In 2021, we had the privilege of speaking with many members of our brand and retailer community about their unique journeys to entrepreneurship and how they navigate the ever-changing world of small business ownership. They shared valuable insights, tips, and stories of success and resilience.
As the year comes to a close, we’re reflecting back on these conversations that shined a light on the strength and hard work of our global community. Here, we’ve compiled some of the best lessons and advice we gained from our community members this year.
Create a strong customer community
Among the many valuable pieces of advice we received from our Faire community this year, one sentiment continuously stood out—creating strong customer connections is essential. Community members shared how they incorporate the needs of customers into their business decisions, and the importance of making customers feel like part of the team.
“I treat my customers like family; it’s why we exist. The people who experience London Grant as a product and a brand are a part of this journey with us. I am humbled by every customer.” Tiffany Staten, London Grant Co.
“It’s all about listening to your consumers and being okay with changing it up to do what they need from you at that moment. We want our customers to feel like the brand is theirs, because it is. Without them, we have nothing.” Jen Zeano, JZD Designs
“[The Silver Room] is always a space inclusive of everybody. And the place is like a home for many people, especially a lot of young Black creatives. We’ve always been about helping people, being honest with people, making sure we were inclusive, and making sure we were a resource for people. When we reopened after Covid lockdowns, people said, ‘Thank you. I’m so glad the store is still here.’” Eric Williams, The Silver Room
“We learned that the key is to build a community of people that love who you are and what you stand for, and then create products with them in mind.” Betsy Garcia, Bloomwolf Studio
There’s room for you at the table
This year, our community members reminded us that when it comes to entrepreneurship, representation matters. They encouraged hopeful business owners to chase their dreams, especially when it means adding more diversity to the world of independent retail.
“If it’s not you, then who would it be? If you’re passionate and think, ‘someone should do that,’ that person should be you. We’re in this world where cultural appropriation is everywhere,” Celeste said. I’m lucky that I get to honor my culture through herbal medicine. It’s important to think, if you don’t do this, who will—and would you want them to?” Celeste Perez, Droplet
“Queer people can be particularly hard on ourselves to go above and beyond, but with so few businesses run by queer people, you just have to go for it. Only about 1% of small businesses are owned by someone in the LGBTQ+ community. If the impact we have is adding to those numbers by putting money back into our communities, that’s important to us.” Ab and Al, Queer Candle Co.
“We need to be convinced that there is a market and demand for our voices because there is. Continuing to support and uplift each other is so important. Latinas make the least amount of money of all demographics. But we are worthy. Our culture is so resilient and hardworking. We need to take up space.” Angie Quintanilla Coates, Five15 Creative
“If you don’t see a lot of other Latino entrepreneurs doing what you want to be doing, don’t be intimidated. Your work is important and there’s room for you at the table.” Betsy Garcia, Bloomwolf Studio
Take the leap, learn as you go, and be patient
Owning your own business can be incredibly rewarding, but doing so first requires a leap of faith. Our brand and retailer community advised taking that leap and allowing yourself to learn along the way. Take things slow and continue to persevere—success will come, even if it’s not overnight.
“It’s important to not compare yourself to other brands. Sometimes people will come out of nowhere and go viral. But focus on yourself and learn to celebrate the small wins. It took us four years to do this full-time. Be confident in yourself and don’t be afraid to try out different styles. You don’t have to play it safe, especially in the world today. A lot of really good art gets made by not holding it in and telling your truth.” Chess Needham, Ash+Chess
“You’ll learn what you need to know along the way. Nothing will be perfect the first time and it’s okay to grow slowly. I made $165 my first year. I think I had nine products. It’s not an overnight process.” Heather Hansler, Little Rainbow Paper Co.
“More than anything, I would advise people to not limit themselves. Don’t listen to people around you that say it can’t be done. If you have an idea and the drive to do it, then just do it. I didn’t have any retail experience—my background is in the medical field. I’ve had to learn everything along the way.” Nydia Orosco, Piccolo Shoes
“You can easily get caught up in a linear career path and think ‘this is how it should go.’ But there’s a lot of fulfillment in starting your own business. You can do it, too. There’s no ceiling you can’t break.” Christina Chun, Forage Paper Co.
“I decided that I have ten decades on this planet if I’m lucky. I’ve used up four of them already. I decided right then that I wanted to live the rest of my life the way I wanted and use my talents.” Walker Noble, Walker Noble Studios
Stay true to yourself
Above all else, the Faire community emphasized the importance of staying true to your company’s mission and to your own values.
“I try to trust that if I’m passionate about something, other people will resonate with it.” Angie Quintanilla Coates, Five15 Creative
“I think it’s important to know who you support and to be transparent about it. Being 100% truly authentic is so border breaking. The reason I’m so vocal about who I am and who I support is because I want others in the community to feel safe and supported at my store.” Austin Scott, The Neighborhood Trading Co.
“When I’m true to myself, authentic with my customers, and sharing what I’m passionate about, customers notice that and they want to get on board.” Liz Pham, Bows Arts
Read the rest of our community spotlights on the blog.