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Welcome to our column, Reset. Written by Karen Taylor Bass, this column, published each Tuesday, is about life lessons learned and mastered mentally, spiritually, and physically and how they contribute to a successful life and career. 

It’s been said that every disappointment is truly an opportunity to RESET.

Alana N. Gardner’s childhood dream was to become a judge, impact the legal system, and preside over cases based upon facts and not stereotypes. She quickly learned that being idealistic about the legal field would cause heartache and dim one’s passion for justice. It took getting laid-off from her job where she was miserable, stressed and unhappy to rekindle her childhood passion for fashion, poetry, self-love and birth, J. Aubrey Designs.

J. Aubrey Designs is a graphic T-shirt company that provides positive self-images for both men and women. The t-shirts cater to individuals ranging from the afro-centric to the urban sophisticate. The mantra — “Because fashion should always speak for itself… And now it does” — goes to the heart of the company.

I recently spoke to Alana N. Gardner about how she turned her unhappiness around and launched a company inspired by positivity.

MadameNoire: Tell me about your journey to create J. Aubrey Designs?

Alana Gardner: I always wanted to be an attorney. However was unhappy with the business part of practicing law and wanted more. The minute I decided to get back to the basics of creating t-shirts with a message, it was my way of putting positive energy in the universe and impacting one’s self image – my own. I focus on natural hair because I find that (hair) is misunderstood even with its popularity now.

MN: What is different about J. Aubrey Designs as a graphic shirt line?

AG: We make strong t-shirts for strong individuals and our shirts are wearable pieces of art. My t-shirts are an incorporation of artistic images and unique word play.

MN: What was the start-up cost to launch the business?

AG: $1,500 to launch the line which includes registration, filing fees for NJ, trademark, creation of LLC, research, hiring graphic artists, and printing initial run of t-shirts.

MN: What drives and motivates you for the t-shirts?

AG:  Me. The t-shirts represent me and my evolution as a naturalista. Everyone says that being natural is a movement. It’s bigger than that. My shirts don’t have personal features, which is intentional because I want the consumer to see who/what they want from graphic t-shirt. Inspiration comes from conversation.

MN: How does having a law degree help you run the business?

AG:  Protecting myself, negotiating sales with stores, and creating a company as a limited liability.

Living your passion is a lot of work and entrepreneurship is not easy. I’m not the most social person, however I’ve learned to speak out, be my own advocate and surround myself with smart outgoing people.

MN: How did you press RESET?

AG: Go with what moves you.  We spend so much time being unhappy and following status quo, and the moment I got laid off I was forced step outside of the box and tap into my passion. It all clicked.

Alana’s RESET: Opening her mouth and championing for herself when she’s unhappy is how she lives now. Today, she is happily employed as a Senior Court Attorney for the New York State Unfied Court System and CEO of J. Aubrey Designs.

Let me know how you have pressed RESET and join the Reset challenge! Click through to learn more and participate!

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