Now that I’ve entered this new phase in my life–starting my own business–I’ve been devouring career features on sites like Refinery29 and one of my favorite blogs, The Everygirl. I’ve learned so much from hearing the real-life experiences of women who have also started their own businesses and are successful on their own. But something was missing. To be frank, almost all of the career features I’ve read have been interviews with White women. Now, don’t get me wrong–it’s great to hear any woman talk about the highs and lows of starting her own business. But if you read those features, you’d think Black women weren’t out there forging their own career paths, which is 100% not the case. I’m sure we all know or can name at least one Black, female entrepreneur, right?
I didn’t know how I was going to fill that void and find great stories of Black female entrepreneurs until Kera Thompson, Curator and Owner of Interwoven, reached out to me this summer after finding me through Cynthia’s blog. Because of my crazy job schedule, we haven’t been able to connect until now, and I probably would have forgotten had Lucy’s recent post not reminded me that I needed to get back in touch with Kera! But God’s timing really is the best timing. She’s inspired me to start a new series on The Feisty House featuring Black women who run successful businesses. There’s nothing like seeing someone who looks like you do succeed at the same thing you’re trying to accomplish. It’s like seeing yourself make it. It’s the ULTIMATE inspiration.
So with that, I bring you the “Dream Job” series, and our first feature: Kera Thompson of Interwoven. I pray you’re as inspired by this creative woman as I was!
It was sort of an ah-ha moment for me. When it got to the point that I knew every vendor in town by name, and everyone asked me where to get this and where to get that, I finally said to myself, “Why not?” I love fabrics and textiles, and interior design is my greatest passion. [Interwoven] is a perfect fit for me.
What were you doing before you launched Interwoven?
Raising babies, and still am! I’ve got three kids under six, and it has been such a blessing to be at home with them while they are young.
How did you make the transition to entrepreneur?
It was simple really; I just went for it! The hardest thing was having the confidence to define myself as a business owner as opposed to just “Mom.” I’ve worn that hat for so long, so now when people ask what I do, I have to think twice! It’s been a smooth transition, partly because I have full-time help at home, which allows me to be in multiple places at once.
How did you fund your business in the beginning? How long was it before you started seeing a profit?
I funded everything out of pocket, and didn’t really do any planning as far as what I expected my profits to be. I just started with a small Instagram following, and when I had my first sale, I jumped up and down and called my husband! [I was] so excited! Since then, I’ve filled countless orders, but each time I receive one, [it’s] still thrilling.
The best parts about it are also the hardest. I love that I have complete say over everything including the [designs], styling, marketing, copy, and products, but that is also a huge responsibility, and I’ve really had to learn how to prioritize and manage my time so I don’t get overwhelmed.
What do you enjoy the least about owning your own business?
The thing I enjoy least is accounting. Bleh.
Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?
Sure, there were moments when I had issues initially setting up vendors and logistics, and [times when] I felt totally scared that it might all blow up in my face. My husband gave me so much confidence though, and [he] totally pushed me to keep going. Now, I’m not as scared when there are hiccups, because [they’re] all a part of [the job].
How have you gotten the word out about Interwoven? How did you establish your social media presence?
Luckily, I’ve been blogging since 2008 and have established a pretty good list of connections in that industry. I wrote a press release and sent it to every design blogger that I know, and I got immediate and positive response from friends like Aphrochic, Fly Girl Blog, and SimplyCyn. Those ladies were instrumental in getting me off the ground. I reached out to my current blog followers and Instagram followers on my personal account, and immediately started hosting giveaways, which very quickly boosted my following. I’ve tried for years to get into Twitter, and while I use that as well as Facebook for the business, nothing has been as lucrative and rewarding as Instagram.
I’m up at 6:30am with my kiddos [and get them] off to school. Then I go for a run along the beach (I’m training for a half marathon) and then home to shower and get ready for the day. I answer e-mails and get orders out before noon. If I’m working on a particular day, I might use the afternoon to shop for custom orders for clients or style shoots for new products. I do all the photography, styling, copy, and web maintenance by myself, and I’m constantly getting new products in, so that is quite the task. I always pick the kids up from school and we work on homework. Then we have dinner, they take baths and they’re off to bed. Then I have some time left for my husband, or a pedicure. Since I’m in the Middle East, I wait till my evening and then try to always post something on Instagram, whether it’s a new product or some inspiration. [It’s how I keep my] followers in the West engaged [with Interwoven].
What’s been the most amazing moment for Interwoven thus far?
Being featured on A Cup of Jo! I’m such a fan of Joanna’s blog, and I got so many hits and response from media when her Mother’s Around the World piece featuring our family went live.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative entrepreneurs?
Just do it! Make sure whatever you’re doing is something you love, and don’t be afraid to take risks. If you know your stuff inside and out, are kind and personable, and find something in yourself and what you offer that makes you different from everybody else, hold onto those things like hell and you will ultimately be successful.