Sisters (and now business partners) Sara-Anne and Hannah Waggoner attribute their artistic prowess and creativity to their private school days when they added colorful socks, headbands, and jewelry to spice up their otherwise nondescript school uniforms. Post-graduation, Sara-Anne and Hannah fully embraced their vibrant fashion senses, rocking a rainbow of colors and numerous accoutrements. Flash forward eight years and the sisters have channeled their creativity and passion for accessorizing into a full-blown business, The August Sisters, which is now housed in the INCubator.
The Golden Business Idea at the End of the Rainbow (Earring)
Inspired by a ceramics class she took at Chattanooga State Community College, Sara-Anne came to Hannah with the idea of starting a business making and selling handmade accessories. Soon after, a brand was born, and the pair launched The August Sisters – a nod to their shared birth month. Just two years later, the company already has a signature line of rainbow earrings, several home decor pieces and a rotating collection of seasonal earrings, along with portrait and product photography services.
Born and raised in Ringgold, GA – 30 minutes from Downtown Chattanooga – Sara-Anne and Hannah found that proximity to family is just one of many advantages of starting a business in the Scenic City. The region’s close-knit community is home to a wide network of entrepreneurs and loyal customers – and of course, the INCubator, which the sisters learned of through a business course with local non-profit CO.STARTERS. During the course, Hannah and Sara-Anne met with previous and current INCubator clients who all gave glowing reviews, and who were themselves testaments to the program’s success. The August Sisters moved in during the summer of 2020 and have jumped headfirst into the INCubator’s vast pool of resources: from book-keeping and Facebook marketing classes, to networking with their neighbors – Sara-Anne’s photography skills are already a hot commodity among the other residents.
Word on the Street: Always Keep Learning
In the face of COVID-19, the sisters have scaled back on pop-ups and are ramping up e-commerce, but they’re also taking some time to refresh and plan their next move. Hannah is enrolled in a metal course to break into a new area of jewelry making; and Sara-Anne is exploring a potential clothing line. So, look out for their signature whimsical designs in a whole new light.
To those thinking about starting a business, the sisters encourage potential entrepreneurs to dive in knowing that you can start small, work with someone you trust, and define your respective roles early on. And if you’re in the fashion business, they recommend keeping an eye on the street style in your town – you never know when your own product might make an appearance!
Think INC is a series of success stories from INCubator companies past and present. Chattanooga’s INCubator — the largest business incubator in the state of Tennessee and the third-largest in the United States, with 127,000 square feet of space for entrepreneurs — is located in the Hamilton County Business Development Center (BDC) in Downtown Chattanooga, TN.