Monday, July 2, 2012

Entrepreneur Spotlight

Good morning readers.  Today I have a special treat in store for you.  I am kicking off a new section of my blog called Entrepreneur Spotlight.  This section will highlight various business owners who will share their tips and wisdom.

The first entrepreneur featured is my cousin, Melani Jones, owner of iRock Natural.  Her company produces fashionable t-shirts and accessories celebrating the natural state of Black women's hair.  Melani has agreed to share exclusive insight that will encourage prospective business owners in developing their ventures.  

I want to begin by asking, where did the idea for iRock Natural come from?  “The Lord dropped the idea for iRock Natural in my spirit as I was driving home from work one day.  After that moment I began developing more ideas of how the natural hair community can show pride.”

Did anything trigger the idea for iRock Natural?  “Yes. I’d say starting my own natural hair journey in 2010 triggered the idea. When I went natural, I began to realize how much of a movement it was.  There was a real sense of community among naturals and I wanted to start a company that celebrated that feeling of connection.”

Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?  “No, the desire came about over the years after I started working.  Growing up, my parents had their own business.  However, I did not anticipate following in their footsteps.”

Did your parents business help with the development of yours?  Yes, my parents’ business provides t-shirts and promotional products. So their support and knowledge helped me to develop my business. 

How long did it take for you to develop your vision for iRock Natural? “It took a year and two months.  During this time I felt uncertain about venturing out and starting my own business.  However, I made the decision to move forward and began the necessary research. I applied for a business license, received my tax id number, and then began the process of bringing my ideas into fruition.”

What was the process of logo/branding? “I had to find a graphic designer so I announced it on a facebook group page.  Monica Jackson referred me to Ereka Thomas from Restorical Media Solutions. During the initial phone call with Ereka she took the vision I had and ran with it.  The logo development was not without challenges. I clearly saw what I wanted the logo to look like in my mind but being able to effectively convey that to Ereka was a task.  However, Ereka was patient and helpful along the way. Her experience definitely helped me to hone on how to best portray my company’s logo. Within two weeks and after countless email exchanges between us, she provided me with a final product that I absolutely loved!”

What is your vision for iRock Natural?  “I envision iRock Natural being a well household name in the natural hair care community.  My company will offer affordable, innovative, and trendy shirts, tote bags, etc. I can envision my company venturing out and sponsoring natural hair meet up groups, fashion shows, and even entrepreneurial workshops.  I want iRock Natural to bring naturals together.  While I do love everything about the natural hair community I never want to insinuate that natural haired women are superior to relaxed women.  We are all about embracing who you, whether that be natural or relaxed.”

Any challenge being a Black female business owner?  “No, thankfully I haven’t had any issues in that area.  I provided the start up funding and went from there.  I have a wonderful and encouraging support system.  My biggest issue was being self-motivated and believing in myself.”

What advice would you give to upcoming business owners?  “Follow your dreams and do not let anything stop you, even if it is yourself.  Grind and make it happen.  Believe you can be successful but do your research and develop a plan.  Then follow through with your plan.”

I hope you enjoyed this informative interview. I want to thank Melani for her time.   Support this new venture by visiting Melani's website  You can also like her fan page on facebook or  follow her on twitter @iRockNatural 

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