Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Orion Brown, Founder and CEO of BlackTravelBox, located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
BlackTravelBox® is the only personal care brand focused solely on creating convenient and practical on-the-go hair and skin care products for the $109.6B Black travel market.
Tell us about yourself
For many Black women like me, travel is a major, if not primary tool for self-care, self-love, and wellness. Yet, all too often, the lack of representation in travel and beauty distracts us from the journey. That lived experience inspires me today.
BlackTravelBox is benefiting Black women by offering high-quality products that cater to their unique needs, provide cultural representation, and celebrates their beauty. Every day I hear from customers and folks around the world who are excited about BlackTravelBox. We are helping them feel seen, valued, and beautiful. Over the last 16+ years, I've led strategy, operations, and brand management for some of the most beloved global consumer brands. Many in the Fortune 500. I'm excited to bring that experience, expertise, and network to a culture and community I love through partnerships that build awareness and scale for the BlackTravelBox brand.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think the biggest accomplishment (besides being featured on Beyonce.com!) has been mobilizing the community that BlackTravelBox has built-in service of our crowdfunding campaign. Initially, in 2021 we were really struggling to come off the COVID lockdowns. So I turned to iFundwomen to help me create a crowdfunding campaign to help us relaunch and tap into the digital retail opportunities that were opened up to the brand. We raised $67K in 6 weeks - nearly 30% more than our target. It was an amazingly proud moment for me. We've since reopened to help us scale up into hotels this year. It's such a humbling and exciting thing to see the world say, "Yes, you matter. Yes, I believe in you and what you are building". You can find our campaign here: https://ifundwomen.com/projects/blacktravelbox-tsa-friendly-hair-and-skin-care.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The sense of purpose. Doesn't matter what you sell; there's a reason you stuck your neck out to create something new. You could have left it to anyone else to do, but you stepped up. The trick is when things aren't easy (as they inevitably aren't), remembering that purpose is lived out every day of the journey. Not making the sales I wanted early in the business but being given platforms to speak on the beauty and travel industries' lack of diversity, the challenges of acquiring funding as a Black woman, and sharing the lessons learned along the way with new entrepreneurs - that's the stuff that purpose lives in. It's not just the resounding successes. But the tech bros, ecomm gurus, digital coaches... they admittedly make it hard to remember that when they're posting their million-dollar months, fancy cars, and massive condos. It's hard. It sucks. But I'm working every day on my purpose and working towards a greater purpose as I build.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Whatever you do - product or service - make sure that you create a brand you believe in, are proud of, and you are excited about. In today's world, you can reach your tribe, so if you create something you love, I guarantee you can find 1000 who love it as well. Also, this gives you a leg up on persevering in the challenging times while you build. Passion will take you far when the going gets tough. It's also a great sales tool ;)
- While holding steadfast to your brand, be sure to iterate on your product or service. What you 'are' in the world may be in your hands, but what you do with it and how it's presented to potential customers and clients is up to them. Listen to them talk about the use case. Watch how they interact with the product/service, and build a roadmap to adjust and test so you can optimize your offering to make it easy, simple, and even irresistible to purchase from you.
- Be strong, and stay focused... but stop when you need to. Rest when you need to. You hold the vision, and if you're too stressed to lead that vision, the boat will sink. So find your moments of self-care, take time to connect with humans outside of business, and try to eat something that makes you feel good (feel free to interpret how you like!).
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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