I had very grand ideas of making a Vlog about my first few weeks in business and what I had learned. I must give it up to all of the YouTubers out there who sit in front of the camera and basically talk to themselves. It was not for me and it was a mess! I made about 30 blooper videos. I sat in front of the lighting ring so long that I ended up with a headache. I even woke up with a headache the next day. So my first lesson is that…. everything isn’t for everybody. Stay in your lane! Seriously. I can express myself much better via print than video. That is quite funny considering that I am excellent on the other side of the camera. On my 9-5 we conduct interviews with students, and I am the bomb at getting my Gayle King on (interviewing) but as an interviewee, issa no! Additionally, the process of trying to verbalize why I started the Digital Marketing Maven and giving business tips seemed kind of pointless, without telling you why I closed my last business, Tainted Rose.
Why I closed my successful online business and started another….
For those of you who may not be familiar with my background, I will give you a brief history. In 2011, I started Tainted Rose (in Little Rock, AR) which entailed my cousin and I creating handmade jewelry and purchasing items wholesale to sell at jewelry parties that I hosted. The jewelry parties became very popular, which prompted me to start a Facebook page and eventually a website to support the business. Tainted Rose gained a following not only in Arkansas but across the United States. Ultimately, selling to customers outside of the U.S – gaining nearly 9k page likes on Facebook and more than 10k followers on Instagram. So what happened? The truth is, my side hustle took off way faster than I anticipated and I did not have a plan. No business plan, no marketing plan, no real target market, or strategy. At one point I started selling custom sweatshirts, then I started buying clothes wholesale to sell. To keep it plain and simple, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and I was learning as new challenges and opportunities presented themselves. Beyond that, my passion has never been retail or fashion. So, I treated Tainted Rose as a side hustle and not a business. I began to dread all of the many tasks that it took to keep my hustle afloat. During the final few years of Tainted Rose being in operation, I shifted to primarily selling custom jewelry. I had sourced a vendor in Jerusalem, who handmade the custom necklaces that I was retailing. Then, I began having major quality issues with the vendor. At that point, I knew the business would need another shift or at the very least I needed a new vendor.
After accepting a marketing manager position in a new city (Chicagoland), I decided that it was time for a fresh start and to align all of the things I was doing with my true passion which led me officially close Tainted Rose. It was not an easy decision. Tainted Rose was a part of my identity and apart of my life for nearly 10 years. To be honest, I miss it and I often wonder if I made the right decision.
What I know for sure….
What I do know is that I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I have always wanted to be my own boss. I know how to start and maintain a business. I enjoy helping others and I absolutely love seeing others succeed. This is why I started Digital Marketing Maven, I want to use my experience as an entrepreneur along with my corporate experience to help other small businesses succeed. I know what it’s like to start something from the ground up, in addition to having inside knowledge of how corporate startups and large companies conduct business. I know that my knowledge and experience can help small businesses thrive. Research shows that “while the number of women-owned businesses grew an impressive 58% from 2007 to 2018, the number of firms owned by black women grew by a stunning 164%, nearly three times that rate. There are 2.4 million African American women-owned businesses in 2018, most owned by women 35 to 54. Black women are the only racial or ethnic group with more business ownership than their male peers, according to the Federal Reserve.”
So where do I fit in? Well, it’s simple.
I am a minority woman who has run a successful business and who’s also had the privilege of thriving in corporate America. I say privilege because I have reached a level that many do not, especially in marketing because we simply aren’t given the opportunity. I’m well aware that I am still not being paid what a white male would be paid with my education and background. This is one of my issues with corporate America and I am not the only one. According to a Forbes article, “higher unemployment rates, long-term unemployment and a much greater gender and racial pay gap have led women of color to start businesses at a higher rate out of necessity and the need to survive.” This is what drives me to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams and what makes me what to help others to pursue theirs.
Challenges with Digital Marketing Maven so far…
In the consultations that I have had so far, the number one concern that I hear from potential clients is fear. Fear that they will be led in the wrong direction, fear that they will be taken advantage of, fear that I, like other “consultants” that they have worked with, will take their money and run. Well, let me assure you that I would never take advantage of anyone in any way, beyond that my integrity and reputation are on the line. I feel bad that there are a lot of people out there who do take advantage of people, not only because it is not fair to those who have trusted these individuals, but because it makes it a lot harder for those who are trying to do the right things. However, albeit a cliché, – it is true as ever, “it takes money to make money”. As a potential or current small business owner, you must invest in yourself. You must invest in your business and marketing, there is no way around it. Digital Marketing is the easiest way to do this. It helps you get right in front of your intended target audience with your product, service, or message at a cost that you can control. Beyond these reasons, why would anyone invest in your product or service, if you don’t? Why would people spend their hard-earned money with you, if you do not invest in yourself? Take a moment and think about that.
If there is anything else to know about Sammi B. it’s to know that I started this business to help others. I intend to use my experience as an entrepreneur, along with my education and corporate background to help small businesses succeed. My hope is to also give opportunities to other individuals who want to get into marketing while living out my own entrepreneurial dreams. There are no gimmicks or get rich quick schemes with me. What you will experience from me is integrity, authenticity, and diligence, if given the opportunity to work with your business.