Being "Cool" isn't Enough - An inside guide to Black Owned Business + 5 Easy Considerations

This week on a Zoom call, something really struck a nerve. The topic was culture, and what company culture means from the outside in. I'm currently in transition at The Nappy Bohemian from just taking design projects to building a full lifestyle brand I can get behind. I'm seriously building ("trying to build" is no longer in my vocabulary) something that supports the livelihood of clients, community, and family. Growing a business sometimes feels... clueless? Even if you are clear on WHAT you envision, it's not the same as knowing HOW to make that happen in the long term. When you are figuring your business out as a woman, the world is less forgiving. For a Black Woman, let's be real, there is NO ROOM to make mistakes in building your business (even though that's impossible). The hustle has to be real. I can go on and list from here how fucked up that is, but i'll save it. For now, i'll just dabble in what I have the most control over right now, and what i've learned so far. I'm building a brand worth the mentions. Not just as a Black Owned Business, but as a business period. It's also worth it to say that the hinderance isn't because you are Black. The hinderance is White supremacy, but I digress (chill Tiff, chill).

What does that mean though? Have you ever had a great idea, started it, but there just wasn't enough heart pulling you to continue? Shit got hard, and something else felt easier?How do you grow? How do you attract clients, be genuine, post on social media, be motivated, drink water, take care of personal responsibilities etc for the long run. My new tagline for the Nappy Bohemian, "Designing a Life Worth Twerking About", is a lifestyle goal defining my whole strategy. For you and for me. I'll explain.

You know that moment when you hit a small win, and you stick your tongue out a bit and hit a lil move? THAT is my business and life goal for the both of us. When you walk into a space that I designed for you, I'd want you to hit that lil' move for yourself. Have a moment of self care indulging in my Shea Butter body oil candles? Feel good and hit that lil' move. How can I continue to create those small moments over and over again so that I can have something sustainable in the long term. I always think about how can I enhance my client experience. How can I make my branding better. How can I respond faster. How I can also embrace the culture of us all.

As Kanye would say, "You don't have the answers Sway". News flash, I don't either. What I do have is experience, and a mission I can be completely transparent about. Here are 5 ideas that I have thought about, that is currently preparing me for continued growth.

  1. Mind Your Business - This is a big one. Everyone and their mama will have an idea for your business. Be open, but know this can derail your plans especially if this isn't coming from your delegated mentors. Stay focused on what YOU have to do. Didn't you do the research? Didn't you study other successful and not successful businesses? Trust yourself sis. Your business will start to speak for itself. Always be mindful of your money, pricing, strategy etc. That cannot take a backseat.

  2. Strategize for Growth - When I was catering, it was popping. I catered a film with some of the dopest Black men in the game right now (Mahershala Ali, Kofi Siriboe cough cough). Before that job, I was winging it. I'm actually really good at winging, and not so good at planning long term. I had to change that. By the time I had that big job with the movie "Kicks", I had failed. That job beat my ass. My food quality was compromised, the decision makers weren't impressed, and I went home with my tail tucked between my legs. So, I stopped. I decided that was too rough to continue. Don't do that. Plan your ass off and stick to it. If sticking to it isn't an option. PIVOT! Be as good at pivoting as you are at planning, and quickly. Giving up isn't an option.

  3. Be YOU - Who are you for real? If you could be YOU, what would that look like. Don't just find a voice on IG to replicate, find your voice. Who cares if you are not the most eloquent with your words. Maybe you aren't as good at something but better at something else. Delegate and move on to what highlights all the things you are good at and all the things unique to you. Show it! It's nerve wrecking I know, but it's what you have above the others.

  4. Pleasure and Passion - For a while, I was nervous that if I pushed the body oil candles, and it came off too seductive, i'd be looked at as a lil McNasty (hehe). I then realized that we ALL wanted that feeling, so why hide it? Why hide what makes you feel good and what you personally are passionate about. Introduce that into your business. As a designer, I love a bedroom I can chill in AND experience pleasure in. My most favorite project to date is designing a space for both, and not feeling shy to talk to my client about that element of intention in our design plans. We all have our needs hunny, loop that in somehow. It doesn't have to be sex, it can be meditation, self care, self love, body positivity, Black love etc. When you find pleasure and passion in aspects of your business that clients can identify with, it's easier to crush your goals for the greater good of you both.

  5. Be Your Own Advertisement- This seems so obvious but its overlooked. No one wants to be sold to ALL the dang time, HOWEVER you do have a responsibility to market your product or service. If someone says, "Okay skin, I see you", you know what I say? Shea Butter Body Oil Candle. If they mention my locs growing or looking healthy? Shea Butter Body Oil Candle. If my man says, "babe my beard is looking right". Yup. Shea Butter Body Oil Candle. Oh, you like something in my house? Here's other projects i've done. Let your business speak for itself. You might not be talking directly to a client, but you don't know who is re-mentioning you in their own interactions with their circle. Friends being supportive isn't always by the purchase, be okay with that. It's more important that your friends, family and social circle knows what you do, and can bring it up in front of the right ears.

I can only share this with you because I value transparency. I hope you found this helpful, and i'm excited to hear all about it. Until next time, chat soon. Make sure to subscribe for more, and be on the lookout for more content like this.

Thank you!! :)


The Nappy Bohemian


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