Jeanine: It looks easier, but unfortunately it’s not. A lot of effort goes into the online shop. You still have to work with vendors, check on orders, keep up communication with customers, look at inventory, and do accounting. In some ways I think that online offers a distinct challenge in that your customers can be in constant contact with you. If I go to a boutique and purchase an item, that’s likely it. I may or may not return, and they are not likely to get an email from me. However, you really have to keep communication going with your customers online. They expect it.
What business advice has worked really well for you?
Jeanine: It’s ok to make mistakes, it won’t all be perfect, but the important thing is to keep moving forward. We don’t allow ourselves to be stopped by anything. It is so important to nurture and grow your business daily, to continue learning, and to work on new things. It’s all about baby steps, never looking back, and moving forward despite any obstacles that might arise.
What role does your husband play in the business?
Jeanine: My husband, Bryan Mason, is the Operations Manager for AphroChic. He manages all of our logistics–shipping, picking up items, ensuring delivery to customers, and it is a little known secret that he is the world’s best pillow stuffer. He’s also a fantastic editor, who writes all of the content for the website. But more than his title, he is my partner. We work on AphroChic daily together developing new designs, coming up with ways to engage our customers, and strategizing on our business plan. It’s a joint effort, and working together really does make this business a labor of love.
What are some important things people should know when pursuing a design life?
Jeanine: Take it seriously and be patient; it takes time to grow your business. Some people may be creative but not business-minded. If you’re one of those people, hire a business manager. You need to be able to figure out how you can do the creative side and also fulfill orders, keep track of payments and do your taxes. Also invest in yourself. Your brand is a reflection of you, so make sure it’s cohesive, accessible and that is speaks to who you are as a designer.
What can we expect next from AphroChic?
Jeanine: We are working on some new projects in the next year to make AphroChic bigger and better. Expect to see designer collaborations, fresh, new designs and even an AphroChic TV channel! We’re always looking for new ways to engage those who are as passionate about design as we are.
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