Pushing Passion to Purpose

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When you find something you’re interested in, it becomes hard to stop thinking about it. You wake up at night thinking about ways to incorporate this into your life. It starts to take over.

What becomes hard for new entrepreneurs and brand builders is figuring out how to restructure their routines and add something new into the mix. Whether that means figuring out where in your day you can find a pocket of time to work on your craft, working around your current 9-5 to figure out what to do from 5-9, there are a lot or pieces that are on the table. No matter what, that interest doesn’t seem to be going away so you need to do something about it.

There are some people who come to a crossroads and decide, this is it. I have to go full force with what I believe in because I see no other way. There are some others who create a plan and continue working as is, but begin to put some time, even if it is an hour a day, into building their own brands on the side. No matter which route you take, the idea is to turn that passion into a purpose and not let it go idle. It is a blessing to have that fire and then to turn that fire into a blaze. When you put that blaze towards something and know that it is true to you, there is no telling where you will stop because there is no blueprint. You just have to chase it and see where it takes you.

There is no doubt that when you believe in what you are doing and decide to chase a passion, you can go far. Another person’s success does not lay the blueprint for yours so the challenge is to make things work for you. Decide what you want to do and figure out how to get there. Just don’t sit and wait for the “right” moment to turn it into a purpose.

Money Isn't Always the Motive But Having Some Helps

 Christina Amelia, Ilbert J. Sanchez, Kimberly Bennett, Naomi Johnson, Valjean Guerra II

Christina Amelia, Ilbert J. Sanchez, Kimberly Bennett, Naomi Johnson, Valjean Guerra II

When starting a brand, the first place to go isn’t always to the investors. Sometimes, we just don’t have the fully fleshed out plan to present as yet. Regardless, we still need some ways to generate some income to get things started. Purchasing products, paying for a website, running a few ads, etc. all come with a cost. Here is how 5 entrepreneurs decided to kick their businesses off by raising money on their own.

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“Personally, I saved for a total of 2-3 months and at first only bought materials that were needed to launch. I learned and spent more later on down the line as I grew. If i had to guesstimate, I would say $1,000 total to start depending on the business. First purchases were logo design, LLC Payment, and Website fees…the foundation of the business, the non-tangible things that start any business. You don’t need as much as many think you do. I saved from my day job and also began using my skills of website development and created 2 websites for 2 different companies - additional work to make more $$ on the side.”

- Christina Amelia, Founder and CEO, SkinByAme

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“After I quit my job, I wasn’t sure I had enough money to pay my rent. I am also a graphic designer so I had some website clients, I was doing projects for Google, and some other side work in design. Those checks were what I used to survive when I took that leap of faith. All of 2017, I didn’t go out, I didn’t travel, cut back on brunches…and I had to be very frugal. I only spent money on personal bills and the company. I was full time before my business partner was so a percentage went to the company and then a percentage went to me. The first set of money I got went towards fabric books because that is the like the gas into a car. You need to show the fabrics in order to make the suit. We had fabric books but we had the basic of the basic until we had enough to level up. That was the beginning.”

- Ilbert Sanchez, CEO, Garcon Couture

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“My firm was started with my personal savings. Like most entrepreneurs, self-funding is the reality for almost all solo and small firm attorneys. While we all would love the opportunity to start a business with zero dollars invested, that's not always possible. However, making smart choices with your money early in your business can pay in dividends later. Although I don't remember my first purchase, if I had to guess what it was, it was probably paying the state fees to form my LLC. While registering my business was not the most exciting thing to do, it was necessary. “

- Kimberly Bennett, Founder, KBennett Law, LLC

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“I hustled…like crazy. I’ve just been feeling liek working for somebody is not an option for me. I’m not opposed to the idea for other people but for me, I wanted to stick it out and I knew that there were ways to do this without clocking in for someone else. Honestly, Phone Sex has been paying the bills. It really funded the entire mission. I found someone on Instagram. I was trying to figure out what I was doing before…I was struggling, I was crying. I was about to get evicted so at that point I was going to be a nomad, a cute ass bum. It allowed me freedom and flexibility to be at home and on my computer and then switch over when a call came in. Some weeks were great, other weeks not so much. So just having an open mind in regards to my business was key. I’ve also done Air B’n’B. I had a two bedroom apartment to myself so I rented out the second room and that really helped me get by.”

Naomi Johnson, Founder, Place to Palace

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“I was djing first with my cousin but we weren’t getting gigs so he wanted to quit but I didn’t feel like I had enough connections to do it by myself. I had clippers at home so i decided to practice so I would be able to work in a shop. The first thing I bought was my business cards. I had the name Clip Headz and I put what I specialized in but I spelled Caesar wrong - and my dad ragged me for it. Not too long after, my aunt had just moved out of her house but it was vacant so I told her I was going to buy a chair and put it in the house and set it up as my studio. But when I went to buy the chair, my friend took me to a shop and I asked him ‘what are we doing here?’ One of the guys recognized me and he asked how long I’ve been cutting so I had to tell the story - told him year and a half even though I was only about a month in; he asked me when I can start. Two weeks later, I started at that shop and that’s how it all began. I saved up the money I got there and used that to start my own thing. All started with the chair.”

-Valjean Guerra II, Founder and Lead Groomer, Cathedra NYC

Using Your Brand to Celebrate It's History and Remind Others What It Stands for

As you continue to establish your brand, you want to celebrate the milestones and important moments throughout your career and growth. By developing a connection to the people and yoru supporters, your brand begins to build equity with those people and you can continue to remind others of why you started in the first place. In Spring 2018, Designer Sam Edelman decided to release a new campaign called The Land Of Enchantment featuring model Carolyn Murphy. The campaign, for which Edelman worked alongside his wife and business co-founder Libby Edelman, creative director Sam Shahid and well-known photographer Kelly Klein, was created to celebrate his 40 years in footwear and fashion.

“In recognition of that milestone, I wanted to celebrate what the brand has always stood for: integrity, timeless elegance, elevated and effortless style and the empowered woman. I chose Libby, Kelly and Carolyn to partner with me on this project to create our most authentic campaign yet,” said Sam Edelman.

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When we think about what our brands mean to us, we have to remember the reasons why we started. While the mission of the brand can change over time, and it shouldn’t change every 5 minutes, we know that when we decided to start our brands, we had a goal, we had a purpose. We had something that pushed us forward to create and share our creations with the world. Am I lying? No sir, otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here today.

When you present yourself to people, they see what you give to them. That is why authenticity is so important. There is no other like you and no one can have the same thought process as you. No one can be more true to you than you. When you start to talk about your brand, people can build a relationship with you because there is a story and people love a good story. Take them to your roots, engage them in your history, and if for no one else, keep the story of your start close to heart because if it wasn’t for then, there would be no now.

What is the story behind your brand?

Making Sure Your Message Aligns with Your Brand

 Image: Foot Locker

Image: Foot Locker

Last month, Nike did a collaboration with Foot Locker for the Nike Air Max Frequency Pack, dedicated to the 90’s. These two are so closely aligned in their history and audience, it only made sense to come together for an awesome marketing campaign again. The campaign  'Mo Flow Cab Hail The ‘90s' brought in 90’s Hip Hop star Fat Joe to ride in an NYC taxi cab. Riders were challenged to recite lyrics to 90’s hip hop songs and if they completed the challenge, were taken to the Foot Locker location to pick up a pair of Air Max from this collection.

The reason this is so important is that this wasn’t a far fetch or completely out of the blue tactic. Not only is there a long standing history between the two brands, Nike and Foot Locker, but there is a major connection between the artist they chose and the product they are releasing, the 90’s. Even further, the way in which Nike and Foot Locker chose a partner in Fat Joe and the music which riders were challenged to sing, only solidified the importance of the connection for the brands to the 90’s with this Frequency Pack.

When you decide to use a third party, like an influencer, or do a brand partnership, there must be a true connection and authentic synergy. Not only do you want your brand to be well represented, you also want your consumers to understand the point and purpose of the partnership. A true connection will flow easily and make it that much less likely for a “Huh?” moment when people see your marketing.

At the end of the day, stay true to your core and continue to make sure your brand identity lives throughout all of your communication.

Why Waiting Is Wack

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I recently taught a workshop in Philadelphia around building a brand and the 4 Pillars of Marketing and there was an interesting question - “Should I wait until I determine my business name to get started?”

The simple answer was ‘ABSOLUTELY NOT!’

Let me clear this up right away - there is a difference between starting your business and branding your business. Once you start branding materials and putting a name on things, it becomes harder to change that later on down the line because people may have started to do some brand association and have brand recognition. It can certainly become harder to get people to associate your product or service with a new name later on.

However, getting started can mean a multitude of things. Getting started can mean going out and and getting your face known, talking to people and networking, doing the research behind the your brand and the industry you are getting involved in. Getting started doesn’t always mean you have to have a website and business cards right away but it does mean you should know what you are offering to the public and have some way for people to contact you if they want to know more.

Often times, we get stuck in making sure all of our ducks are in a row or making sure certain things are lined up before we begin - and just as often, we are our own biggest barrier. While we sit and wait to make sure we are at just the right time, the industry is trucking right along and we are continuously learning something new, which in turn causes us to have to take more time to ‘line things up just right.’

Fear not friends. The time is now. Even if you are getting started behind the scenes, you are still making moves. Sometimes, silence can speak the loudest and as long as you have your goal in mind and you know your passion and purpose, start now! Take the steps to get you to the place where you want to be! While we are all on different timelines in life, you don’t want to look back and realize that you could have started a long time ago if you just had taken the first step and the only thing holding you back, was you.