Educators prepare us to be subordinates — worker bees trained to submit to established brands and conglomerates. But modern technology has brought upon a revolution in the way we think about earning money — it’s no longer just about contributing to the profit margins of wealthy businessmen — but creating a brand for yourself.
The brand that I created for myself is one that is heavily based in representation.
I am the creator and owner of an online vintage clothing store called Bushwillows Vintage (where I sell 80’s and 90’s vintage clothes) and my freelance photography business Bushwillowsphotog — where my expertise is photographing fashion photography, but my clientele ranges from graduation shoots to children.
For decades the lack of representation for minority models in the fashion industry has been heavily debated and decried. When I went about creating my brand, that was one of the biggest issues I wanted to tackle.
Complaints of the lack of diversity in the modeling industry has fallen on deaf ears for decades, and with the rise of entrepreneurship and social media, various business owners like myself have taken it upon ourselves to kill two birds with one stone: break free from old business norms by creating our own and enacting the change we want to see with the images we project with our businesses.
The internet has given ordinary creators the ability to showcase, make a profit and gain notoriety from their skills. Whether it’s fixing cars, building computers or creating digital art, everyone possesses an innate skill they excel at and can gain wealth with.
Entrepreneurship isn’t just vitally important to the economy, its affects can be seen in other areas such as improving representation, competition, creating jobs and innovative creations being used to improve the quality of life in our society.
While in recent years I’ve basked in success with my two aforementioned businesses, I hit a few bumps along the way before success.
Before Bushwillowsphotog, my blood, sweat and tears went into Bushwillows Vintage. Initially beginning as a handmade friendship bracelet and hairbow Etsy store called Bushwillows, the brand morphed into being a reflection of my passion for vintage clothing. The change didn’t happen from my own sensibilities, but from looking up various videos about e-commerce, viewing my competition and receiving business advice offered to me by fellow e-commerce stores. Here are my top three business advices discovered from trial and error.
Know Your Audience
Whether you’re selling car parts or crystal necklaces, know who your audience is. An integral part of getting customers is knowing who you’re selling to. When you market to them via ads, flyers, or other marketing techniques, you know what imagery to potentially use to grab their attention.
To have a successful business, potential customers need to be able to identify with your brand. Pick and use/create images and post them on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, to create an overall mood and identity for your business. My identity for my brand, for instance, is 90’s vintage and memorabilia combined with West African imagery.
Know What’s Popular
Always keep tabs on what is currently popular with the demographic you are trying to sell to. You can have a unique idea, but try to tailor that cool idea to current tastes of what people like. Otherwise, your sales will be miniscule to nothing at all.