Ciera Rogers

Ciera Rogers, owner of Babes and Felines, is a known Internet star with over 1.1 million followers on Instagram. As a fashion designer from Houston, Texas that resides in Los Angeles, Rogers started her business in response to her own frustration with the lack of figure-hugging items for curvy, womanly fashionistas. Her business, Babes and Felines is a wildly successful online clothing company that's bordering on a body-acceptance movement

Starting your own thang

I grew up with a entrepreneur, (my mommy) so building something wasn't super foreign to me. Being poor will make you super creative. You'd be surprised of all the things you can make money doing. Legally and with your morals intact of course :)

YEA YOU GOT ALL THE IDEAS..

So what I run into the most would be people who have ideas. Most people have ideas of things they either want to invent or businesses they want to build.  But I'd say the majority of these people will never start. Why? Because they are merely planners. They live in their head and that's it. This used to be me so I know it all too well. The numero uno mistake that people make is focusing more on the PLAN than the ACTION..

Soo how do you start your own shit? Um, you start. It's that simple. Don't think about how many steps you need to take; think about what the first step is and make it! Life gets in the way a lot for me so I've taken steps to keep my ass on track.  

1. Write it down and put it everywhere. 

See, I'm the queen of post-it notes. I love them because they can be cute even if you stick them everywhere. Just choose some bright colors and write your ideas down. Also, you can use a mood board and put it on your wall.. But sometimes I find that the board becomes apart of the furniture and I tend to ignore it after a while. Post-it notes work really well for me. 

2. Use your phone reminders and alarm for your benefit

If you're forgetful like me. Put your idea in your phone as an alarm clock so you have to look at it and put some effort in that day. 

3. Make people hold you accountable, but not too many ppl. 

When I have an idea, I tell maybe one or two people who I trust so they can hold me accountable to it. A "Hey how's that business coming along" from someone you know can be the kick in the ass you really need. 

GETTING INTO THE CLOTHING BUSINESS..

I hope most of you reading are interesting in retail because that is what I'm going to focus on.  Let's say you want to start a clothing line. Well guess what. It's super friggin' easy, but kinda hard to maintain. Man, I see stores start and stop all the time because people underestimate this business so often. Some of the common mistakes I see is duplication. Let's say a store is selling a particular dress you like. Um, don't sell that! That adds to your competition silly. Now you're only a piece of that market. 

When you think of any business, you need to think of the market. Who are your competitors? How many of them are they? Why would someone buy from you instead of them? 

When I first got into this industry, my market was curvy girls. Back then, there weren't many online stores catering to this. It was a rare commodity and this is how I became successful. I saw that many stores occupied the thin girl space so I went the opposite way. This came natural to me because I am curvy and I needed clothes to wear my damn self :) 

The key to starting your own business is finding an open space in the market. This means, somewhere that no-one or very few ppl are in. Now this can't just be any market. It needs to be somewhere you can make money in. 

FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT

Say you want to sell dresses. Let's not think of what dress you're going to sell but how will you sell it? Are you online? How will you market? How will people find you to buy that particular dress? Fortunately, I have a following on social media now, but i did not back then. So I had to fake the funk with my business at first. This means, I pretended like everybody was wearing my brand. By everybody, I meant my friends :) I used my friends. Poor girls. I had them all in my clothes. I took pics of them in everything. And they're kinda cute so it worked! After that, guess what? People started seeing my stuff online more and more. 

GET YOUR FOLLOWING UP

Social media is all about reposts when you want to get you your following up. So by me using my pretty friends, it was easier to get reposted and when they wore my stuff. You can also send your stuff off to bloggers for posts.And they don't even need super huge followings.  Let's say a blogger has 5k people following her. Well that could be five thousand people you don't know! Give away free samples of your clothing so you can get your name out there. 

IF YOU PLAN ON SELLING ONLINE

When it comes to a host for your very first website, I recommend BigCartel. I am now currently with Shopify, but I started at BigCartel. The reason I recommend going there first, is because its cheap and less complex. For a starter business you don't want to invest a lot of money on your very first site because you are testing your idea.

HOW MUCH MULA TO INVEST? NADA!

I get the question on how much money you need to start a business all the time. I say as close to nothing as you can. I started my business with about $100. The way I was able to do this was by promoting one piece of everything I wanted to sell. So let's say you want to do wholesale or maybe you're designing your own item. No need in spending money on 30 pieces of the same dress if you don't need to. The internet it a funny thing. You can have one dress and pretend you have a million. Its all about the way you sell it. For example,  if you can get your hands on items every 5 days then make your shipping and handling 5-7 days. That way you are only buying as you sell items. There's no investment necessary. 

If you want to do wholesale, the easiest thing to do is to start online. But be aware of minimums. This means you have to purchase a certain number of pieces in order to try the product. Sites like Alibaba can help you start looking into wholesale and what things cost. You'll need to set up an account. Which is FREE :)

YOUR BUSINESS IS GOING TO CHANGE AND GROW. IT'S A LITTLE BABY..

I started my very first business with vintage and then moved into wholesale and eventually into designing my own clothing. It was like raising a child. It changed and moved with the times and sometimes it was a headache but I stuck through it. Most businesses go through ups and downs. Its what you do when its down that makes you last. You have to always remain creative and keep your eye on the market and its trends. When it changes, change with it. You always want to be ahead or at least current. If something isn't working, let it go. Don't take its personal. Its business. 

YOUR CUSTOMER IS YOUR BOSS

Its funny when people think I work for myself. Naw man, I work for my customers. They are the bosses. I have to make sure I have what they want and keep them satisfied so I can last outchea. At this point 5 years in, I know my customers like the back of my hand. It's super important to know your customers because they are the ones who are going to end up paying your bills. Give them what THEY want, not what YOU want. 

IM READY FOR A GLASS OF WINE SO IM GOING TO FINISH THIS UP

My boo thang in my head (Mark Cuban) says "Treat your customers like they own you. Because they do." When you're starting, you need to study your customer. If it helps, ask them what they want. Remember even if you don't have any customers, you have potential customers. You need to find what they want and supply it. That's all business really is. Supplying what someone wants. 

I could go on and on really. There's so much to say on this topic.  Lmk if you have any questions or anything I may have missed :)

-Ciera