In the spirit of Small Business Saturday, we’re spotlighting three women entrepreneurs who define ambition and are building their businesses from the ground up. First up is Alex Zagami Ng, owner of children’s boutique Piccolini, which is located in lower Manhattan, a few blocks from where her grandfather grew up on Elizabeth Street (coincidentally, also the street where Tory opened her first boutique). Known for her quirky takes on the “I love New York” t-shirt, Zagami Ng talks shop with the Tory Burch Foundation here — and tells us about her latest role: being a new mom.

The best moment I’ve experienced with my company so far…

Being able to see the store through my son’s eyes. Sitting in his nursery and seeing all the fun toys that I’ve picked out — I feel like I’m getting to enjoy the fruits of my labor and seeing everything that I’ve built. Becoming a mom after six-plus years of the store, it’s a lot of fun; it’s that much sweeter.

Most exciting part about owning your own business…

Watching it grow! And seeing other people get excited about it.

And the most challenging…

Production — it’s a good problem and a bad problem that we always sell out. Also, hiring more staff. As a boss, I don’t like giving orders, so I need team members who take initiative.

What my neighborhood means to me…

The reason I chose the Chinatown/Little Italy — or “Little Chitaly” — area is because I have roots in the neighborhood. My grandfather grew up on Elizabeth Street, about a 10-minute walk from my store, and he owned a bakery nearby. And going back to my husband and myself, my husband is Chinese-American and I am Italian-American. And this block that we’re on, it’s where Chinatown and Little Italy meet — and that’s our family.

How being a mom has influenced my business…

I try not to make things gender specific. People say that that’s a problem for girls, but it’s just as much a problem for boys, too. You don’t want dinosaurs and trucks on everything.

Mom hacks for momtrepreneurs…

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be too hard on yourself. And take a break. I had signs that I’d put on the door of the store that would say, “Ok, be right back, we’re pumping,” and people would be like, “What?.” You have to do it! You’re going to spread yourself thin if you don’t. 

One thing I know now that I wish I knew starting out…

There are definitely no shortcuts. Things take time, especially production. I also wish I knew how hard it is — you need to wear every hat.

The mantra I live by…

Being a New Yorker, it’s “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.” It’s true — it takes a lot to make it here. 

The Tory Burch Foundation has…

Opened so many doors for me and given me access to resources I never could have dreamed of. It has helped me put all the pieces together to help me grow not only as a business but as a brand.

Ways that I embrace ambition…

By having thick skin and really, really, really loving what I do. Embracing ambition means getting back up again and knowing that you’re going to fail 100 times before you succeed.

Best business advice received…

Get your product into the right hands. 

My best advice for would-be entrepreneurs…

Get out there and believe in yourself.

An entrepreneur on the rise whom I admire…

My sister! I’m so proud of her. Her company, Made in Heaven Cakes, was originally founded by my mom. My mom was self-taught and my sister went to the Culinary Institute of America and started making this flowerpot cake. It was a huge success and eventually became one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.

As an entrepreneur, you should never be afraid of…

Taking risks. If you don’t take risks you’re not going to get anywhere.

Women entrepreneurs are…

Badass. Women entrepreneurs are a special breed. It takes a lot of guts to follow your dream. 

My ambition is…

To build an empire. I also want more space – I’m a New Yorker!

 

The Small Business Saturday features were produced in collaboration with Tory Daily.