female entrepreneurs

Q&A with Female CoFounder Karlyn Tupper of Tenacity Jeans

Photo Credit:  Skerpon Photography

Photo Credit: Skerpon Photography

Karlyn is one of the co-founders of sister-owned company, Tenacity. Tenacity is a USA-made denim jeans line specifically designed for active women. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Connecticut where she also played lacrosse. When she’s not working on the business, you can usually find her coaching or refereeing on the lacrosse field, spending quality time with family & friends, or at the dog park with her pup!

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and graduated from West Genesee High School. In 2010, I headed off to UConn and took the opportunity to play alongside my sister (again!) on the Women’s Lacrosse team. After graduation, I returned to Syracuse where I worked in digital marketing for about 4 years. I left the corporate world this past March and decided to go all in with Tenacity. Being able to commit full-time to the company has allowed us to make this idea a reality and provide a quality product in the marketplace.

What inspired you to start your business?

My sisters and I were walking off of the lacrosse field and were talking with our teammates about how discouraging it was to find jeans that fit our active build. We always had to buy a size up to fit our muscular butts and thighs, only to be left with a gaping waist. Quickly we realized we weren’t the only ones that struggled to find a pair of jeans that complimented our shape and provided a confident fit. Since we couldn’t find them, we decided to design them!

Where is your business based?

Tenacity originated in Syracuse, NY, but is operating out of the greater New York City area.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

Research, research, research. Once we established the concept, we started asking teammates, active women, and coaches if they found it difficult to find jeans that fit. When the majority of the women said they have the same issue, we knew we had found our niche market. We performed extensive competitor research only to find there were very few brands that provided an athletic fit and confidence-boosting jean for active women. From there, we began contacting U.S. based denim manufacturers, designers, fabric suppliers, etc., and had our first prototype made.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Social media influencers and word-of-mouth! Selecting influencers to try a pair of Tenacity jeans not only provides a pair of jeans that are designed specifically with their body type in mind, but it naturally increases brand awareness as well. Secondly, do not underestimate the power of networking! Connect with other people, brands, and organizations with similar values and find a way to collaborate to help one another achieve success.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Facing the unknown everyday! Destiny is truly in your hands when you are living the entrepreneurial life. It can be very challenging to define your tasks and channel your focus. I embrace the hustle, the opportunity to learn from others, and connect daily. Stay disciplined and passionate; everyday is a new chance to learn, grow, and share your message.

How do you stay focused?

I stay on a routine! Starting off my day with a solid workout helps me channel my energy and focus. I'm a huge advocate for to-do lists and mini breaks throughout the day; both of these help me to stay disciplined while still maintaining a healthy balance in my day.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

Our team. Aside from our specifically engineered design, our team is how I differentiate Tenacity from the rest of the market. My sisters and I played sports and stayed active throughout our entire lives. Our hustle has shifted from the field to the business and I anticipate that level of intensity maximizing Tenacity’s potential.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Social media marketing and events. Keeping followers engaged on Instagram and other social channels with new content, blog posts, and product offerings is a key driver for our traffic. Jeans shopping is rarely easy, so we've focused on hosting or joining events to get Tenacity jeans in the hands of consumers to touch, try, and feel. We've really enjoyed teaming up with local brands for joint pop-up shops!

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Don't lose sight--Don't lose sight of your mission, don't lose sight of your goals, don't lose sight of your passion, and don't lose sight of your strengths. Being a new entrepreneur is challenging and everyday brings something new, so stay focused, believe in yourself, and embrace the journey.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

My favorite app is Instagram. I'm able to stay connected with friends, family, and other brands. Insta always gets my creative juices flowing and inspires me with new ideas almost daily!

My favorite blog is Camille Styles! Camille and her team have a ton of creative content with a wide variety of inspiring topics and ideas. Light and enjoyable reading, check it out!

My favorite book right now is Present Over Perfect. Not sure about the rest of you, but I certainly need a reminder from time to time to be more in the moment, focus less on perfection, and more on embracing the imperfections.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

My favorite business resource is other entrepreneurs. Books, articles, conferences, etc., are all extremely helpful, but to learn from someone who has experienced or is experiencing the start-up journey has been worth its weight in gold. Real conversations full of authentic insight and genuine thoughts is rejuvenating.

Who is your business role model? Why?

My father. He is a small business owner with several successful products that bring solutions to a niche market. He's intelligent, business savvy, and has always been present for our family while simultaneously running a successful business; his rewarding work-life balance truly inspires me.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

In the next six months we plan on diversifying our Tenacity line with various colors and styles! I am moving to the greater New York City area to expand our market reach and will be bouncing around there at events and other marketing opportunities!

How can our readers connect with you?

If you’re looking to learn more you can check out our site www.tenacityjeans.com, email me with questions or comments at info@tenacityjeans.com , and/or follow us on social @tenacityjeans & @ktupps27 .

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Q&A with Female Entrepreneur, Smita Daya

Soham Photography

Soham Photography

Can you tell our readers about your background?

My name is Smita Daya. I was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. I left Zambia at the age of 12 to attend boarding school in England and then moved to the United States in 1980. After having worked in corporate for over 25 years, I decided it was time to follow my true passion for healthy eating. For the past 29 years, our journey has taken us to various countries where we became enthralled in the world of oils and spices. Living and traveling abroad has allowed us to explore the finest in savory spices, gourmet oils, and seasonings from home, charming ourselves and our two daughters along the way. Now a family tradition, every home-cooked meal incorporates different oils and spices, enticing our taste buds with exciting new flavors.

What inspired you to start your business?

Life is full of wonders, and we are fortunate to have lived next to an amazing Italian family (the Calamai family) for 16 years. Our lives changed when we were introduced to freshly pressed olive oils, straight from the Cantina. We grew to love fresh oils and continue to further expand our palate with gourmet olive oils, vinegars, and spices. We had the privilege to visit the Calamai family several times in Romola (near Florence), Italy and were fortunate to visit the Cantina, where the olives are first pressed. That did it, we were in love! Olea Oliva! ("The Olive Tree") is a family-owned and operated business, and we want to share this tradition with you.

Where is your business based?

Our business is based in East Cobb, Marietta Georgia. We are also an e-commerce business that ships in all 50 States.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

At the beginning of 2015, I was searching to find the right business to start that would allow me work to take care of my family. My husband, Dilip and I travelled to various countries over a period of several months to do some research on spices and olive oils. It became clear to us while travelling that we wanted to create a business where our customers know that when they buy an Extra Virgin Olive Oil from us, they are getting exactly that – the highest quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, made with attention, care and love from preferred handpicked olive groves. With a family-oriented community, and an appreciation for health and good taste, it seemed to be a perfect setting for a gourmet super spices, olive oil & vinegar taproom.

So, both Dilip and I decided to get certified in our areas of expertise. Dilip, is a certified Olive Oil Sommelier from University of California-Davis at Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Sciences, together with over 10 years of experience from Florence, Italy with the Calamai family. In addition, he is also an Industrial Chemist. I hold a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from The T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and eCornell.

It was very important for us to get certified. In a world where fast food and convenient foods devoid of nutrients have become the norm, we feel that offering people simple and quick cooking tools and techniques is more important than ever. Our passion is sharing our spices, oils and balsamic vinegars with you and getting people excited about cooking. With two daughters and a business to run we know how hard it is to plan freshly cooked, flavorful healthy meals every day. For us, these spices, oils and balsamic vinegars have changed the way we eat! Our products make creating flavorful and healthy family meals easy and fun.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

The most effective way of raising awareness for my business is word of mouth branding. I love to partner with the community and local business owners and help empower individuals to make sound healthy choices. We offer healthy cooking workshops in the store and private venues. I have been blessed to share my passion for healthy cooking at the local senior centers, fitness centers, YMCA’s and Churches. Community development and partnering with local businesses is very important for Olea Oliva! Social Media is another effective way I have been raising awareness for my business.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

One of our biggest challenges is trying to educate the mass consumer on authentic Extra-Virgin Olive Oils, barrel-aged Italian Balsamic Vinegars and Super Spices. Since we opened our doors we’ve received so much amazing support from the Marietta and Atlanta community and local community business partners. These are our champions, our friends and the people who share our mission to spread the word about cooking real food with quality ingredients and amazing flavor combinations. We love the growing community of regular patrons - and the opportunity to serve them. We think of Olea Oliva! as a little store with BIG heart. Getting to know and understand our customers has been a rewarding experience.

How do you stay focused?

It is not always easy to balance work/life. You really have to be disciplined in so many ways. My boarding school days in England taught me a lot and having some structure in my life has helped me to balance both. I am an early riser and start my day with “me-time” and work out for an hour. This sets the tone for the rest of the day. My family is and will be the most important thing. I always plan ahead and prioritize what is important and take the time to understand what needs to get done first. Planning ahead is the key to managing the work/like balance.

Work and career are there to help us grow and enable our family to do special things together but as the old saying goes, a good work-life balance is one in which you work to live, not live to work. I have been so blessed to have such wonderful support from my family, friends and our local community! 

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I differentiate myself from others by offering healthy cooking workshops on how to use super spices with Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Balsamics by boosting flavors while maintaining high nutrition in a dish. My customers want to learn more on how to “Eat better, not less”. They want to be able to go home and provide their family with the healthier options. This is very gratifying to see!

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Hands down, it has been word of mouth and reaching out to my local community partners! I also send out my monthly workshop schedules to my database email list. We love to work with local markets and do pop-ups.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Believe in yourself! Work hard. Know what you are capable of and have faith in your capabilities! Do what you do best!

What’s your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

The internet as this allows me to work from any location.

What’s your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

We use Shopify because of the business tools, resources and processes it provides. This platform also provides us with information about marketing campaigns and promotions. We also use Shopify for our day to day analytics and shipping.

Who is your business role model? Why?

My father, who taught me how to run a business at a very young age of 18. Always giving me strength and courage to fulfill my goals and face my fears. Love you, Dad, for always challenging me to do my best!

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Growth, author another cook book, and start to teach at culinary schools!

How can our readers connect with you?

Olea Oliva!
The Avenue East Cobb
4475 Roswell Road, Suite 1000
Marietta, GA 30062

Website: www.oleaoliva.com

Phone: Tel: (770) 321-0099

Email: info@oleaoliva.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oleaolivaUSA/

Q&A with Female Entrepreneur Ayesha Barenblat

Ayesha Barenblat

Ayesha (@abarenblat) is a social entrepreneur with a passion for building sustainable supply chains. Remake is the world’s first platform that leverages technology and visual storytelling to build human connections between shoppers, brands and makers around the world. Remake unlocks the hearts and minds of shoppers to advocate for a better life for the people who make our clothes.

Ayesha is passionate about where things come from, who made them, and what their lives are like. She has spent the last decade working with brands, governments, and nonprofits to improve the lives of makers in global supply chains.

She led brand engagement at Better Work, a World Bank and United Nations partnership to ensure safe and decent working conditions around the world. She was head of consumer products at BSR, providing strategic advice to brands including H&M, Levi Strauss & Co., Marks and Spencer, Nike, The Walt Disney Company and Pou Chen on the design and integration of sustainability into business. She holds a master’s in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.

“Today there is a long unhappy story of how our fashion is made and where it ends up. I want us to reimagine this story. I founded Remake because I truly believe in the good that comes from human connections. The modern shopper wants to know more, and the maker is better off when we use our voice and shopping dollars to advocate for her wellbeing.”

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I have spent over a decade drawing attention to and addressing the well-being of the women who make our clothes. I've provided sustainability advice to retailers ranging from Levi Strauss and Company, Nike, Gap to Target and Walmart and driven dialogue and engagement across unions, brands and local governments to improve working conditions in the fashion industry.

What inspired you to start your business? 

When Rana Plaza fell down it was the biggest industrial disaster of our time and over 1100 makers lost their lives, in our quest for cheap clothes. I realized as the death toll climbed, that in all my years of working on the inside of the fashion industry to improve working conditions, we were not moving fast enough and that there was a seat absent at the table. The seat being all of us as consumers. And that to prevent more tragedies like Rana Plaza we needed a groundswell of consumers saying no more. This was my inspiration for starting Remake. 

Where is your business based?

We are based in San Francisco, California but our movement is global. From Paris, to London, NYC to San Francisco an increasing number of fashionistas are embracing our message of breaking up with fast fashion and buying fewer better things. It's been powerful to see the drumbeat of feminists across the US and Europe wanting to wear their values and for their clothes to support our sisters at the other end of the supply chain. 

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

After Rana Plaza fell down, I had a lot of conversations with my extensive and incredible network of mentors and colleagues, #girlbosses who had been fighting side by side for social justice in the fashion industry. Their advice and faith in me is was empowered me to take the plunge to start my own business. One of the first steps I took was to assemble a really good board and advisory board. My board was instrumental in helping me find pro-bono legal help to set-up my non-profit status, to get going on fundraising and setting our initial strategy. 

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business? 

Live events such as our Wear Your Values event, film screenings, and workshops has been one of the best ways to raise awareness. I realized quickly that social media was a powerful tool to amplify our message but that the real converts and super users come from our live events. 

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? 

Addressing the human rights abuses within the fashion industry is dark and complex whereas shopping is fun. I found that people tune out depressing news during flash sales. It become imperative that our message moved away from naming and shaming and instead comes from a place of hope and inspiration. Our Humans of Fashion series gets people to think about what we wear to be an extension of our values  and this is both powerful and uplifting. Our Meet the Maker series rather than painting the women who make our clothes as victims, instead traces the similarities of her life to ours. She too is a feminist and a #girlboss. 

How do you stay focused?

It's hard! I only check email at the end of my day. I've found that the constant back and forth on email is not optimal especially during the morning which is my best thinking time.

As a team, we use Slack, which is faster and more efficient to getting through to-dos. I revisit our strategy at least monthly to keep focused on our goals of engaging and acquiring more users. 

How do you differentiate your business from the competition? 

Unlike other labor activist groups we come from a place of hope and inspiration. Rather than telling you which brands to boycott, we provide you with beautiful, fashionable slow fashion alternatives. Rather than a focus on the pain-centered narrative of sweatshop victims, we bring you the human stories of the hard working women behind our clothes. Our stories are about her hopes and dreams, her messages to you. Fundamentally our movement is about building empathy and human connection between the women who make and buy fashion. 

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business? 

At every live event, we have super users, Remake Ambassadors, who become engaged and excited to spread the message to their friends and community. Our Ambassadors have been our best and most powerful marketing strategy.

Instagram as a way to put the human face and have the conversation across the fashion supply chain from celebrities, to designers, consumers on the streets to makers in factories, has also been our fastest growing and most engaging platform. 

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs? 

Stay focused and believe in yourself. You will get lots of wanted and unwanted advice, so be sure to filter it. Really listen to your customers and iterate early and constantly. Stay closely connected to your customers needs. 

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

A recent book that I really love is a fiction piece called " A Harvest of Thorns" that reimagines the Tazreen factory fire and what would have happened if the victims had had their day in a US court. Its written by a human rights lawyer and is a great way to understand the complexity of the issues as well as connect in a human way. 

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I am a big fan of Slack because it cuts our email traffic way down, kept us on task and is an easy way to share tools and resources and chat across our globally diverse team. I also really like MailChimp for managing our user lists and newsletters. Its easy to use and the software is intuitive. 

Who is your business role model? Why? 

Daniel Lee, the executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation is my role model and mentor. The foundation focuses on some of the biggest issues of our times: HIV/AIDS, worker rights at home and globally. I adore Daniel because he is both pragmatic and practical, inspiring and a big picture thinker yet solid in the execution of his ideas. As a corporate foundation, he's always pioneered in taking on issues of the most marginalized and stigmatized communities and despite all of his success he remains humble and approachable. 

What do you have planned for the next six months? 

We are back from taking some fashion design students to Sri Lanka to get to know the women behind the label. Over the next few months we will be editing and screening the film up and down the US and having conversations with millennials on how to join our movement. In addition, we will be adding more slow fashion to our platform to make the discovery of ethically made clothes easy. Stay tuned.  

How can our readers connect with you? 

You can follow or write me on twitter @abarenblat and join our movement across social media by following #remakeourworld. 

Q&A with Tangela Walker-Craft

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Tangela Walker-Craft is a wife, homeschooling mother, and blogger.  She’s the founder and President of Simply Necessary, Incorporated in Lakeland, Florida. Tangela is the inventor of the patented GoPillow, which she licensed to Kushies Baby (Canada/USA).

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I’m a graduate of  the University of South Florida with a degree in English (Creative Writing).  I have a background in Technical Writing, Accounts Receivable Collections, TeleMarketing Sales, and Language Arts instruction.  I taught Language Arts for 7 years before deciding to be a work-at-home mother.  I’ve been married to my husband (Ernest Craft, III) for over 25 years.  I homeschool my daughter (Emari). 

What inspired you to start your business?

After my daughter was born, I breastfed her for two years. Due to my own breastfeeding needs, I invented and patented the BEST multipurpose breastfeeding and travel product that a mom or caregiver could ever have – The GoPillow! I had the idea for the GoPillow because my daughter was born with a head full of black, silky hair. Each time I would breastfeed her, the back of her neck along her hairline would perspire and my arm would be damp. I decided that I needed an arm cover of some kind.

The original intent of the pillow was for cradling babies for breast or bottle feedings. I also knew it would be an excellent travel pillow. The idea for adding the privacy blanket came later. It was added after I was caught in a crowded area during a rainstorm at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. My husband took off his shirt and gave it to me to use as a privacy cover so that I could nurse our daughter more discreetly. We realized that a privacy blanket or cover would separate my pillow from any other nursing pillow on the market. The blanket turned the pillow into a multipurpose product.

Where is your business based?

Simply Necessary Incorporated is based in Lakeland, Florida.  (The licensee of my product, Kushies Baby, operates out of Stoney Creek, Ontario, with a location in Niagara Falls, New York.)

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I filed for a patent for my invention. While my patent was pending, I went through prototyping, fabric sampling, packaging selection, etc. and finally got the GoPillow ready for market. I founded Simply Necessary, Incorporated to market and distribute the GoPillow after my patent was approved.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

I used social media to to promote my business.  Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were very effective marketing tools.  However, television news interviews helped me to reach the broadest audience.  I was able to share my company and product in several television news interviews, as well as on a few national talk shows. 

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

The biggest business challenge for me to overcome was being an unknown inventor.  When I introduced my invention to the product market I was completely unknown.  I also had to overcome working on a tight marketing budget.  I used social media, my creative writing skills, and my background in sales to get the attention of different media outlets and the buying public.  Once the GoPillow began to gain some traction, I was able to show Kushies Baby how much people liked the GoPillow.

How do you stay focused?

Everything I do is directly influenced by the fact that I am a wife and mother.  I know every positive accomplishment will make life better for me and my family.  That’s what keeps me focused.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

Simply Necessary, Incorporated was founded to market and distribute my invention.  The GoPillow is wearable and more portable than competing products.  Its uses can be adapted to the age of a baby or child.  It can be used hands-free.  Breastfeeding and bottle feeding moms can use the GoPillow.  The GoPillow’s blanket is retractable, allowing for it to be tucked out of the way when not being used.  The GoPillow is perfect for air travel because its compact and fits on the arm of many airplane seats.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

My marketing strategy is based on treating potential customers and business partners the way I’d want to be treated.  If I’m marketing my product to a customer, I try to include answers to questions that I know I would ask if I was the customer.  When marketing to a business I try to show them why working with me is better than working with a competitor.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

I would advise new entrepreneurs to do their homework.  They should know who their competition is, and know why they’re a better alternative.  A new entrepreneur should always be an expert on their product or service.  It’s essential to have an “elevator pitch”.  That means they should be able to summarize who they are and what they have to offer in two minutes or less, about the time it would take to make a pitch on an elevator ride.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

My favorite app is Twitter.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or a hermit, you have the same opportunity to communicate to a worldwide audience on Twitter.

Other than my own Simply Necessary Inc. blog, I enjoy the Allrecipes (http://allrecipes.com) blog because I like to cook and the Visit Florida (http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html) blog because I love visiting new places in my home state.

My favorite book is the Bible; it’s a manual for my life as a Christian.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I couldn’t function without my iMac computer and Google.  None of what I’ve accomplished in business would have been possible without my computer and Google.  All of my initial business contacts were made through email, Facebook, or Twitter messages.  I prefer being able to utilize multiple windows at the same time on my computer monitor.

Who is your business role model? Why?

Sarah Breedlove was born in 1867.  She became known as Madam C.J. Walker before she died in 1919.  She created specialized hair products for African-American hair and was one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire.  When I decided start my business I told myself if Madam C.J. Walker could accomplish what she did in the perilous times that she lived in, I should be able to do the same.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

I plan to continue to promote the Kushies GoPillow through social media.  I hope to post new videos on YouTube promoting the Kushies GoPillow.  I also want to add new posts to the Travel page of my Simply Necessary Inc blog after visiting as many new places as possible.

How can our readers connect with you - Social Media Handles?

Q&A with Author & Influencer, Whitney Geathers

Whitney Geathers

Whitney MG is an author and influencer from Orlando, FL. Inspired by her daughter and the importance of representation in media and literature, Whitney prides herself on making sure each piece of work she releases gives children and adults confidence in knowing that they are truly magical! 

Can you tell our readers about your background?

My name is Whitney Geathers, I was born and raised in Orlando, FL. I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Elementary Education. I taught 6th grade language arts before moving to Indianapolis in 2015. I have always had a passion for books, especially children’s books.

What inspired you to start your business?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I knew I wanted her to have books that represented her. Books that helped give her confidence in who she is and the things that make her who she is. I started writing my first book Numbers Naturally, I found an illustrator and decided to self-publish it. I didn’t intend for it to be a big deal, but after I released it, and having received so much positive feedback and support, I knew I wanted to continue writing books and create my own brand. Whitney MG

Where is your business based?

My business is based in Indianapolis, Indiana, but I’m often in Florida as well.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I started by business by publishing my first book. I started creating accounts specifically for my business and created business cards. Once my book was released I started promoting myself as Whitney MG and eventually created a website. 

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

I’m still very new and have so much room to grow, but social media has been a great resource for helping to promote my business and reach as many people as possible.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge has been learning the industry and learning what works and what doesn’t as far as the content of my work and marketing. I’ve been able to overcome these challenges by reaching out to other authors, researching, and always asking questions. I even ask friends and family what their concerns and/or challenges are and I try to keep those in mind as I brainstorm ideas.  

How do you stay focused?

It’s difficult sometimes, but I found that having a notebook/planner handy, and designating a small amount of time daily towards my business has helped me stay focused. I also keep my goals in mind as motivation.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

There are many children’s books on the market, but what sets my books apart is that my books typically offer informative content. With my education background I always try to incorporate education into my books while making them fun and diverse.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Instagram has been extremely effective. I’ve been able to reach so many people through hashtags and promotions. 

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

My best advice would be to never give up. It may seem like everyone else is doing the same thing but even if 100 other people have a similar product as you, there is always someone who needs YOUR product and not someone else. So don’t give up. Stay positive. 

What’s your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

My favorite app is Instagram because I love expressing myself and my thoughts through pictures and being able to see all the other creative minds that showcase their talents on Instagram as well. I always feel inspired when I find good profiles. My favorite book at the moment is actually a children’s book called “What Do You Do With an Idea”, because the message is for adults as well. I get ideas every day and some of them I act on, others I don’t but the important thing is to never let a good idea get away. I always keep a notebook close by to write any ideas I have just so I don’t forget them later.

What’s your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

My favorite business tool is email. It may seem super old but I do so much of my communications through email. I get them straight to my phone so it’s easy for me to respond no matter where I am.

Who is your business role model? Why?

My business role model would have to be Alex Elle. She is a writer and encourages readers on a daily basis. I admire her for always staying positive, but also expressing when things get real or difficult, and showing that bad days happen and that’s okay but there are always positives in every situation. 

What do you have planned for the next six months?

I plan to start working on my next book, of course. But I’ll also be supporting my husband’s career as well. 

How can our readers connect with you?

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @bywhitneymg or via email at bywhitneymg@gmail.com also my website, whitneymg.com.

Q&A with Makeup Artist, Angel Johnson

Angel Johnson is founder of Memphis Makeup Artists, INC (memphismakeup.com). Her love for beauty goes back to high school where she first wanted to pursue a career in cosmetology. However, life led her down a different career path as a corporate accountant. In February of 2018, she managed to bridge her corporate world and her first love with the launch of Memphis Makeup Artists, INC. 

Angel-Johnson

Can you tell our readers about your background?

Yes. I am affectionately known as Angel, the Makeup Artist. I have been a freelance makeup artist in Memphis, TN for the past 4 years. I mostly travel to locations doing makeup for weddings, films, and events. I love it! But that’s my weekend job. I am also a Financial Consultant M-F. I have been a corporate accountant for the past 13 years but I don’t have a passion for it. I’m currently on a mission to leave corporate America for good. 

What inspired you to start your business?

I have always had a passion beauty and fashion. I became a freelance artist after doing a relative’s makeup for prom. I enjoyed it a lot! Memphis Makeup Artists was born out of a need to streamline the administrative work so I could focus more on doing what I love…making women look and feel beautiful. 

Where is your business based?

My business is based in Memphis, TN but our service area is worldwide. 

Angel at work

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I started my business in my head a couple years ago. It took lots of research and planning before I could see anything tangible. Makeup artistry is a booming career for freelancers with a lot of ambiguity still. And Memphis did not have anything that looked like a glam team. Once I decided what I wanted it to look like, I registered with the state as a corporation, obtained my business license, and opened a bank account. 

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business? 

Social media. Plain and simple. Beauty brands are getting so much traction via social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. I followed suit. And it works. Customers enjoy engaging and interfacing with brands. It builds trust and that’s very important as a makeup artist. 

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? 

My biggest challenge has been wearing too many hats. It causes burn out quickly. I would recommend outsourcing whatever you can as fast as you can. My work experience aided me in building a backend office that is streamlined from beginning-to-end due to systems integrations. But I had to quickly pick up marketing and sales, customer service, and human resource skills. Get help!

How do you stay focused?

I stay focused by keeping long-term visions for my business and my personal life front and center. I am an advocate of vision boards, post its, or whatever is needed to keep goals in your face so that you don’t lose sight. Also, with the economic boom occurring in Memphis, there is this urgency looming over me to become a household name as quickly as possible. That motivates me to keep going.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition? 

I differentiate my business by offering something no one else in Memphis offers. I have a team of professional makeup artists with diverse skillsets and backgrounds. Being a team, we also have greater capacity and can handle large scale events in house. 

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business? 

SEO. Search Engine Optimization has helped Memphis Makeup Artists gain first page listings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These leads, unlike social media leads, have a much higher conversion rate. Meaning they are ready to purchase!

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs? 

Be resourceful. I have utilized many free programs to help with business needs. I used a local college for market research. They provided me a report that would have cost me thousands. Utilize organizations such as SCORE, SBA, and your local chamber of commerce to help bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to go. 

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

My favorite app is Facebook. I can promote business, engage clients, book appointments, and keep an online portfolio of my work in one place. 

My favorite blog is my own! I just started a couple weeks ago but it is another way to engage clients and increase SEO. However, I am an avid listener of the podcast/YT channel The Rich Dad Channel.

My favorite book is the Bible for it’s many lessons and wisdom. 

What's your favorite business tool or resource?

My favorite business tool is Intuit QuickBooks. I can keep tabs on my financials easily. It helps me to make quick business decisions. 

Who is your business role model? Why?

My most notable business role model would my mentor and fellow makeup artist Nikki Chanel. She is a full-time professional and celebrity makeup artist. She also trains and develops other artists. I aspire to that. My most influential business role model is a former employer. There I learned the power of efficient systems and setting standard operations and how that helps to provide a great product. 

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Because we are a startup having just launched in February, I am still primarily focusing on building the brand and the business. I will focus heavily on building working capital, marketing and marketing materials, and nurturing relationships. All of those will be relied upon heavily in 2019. I am currently working my final contract as an accountant which ends January 2019. And I will say goodbye to my security blanket. 

How can our readers connect with you?

Readers can find me at:

Memphismakeup.com

Instagram.com/memphismakeupdotcom

Instagram.com/facesbyangelbaby

Facebook.com/memphismakeupdotcom

Facebook.com/angelthemua

Twitter.com/memphismakeup1

Email: info@memphismakeup.com

Q&A with Natalia Vargas

Natalia Vargas

Natalia Vargas is the creative and innovative mind behind the brand Doppia Swimwear. She has been running the company for a short time with a big picture of how the brand is going to grow. Natalia was born in Colombia with Latin blood and passion for her country. She wants to share the story of Colombia, its rich culture, diversity, colors, people, and values through the Doppia brand. www.doppiaswimwear.com  

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I studied and worked in finance at the beginning of my career. However, I have always loved to draw, design, and create, so I quit my job four years ago to start this new adventure.

I also studied for a Master's Degree in International Business in Spain and have a certificate in Brand Management from The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

What inspired you to start your business?

I wanted to connect with people and to create a brand that represents and celebrates the different shapes of women.  My own experience was also part of the inspiration because I am curvy - my hips and legs are thick and it was very hard for me to find bathing suits that didn’t leave me marks but were also pretty, fancy, and trendy.

Where is your business based?

My business is based in Bogotá, Colombia.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

The way I started is not usual because the brand already existed. I joined the company four years ago. I was a customer and what I loved the most was the concept; Doppia means "double" in Italian so reversibility is the main characteristic of the design.

I kept the essence of the brand (reversible swimwear) but made improvements in terms of design, inspiration, and communication. I asked our customer what they wanted and how they felt about the brand. Once I had gathered that relevant data, I used inspiration from Colombia, its people, and traditions to create bold and fun designs.  

Natalia Vargas

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Word-of-mouth is definitely the way I started to build brand awareness. Between my friends, family, and every place and event that I go, I talk about the brand and its concept and people get really excited and start following it. Social media has also been an effective way to build brand awareness. 

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenges have been related to production and design. I have all the ideas about what I want and how I want the products to be, but as I am not a trained designer, there are many things related to both processes where I don't have enough expertise. So the way I overcome them is by working closely with my design team and the garment factory.

How do you stay focused?

Oh boy, this is a hard one! When you have your own business many opportunities emerge. Yet I stay focused by tackling one goal at a time. Sometimes you just have to say "not now, but later" when different opportunities emerge. 

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I think the way my brand is different from my competition is how we communicate with our customers. We have close relationships with them and provide as much information as we can. For example, our hang tags are designed specially to let the customer know which garments are reversible.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Since a few collections ago, I decided to switch the image and prototype of my Doppia woman by shooting campaign photos with my customers. This strategy resulted in more engagement with my market because women identify with the girl they see in the photos. This approach also helped to grow the brand's sales and awareness in social media.

Natalia Vargas

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

My advice is to keep working, love what you do, and be patient. Sometimes being an entrepreneur is hard and everything can get overwhelming, but don't quit.  Just keep working and keep the goal in your mind. Patience you will get where you want!

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

My favorite app is Instagram; I use it for editing pictures, making short videos, benchmarking, as a communication channel with my customers, for inspiration, to find stores, potential customers, shopping and sale events and many other different things.

My favorite blog is Foundr because there are many interesting articles related to business, new entrepreneurs, marketing, and strategies that are very useful.

My favorite book is "The One Thing" because it tells the importance of keep focused!

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I like Shopify because of the valuable data it provides, including what visitors see, what products they like, as well as what are the most viewed and added to the cart products. The platform also provides information about promotions, ads, and marketing strategies to reach wider audiences. 

Who is your business role model? Why?

A couple of years ago, I met a wonderful Colombian designer based in New York City named Raul Peñaranda. He became an inspiration for me and my business role model. I had the opportunity to find out about his work and history, how he began to work in the industry and started his brand with all the struggles and this really inspired me! And last year, I worked with him at an event in Bogotá, Colombia where he presented his collection and it was an amazing experience!

What do you have planned for the next six months?

My plans for the next six months are exploring new markets - one is the U.S. This collection will be inspired by our indigenous southern tribes and their creations, and we'll let women and men know about our unique Colombian pieces and share a bit of our country.

How can our readers connect with you?

They can reach out to me or to the brand through social media, in Instagram as @doppiaswimwear, Facebook as Doppia Swimwear or our web page www.doppiaswimwear.com. I would love to get in touch and introduce them to my brand experience!

4 Ways to Start a Successful Gig Economy Business

Dog Walker - Gig Economy

By: Lucy Reed

It’s easier than ever before to start a business, thanks to the gig economy. Whether you want to provide short-term work as a consultant or services provider or do freelance work, you can build your own successful gig-based business in just about no time. The trick is zeroing in on a need in your area or putting your skills to work for yourself.

1. Turn Your Hobby or Interests into a Gig Economy Business

The gig economy is characterized by independent contractors providing services or work for the short-term. It’s an ideal environment for people who want to set their own hours and rates and have more freedom than a permanent position provides. It’s also ideal for entrepreneurs or people who want to start their own small business and achieve an improved work-life balance.

One of the best ways to get started in the gig economy is to transform your hobby or interests into a real business. For example, if you have a knack for painting, you could paint people’s homes for them. If you have an eye for decorating, you could stage people’s homes as they prepare to sell them.

If you prefer to spend time outdoors, you can start a gig economy business guiding people on hikes in your area or completing landscaping projects. Thousands of people offer their skills and services on TaskRabbit. Using a platform such as this helps you connect with more people looking for your particular skills, from housecleaning to completing handyman jobs.

2. Turn Your Love for Animals into a Gig Economy Business

Some people turn their love for animals into successful gig economy businesses. For example, if you love dogs, you could become a dog walker, dog boarder, or pet sitter. Regardless of where you live, people look for reliable animal lovers who can help take care of their dogs when they are away at work or on vacation.

Becoming a dog walker, for instance, is a perfect way to spend time with four-legged friends, spend time outside, and set your own hours and rates. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of getting exercise outside and reducing your stress by spending time with dogs. In fact, Time Magazine reports that spending time with pets is good for your mental health, and studies show that spending time with dogs can reduce your blood pressure in addition to reducing stress.

3. Create a Website

To get started in the gig economy, you’ll need to market yourself. One of the best ways to get more work is to provide an excellent customer experience so that satisfied clients tell others about you. Word-of-mouth advertising is free, and people are more likely to hire someone their friends or family members recommend.

That’s why you also should build a website for your gig economy business; according to Forbes, online customer reviews generate more business, and you want to help prospective clients find you by creating an online presence for your business. This includes creating a social media profile and keeping your Google business listing up to date. The more places that people can find excellent reviews about you, the easier it will be to generate more business.

4. Use Your Network

It’s also helpful if you rely on your professional and personal networks as you delve into a gig economy business. Independent contractors especially attract more freelancing work when they network. Make sure the people from your former permanent position know that you have started your own business so they can recommend you.

Use your personal connections to get information about projects before they go public so you can get in as early as possible. Go to Meetups, economic development meetings, alumni networking events, and career fairs to expand your network. It’s also a good idea to collaborate with others in the early days of your new business so you can tackle larger projects with more people.

You can start a successful gig-related business by focusing on your hobbies, interests, or love of animals. Build a website so people can find you easily and leave reviews to generate more business. Then, rely on your network to launch your business quickly.

Q&A with Aida Yodites

Aida Yodites

Aida was eager to hit the ground running straight out of college with her BA in Marketing. She spent her formative years with the Walt Disney Company working alongside and learning from writers, graphic artists, and creatives. Aida then segued from entertainment into the booming SoCal biotechnology industry, successfully building “MarCom” departments for two biotechnology start-up companies. One moment with her daughter was the catalyst that sent Aida from working in science to manufacturing girl’s undergarments relatively overnight.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I received a BA in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. I hit the ground running in my field straight out of college. I spent my formative years with The Walt Disney Company, where I held various marketing and communication roles. I then segued into the biotechnology field where I was able to exercise my growing MarCom skills in a completely different industry. In my most recent professional role, I spent 5 years building the Corporate Communications Department for a renewable chemicals start-up company.

What inspired you to start your business?

My young daughter was the sole inspiration behind Delicate Seams. She walked in my room one morning as she was getting ready for school and expressed how dissatisfied she was with her current undergarment selection. I thought she was joking. It was when she became visibly upset, that I realized that her plea was genuine. That was the catalyst that sent me on my entrepreneurial journey.

Where is your business located?

My business is a based out of Murrieta, California.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I started my business by first and foremost doing a ton of research. I spent months looking for the right undergarment product for my daughter. While on that quest, I had learned the “gap” in the current market and the competitive landscape pretty easily and organically. I then did a lot of online research about the manufacturing and apparel industry. I also spoke to any professional in the industry that would lend me their time. I continue to do this today.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

The most effective way of raising awareness for my business has been “getting out there”! What I mean by this, is by making personal connections with as many different organizations, groups, and networks as possible. This could mean joining social media groups and circles, attending retail and wholesale shows, or meeting a stranger on a plane who may be a great business connection. I’m not going to grow my business sitting behind a desk. I know that I make a much stronger impact when I’m connecting with people.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges with my business is having to learn “on the fly” about an industry that I have zero background and experience in. I came from the biotechnology field and entered the apparel/retail business. In essence, I went from working in the science industry to manufacturing girl’s underwear relatively overnight! I’m overcoming this challenge by continually reaching out and learning from any expert or successful person that I meet or become connected to in the apparel/retail industry.

How do you stay focused?

I stay focused by doing two things – Creating a daily list of tasks and keeping a daily routine as much as possible. Being an entrepreneur can be very overwhelming if you look at it from afar. I try to triage the tasks at hand for my business every day, then I tackle the list one item at a time. I am amazed at what I can get accomplished in a day. A daily routine allows normalcy and balance, which is necessary to running a successful business.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I differentiate myself from others by emphasizing that Delicate Seams not only offers a product with great function and fit. But we are a brand that is introducing fabrics and trims in a way like nobody else because we promote modesty and appropriateness in all of our styles. We are also a brand that promotes positive messages to young girls at an age that is so impressionable - That modesty matters and embracing that we all come in different shapes, sizes and skin tones. We are truly building confidence in young girls one bralette at a time.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

I think the most effective marketing strategy that has helped grow my business has been my partnership with the mother/daughter ministry group, Secret Keeper Girl. I am one of their first official sponsors for their national tour. As a result, their following has become a number one customer source for Delicate Seams. Moreover, when I ask people how “they found” Delicate Seams, more often than not, I’m told through “Secret Keeper Girl”. So, I think this partnership has been a great marketing move for me.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

My best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs would be this - Don’t let every obstacle stop you in your tracks. Stop signs cause you to second guess yourself. Very early on, if something didn’t go right for me, I would ask myself “Is this a sign that I need to stop?” Then I started to realize that if something became an obstacle, it just meant that there was a different solution, or a better way of doing something. In other words, obstacles are really detour signs – just look left, right, or behind you for a better way, but don’t stop!

What’s your favorite app, blog or book and why?

My favorite app right now is Grasshopper. This phone app allows me to capture my customers’ phone messages while I’m on the road. The app transcribes voicemails into a text and relays them straight to my phone. Most recently, we had our first “lost” package and a customer left me a voicemail. Within an hour of receiving her message that her package was not received on time, I personally contacted her to apologize and to let her know that we were going to replace her misplaced package immediately. The customer was so pleasantly stunned that I (the Founder) personally contacted her, and she ended up writing a beautiful testimonial about Delicate Seams that is now posted on our website.

What’s your favorite business tool or resource and why?

My favorite business resource is StartUpFashion.com. It is a “one-stop-shop” community for aspiring designers, of all skill levels. The website offers a plethora of business tools and templates used in the design/apparel industry, as well as, current resources for upcoming events in the retail industry. In addition, they offer live interactive webinars and their Facebook group is very friendly and helpful. I’ve actually received great information from other designers/entrepreneurs and I’ve had the opportunity to lend my voice and help others as well.

Who is your business role model and why?

My business role model is a former employer who was the Founder and President of a very successful company. Even though he has since passed, he is still my biggest role model for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, he started his company out of his garage, which is exactly the way so many successful businesses have started. This man was not only one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, but he had so much passion for his company and life in general. He is a testament to hard work and passion paying off. He once told me something that has resonated with me - He said, “Aida, you have the most impeccable instinct that I’ve ever seen in someone.” I believe that he really meant those words, because there have been many instances on my business journey where my instinct has been my only guide. So far, my instinct has always been right.

What do you have planned for the next 6 months?

The next 6 months are going to be pretty busy for me and Delicate Seams. I will be promoting my brand at some big retail shows coming to Southern California and Las Vegas. I will also be rolling out in-home trunk shows, which is a more exclusive event for mothers and their daughters to experience Delicate Seams in a very unique and fun-filled way.

How can readers connect with you?

Readers can connect with me on:

facebook.com/Delicate Seams

Instagram/delicateseams

Linkedin/Delicate Seams, LLC