1. What is Images of Culture and what inspired you to start it?
Images of Culture is minority-owned company that designs and manufacturers school supply products for children of color.
As a 15-year veteran of corporate America, I have seen companies make executive decisions NOT to invest in multi-cultural initiatives due to perceived lack of returns. When financial numbers are not being met, multi-cultural initiatives are the first to get cut! Not only did I want to create a company that whole-heartedly serviced the needs of multi-cultural consumers,but I also sought to instill self-confidence and self-appreciation in young children of color. Because I wanted to ensure that my products were affordable and could be used frequently, it did take a several years to finalize my product offerings.
2. Tell me about yourself and your position in Images of Culture?
I did not grow up in a diverse community – primarily it was black and white. I did not have a high level of self-confidence in my appearance (e.g. my hair, my ethnic features) as I do now. Looking back, I realize that I never had any inspiration to “be myself”. There were no black dolls to play with; when the first black Cabbage Patch Kid came out, I was too old! There was no black anything, for a kid to enjoy! I often found myself desperately wanting to be like my Caucasian friends. It wasn’t until I went to college that I began my journey of “self-love”. At the University of Virginia, I found my melting pot – all types of ethnicities, cultures and experiences to learn about! I saw other people, who were considered minorities, embracing who they were. But after many years of self-doubt, it took me longer to do the same.
As the founder of Images of Culture, I want to inspire children of color to develop healthy personal and family identities through my products. Discovering and appreciating one’s self at a young age will set the stage for a more confident adulthood.
3. What is currently available on your website and also what will we be seeing in thefuture?
On my website (www.ImagesofCulture.com), visitors will find a one-of-a-kind educational product line of spiral-bound notebooks that feature athletically-inspired graphics that are colorful, motivational and beneficial for children.
In the future, Images of Culture will continue to design relevant and inspiring graphics for children of color as well as expand into other school supplycategories.
4. What advice do you have for Black women that are trying to build their own business?
In general, entrepreneurs who are trying to build their business often hear “ensure you have a vision”, “have faith”, “develop a strong 3 to 5 year business plan” or “befinancial equipped”. Although, all of these statements are important, one ingredient that I have found to be missing is the “educational” factor. Running a business is not a scripted experience. One must also have the knowledge of different subject matters to support the vision, the business plans and the finances.
Based on the business venture, one should have a working knowledge in areas such as Accounting, Finance, Sales, Marketing (advertising, digital, social media,consumer promotions), Supply Chain/Manufacturing, and/or Research &Development. It seems like a lot….but,great preparation yields great results.
5. Do you feel like you have faced more challenges building your company because you are a Black woman? How did you face those challenges?
I do not feel that I have faced many challenges building my company because I am a Black woman. Because of my target market, being a Black woman has actually been an advantage. Most of my challenges have been in the product development and product sourcing areas.
6. I see many Black women give up on their dreams because they don’t know how to push through obstacles or how to deal with stress. What keeps you inspired to keep pushing through obstacles and how to you deal with stress?
My inspiration for pushing forward with Images of Culture comes from – simply knowing that my product is a great product. It solves a problem for children of color. There is no doubt in my mind that I cannot be successful with this venture. When parents and children see my product – they love it!
How I deal with stress has evolved as I have matured (not gotten older)! Nowadays, my stress reliever is working out. The more I sweat, the better I feel. When I work out, whether it’s walking around a track or participating in an aerobics class, my mind gains clarity; ideas for expanding my business arise and I am in peace with my surroundings.
7. Success is defined as the gaining of fame or prosperity. What is success to you?
I define success as pursuing something you love and making an impact to others at the same time.
8. Any last words for my readers?
In closing, I encourage your readers to incorporate the following message into their lives and for them to encourage others to do the same:
“See Yourself. Be Yourself. Love Yourself.”