Social media is constantly introducing us to new brands and businesses we love. But for the successful entrepreneurs behind the must-have products and screenshot-worthy posts that flood our timelines each day, there’s much work that goes into growing an online presence that doubles as a profitable business.
During the the ESSENCE + New Voices Entrepreneur Summit and Target Holiday Market in Atlanta, CEOs Nichole Lynel, Mia Ray, and Zakia Blain took to the main stage to chat about the success of their businesses, how Instagram plays a role and maintaining authenticity.
To start things off, the ladies spoke candidly about creating a community on social media before the wave of influencers and popularity.
Glam-Aholic Lifestyle creator Mia Ray shared that she merged her fashion blog into her Instagram profile to give her followers a more personal look at her day-to-day. For FBF Fitness founder Zakia Blain, it was being real and transparent about her struggle with weight loss that allowed other women to connect with her while to ultimately building a solid weight loss community.
“I’ve been on diets, I’ve told that my body was not worthy,” Zakia shared “And….there are so many people who can relate to that.”
While the women see much of their success on Instagram today, they each emphasized the value of the training and experience they had before creating million dollar brands online.
Nichole opened up about how her previous jobs in retail and education taught her how to excel in customer service and communicate with different types of customers.
Agreeing that their past experiences and work ethic allowed them to succeed as business owners and operate as the face of a brand, the ladies also touched on the importance of consistency.
After speaking to the various dynamics of consistency that play a role in the continued growth of their respective brands, each of the panelists agreed that if you’re not consistently pushing your brand out and engaging with your followers, you’re hurting your business.
Along with consistency, the group also addressed how style and aesthetic play huge roles in how your brand is received online.
While on her journey, Mia discovered that curating a “perfect profile” can make room for people to compare themselves and not feel good enough. “I’m not always gonna be pretty or have my hair done,” she said. “I put out what I want people to see; everyone’s not perfect.” Adding to the message, Zakia touched on the topic of staying organic and working with celebrity influencers, noting that while it can be tempting for entrepreneurs to bring celebrities on board to help grow a business, authenticity is key. “For me, I want you to buy my product and I want you to talk about it because you spend your hard earned money on it,” she said. “Not because I sent it to you for free.”
In closing, Zakia encouraged the audience to extend grace to Black women in business and continue to uplift them.
“Give your sister a chance,” she said. “Root for her.”
Head back to ESSENCE.com for more of everything you missed at the first-ever ESSENCE + New Voices Entrepreneur Summit and Target Holiday Market.