Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tanya Smith, Founder of Girli Brand Apparel, located in Dallas, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
GIRLI Brand Apparel was founded in 2020 with a direct mission to supply women with comfortable options while moving around with daily activities. GIRLI Brand Apparel was inspired by multiple veins related to women and girls of all ages, colors, races, professional and athletic backgrounds. We at GIRLI Brand strongly believe women deserve the feel of comfortable clothing after a long day at the office, in addition to working feverishly on their "Perfectly Imperfect Curves" in the gym. Our clothing has sex appeal with a splash of affirmed confidence. Also, we are considered an Exclusive Online Boutique, meaning we only make small units of products to ensure that over-saturation of our styles does not occur. We want our GIRLI customers to be unique and one-of-a-kind!
Tell us about yourself
I am an educator by trade. I have been in education for 25 years, teaching mathematics at the level of middle school, high school, and college. My focus has always been to use my platform to help eliminate racial and gender inequality and inequity, more specifically, in the STEM field. The experiences Black girls and women have when it comes to mathematics, unfortunately, are more of negative experiences than positive experiences. Growing up, I did not feel like I had a bold and strong voice in math class. It wasn't until I had a teacher that resembled me and became my advocate. It was her advocacy that changed my trajectory and mindset as it relates to math. I found that I enjoyed math because of its power to help me understand things. This is one of the biggest reasons I enjoy math and do my best in helping others understand because of the power of mathematics. I have always been a firm believer that math literacy can help individuals push forward in their life and just open up so many opportunities. However, there has always been a lack of representation of black women in the STEM field. I wanted to do something to help change that narrative, so with the help of my husband, Girli Brand was created. We wanted to combine two of our passions which were fashion and education. From the creation of Girli Brand Apparel, we were able to establish the Girli Brand STEM Scholarship.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Girli Brand Apparel was not only created to supply women with comfortable apparel options while moving around with daily activities but also to help change the narrative and close the gap between black women in STEM fields. Therefore the Girli Brand STEM Scholarship was created and is supported by Girli Brand Apparel, where 5% of each sale goes towards the scholarship to support black women majoring in a STEM field attending an HBCU who are classified as a junior, senior, or graduate student. This scholarship was established in 2020, and so far, 6 young ladies have been awarded a Girli Brand STEM Scholarship.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
It is way less sexy than you think it is. There is an internal struggle with self-doubt in your ideas, your product, and now with the influence of social media, producing creative content that will catch the customer's eye. I would also have to include finding a work-life balance. Being an entrepreneur consists of long hours that can be overwhelming at times.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First and foremost, there is room for your product or idea. I like using the "bread aisle at the grocery store" as an example and motivation. When you walk down the bread aisle, you see several different types of bread; therefore, don't think the market is already saturated. There is still space in this world for your idea.
Secondly, provide a great quality of your product and do quality assurance. I know you may think you are saving money by using a cheaper manufacturer or distributor, but customers remember the quality of a product which determines returning customers.
Lastly and most importantly, be passionate about your business which will consist of determination and persistence, and be sure to always provide excellent customer service. People may not always remember what you said, but they will definitely remember how you made them feel.
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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