It wasn’t the hard work that scared me. Growing up as the oldest of seven kids in Los Angeles was rough. My mom worked hard to pay the bills, sometimes while my dad, who was disabled, looked after us. Our version of the American Dream was doing whatever it took to stay afloat.
In college, I studied mental health, and after graduation landed a great job in psychiatric social work. I loved helping people, but somehow social work never felt like my journey, because I was drawn to the arts. We’re socialized into this idea of having “real jobs.” I wanted something of my own, but the idea of entrepreneurship intimidated me because it went against everything I was taught: Go to college, get that well-paying job and the 401(k). After I lost my job, a mental shift was needed to ride out the entrepreneurial journey. I’d never known anyone who ran their own company until I met my husband. He was an entrepreneur and inspired me to start experimenting with side businesses. I kept starting new ventures. But each ultimately failed because I wasn’t committing to it.
Posh began when I was shopping for a candle at Target and couldn’t find anything good. A light bulb went off: I wanted to help women embrace their individuality, and lighting a candle was the perfect reminder to practice more self-care. I went home and created the first scents. It took six months to launch my first Posh scent, called Boss Lady. Two years later, I lost my full-time job. I was really upset, but suddenly I had this freedom. I told myself that Posh was my last chance at being an entrepreneur. If I really wanted something that was mine, that no one could take away, I had to hold myself fully accountable. That meant throwing everything I had into Posh.
I discovered a Facebook Group called Build, Brand + Launch, where entrepreneurs traded stories and advice. I was there every day, answering questions when I could, and learning from entrepreneurs from around the world. The group was like a crash course in business: I could never have gotten all that knowledge on my own in a short period of time. Plus, the relationships I built there led to my first big order: Someone in the group bought one candle, loved it, and ordered 5,000 more. From there, Posh just took off.
Offering terrific customer service is super important. Early on with Posh, I relied on Messenger to have private conversations with members of the Build, Brand + Launch Group. That was a powerful way to connect. So I added a Messenger widget to Posh’s website, and that lets us live-chat with our customers during business hours. When we’re closed, customers can leave a message and be confident we’ll get back to them as soon as we open. Talking to customers in real time definitely helps us close sales and nurture relationships.
Cultivating relationships within your chosen community through technology is vital to growing your business. I’m a Black woman, and a big part of Posh’s early success was doing business with more than 100 other Black-woman-owned companies. In fact, that first order of 5,000 candles was from a Black-woman-owned business.
Moments like that, when I feel supported by others, are what drive me to be a role model. I want to pave the way for the next wave of Black woman entrepreneurs. I want them to look at me as proof that you can start from scratch and — with hard work and sacrifice — build something amazing. Something that’s truly you.