Cultured CEO's One-Year Reflection
As I am approaching one year of business next year, the journey has definitely been one worth reflecting. Being a small business owner is not easy, and I came to know that very quickly, but it has its rewards. As the year starts to come to an end, I would like to share with you 6 important things I’ve learned as a business owner so far:
1. Friendship doesn’t necessarily equal support
This one caught me by surprise. I imagined having constant support from every single one of my friends, but I actually only ended up having the support of a few. Friends I had known for years never bought anything or even shared social media posts, but complete strangers who I had never met before were so eager to show support. This is something that continues to baffle me, but I’ve learned to just accept, because the core people I’ve needed have been there every step of the way.
2. Kill the comparison game
One of my favorite quotes is by Eugene Cho says “If the grass looks greener on the other side...Stop staring. Stop comparing. Stop complaining and start watering the grass you’re standing on.” If anything has been more true this year, it’s this. It’s so easy to look at other successful businesses around you and begin to think you’re behind, or not good enough. That’s a lie. This year, I’ve learned to look at my own grass and embrace my own journey. It has made all the difference.
3. It gets better
In the beginning, it felt like everything was moving so slow, and sometimes it still feels that way. Sometimes we are fooled into thinking we have to sell a lot and have crazy amounts of support to be successful. That hasn’t happened for me this year. BUT, there have been a few people who have gone out of their way to wear my apparel to their events just to showcase it. Things like are one of the reasons this is all worth it. “It gets better” really means to look at the little things surrounding you. Look at the little social media shares or the people who take the time to talk about your business to others. If we focus on everything that’s wrong instead of the positive, we’ll always think we not progressing.
4. Put your business first
I have a bad habit of being “superman.” I swoop in and try to save everyone and fix everyone’s problems, sometimes even at the expense of my own self-care. This year, I’ve learned that if I want my business to grow, I have to invest in it more than I invested in the visions of others. I learned this isn’t selfish, but necessary. You can still be compassionate while putting your business first. You can still help others as you advance yourself, and you can still be available without having to drop everything on your agenda to do so. Prioritizing your business is not a bad thing, it’s commendable.
5. Don’t change for anyone
There were times I found myself thinking I could do better as a business if I changed to something else. Maybe if I sold different items, people would want to buy more. There were other times, people just didn’t quite get the vision. I am a clothing company, not a custom T-shirt kiosk, so the clothes are what they are. The brand was not created to make custom shirts that cater to personal preference. More importantly than that, Cultured is not only a clothing brand, but a movement. A movement that says we are more than colored faces. We are trend setters, creatives, artists, and individuals who work hard to love the skin we’re in. We encourage customers to embrace the way they were created without limitations. I don’t plan on changing that core value to make sales.
6. Enjoy the ride
As a creative, I learned this journey only belonged to me. I’m the one that had to endure the late nights, creative blocks and lack of support, but it all makes for such a better success story. This journey is exactly what it’s meant to be, and it’s going exactly at the pace it’s supposed to be. Enjoying the ride means making mistakes and learning lessons from them. It also means celebrating little victories just as much as big ones.
As the year comes to an end, I am grateful for everything that I’ve learned. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but I am excited to see what’s next for Cultured. I hope to continue to encourage people to embrace their melanin one shirt at a time.
Jeremy Seeden, Cultured CEO