Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Camille Genise, Co-Founder and CEO of FELOH, located in Cleveland Heights, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
FELOH [Fell•Oh] is a consciously inclusive social marketplace app that empowers both indie beauty brands and beauty lovers through community and inclusion. You can think of FELOH as an "Instagram" social community that meets "Amazon Marketplace" for beauty. We serve emerging independently owned beauty brands and help amplify their brand and products to our community of Gen Z and Millennial beauty enthusiasts.
Tell us about yourself
I am a passionate entrepreneur, community builder, leader, and advocate for other founders and creatives of color. After six years in academia and nearly four years in corporate America, I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey to embrace my natural gift as an idea creator and co-founded FELOH, a social media and marketplace platform for beauty enthusiasts and rising beauty brands.
FELOH was inspired by my journey of going natural. In undergrad, I cut off my chemically straightened hair to embrace my natural hair texture but found myself lost when it came to finding "influencers" I could relate to and learn from and products to use for my unique hair texture. I also wanted to support smaller hair care brands and easily locate brands that were Black, LatinX, or LGBTQ+ owned, but I found it challenging to do so.
In 2018, I quit my full-time job and moved home to Cleveland, Ohio, to fully commit to my entrepreneurial journey. Through my efforts to get FELOH off the ground, I experienced firsthand inequities in access to early startup capital and networks to grow the company. I understood that all first-time founders were on a tremendous learning curve, and the best way to support them is through community and capital.
In late 2021, I accepted a role as an Entrepreneur in Residence at JumpStart Inc., where I mentored and coached over 20 minority early-stage tech founders using the lessons I learned along my journey. Through my work at JumpStart, I also created a community pitch competition called Pitch Cypher to help early founders share their businesses with the community and win non-dilutive grant funding.
In 2022, I took my passion for community building to the next level and co-founded Tastemakers United, a Cleveland-based nonprofit devoted to building a community for Millennial and Gen Z BIPOC entrepreneurs, innovators, and creatives through collaborative curated event experiences. Throughout the Tastemaker's launch year, I led the organization to amass over 1,800 community members consisting of tech founders, small business owners, artists, and creatives.
In 2022, I was also elected to serve as a founding executive director of FutureLAND, an annual multi-day tech and innovation conference designed to uplift Cleveland's entrepreneurial ecosystem. In this capacity, I helped coordinate conference logistics, source speakers, execute artistic activations, and attract over 2,000 attendees in its inaugural year.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
One of my biggest accomplishments as a business owner has been uplifting other founders in the process. Being an entrepreneur is hard, and it can feel rather lonely. Through my experiences with FELOH, I've been able to connect with over 50 business owners (some of which sell on FELOH, some of which I work through at JumpStart) and help them through some of the hardest points in their journeys. My greatest sense of accomplishment is truly serving others through sharing my lived experiences.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest parts of being a business owner is keeping your team's morale high even when you've had a personal bad day. As a founder, we have to be diligent in how we "vent" and share our emotions with our teams. I have to absorb the majority of the no's, rejections, frustrations, and business fall-throughs as we continue building the business. It can feel rather lonely at times to go through the emotional part of the startup journey.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Building a business is just a bunch of small decisions and actions. You have all of the answers within you. If you're ever confused about a decision or action you need to take, quiet your mind and listen to your heart, you'll feel the right answer.
- Give yourself grace. Being an entrepreneur is probably the single most stress-inducing experience a person can voluntarily put themselves through. As long as you're learning, you're doing a great job.
- Reasons to give up when times are hard:
• Your heart isn't in it anymore.
• Your ego's desire for validation is driving you.
If you have a strong why, and your soul is leading you, never, ever give up.
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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