Seven5 Seven3 Marketing: Please tell us about yourself?
Nia: My name is Nia Tillett-McAdoo and I am the owner of Cocoa Babies. I am originally from Buffalo, NY and have lived in North Carolina since 2005. I moved to Charlotte after graduate school and worked as the Associate Director of Programming at UNC Charlotte until July of this year. I now run Cocoa Babies full time which has been a blessing.
Seven5 Seven3 Marketing: Why did you start Cocoa Babies?
Nia: Honestly I was tired of seeing young children and teens in clothing that was either suggestive or inappropriate. I started to look at what was marketed to them in the stores and online and saw that there was a lack of positive messages and non marketed directly for children of color. I decided to create an alternative, one that would feature trendy designs and tees that children and parents could both appreciate.
Seven5 Seven3 Marketing: What advice would you give someone trying to start a retail business like yours?
Nia: To do your research to make sure that you have a quality product and that you have enough capital to successfully launch a business. I know a lot of people who launch without a marketing budget or a quality website or they put out a subpar product with the hopes that initial sales will allow them to upgrade down the line. The problem with that is you risk losing the customers who showed the initial interest in your business and if they are turned off they will share that experience with those in their network. The reality is that people will judge your product by your website and marketing so make it informative and attractive and if your selling a product (vs. a service) make sure that you have an ecommerce site. When I launched Cocoa Babies I used a site that I designed that did not have a customer backend, because I had no clue how to set it up. I thought that it was something that would cost an arm and a leg but I was wrong. Once we switched over to an e-commerce site it increased business dramatically. My customers started to see Cocoa Babies in a different light because of the change that I made to the website.
The last bit of advice I would give is to look at your network and begin to surround yourself with like minded individuals regardless of their field. I think that the listserves that I join and the websites I frequent contain great resources and ideas especially as it relates to marketing. As a small business owner you will need a sounding board from time to time to assist you with different aspects of your business.
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