They Mean Business Interview Highlights

By:  Alison Kendall, Emma Sauer

You might not expect it, but Kansas City is a small business hot-spot.  42% of small businesses are woman-owned, and that number is expected to only rise in the future. Check out these highlights from our earlier social media campaign, “They Mean Business”, by our stellar grad student, Alison! These highlights only feature a few of the amazing business-owners interviewed.  To see each post, check out our Instagram. 

Olivia & Madison, Amity & Vine Salon Home | Amity and Vine 

Amity and Vine (located at 1501 St in the West Bottoms) is a salon that promotes inclusivity, realistic beauty ideals, and acceptance for all.

Q: What was the key driving force to starting Amity and Vine? 

The driving forces behind Amity & Vine is accessibility and inclusivity. We want a space where our clients can afford basic hair care services and products as well as enjoying a comfortable and accepting environment where they can relax. Getting a simple haircut or a complete transformations shouldn’t be stressful, and we want to cultivate that experience for our clients.

Q: What are some challenges you face while running your business?

The main challenge we face with owning a small business would have to be the learning curve. Of course the costs and marketing were difficult too; but without the specific knowledge and background in finances and entrepreneurship, we have to learn as we go and reach out for help in those areas every now and then.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to college students and recent graduates who are interested in entrepreneurship?

Our advice for recent graduates and college students interested in entrepreneurship would be that it is normal to go through failures. As corny as that sounds, falling short in certain aspects of your business allows you to understand when to ask for help from those around you. As well as recognizing when to ask for help, always network and meet the other small businesses in your area because being a part of the community will be such an amazing tool for your business’ success.

 

Cori Smith, Blk+Brwn Bookstore 

BLK and BRWN is a bookstore that amplifies the works of POC authors and storytelling.

Q: What was the key driving force to starting BLK and BRWN?

. The biggest driving forces for me could be summed up into three sources — (1) my ecosystem — my mother has been my biggest supporter, my friends and family have been some of the loudest cheerleaders for me and the work that this space stands for; (2) the passing of my older brother, Cody — he was the free-spirited rebel of the two of us and I wanted to find a way to honor him and following my passion was something that he stood for unapologetically; and (3) the need was greater than the risk — this was not just about me or the money — this community needs to know that our stories matter and that we are not the sum total of just our traumatic histories.

Q: What are some challenges you face while running your business?

As a Black woman, it definitely seems that a lot of people have things to say or “advice” to give about what I should be doing. So on a deeper level, I run into constant challenges or micro aggressions that would not exist if I were not a Black woman. Whether it’s people who believe they are being helpful but overstepping the boundaries because of my age, gender, or my racial make-up or people who outright believe that I couldn’t be an expert in my lane. Very annoying.

The other challenge is just dealing with the ebbs and flows of small business. Trying to make sure there’s enough inventory, being the person behind the counter, shipping and tending to social media, as well as, being customer service. I am currently a one-woman show, and so being all things at once can be difficult and burnout is very real.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to college students and recent graduates who are interested in entrepreneurship?

1. Make three plans for the same goal. You can never be over prepared but you can certainly be underprepared.

2. The ability to have a completely balanced work/life is a myth. Balance is not 50/50. Sometimes it’s 70/30 or 60/40 and that’s okay.

3. You have to be able to show up as YOU. The thing that makes the product/service you provide is that it’s YOURS. So do not ever feel like you have to compromise that to be successful. Take breaks and also be mindful of your capacity. You are your brand no matter how much you like or dislike that. If you are not taking care of you then the product/service will inevitably suffer, as well. The work you put out into the world is reflective to who you are.