Carter's Entrepreneurial Spirit Leads to Success, and Google Grant
Mar 15, 2021
by Sydney Gorak, '21
Becoming an entrepreneur was never something Flagler College alumna Lundyn Carter, ‘06, considered, especially because she didn’t see people who looked like her starting their own companies. However, those previous assumptions changed after she graduated college and her wedding ceremony inspired her to start her own business, Laine London, a first-of-its-kind bridal gown rental shop in Atlanta, Ga., providing a chic, high-end experience at sensible prices.
Carter graduated from Flagler with a double major in Political Science and Communications. But her career mindset pivoted later when she took a class on entrepreneurship in business school at Emory University that taught her ways she could disrupt an industry that had seen little to no change. Her professor strengthened her confidence to become an entrepreneur by believing and reassuring her to follow her dreams regardless of pre-existing stereotypes of what a typical entrepreneur “looked” like.
Now that business she launched has been rewarded through the support of Google for Startups’ Black Founders Fund, giving Laine London access to an abundance of resources and connections that have been highly beneficial for the company. The fund from the tech and Internet company recog- nizes “amazing Black startup founders that are building great companies, yet are locked out of access to the funding that is critical to their success.”
“Women are less likely to start their own business,” Carter said. “I am beyond grateful for the capital contribution Google has provided us, but any organization can give you money. For me, it’s the resources and connections that come with being a part of Google for Startups.”
Google believes that funding Black founders fuels generational change. Racial equity is inextricably linked to economic opportunity, and they are uniquely positioned to provide capital and support to help founders grow their businesses. In turn, this creates greater impact for their communities.
The idea for Laine London started when Carter got married in 2014 and wore her great grandmother’s dress with alterations, which ended up being costly. She did it to please her family, but was flabbergasted at how expensive customizing or purchasing a wedding dress could be, especially a dress that is only worn once.
She began to look online for alternative solutions to buying a pricey wedding dress, only to find there were none. There were several direct-to-consumer online bridal boutiques, but the dresses were either too expensive, out-of-fashion or couldn’t be tried before buying. After reading online reviews from other frustrated brides, she realized that the in-person customer experience was missing.
In 2018, the market and the change in the economy influenced Carter and her close friend, Tiffany Gaines, to launch the brick-and-mortar wedding dress rental boutique. It heavily relies on building relationships and guaranteeing a memorable experience for brides of all shapes and sizes.
“Our business is about the experience; we want you to feel beautiful without the hefty price tag. Men do it (by renting a tux) so why shouldn’t women?” she said.The goal of the business is to have a high-end experience at sensible prices, and have the bride feeling beautiful and excited for her big day. Celebrities rent dresses from designers to wear once on the red carpet and there has always been the option for men to rent a tuxedo.
"Flat is the new up. In 2020, I made the conscious decision to put our revenue goals aside and focus on helping brides get through these difficult economic times, even if that meant cutting into our margins,” Carter said. “Weddings look completely different than they did pre-pandemic, and our business is stronger than ever.”
So far, Laine London has attracted brides from all over the south-east, Texas and New York. Georgia is a destination spot for weddings, which has played a role in stimulating business for the company.
“Being an entrepreneur is not easy, but I would never go back in a million years,” Carter said. “I love what I do, and I think I’m really good at it. This is exactly where I should be.”
Carter said the lesson for her has been to have the courage to follow your heart and intuition no matter what the circumstances.
“There are things you need to learn and understand through real world experiences even if you have the most brilliant idea,” she said. “Working for someone else made me appreciate where I am now. Being able to successfully lead and communicate with others comes with time, preparation and patience.”Tagged As