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ALICIA AUSTIN

December 7, 2011 12:10 am

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FAMILY: My remarkably handsome fiance, Jake, and Loki-dog, our Husky mix.

EDUCATION: Rockbridge County High School in Lexington, and a few years at Mary Washington.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? In middle school I wanted to be a lawyer, and then I went through my doctor phase. More recently, after I got my bill from the dentist, I thought that would be a good choice. But realistically, I think I just want to own Madeline Ruth.

FIRST JOB: Selling admission tickets at the Natural Bridge gift shop.

WORST JOB: My summers home from school working at the local carpet factory. The job was very repetitive and monotonous, but the simplest mistake could be very costly to the company.

HOW DID YOU END UP OWNING MADELINE RUTH? Almost accidentally. I was jogging downtown after moving back to Fredericksburg in 2009 and saw this building for rent. I was curious to see how much the rent was in the downtown area so I called the number, and the next thing I knew I was signing a lease. Having a background in retail and some experience in consignment, I thought it would be a fun shop to open and a nice addition to downtown Fredericksburg.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU'RE WRESTLING WITH NOW? Every day there is a challenge when you own a small business. Specifically though, I would like to grow the business enough so that I could hire new employees.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR JOB? Nothing. I love my job.

WHO WAS YOUR HERO AS A CHILD, AND WHO IS TODAY? All the Austin men, my dad my grandfather and my uncle and they still are.

WHO WAS YOUR MENTOR? WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE HE OR SHE EVER GAVE YOU? My dad. He taught me to be a good person, to make good decisions, and always do the best I can.

WHAT ARE THE BEST LOCAL RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES SEEKING ASSISTANCE IN GETTING STARTED OR EXPANDING? The University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center has great resources to help small business owners.

WHAT BUSINESS BOOK DO YOU MOST RECOMMEND? WHY? I've never read a business book and probably never will.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE THINKING ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS RIGHT NOW? Go for it! Be smart about what you want to do, and be fearless!

HAVE YOU EVER WORKED WITH A NOTABLE PERSON OR CELEBRITY? IF SO, WHO? I once danced with a member of the Wu-Tang Clan but not at work.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO BE DOING WHEN NOT WORKING? Working on 10 different do-it-yourself projects simultaneously.

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? Sitting here at my desk at Madeline Ruth. Maybe filming our Bravo Channel hit fashion-hunters show titled "Madeline Ruth."

WHO WOULD YOU RATHER SPEND A COUPLE OF HOURS WITH: WARREN BUFFETT, DORIS BUFFETT OR JIMMY BUFFETT? WHY? Spending time with Warren or Doris would definitely be an enlightening experience, but I'll have to go with Jimmy. There's no doubt that he knows how to have a good time.

540/656-2865

madelineruth.com

--As told to Craig Schulin




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