The first lesson I learned doing business:Don’t expect people to support you just because you supported them.
Edward Gebel Photography
WHAT I’M WEARING:
Blazer: H&M (old)- try this ; Dress: Banana Republic (old)- try this ; Shoes: Joe Fresh (old) – try this ; Pearls: J. Crew
*When thinking of stylish work looks, try an earth tone color palette. Browns, Greens, Navy Blues, and Blacks pair really nicely together. Snakeskin prints can work in a corporate setting if only they are in conservative styles. For example, these point toe pumps are in a conservative height and a subtle texture. A similar leopard heel would have also worked as an alternative to this look. Shop my picks below*
In the case that you aren’t aware, I started my own t-shirt business recently. And it’s going really well for someone who has never had their own business before. I’m quickly learning how to prioritize- considering the fact that I still have a career that requires much of my attention- but also I’m learning not to take things personally. One of the lessons I’ve learned in starting a small business is not to expect support from people I’ve supported in the past. In business, it isn’t always “you scratch my back, I scratch yours.” I’m learning that my expectation of people should be “every man for himself.”
As a social media influencer, I get quite a few emails and messages regarding partnerships and collaborations. I’m incapable of responding to them all, but there are specific ones that I, at the very least, always give ear to. Those are Christian businesses and African businesses. Granted, I don’t mind working with anyone who doesn’t go against my personal values and beliefs BUT Christian and African businesses (as you can imagine) are near and dear to my heart.
Some time ago, a “Christian” blogger sent me a direct message on Instagram asking me to purchase a shirt from her t-shirt business. There was no formal introduction associated with this message, just a “hello I’m selling…” After quickly grazing through her Instagram page, I realized she was a believer and decided to purchase a shirt. Did I care for the shirt? Not exactly but I just enjoy supporting kingdom- centered businesses. When I launched my t-shirt line, I started to think of influencers I could email who might be interested in supporting my business. I intended to send them shirts for free, with hopes of free advertising in return. This specific Christian blogger was among the few that I emailed.
Initially, my email went unanswered. It just so happened that I posted a picture of her shirt a few days after sending her an email and tagged her in the picture. She commented under the post, and even sent me a private message requesting that I add a hashtag. I did as she requested and asked her if she received the email I sent her a few days prior. My message was read and ignored. I sent her another message which was also ignored. At that point I deleted the picture of me advertising her shirt that I paid for with my own money. I was offended because although I paid for and advertised her shirt for free, she couldn’t even respond to my email or messages.
Once she realized I deleted the photo, she replied to my email, letting me know that she would take a t-shirt. HOWEVER, She also included how much she would charge me for advertising on my behalf.
Ya’ll know I had to tell this Becky about herself right? But of course I did it with respect, and ended it with God bless you and your future endeavors. Because as believers we are to bless and not curse. 🙂 But, Becky didn’t like my email too much. She decided to reply to me via Instagram direct message, sharing that she didn’t think it was a big deal as companies usually do not mind rewarding her for her hard work…etc. All of which I ignored because all that I needed to say to her was already said in the email.
But I learned a valuable lesson from this entire ordeal: BUSINESS IS BUSINESS! Just because I prematurely decided to support a woman in the faith does not mean she is obligated to do the same for me, and do it under the same terms. The truth is, my t-shirts are very specific to a particular audience. I was very much aware of this before making them. Not everyone dresses fully covered, and not everyone believes in the notion to be fully covered is to be modestly dressed. So with this in mind, I knew that my target audience would be a very narrow one.
But I also learned that I cannot expect, even Christians, to do business the kingdom way. Some use the Word of God for profit, while some profit because of the Word of God. The two should never be mistaken. What I should have done was test her spirit before supporting her business. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Similarly, I learned that not everyone who speaks of Jesus in their business is a Christian. It was my responsibility to discern that for myself but I dropped the ball. Now I’m left with a shirt from a woman who doesn’t care to do business with me 🙂
Anyway- don’t forget to shop my online store here.