I met Britt almost two years ago when she first had the idea for Whitby and all she had were sketches to show. It was an instant connection with me starting Bené, a luxury collection of scarves committed to girl’s education and Britt’s idea to start a socially conscious luxury handbag line that supports girls education in Haiti, Peru Iraq, and Thailand to help prevent them from being sold in sex trafficking. Whitby’s tagline is ‘Carry Justice.’ The idea is that women who have never had to experience tragedies such as modern slavery, human trafficking, or child marriage, can carry the weight for these girls and boys, so they never have to.
To get Whitby started, Britt self-invested almost $35,000 to bring her first collection of bags to life. There are definitely pros and cons of being self-invested like most small businesses are. Of course, there is a lot of pressure that if you don’t succeed you bare all of the loss but it’s a true testament to your belief in self and what you are building.
Yes, there is a lot more skin in the game but it forces you to bootstrap your way through and be more mindful of when and how you spend your money. After months of working on her business plan, Britt was ready to launch. Regardless of the time in planning and preparation you do, unfortunately, losing is a part of the ‘Journey’. Mistakes are inevitable, Britt admits that she has made almost $25,000 worth of mistakes.
Is it a tough pill to swallow? Yes…Does it make you question if you are fit to do this? For sure, but that’s the cost of doing business. One thing I wish I would have done before starting Bené to help minimize my risks and failures was to gain as much experience as I could and surround myself with mentors in my industry who could provide some guidance along the way.
It’s impossible for you to know everything but the most important part is that you don’t keep making the same mistake, you just have to learn and get smarter. We’ve all been told to, ‘go big or go home’ but I had to go agree with Britt and say, ‘go the smallest you can go’. Make one and figure out if people are going to like it first if the pricing strategy works before you have inventory stacked to the ceiling…I’ve been there and I know that starting small allows you to be agile enough to recalibrate if needed, fail fast and move forward. Just a couple of lessons on how to handle the inevitable losses along the ‘Journey’.
- Learn from your mistakes
- Don’t go big or go home
- Pick yourself back up
- Push through the “No’s”