On Saturday, February 6, 2021 I hosted my first Instagram Live to celebrate our 6 months of being open! I wanted to take time to introduce you to Belle + Blossom and answer any questions you may have about my business, me, or starting a business in general!
This blog post will cover the questions asked and a brief recap of the answers. You can watch the full discussion here.
Let’s get started!
Question: What sets Belle + Blossom apart from other competitors?
Answer: We are a mission driven and purpose driven brand. We keep fair trade and ethical practices at the heart of everything we do, unlike other major retailers.
Question: How do you decide which organizations to work with?
Answer: We have a very thorough checklist that we look for when we come across suppliers who create products that we think would be a great fit for our business. The list mirrors Fair Trade Federation Principles. Here are the 9 principles:
- Build Capacity
- Create Opportunities
- Develop Transparent and accountable relationships
- Pay promptly and fairly
- Support safe and empowering working conditions
- Ensure rights of children
- Cultivate environmental stewardship
- Respect cultural identity
- Promote fair trade
75% of our vendors are fair trade certified or fair trade federation members and the other 25% are local artists or are sustainable organizations that give back to a cause.
Question: Is there meaning behind your business name?
Answer: Yes! “Belle” refers to the beautiful women and artisans creating beautiful high quality products. “Blossom” represents how these artisans are now growing and thriving in their communities thanks to the dignified work that we are creating together for them .
Question: What’s been your biggest challenge?
Answer: Holy cannoli. Setting up my business legally was my biggest challenge. I was so naive to think that I could sit down with my laptop and register my business as an LLC within 1 day. Reading is not my favorite thing to do and I had to do a whole lot of reading and research on starting a business, understanding legal terms, and figuring out the most cost efficient way to get things started. I remember crying that week because I was so stressed! But I did it!
Question: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Answer: 2 things come to mind - keep going and use your resources. You’re going to fail a lot. And every time that happens, take that as an opportunity to learn and improve! “Keep going” also means taking necessary breaks whenever you need it. Second, piece of advice is to use your resources. I cannot tell you how many times a day I use google search to find answers to questions I have regarding my business. Not only that, but don’t be scared to ask questions to others in your field. Many people are willing to help as long as you research first and ask for their opinion or insight on a certain matter.
Question: What is your favorite piece right now? Love everything!
Question: Do you have any 2021 goals?
Answer: I want to continue strengthening and investing in relationships with current fair trade vendors and bring on a few more. Host at least 1 philanthropic event every quarter. And, of course, reach a larger audience.
Question: What is your favorite part about owning and running Belle + Blossom?
Answer: I like doing what I want :) But really...I’ve made my dream of making it in the fashion industry come true. I’ve always known that I wanted to be in the fashion business as a buyer and now I’m living that dream while also sticking to my values of ensuring ethical practices.
Question: Why is it important to sell fair trade items?
Answer: It ensures ethical business practices throughout the entire supply chain. This means everyone who is involved in making the product earns a fair liveable wage. Farmers, producers, suppliers, etc. And the reason why this is so important is . . . Imagine you have a full time job and you work 40 hour weeks. What if one payday, you don’t get a paycheck and your boss tells you that you STILL have to work without pay. That'd be wild, huh? This happens to producers in some businesses and we don’t stand for that. We ensure everyone is getting paid promptly and fairly!
Question: Where do you see B+B going as a brand? Do you see this as another platform for other vendors to connect to another audience?
Answer: I would love to get involved in local communities more! The other part about me that I’m passionate about is giving back. In October, we hosted a fundraiser to clear wish list items for Next Door Solutions To Domestic Violence - a women’s shelter in the downtown San Jose, CA area. I would love helping those within my local community.
Question: Other than B+B, who is your favorite Fair Trade retailer?
Answer: I love Saltbox Sash! They ethically source fair trade home goods and gifts.
Question: What is something you experienced that you were not prepared for?
Answer: Serious small business love! I prepared myself for high competition, but I was welcomed into a community of women who owned small businesses who support each other every step of the way -- so the exact opposite of what I prepared myself for.
Question: What have your vendors told you about their businesses and how working with you supports them?
Answer: As soon as I decide to work with a vendor, I send an email to open up a discussion and learn more about their business, the artisans they are supporting, and their overall mission. We get reports from them about how their business is doing and how we (both my customers and myself) are a crucial part to ensuring they can provide for their artisans. We are an essential part of their network!
Question: Have you thought about adding clothes in the future?
Answer: Yes! I would LOVE to add clothes to our assortment. Not sure on timing, but there are some truly amazing fair trade and ethical brands that I would like to work with and match our vibe.
Question: What inspires you?
Answer: I don’t want this to sound cheesy at all, but I try to keep an open mind at all times. So I find inspiration in almost everything!
Question: What is something you’re recently proud of?
Answer: I’ve accomplished so many things that I’ve never done within the past 6 months, but the most recent thing I’m proud of is getting Klarna set up. Products that are ethically made are typically a few dollars more than a comparable item made by big-name companies. Affordability is important to me because it's important to my customers, and I thought adding Klarna would be a great way to provide other payment options for my consumers.
Question: What was your first job?
Answer: I was a chip and salsa girl in a mom and pop restaurant in Belleville, IL! It was called Dos Gorditos when I first started -- now the name is El Gordito. This is where I developed my work ethic and understanding the true meaning of communication and collaboration. I'm still friends with the coworkers and owners of the El Gordito today!
Doing my first IG Live was EXTREMELY nerve-wracking at the start, but SO much fun when more questions were asked! Something that I learned from this live is the importance of educating and communicating more about fair trade and ethical business practices. I hope you all learned something from this recap as well! If you did, leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you think or if you have any other questions we can answer for you.
See you at our next live!