Let’s talk about entrepreneur lessons. I could write a book on them.
Entrepreneurship is an exhilarating, wild, crazy ride — but also a part exhausting, part terrifying, and part completely overwhelming. And my own journey has certainly been filled with allll of the entrepreneur lessons known to man. Several years ago, I was living the corporate world life assembling my very own DIY MBA (unbeknownst to me). And I loved it. But, also? I was burnt out, and I was in a big time rut. On a whim, I invested $300 into a jewelry making workshop in a desperate bid to find something that would give me a creative release.
It worked, and the entrepreneurship bug bit me hard. I launched my very own lifestyle brand, Kalaki Riot, and spent years learning to turn my business into an experience for my customers. Now? I’m a brand strategist, designer, and visual marketer with a thing for stunning visuals and a serious passion for helping other business owners fall in love with the process of marketing their brands visually themselves.
When you read entrepreneurship profiles, you’ll often see stories similar to mine: people who were happily climbing the corporate ladder when their passions knocked them off of it. I don’t miss that ladder, but I’m thankful for the lessons I learned on it — and the lessons I’ve learned since I’ve decided to hop off.
Here are 3 things that have changed the game for me along the way:
1. I stopped coming from a place of lack
When I first started Kalaki Riot, I was completely bootstrapped — and I didn’t see why on earth I deserved stunning branding and custom-designed aspects to my business. I didn’t have my MBA. I didn’t have any outside investment. So did I even deserve a business that looked like I had both?
Plus… in my mind, I wasn’t making enough yet to even consider working with a creative agency for custom services. And, when I was? Woof. I was way too scared to spend any of it.
This was exactly the kind of thinking that never got me anywhere. Because focusing on lack only created more lack. But when I focused on more positive thoughts and came from a place of abundance, I created more space in my business (and in my mind) to figure out how to make things happen. If you come from a scarcity mindset, all of that negative thinking will only get in the way of figuring out a real roadmap for how to get to where you want to be.
2. I curated big brand confidence in every aspect
As a new business owner, I had a fixed thought in my head that if I didn’t sell my pieces in big department stores like Bloomingdales and Saks, then I hadn’t “made it.” And the crazy part was that this measure of success came from a place of ego — a credibility marker that had nothing to do with sales or even aligned with the business goals that I had defined earlier on. But I was fixated on it and after a few months after I launched, I did the scariest thing I had done in my business yet: I hired a sales team to help me with merchandising my line specifically to bring on more wholesale accounts.
It was a lot of money. And I wasn’t emotionally or mentally ready to do it. In fact, I had the biggest pit in my stomach every time I thought about it. But I ignored my intuition, and convinced myself that making this decision was me putting my big-business-owner pants on.
And you know what? Ignoring my intuition was a huge (and expensive) mistake. From the first time I met with the team, I felt small. They prioritized other accounts ahead of mine. They ignored everything about our brand story and strategy and even had me produce extra collections that they never got into any stores. It was awful. After 6 months of trying to justify this service, I finally cut the cord.
Talk about important entrepreneur lessons to be learned. I was so bummed but I also knew this was on me. I thought if I wanted people to see me as a big brand, I had to start acting like it. But instead of having big brand confidence, my choices in this situation were all fear-driven and came from a place of ego, which is something entirely different. Confidence is having faith in your own abilities and believing in yourself. But ego operates out of self-interest and seeks approval, accolades, and validation at all costs.
For me, that big brand confidence finally came when I focused on mastering my craft. And not just from a product standpoint, but focused on really crafting and curating my brand and the experience I was creating for my customers. And while there are a million ways to get the attention of Bloomingdales and Saks, I knew that’s how I would. This is the foundation that would work for me.
Shifting my mindset and raising my standards is what really helped me turn away from building my brand around what I thought it should be or look like. I had to start designing my brand for results.
So I aligned my thoughts and my goals, I started testing an entirely new system, I set wild intentions for what my business and I deserved, and I threw myself completely into creating unshakeable confidence in my own brand. Within two months? I had tripled my income. Within three? I was featured by Tory Burch and ADIDAS (with no PR team, I might add!) which was a big time game changer for Kalaki Riot because of the exposure it brought us. I mean, I knew my brand’s value. But to have brands like Tory Burch and ADIDAS recognize it too was the biggest validation that all of my hard work was paying off. And that was one of the best entrepreneur lessons I learned. The system I had created was actually working. I was doing something right.
3. I started playing BIG
Once I got a taste of results, I was hooked. Cultivating my brand into something that was a delightful experience for the customer but also a reflection of my own values became the name of the game. And with time, that confidence I needed as a business owner — the same confidence I was so unsure I would ever see — was abundant.
When the time came for me to start setting new (and bigger) goals, I realized that playing big looked different from building upon the big results I was experiencing with Kalaki Riot. Being purpose-driven was a really one of the more important entrepreneur lessons I could learn. I wanted to help other entrepreneurs and businesses use the same strategic framework that was working for my own brand. That little leap and that big play is what led me to create Uno Dos Trae — and my life hasn’t been the same since.
The entrepreneurship journey has been one of the most validating, powerful, and humbling experiences of my whole life. If you’re reading this, you know what it’s like — the hours spent tossing and turning, the notebooks filled with ideas, and the constant voice in your head pushing you to go just a little bit farther.
If you’re new on the entrepreneurship train — or you’re looking to re-strategize — take some time to double down on your core values and your brand statement with my free guides to both. Also, keep an eye open around here for our newest launch intended to help you transform your entire biz and propel you in your visual brand journey.