going to start, how I was going to afford it, etc. There was a moment in time where I felt like everything I did, I was either delayed or denied. It discouraged me so much to the point where I literally asked God to just direct me because I felt like I was in such a cloudy place, not seeing a destination in sight. Nothing was going according to my plans, but somehow everything started to work out in my favor. After graduating college, I didn’t start working full-time until 2 months later. Let me just say..working a 9-5 has changed my perspective not only on life, but have increased my desire to put more time into what I really love so that I could eventually do it full-time. This is just my opinion but working a job 5 days, 40 hours a week that I didn’t enjoy, just didn’t sit right with me. I always felt that if I wad going to be putting this much time into someone else, I would much rather be doing something I enjoy.. all while still being able to make a living from it. For the longest, I’ve always been scared to take risks, or do anything that was out of my comfort zone. I knew that I possessed many gifts that I didn’t use that I held back from the world, and to me, I felt like it was an insult to God. Why? because why would I not utilize the gifts that he have instilled in me because of fear? I’ve always desired a life of freedom. That’s the free-spirit in me. I realized that sometimes you have to go through storms to really discover the beauty in the end…the rainbow. I’ve grown so much mentally in the past 2 years. So one day I decided I was going to just go for it. I made a promise to myself that I would walk more into my purpose and put my fear away. A risk. I decided that I wanted to start an online boutique, but with a true purpose behind it. It all started out with the idea of earth tones, inspiration from nature, creating a mood board of my ideal brand, then to just doodling name ideas in a random notebook. I wanted to create a brand that women could feel confident and free in, all while having a brand message that everyone could relate to, be inspired by, yet still told a my brand story. Then, five business name ideas later… Chosen Roots came to mind. When I think of chosen roots, I think of a plant that started off as just a seed (me)…but overtime, as that plant gets watered, it eventually grows into something beautiful, but it required a process. As a human, I feel like in life, we get so stuck on the seed that we really can’t appreciate the process because we’re trying to rush to the final form. Now that I am older and a little but wiser, I believe that the most beautiful things are produced in the darkness. Chosen Roots was created to inspire young women from all walks of life that it’s not about where you start.. it’s about how you finish. It’s about inspiring women to be their authentic selves, and to push them to fully walk into their true purpose. Being chosen means being created for a specific purpose and having an assigned mission attached to you that is meant to spark change, instill hope, and break barriers. I believe everyone has a specific purpose within them. Sometimes we go through, so we can get to, but we would never know if we do not take the necessary steps to get there, which is why we should never stop learning or growing because there is so much to see, learn and become.This is the thought process of how Chosen Roots came about and I am so happy to finally share it with the world. Chosen Roots was created for the free-spirits, adventurous souls and for the women who choose to never stop watering their roots.
What should our readers know about your business?
So far, I’ve learned that building a business takes time. One thing that sets me apart from others is that I am truly intentional when it comes to every move I make with my business. I try to move with purpose and Chosen Roots, I want to make sure I am creating a brand that my customers can connect to, be confident in, and be proud to share. I am excited to see where my small business goes. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs and working at many different places, I have learned and experienced many aspects of what comes with owning and operating your own businesses. I have invested a lot of time teaching myself through e-courses, youtube videos, books, etc, and to be honest, the learning will probably never stop. There is always more to learn. I made a decision one day that I was just going to go for it, and each day, I tried to do something that would put me one step closer to making it happen. I just didn’t want to rush it. I wanted to take my time. This brand was very personal to me. I saved up money from my primary job and invested it into my brand. I stayed up to 2 a.m. some nights brainstorming, learning and working on my business plan. I want people to know that if you ever have a passion for something, go for it. Go hard. Sometimes you may have to sacrifice some things. Sometimes you may be tired. Sometimes you are going to want to give up, but I truly believe that if it is truly your gift, everything will flow and work out for you in the end.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve always been a southern girl. I’ve been a native of Tuscaloosa, AL since I was born. Being a resident of title town (or should I say the city of champions?) can be exciting at times, especially around football season. If my best friend was visiting the city, I would definitely recommend them visit during one of of our football game weekends when we have the Iron bowl, play LSU, homecoming, or even A-day weekend. Let’s start out with a game day or just a typical day in the city. We would wake up, put on something cute (because why not?) and head to a really chill brunch spot with a good food, drinks, and of course a good vibe. In between time, my favorite thing to do is to shop, chill at the lake, or even find a really nice social spot to have some good cocktails. When it comes to shopping, there are a few cute boutiques and stores that I love. Azwell Boutique, Francesca’s, and Fabrik are some really cute boutiques to find stylish clothing and accessories. Sometimes, I will even make that 45 minute drive to Hoover to go to the Riverchase Galleria to shop, which is a large 2-story mall offering a wide range of stores from clothing, candles, shoes, accessories, and more. Outside of shopping, when I just need a space to relax and unwind, I will go to Riverwalk, which is an outdoor walking trail and park located along the Black Warrior River. I would not be a good friend if I didn’t let my best friend experience the atmosphere of an actual football game. The energy inside Bryant Denny Stadium is absolutely insane and I feel that everyone should experience an Alabama game at least once in their life. After a game, we would definitely head to the strip, which is basically a long street full of bars, restaurants, boutiques. The strip is where everyone goes to celebrate, dance, drink, and have fun with their friends. Buffalo Phil’s is a popular restaurant on the strip that have good wings, burgers, and did I mention the buffalo chicken dip?! Some of my favorite bars on the strip include Beartrap, a 2-story bar with a rooftop bar, Rounders, and Innisfree, an Irish pub with good food, drinks and music. It is located just a few blocks down the road if you don’t mind taking that walk or short drive. Tuscaloosa isn’t big, but if you go to the right places at the right time, you’ll definitely have a good time, so I’ll make sure I take my best friend to all the right places.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to shoutout my parents for always pushing me beyond my limits, educating me throughout the years, and encouraging me when I felt like giving up. They play a huge part in my success and I can’t them enough. To my brother, thank you for sticking and working with me behind the scenes to make sure my vision came to life and believing in your sister. To my boyfriend, thank you for staying by my side during all the late nights when I stayed up planning and working on my brand, and pushing me to be better. Your support means everything to me. To all my friends and family that have played a part in my success at any point of my life, thank you. I definitely could not have done it alone. I can’t wait to be able to give back to those that I love and that have poured into me from the beginning.
Facebook: Chosen Roots Boutique
Photography: @tcarterphotos Hair: Michella Carter Makeup: Jhaelyn Howard