Lip gloss. Jewelry. Panties. Pumas. T-shirts. If someone were to ask me what I have an abundance of, things that I'm basically addicted to, it would be those five things; especially T-shirts.
No doubt, I am a self-professed walking human billboard. In fact, I love tees so much that a few years back, I attempted to start my own T-shirt line. I must say that the concepts were super dope; so was the name of the line. So, why is it on indefinite hiatus? Because I'll also admit that when I started out, I bit off a lot more than I could chew. For example, T-shirt lines are EX-PEN-SIVE. Because I was ill-prepared, I was spending more to print them than I was making selling them.
Still, I know that one day I'll want to resurrect my line. I'm also pretty sure that some of y'all have considered doing one of your own, but you weren't sure how to make your own vision come together.
Although there are some pretty informative YouTube videos that you could check out (like here and here), I decided to take things up a notch by featuring some of my absolute favorite Black female-owned T-shirt lines on the 'net!
I can personally vouch for each one because I either own some of their shirts or I've bought them as gifts for others. And trust me, after checking out these women's expertise, if having a T-shirt line in 2019 is one of your goals, you will feel more confident than ever that you can pull it off!
Thank you, ladies for your pearls of wisdom. It's like getting access to a free online business seminar and that is priceless!
Courtesy of Tees in the Trap
Arsha Jones, Owner and Founder
What inspired you to come up with a T-shirt line and what inspired the name? Also, how do you select your specialty lines?
I didn't see a reflection of my own experiences, likes, humor, and personality represented online. I wanted to purchase products that represented me — a Black girl who is a little hood, with a touch of bougie. The name came from the Nicki Minaj song "Beez in the Trap". I thought it had a nice ring to it.
How much money do you need to start a line?
That's relative. It could be a low as $20. With the emergence of drop shipping, if you have a domain, Shopify, and an idea, you can be up and running in hours.
Courtesy of Feminine Funk
Nicole Grier, Owner, and Creative Director
What is something that you wish you had done differently within the first year of having your line?
When I started Feminine Funk, we had very humble beginnings. Money was very limited, so I didn't factor in a bookkeeper or an accountant to take care of our finances. The truth is, if you are going to have any kind of business, you need someone handling the books. It will give you peace of mind and make tax time so much easier.
What's the biggest mistake a Black female can make in the T-shirt business?
The biggest mistake a Black female can make is to not protect their designs and artwork. I have been guilty of this myself. We are smart and talented and because of this, we are getting knocked off all of the time. Talk to a trademark lawyer and find out your rights and what you can do to protect yourself.
Courtesy of Mess in a Bottle
Kaliah Wright, Founder and CEO
What do you love most about your T-shirt line and what, quite frankly, is the most challenging about it?
I love the unique concept of receiving a MESSage in a Bottle. This idea stems from the 310 B.C. concept of receiving a message that was dropped into the ocean and then found washed up onto the shore. We are the 21st-century version of that, in which you select the MESSage, it is printed on a premium cotton t-shirt, packaged in a reusable bottle and then dropped into the ocean (i.e. shipped) for yourself or your recipient.
The most challenging part is growing so rapidly with the business. We have exploded in the last three years. We started in my small row home in Baltimore, MD and the brand quickly expanded beyond my reach. We have graced celebrities such as Serena Williams, Lena Waithe and Bozoma Saint John to name a few and featured in publications such as Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan Magazine. The demand for a MESSage in a Bottle has significantly increased and it has been difficult to keep up with as we print and manufacture most of its products in-house.
I'm a walking human billboard, so I'm a snob when it comes to T-shirt quality. If someone wants to start a T-shirt line, how do they make sure their tees are up to par?
A couple of easy things. If you are not a designer, I would try to work closely with a graphic designer to be sure you have a well-designed T-shirt. In addition, I would obtain sample prints of different print methods to be sure you choose the best quality print for your designs on your T-shirt. Lastly, don't be afraid to get a sample of different T-shirts as well to be sure using cotton vs. poly-cotton or polyester is the right fit for your brand. Attending T-shirt print trade shows are a great way to quickly get answers to these questions.
Courtesy of FAB FLY FANCY
Tierra McKnight, CEO
How old is your line and what was the inspiration behind it?
Fab Fly Fancy started on Etsy and it has only been in existence for 16 months. In addition to Etsy, we now have our own domain, sell on We Buy Black, and vend at a variety of events. However, most of the revenue is generated from Etsy.
As a full-time educator with a new baby, I was constantly buying items from Etsy. I researched via YouTube and realized that it would be relatively simple to start my own T-shirt line and it would also be the perfect way to generate an extra source of income from home. The inspiration behind my line is a celebration of today's culture with expressive, thought-provoking, and sometimes humorous messages.
In your opinion, is it a good idea to learn how to print yourself or hire a printing company to do the printing for you?
In my opinion, I think it is a good idea to print for yourself because you are in control and your profit margin is typically larger. However, you also need to consider time and the amount of space needed when printing yourself…
I would suggest [buying] a vinyl cutter which is around $200 and a heat press, which would start around $100. Then you would also need to get T-shirts, vinyl, and some type of electronic device (computer, tablet) to create your designs. I started with a small heat press from Amazon, my work laptop, and a Cricut.
Courtesy of Habitually Fly
Traci Blanco, Founding Creative
When someone is just starting out, what are three essential things that they need?
Three essential components are 1) a clear niche because it will tell you who your ideal client is and where to find them; 2) a marketing budget because without marketing you don't have a business and 3) an e-commerce website because [putting on your socials] "DM to purchase" is ineffective.
How do you select price points in order to make a profit?
Price points are chosen based on the wholesale costs of all the T-shirt components and the profit margin you're shooting for. This formula can be used to help: Retail Price = [(cost to produce) ÷ (100-profit %)] x 100.
Courtesy of Izzy & Liv
Nicole W. Brown, CEO
I checked out your backstory; it's super-inspiring. What has been the challenges with balancing running a brand and having a family?
The biggest challenge is the fact there really is no such thing as "balance". You cannot give 100 percent to multiple interests because there is only one of you. So even if you are giving 50/50, while that may be an equitable "balance" in the true sense of the word, that still leaves you with the guilt of feeling like you have fallen short, which is a struggle.
For me, it's more a question of how can I "juggle" it all? How can I keep all of these balls in the air and not drop any of them? Also, accepting the fact that I can only have one or two balls in my hand at any given moment, but as long as the other balls are still thriving in the air, all is good. I have four children and there are days where one child may need more attention and focus than another. Being aware of that and giving each child the individualized attention that they need, when they need it, is "balance" for me. And, as an entrepreneur, in some ways, my business is my fifth child. Both my business and my children require constant nurturing and attention to grow and be successful. I do my best to juggle them all and make sure that no ball is dropped.
However, at the end of the day, no matter what, my children and my family come first. So, if I have the business ball in my hand but one of my children need me, that business ball goes right back up in the air, no question.
T-shirt lines are super expensive. What's your advice when it comes to running one without breaking the bank?
I'm a fan of starting out with drop-shipping/print on demand, especially if your budget is limited. This allows you to sell your designs without having to invest in inventory and with little upfront cost of goods. You pay for what you sell as you go and it allows you to see what designs are a hit and what designs are a miss (proof of concept).
From there, you can focus on improving your margins by transitioning your best-selling designs to an inventory model where you produce more in bulk, which costs you less per unit. You can also look into learning how to print your own t-shirts. However, be prepared to be able to scale that operation as your sales increase.
Courtesy of Pink Grey NYC
What are the pros and cons of having an Etsy store?
A major pro of having an Etsy store is the direct marketing Etsy provides [such as] emailing customers on your behalf and directing customers to your shop. A major con is the fees…I would say for an Etsy shop, the cost may be around $500. Having your own stand-alone website will ensure that all profits go to you…but, in my experience, you'll always end up spending more than whatever [is in] your budget.
What, in your opinion, are the keys to success in running a Black female-owned T-shirt business?
Not being afraid to ask for help is the key to doing anything successfully. While it can be rewarding to do everything on your own, it can also be really difficult and maybe even a little unrealistic. So, make sure you have a good support system, whether its friends, family, or members of your church. Utilize those relationships, and never hesitate to ask for help, whether it be connections for discounts on supplies or just for words of encouragement when running your business gets stressful. Having a circle of people who support you and who are there for you can be a lifesaver!
Feature image by Habitually Fly.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The first big leap was moving to a new city and getting settled into my new home. The next big leap? Was finding community and belonging. Moving to a new city excited me! I looked forward to having my own apartment, decorating it, and exploring what the city had to offer. I also found excitement in the thought of meeting new people and expanding my connections. When it actually came down to it, I felt nervous. I heard that making new friends as an adult can be hard because we all have different responsibilities and schedules that may not align. I knew in order for me to really feel at home in my new city, I had to create community.
Having a community of people who I can share memories with, lean on in times of need, and inspire each other is something I always valued. I took a moment to truly center in on what I desired from the new friends I would make. Then I realized it all would have to start with me. I had to be centered and confident in who I was to attract who I desired to be aligned with. As someone who moved to a new city and established quality friendships, I gathered these six tips that helped me feel grounded and create community in hopes that it will help you, too.
6 tips to start building community and making new friends in a new city:
Sean Anthony Eddy/ Getty Images
Be true to yourself
Do you know who you are? If someone asked you to describe yourself in three words, what words would you use? In order to develop deep friendships, you must be a friend to yourself first. Know what refuels you and what zaps your energy. Self-study your habits and why you do the things you do. All this will be important to keep in mind when looking to create bonds with others. Every day there’s all kinds of people telling you who you should be, how you should act, or what you should wear. At the end of the day, the only opinion about yourself that truly matters is your own. Spend some alone time with yourself indoors or out at an event you like to truly discover who you are in this season of your life.
Pray about it
Before you step out into the world and cross paths with all kinds of people, it’s important to pray about building your community. God outlines what true friendship looks like in numerous Bible verses such as "Iron sharpens iron." - Proverbs 27:17 and “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. If you desire friendships that last, pray about what you seek in friendship. I remember praying for mentally stable, happy, and whole women who moved through life with abundance mindsets. Take a moment to journal about the community you want to build and then pray on it.
Go to fun events to meet people who share your interests
Most metropolitan cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Atlanta are known to have strong young professional communities and events where you can connect with others. I highly encourage you to attend events in or near your community to see what the city is like and meet people. It’s likely that the people at the event have the same interests as you, which is a great way to start a conversation. You can start by searching for events on Eventbrite or following Instagram pages that highlight events happening in your city.
Carlos Barquero/ Getty Images
Accept that you won’t be compatible with everyone you meet
While living in your new city, it’s likely you’ll meet a variety of people. Please know that everyone you meet will not bud into lasting friendships, and that’s okay! You are uniquely created and not made for everyone. Then you’ll meet people who are good for only surface-level connections, and then you’ll have your girls who you can get deep with. I think sometimes people can look down on surface-level friendships, but not everyone needs to fully know you. That’s a privilege to have and to accept within yourself. Continue to check in with yourself and be real about who you crave to spend more time with and who is nice to see for a monthly or quarterly catch-up.
Join Facebook groups & GroupMe chats
If you haven’t used Facebook in a couple of years, it’s time to dust your profile off. Facebook Groups is a great place to join online communities for people who just moved to a new city like you. Typically, you have to agree to the group’s guidelines, and then you can join. For example, you can search for groups in the Facebook app by using keywords like women, Black girl, or [the name of your city] foodies. With the GroupMe app, you’ll have to be invited to join an already existing group. While you’re out and about networking, don’t hesitate to ask if they’re in any online groups/communities they recommend you join too.
Be friendly to folks in your neighborhood
When I first moved to my new apartment, I spent the first week walking around the complex and working in the community spaces to get a better feel of it. I was able to meet people in my neighborhood, enjoy small talk, and learn more about what the community has to offer. Step outside of your comfort zone and work in your apartment’s community space or a local coffee shop to connect with others.
Overall, you may feel alone in your new city, but I guarantee you’re not. There are other people experiencing living in a new city too, and all you need to do is find each other. I hope these tips help ease the nervous feelings you have about building a new community and inspire you to make a new friend today!
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Feature image by Nappy/ Pexels