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. CEOs are forging their own paths, blazing their own trails, and turning their passion into a profit. Curious to know how she does it? 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.
Dionna Collins originally launched ComfiArt in 2016 as a way to combine her graphic design and digital marketing skills into unique home goods pieces for herself. But a year later, a job layoff led the entrepreneur to rebrand ComfiArt to cater to consumers who want affordable art and home decor and expanded her product offerings to include apparel and accessories. Partnering with local artists and brands in the Atlanta community, ComfiArt services e-commerce, events, and business-to-business clients wishing to take their space up a notch without sacrificing quality or style.
In this week's feature, meet Dionna Collins of ComfiArt.
Courtesy of Dionna Collins
Title: Founder/CEO of ComfiArt
Year Founded: 2016
# of Employee(s): 2
30-Second Pitch: "ComfiArt was founded in 2016 as an affordable way to buy unique art that you can wear and also decorate your space. We create exclusive pieces while collaborating with artists and brands around the community."
What inspired you to start your brand?
I've always loved graphic design. I have 14 years in the graphic design and digital marketing world, but I didn't want to deal with freelance market. I started ComfiArt for myself. Originally, it was only pillows and home goods. Creating ComfiArt has allowed me to be able to create for the consumer while feeding my soul with the love and passion of creativity without the pressure.
What was your "A-ha!" moment that brought your idea into reality?
My "A-ha!" moment was in 2017 when I got laid off from my job. While trying to generate an income, that pushed me to rebrand ComfiArt. I expanded the products I was selling online to include more apparel and accessories, which led to the three tiers that make up ComfiArt: e-commerce, events, and business-to-business.
Courtesy of Dionna Collins
Who is your ideal customer?
Being that my main focus is on art, we at ComfiArt like to collaborate with artists in their area, Atlanta, Georgia. With that, we ensure that people are able to afford beautiful artwork in the small pieces we offer online. Our goal is to make sure that if you aren't able to afford a $5,000 and upward original piece, you can afford original artwork with ComfiArt. Our ideal customers are art enthusiasts, people that love unique items, creatives, home decorators and people who like to stand out from the crowd.
What makes your business different?
ComfiArt is an affordable way to bring unique art that you can wear and also decorate your space. We create exclusive pieces while collaborating with artists and brands around the Atlanta area. The collaborations we have with Atlanta artists help them find other alternatives in creating financial wealth for themselves. Some ways that we help are by curating events, connecting them with brands, and sharing profit opportunities with ComfiArt through our website e-commerce.
What obstacles did you have to overcome while launching and growing your brand?
Like everyone, I'm still going through obstacles. Finances are one struggle as a small business. It can be hard finding funding to help grow and expand the business. Self-doubt, confidence, and depending on others to make my dreams come true are some of the obstacles I've overcome so far and I depend more on myself now. This entrepreneurial life is more personal. It has forced me to depend on myself, not doubt my own ideas and how to follow through. Now when I hear a "no" or a door closes, I don't get as upset anymore. I just realize that it's not the time or that God is telling me that I'm not quite ready and that opportunity will come back when the time is right.
What was the defining moment in your entrepreneurial journey?
For me, I don't think I have one yet. In this past year, I have reached some major milestones in regards to helping artists sell their artwork and expanding my brand identity, as well as collaborating with other major brands such as WeWork and Whole Foods while still being such a young company. As a brand, what sets me apart is being able to bring artists to platforms and environments that they're not typically used to being in. In the upcoming years, I'd like to expand more on that. The NBA, Hawks, Nike, Amazon, and Coca-Cola are a few of the brands that I'd like to collaborate with.
Where do you see your company in 5-10 years?
To be a global brand. In the next 5-10 years, I want to be the company that brands call to find artists while being the brand that artists come to find contracts for work. Our main purpose at ComfiArt is to help artists find alternatives to building financial wealth while merging the gap between brands and artists and assisting with government contracts. My goal is to also expand the e-commerce aspect of ComfiArt and collaborate with more artists while being the brand that hosts major art events throughout the country and simultaneously expands the experiential realm for artists.
Where have you seen the biggest return on investment?
Social media has been our biggest ROI. We get a lot of traffic via Instagram and influencer marketing through our events with other artists. This has helped to grow my email marketing list and expand the brand to other artists.
Do you have a mentor?
No mentors, hoping to find one soon to assist with questions that I have on building and expanding the company and learning more about investments and finances.
Biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Not everyone will believe in your dreams at first, you just have to trust and believe in yourself and take risks. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. It won't happen overnight, you just have to be consistent.
For more ComfiArt, follow them on social media @ComfiArt.
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.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports