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The 4 Tips That Helped Jasmene Bowdry Leave Corporate America To Launch Her Own Boutique

BOSS UP

Jasmene Bowdry was living the American Dream. With a lucrative, high-level job in corporate America and enough disposable income to travel whenever and wherever she wanted, the sky was the limit for the fashion buyer. With a promising future working for high-end luxury fashion brands like Saks Fifth Avenue and a constantly increasing bank account, from the outside looking in, it seemed like Jasmene had it all figured out, but for some reason, she still wasn't happy.


Like most of us, Jasmene grew up with the belief that to truly reach a level of optimum adulting, you had to go to school, get a degree, find a good job, and retire. But as Jasmene matured and continued to excel in her career, she began to question this way of thinking. "It really just came to a point in 2015 where I was like, okay, how can I merge these passions of mine? I love fashion, I love business. How can I really merge all of that together and do something that really fulfills me?"

While she had pursued her dreams of becoming a boutique owner in her spare time away from work, reality hit her like a ton of bricks when she was let go from her full-time job and forced to explore other options. Although Jasmene had plans of leaving corporate America in the future, she learned to see her seemingly spontaneous misfortune as an act of God. She explained:

Courtesy of @JasmeneMache

"When you pray for things, God will make them happen in his time, and I was just like well this is just the time; that God wanted it to happen sooner than I did. So, to me, it was a blessing."

It takes a truly ambitious woman to shift her paradigm to see the obstacle in every opportunity, and for Jasmene, the now-owner of SHIFT StyleHouse fashion boutique, that transformation inspired the career of her dreams. As a young girl from Lansing, Michigan with a love for dressing up paper dolls, Jasmene never imagined that celebrities like Tyra Banks and Sarah Jakes Roberts would wear pieces from her boutique thanks to stylist J. Bolin, or that she'd have the opportunity to open her own pop-up boutique space in Macy's next month. But God has a funny way of pushing us into our passions.

Along with preparing for her brand debut at The Market @ Macy's in Lenox Mall on July 7th, Jasmene also spends her time as a business coach who helps women learn the ins and outs of starting their own boutique.

We sat down with Jasmene, who got real about most important things every woman should know when launching their own businesses:

Know Your Audience

So you've decided to get like our girl Jas and step out on faith to start a new business. While your first thought may be creating an Instagram page or finding a web designer, Jasmene advises that we apply a different method. Instead of focusing so intently on the aesthetic aspects of your business, get to know everything you can about your ideal customer.

Knowing your customer and honing in on your target audience to be more niche than broad is key to seeing success in your business. This is part of the reason Jasmene started her online coaching business, The Boutique Teacher. She told xoNecole, "Many times when people start boutiques, they want it for the masses. They want everybody to come shop. And when you're trying to sell to everybody, you sell to nobody."

"When you're trying to sell to everybody, you sell to nobody."

Take Your Time

Knowing your customer isn't just about filling out a worksheet, issa process. Doing the work can mean taking days, weeks, or even months to develop and evolve your business. Jasmene shared that because her target audience drives the core of her business, she uses this information to make any and every major decision that she's confronted with. "I really dove down into like, who my girl was. When I decided that I'm going to rebrand, it wasn't something that happened overnight. It was months of work and research to really understand who my ideal customer was. It was months of finding the perfect pieces that fit along with her lifestyle."

For Jasmene, getting to know her ideal customer meant using her imagination, even giving her target client a name. Once she made the decision to focus on that aspect of her business, she hasn't looked back.

Standing Out In A Crowd

Anyone who's ever dipped a toe in the fashion industry knows that thriving in an oversaturated market is no easy feat. There are new businesses popping up every day, b; so it's important that you find a way to stand out from the crowd. The SHIFT Stylehouse owner emphasized the power of staying in your own lane, because no one can do you like you.

As an introvert with just a dash of social anxiety, at times, it's hard for Jasmene to be in front of the camera. But, according to her, moving in silence isn't always the best move. She told xoNecole that the key to conquering your market is just being you, sis. "Sometimes you gotta pop out. Sometimes you do have to show yourself so that people can see you and understand you because people buy into the stories of the people they buy from; who they trust and love and who they can connect with. So sharing your unique story is really what will set you apart in this industry."

"Sometimes you gotta pop out. Sometimes you do have to show yourself so that people can see you and understand you because people buy into the stories of the people they buy from; who they trust and love and who they can connect with."

Stop Purchasing Vendor Lists

Starting a business is hard, but nothing that's truly worth having will come easily. The same is true when you're starting a boutique, and according to Jasmene, the easy way isn't always the most lucrative. I can admit that I've fallen victim to buying a wholesale vendor guide on a whim, hoping that it would help me fulfill all of my entrepreneurial dreams, but Jasmene informed me that this way of thinking was dead wrong.

"It's deeper than somebody just putting in the names of vendors on a spreadsheet. You need to build a relationship with wholesalers and manufacturers. You need to touch the quality of the product before you decide you're going to try and sell that to somebody," the style curator explained. "I see what a lot of starter boutique owners do is, they have the idea that they want to start a boutique and now they're like, 'Okay, well where do I source the product?' So they think that getting a vendor list is the solution to that."

Jasmene advised that although that vendor list may be specific to one audience, it doesn't necessarily mean that vendor's products will work for your ideal client. Vendor lists have the potential to stunt your growth, and if you're not careful, can be a real waste of money.

Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway

Courtesy of @JasmeneMache

Maybe you think you don't have enough money to start a business. Do it anyway. Maybe you think you're too old to step out on faith and leave your job. Do it anyway.

According to Jasmene, we will never truly feel like we have enough, know enough, or are enough to follow our dreams. Her mantra since leaving her job in corporate America has been, "'Feel the fear and do it anyway.' There's so much greater on the other side of fear. There's so much more outside of your comfort zone, and I was so comfortable working in corporate America. I wasn't fulfilled, but I would think that my paycheck was fulfilling me."

According to her, if she had one piece of advice, it would be: "Take the leap, take the risk. Never get too comfortable. Never. Had I taken risks earlier in my life, then the brand could have probably been so much further. But that's not something I harp on, there are no regrets. Everything happens in the timing that it is supposed to happen."

"Take the leap, take the risk. Never get too comfortable. Never."

If you're in Atlanta this month, make sure to check out Jasmene's brand, SHIFT StyleHouse at The Market @ Macy's while it's available for a limited time in Lenox Mall in Buckhead!

You can keep up with Jasmene via Instagram @jasmenemache and shop her dope collection at SHIFTStyleHouse.com.

Featured image courtesy of @jasmenemache.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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