Black businesses are booming, and also struggling. How can both be true? Many of us have watched, read or even meme’d about the dire statistics our entrepreneurs are facing—and yes, it’s racial. Sustaining our businesses isn’t easy and we frequently see our favorite establishments shutter their doors, deactivate their sites or unable to grow due to lack of resources, mentorship and/or capital. Casey R. Kelley, owner of Blended Designs, a Black-themed backpack, apparel and accessories company, can relate to these challenges. She has experienced both hardships and wins, and wants Black business owners to learn from her journey. Her new e-book, “The Blueprint: Sh*t No One Tells You About Growing A 7-Figure E-Commerce” is the ultimate guide.
The mompreneur had no idea her child’s candid request would lead to her biggest business win. At the start of 2017, her son, then 8, asked for a backpack with characters that looked like him. Kelley understood his plight. Who didn’t want images that affirmed their awesomeness? She also understood that this opportunity wasn’t just for her little boy. She could fill the gap for other Black children desperately desiring to see themselves in their daily items, like backpacks, shoes, notebooks. It worked. But her big win didn’t happen overnight. It happened three whole years later when reality star Yandy Smith shouted out her brand on social media in July 2017. The surge of success she experienced let her know that she was staying the course in her mission to bring melanated faces to kids everywhere.
Kelley’s book “The Blueprint: Sh*t No One Tells You About Growing A 7 Figure E-Commerce” outlines actionable items and substantial tips to prepare businesses to successfully scale, gain profitability and protect themselves properly through her methodology. Her reminder is inspirational: any business is only one post away from going viral. Are you ready?
Here are some key tips Kelley wants entrepreneurs to take away to help prepare them for what’s next:
Master your lane. You can’t do it all. You’re bound to miss out on important aspects of business if you’re wearing all of the hats—and you won’t maximize your profitability. Know your strengths and invest in your growth by paying for the support team members that you need.
Always be in student mode. Be open to learning new processes, ways of thinking and trends. There are a wide variety of social media groups and entrepreneurial communities to tap into that are focused on educating and sharing perspectives on the ebbs and flow of business.
Sometimes the greatest lessons come from strangers. The knowledge that you need may not be in your circle. When you start networking, and learning about experiences and resources from others, you broaden your connections and skills. Strangers may put you on to game that you didn’t even realize you needed.
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Savannah M. Taylor is a native of Springfield, MA, and a graduate of Syracuse University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in African American Studies with a minor in Communication & Rhetorical Studies. Some of her many passions include storytelling through various mediums and bringing awareness to Black history and culture through the advocacy of the Black diasporic community. These passions led her to start her own initiative called The Silhouette Brand, a platform to provide access to resources, opportunity, and exposure for people across the African diaspora.