With the rise of more and more black women breaking away from traditional 9-5s to become their own bosses, the CEO is getting a revamp as the SHEeo. In the Meet The SHEeo series, we talk to melanated mavens leveling up and glowing up, all while redefining what it means to be a boss.
After recognizing that many stores lacked handbags that were unique and functional, Cheryl Williams used her gift for sewing and began designing one-of-a-kind handbags that reflected her personal style, and that held everything from credit cards to lip gloss without feeling weighed down. She launched 86 & Norman (then Double Clutched) in 2015 for eclectic women who want to carry what they need without sacrificing style. She currently works full-time as a Lead Business Analyst while juggling her growing business.
In this week's feature, meet Cheryl Marie Williams of 86 & Norman.
Courtesy of Cheryl Williams
Title:CEO of 86 & Norman
Year Founded: 2015 (as Double Clutched, rebranded to 86 & Norman in 2019)
Location: Columbus, Ohio
# of Employees: 1
30-Second Pitch: 86 & Norman accessories helps eclectic stylish women who want to carry what they need while looking super cute with handbags, clutches, and wallets.
What inspired you to start your brand?
I launched Double Clutched (my former brand name) in June of 2015 because I quickly felt that handbags can be created to be so bold yet also functional. Everyone doesn't necessarily want the same styled tote or crossbody bag. They may want something only a few people can get and something that complements what they already wear and feel comfortable in.
I only pick designs based on [it] making sense and being functional. Fabrics have to be unique, likeable, and something that looks nice on a variety of designs. Those two together is what inspires me to create my bags. No two bags are alike. There's so much variation and that keeps it motivating and exciting.
In February 2019, I rebranded Double Clutched to 86 & Norman. 86 is the year I was born and Norman is the street of my Aunt's house when I was growing up that was like a second home to me.
What was your a-ha moment that brought your idea into reality?
Creating my first wallet was my a-ha moment that showed me that other people could too benefit from my products. My first wallet had multiple card slots, a space for your phone, keys, and your favorite lip gloss. But it was perfectly slim and had a wristlet strap so you could be hands free, [without being] weighed down with a huge bag, and have everything you need.
Who is your ideal customer?
An ideal 86 & Norman customer is a creative thinker with a heart for uplifting people. She values her family and mental health. She is someone who always has great creative ideas and gives great food, fashion, and product recommendations. She loves Black-ish, black-owned businesses, Marvel movies, and tacos. She craves the culture that comes with diverse cities and is a foodie at heart. Girls' night outs and date nights are her favorite. Her idol is the one and only Michelle Obama. Stories about people doing good for other people warms her heart.
What makes your business different?
The combination of both my style of print with my style of product makes 86 & Norman different. You won't find my unique fabric combinations with the form of bags, clutches, and wallets that I have anywhere else. And because each print/product combination is limited, each customer truly gets a limited-edition product.
To make 86 & Norman even more personal, I decided to name each bag after prominent African American women or TV characters. I think it's fun and it pays homage to those who I've learned about, read about, or watched growing up. My clutches just aren't a clutch. But it's the Jemison (Mae Jemison) Fold Over Clutch. I always called my products "she" and now all my she's have names.
What obstacles did you have to overcome while launching and growing your brand? How were you able to overcome them?
Through starting my business and rebranding my business, my main sacrifices and obstacles were time and money. Working full-time and then coming home to do all the business things myself, was and still is hard. And at times, my personal funds have had to fund my business.
To overcome those obstacles, I had to implement money management practices (like using accounting software to keep track of what's going out and for what reasons) and I had to learn how to move my time management skills from my day time job to my business. Making to-do lists, giving myself deadlines, and sectioning out my free time on the weekends for fun vs business are what helps keep the back-end of my business going.
What was the defining moment in your entrepreneurial journey?
I took a branding class last fall with the intention on fine-tuning what I had already created. Instead, I ended up doing a total overhaul. While Double Clutched will always be where I started, it wasn't really a brand. Just a business. With 86 & Norman, I have a target person, not just an audience but a specific target person, brand colors, a brand manifesto, mission and values, and a brand personality. I have all that locked down and now I know what will work for my brand and what doesn't fit. I know what events my people will be at and where they won't. I know what will speak to my customers when it comes to products and fabrics and what I shouldn't use the time to consider.
"With 86 & Norman, I have a target person, not just an audience but a specific target person, brand colors, a brand manifesto, mission and values, and a brand personality. I have all that locked down and now I know what will work for my brand and what doesn't fit."
Where do you see your company in 5-10 years? (The ultimate goal?)
I've love to open a brick and mortar store that features black women handcrafted makers and artists that also doubles as an event space with DIY workshops, a teaching space, and area where people can host small intimate gatherings.
Where have you seen the biggest return on investment? (i.e. marketing, ads, vending, social media)
My best investment has been taking the time and effort in rebranding everything. Name, website, print materials, social media, legal documents, look, feel, everything.
Do you have a mentor? If so, who?
I have a few SHEeos I look up to. Melissa Butler from The Lip Bar, Jasmine Lawrence of Eden BodyWorks, Ade Hassan of Nubian Skin. I learned everything I know about branding from Lela Barker of Lucky Break Consulting.
Biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Having a product isn't enough. You need a brand, a brand story, and very defined person you want to be of service to and a need you are fulfilling.
Anything else you would like for people to know, or take away from your entrepreneurial story?
Keep being consistent. Keep posting. Keep sharing your "thing". Don't get discouraged because your journey isn't going as fast as someone else's. People are always watching and cheering you on.
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.
Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic plastic surgical procedures, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, and on average, it may run you close to $ 4,000. While many people are still turning to surgery to get the look they want, there are many alternatives that are noninvasive and overall safer that are starting to get some shine. Like a lot of people during the pandemic, I had put on a few extra pounds, and I was looking at all the different methods that can help me look and feel great.
I don’t remember how I ran across it, but I began researching laser lipo, and before I knew it, I had booked my first appointment of many. I entered the medispa and was taken to a room and told to lie down. Then, I had lasers placed on top of my stomach for about 30 minutes, and I was done. While it sounds simple, it can take multiple sessions to get the desired look you want. That was a couple of years ago. However, I decided to try it again. This time with a different practitioner and a few add-ons, including wood therapy, cavitation, skin tightening, and vacuum therapy. Let’s dig deeper.
What Is Laser Lipo?
Laser lipo is a non-invasive procedure that penetrates through the skin and shrinks the fat. Not only is it simpler than regular lipo, but it’s also less expensive. Tammy Bell of Sculpted By Bella Beauty Bar, where she offers these noninvasive services, tells us why more people are turning to laser lipo.
“It’s noninvasive. You don’t have no downtime at all, unlike lipo and the different surgeries you have downtime with that,” she says. “You get results. It’s a little slower than regular lipo, but you get results that you want.” Because everyone’s body is different, the results may vary. However, Tammy says it’s also based on lifestyle habits such as what you’re eating and how active you are.
Laser lipo is just one of the many noninvasive services to choose from. See more below.
Microgen Images/ Science Photo Library/ Getty Images
If you follow Tracee Ellis Ross on Instagram or TikTok, then you probably saw the video of her using wooden tools to sculpt her body. This method is called wood therapy, and let me tell you, it’s not for the faint of heart. In my experience, it’s a weird sensation and a little painful. However, they say beauty is pain.
Tammy breaks down what wood therapy is. “It actually breaks up the fat, and it contours your body. It moves the fat through your lymphatic system,” she explains.
Another treatment is skin tightening. As we get older, our skin loses elasticity, and this service targets sagging skin for a tighter appearance. “The heat actually helps tighten the skin,” Tammy says about the skin-tightening tool that is used during the service. “It helps build collagen for your skin to tighten.”
Cavitation liquifies the fat, and it’s the only service out of this list that can’t be done on your face. “With the cavitation and all that stuff, if you notice, I always come in, and then I go down because you have your lymph nodes for your lymphatic system for it to drain,” she says, explaining the technique she does when using the tools on the body.
“That’s why it’s important for you to drink a lot of water ‘cause you (the fat) have to either come out in your sweat or your urine.”
Vacuum therapy involves suction cups that lift the skin. While I’ve only used it on my stomach, Healthline reports that many people are using it to get a butt lift. “Vacuum therapy moves the fat, and if you want to get a butt lift, you push the fat up,” Tammy says.
Costs vary per service and per practitioner. However, I spent around $400 and got all the aforementioned services done within five appointments.
Body sculpting results
Photo courtesy of London Alexaundria
My target areas were my back, stomach, and arms, and I am satisfied with the results I received in such a short amount of time. You can get these services done separately and get good results, but I decided to try them all together as a part of a package. Just like they will tell you after getting regular lipo, for lasting results, you must make sure to keep a healthy lifestyle.
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Feature image by Delmaine Donson/ Getty Images