If you’ve been following me on social media for a while, you know that I own a marketing firm, KRAM Marketing, and Brand My Boutique is a division under the firm. KRAM was birthed in 2009 and has clients in the entertainment field. We handle brand management, consulting, growth strategy, marketing and event planning. Now, on to the point of this message.
In late 2016 I was led by t̶h̶e̶ ̶u̶n̶i̶v̶e̶r̶s̶e̶ GOD to approach an internet radio network with a proposition- a pretty lofty proposition, but a proposition none the less. They had an amazing, innovative concept, and the only thing that was seemingly missing from their puzzle was marketing and advertising, both of which I had extensive experience in within the music and radio fields.
I sat on the idea for about a month until the ideas started keeping me up at night, then I finally put together a presentation deck and called them to schedule a meeting. I was nervous as heck but I delivered a flawless presentation that outlined what I could bring to the table. I ended it by saying “all I need is office space to do all of this in.” I’d relocated to Atlanta from Miami to grow my business and secure office space so when the idea hit to simply “ask” for my desires, I was blown away.
Here I was, in the middle of another God-ordained, bossed-up move. I approached a company and set my own terms, and they agreed to move forward that day and provided an office in their beautiful downtown suite. I was the only person at the station with a solo office and I had it decked out to the 9s. I hired my first official staff and was able to fully prepare my 2017 growth strategy while operating BMB out of their space and having fabulous roof-top photoshoots.
Yassss Adrienne Yassss
I knew when I approached this situation that it was an assignment and that I was sent to serve in whatever capacity that would be revealed during my consulting tenure. I created a 6-month plan of action outlining major goals and projects I’d focus on each month, with the biggest project being a curriculum-based internship course that we will call Radio U for the sake of privacy (or whatever).
Radio U was a 15-week student-ran radio internship that afforded current college students the opportunity to learn and live in the professional radio realm. They received several weeks of classroom and hands-on training, and 10 weeks of on-air programming in which they would solely conceptualize, develop and run their own radio show themselves. It was an internship that I dreamed of having when I was in college and it was a euphoric experience to witness things come full circle.
In short, Radio U was my baby, y’all. I had never written a college course before, and within 3 short months not only had I single-handedly conceptualized and written a full-fledge course; I had made connections with surrounding universities that were interested in bringing the program on-board post beta. Ummm, hello coins. I did this all while managing BMB and looking back I am amazed at myself for maintaining the amount of responsibility it all entailed.
I carefully interviewed and selected 20 inspired students of all backgrounds and the course was off to a beautiful start. I held back tears as I explained to them how much it meant to be able to pay all of the things I learned in college forward. It was Thursday and we’d made it through the first week of classes. They’d literally just left when an officer came through the station and approached me with paperwork.
Officer: I’m here to serve a deprivation of possession.
Me: A what?!
Officer: An eviction notice, ma’am.
My hands started to tremble at my desk. What?! HOW?! I directed him to my colleagues’ office and I hear them mumbling next door briefly, then the officer exits the suite.
I walk over to their office and naturally begin asking questions. While on the phone with his partner, my colleague explained to us the notice gave them until Tuesday to either pay their debts or vacate the premises.
I immediately began praying and asking what my next steps should be. I began thinking about my program, my BMB staff, and everything that I’d work so hard to build being in jeopardy.
Friday passed and no-one came to the office…except myself and my staff.
Saturday passed. I didn’t hear anything.
Then Sunday came, and I heard from my colleague. He’d called to tell me they were throwing a Super Bowl Party and invited me to come.
Me: I could care less about the Superbowl.. what is the move with the office?
Him: Oh, everything is closed over the weekend so we are just waiting until Monday to call around for some places.
Me: Okay, I’m going to get my stuff out of the office. I’ll see you tonight for the party.
Him: o… kay. See you tonight.
I went to the station and began packing up my things with tears blurring my vision. Everything I had built - the course, my staff, my current expansion plans, all was coming to an abrupt end. Right here and right now.
I’d witnessed my colleagues host several events, take international trips and make expensive splurges for the office during my time threre and here we were, two days before they were set to get kicked out, and they were throwing a Superbowl party.
As I packed up my things, I began to reflect about my time there and my colleauges’ perception of business acumen. They often questioned their circles’ lack of support saying “Black people don’t support black businesses.” When the truth was that they did not fully support their own.
I went to the Super Bowl party that night, and we indeed had a great time with all kinds of deliciously prepared hors d’oeuvres. Nothing was mentioned about my leaving until I brought it up as we were preparing to go, and words could not fully form to explain the emotional wreck I’d been through that day.
As Monday approached and I fully realized what had transpired, I began tying up all my loose ends. This meant emailing the students in the program and telling them it had been abruptly cancelled, emailing my intern staff and explaining to them that they’d be working remote for a while and trying to wrap my head around what really led to my clients’ downfall while ultimately discovering my lesson in all of this.
Society and social media has conditioned us (as African Americans, especially) to attribute success with material gain. Be a boss! Start your own! Don’t work for the man! Get the biggest office, drive the fancy cars, buy the bag, and do it for the gram. Rent, responsibilities, a business plan, and building a solid foundation for your business are not as sexy, and sadly gets overlooked by so many young entrepreneurs of color.
Yet somehow through all this neglect and all the smoke and mirrors, we find it within ourselves to condemn our peers for not reaching in their pockets and supporting us. Look at your business and ask yourself if you’d honestly, truly spend money on it if you randomly came across it on social media? Does your work ethic, product and brand really match the level of support you’re asking for? For some of us, yes…but for many of us.. no, and you know it.
As I continued to reflect, I thought about the hundreds of clients I've been blessed to work with through BMB over the past 5 years. I cannot tell you how many clients have reached out to me months in advance for our services, saved up their money to develop their brands and within 6-months to a year are nowhere to be found.
I get approached daily by entrepreneurial hopefuls that have not spent an inkling of time researching what it takes to run a business, build a brand or even manage a website. Blindly spending money on an expensive hobby instead of building a foundation for a successful business. It's heartbreaking.
When I first started BMB- I recognized a need. I was the one of the very first to offer branding services specifically for boutiques of color in 2012. Since then, dozens of design firms have followed suite, and you can find our same services anywhere. However, I have clients worldwide that have been rocking with me since the very beginning. What has kept my clients coming back is a tight system that leaves little room for error, a solid foundation that makes them blindly trust spending hundreds and thousands of dollars for our services, customer service that will put a smile on their face in the worst of circumstances and a consistent product.
I built a fool-proof foundation that has stood the test of time and continues to grow daily but I didn’t just pull it out of my ass. I did tons of research, spent weeks developing a business plan and studying my market and fully thought through the design process from beginning to end. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that they have did the exact same.
Its not that we (entrepreneurs) don’t want to be great, right? We want to be successful, we want to attract people to our brands and we want to do good business. Ultimately, we can’t do better because often times we simply just don’t know how.
That being said, I would be doing myself a disservice to continue offering branding services without educating my clients on how to build a brand and develop successful business practices. I would be doing my clients a disservice by continuing to sell them products knowing that they don’t know how to fully utilize them to grow their brands. We’ve got to do better, and I’ve been charged with the assignment to make sure that we all do.
Join me on Thursday March 16, 2017 at 2PM EST for my very first live workshop, Build, Brand, Boom, where you will learn how develop your brand’s personality, voice and image and how to maximize our branding tools to aide in your development!
Click here to sign up for the free LIVE training!
In this live training I will show you:
- How to develop the personality, voice, and image of your brand.
- Positioning: Knowing what your brand is and isn't and who it serves
- How to align your brand with your ideal customer and attract them with things they already love
- How to build, cultivate and maintain a brand experience and lifestyle
- How to choose appropriate logo branding, colors, and fonts to attract your ideal customer
- E-commerce tips to take the anxiety away from managing a website
- The importance of branding your products and claiming ownership of every aspect of your business
- How to create brand consistency across multiple avenues such as social media, web presence, packaging and promotions.
- Plus a LIVE Q&A - ask all your branding questions!
If you want to learn how to attract your dream customers and build a successful brand, then sign up right now.
See you there!
Adrienne // CEO www.brandmyboutique.com