How This Entrepreneur Uses Pop-Up Markets to Grow Her Business
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

While many new business owners dream of owning a retail shop, pop-up markets are increasingly growing in popularity as a means to boost profits while reaching new audiences. As CEO of The Brown Crayon Project and a veteran vendor of pop-up shops like The Black Owned Market, Selma Idris knows firsthand about the benefits of pop-up shops—especially around the holiday season.

The Brown Crayon Project is a certified organic skin and hair care line designed for children of color. We caught up with Idris to learn how she’s benefited from the temporary retail spaces that pop up in different locations throughout the year.

 

What makes your business unique?

We provide parents and caregivers with soulful, safe, and effective products to combat everyday kid things like dry skin, eczema, dry hair, and tangled locks. What makes The Brown Crayon Project unique is our commitment to nurture and nourish the ego of children of the diaspora. Both our products and messaging focus on enhancing (not altering) the beauty of our children. We work with physicians, families, scientists, authors, children, artists, museums, and community organizations to craft, deliver, and promote products and messaging that positively impact the physical and emotional health of our kids.

 

(Image: The Brown Crayon Project)

(Image: The Brown Crayon Project)

 

Tell us about your journey from launching your business to distributing product at pop-up shops.

We have just begun our second year of business and retail is an undertaking that we are being very deliberate about. We spent our first year making sure we built a system that can thrive under the pressure and demands that retail presents while accumulating the leverage necessary to seek more favorable terms with retailers and distributors. My background is in verbal and visual identity development and I’ve seen a lot of folks fail when they went retail. That experience has made me cautious. With the availability of fast, low-cost, automated fulfillment, we are able to sell directly to our customers and take our growth into our own hands a bit.

But nothing can replace human interaction. Shops like The Black-Owned Market (BOM) allow small businesses like mine the opportunity to speak directly to our customers, answer questions, listen to feedback, hear personal stories and see facial expressions and real-time reactions to our products. I file it all under market research and consumer-testing activities that my former and much larger clients spent beaucoup money on. In addition to research, press, and lovely visits from loyal customers, pop-up shops have proven to be an invaluable, grass-roots way to establish the presence of our brand and garner the necessary customer recognition, support, and loyalty, aka leverage, to help negotiate favorable retail terms and ensure the brand’s success.

The Brown Crayon Project will be at The BOM Weekend and Holiday Market in New York City from Dec. 16–Dec. 17, 2017.

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