BY JAN AGATON
As 2020 is officially here, we wanted to spread some positive, inspiring vibes by putting the spotlight on the CEO of Make It Classy, Victoria Davis. Maybe you want a boost of inspiration for 2020, maybe you’re thinking of starting a business, or maybe you just want to learn about the woman behind the boxes; regardless, you’ve definitely clicked the right link!
You’ll learn all about how Make It Classy started from her blog called ClassyCurlies, her primary sources of motivation, some dos and don’ts to starting your own business, things to keep in mind when you have a busy lifestyle, and much more. Keep reading to see Victoria’s responses to questions about what it’s like to be your own boss!
ClassyCurlies started in 2010 as a way for me to document my natural hair journey and practice writing. At the time, I didn’t know it was called blogging, I just loved the idea of writing online. At first, ClassyCurlies only talked about my journey to embracing my curly hair, but later it turned into much more. I did product reviews, spotlighted other women and gave curly hair care advice. Later, I began teaching DIY beauty classes where women could make their own hair products, and then I was working with other big beauty brands and stores to promote their hair care products as well. Today the blog still has a major focus on hair care but offers content for the whole woman. There is a healthy living section, an area where I share personal lifestyle content, and a place to listen to Curly Conversations Podcast. There are also other events held throughout the year that aren’t beauty related but more focused on bringing women together.
I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, I went to Ball State University and got a degree in Journalism/Professional Writing. Before college, I was just working as a server at a restaurant, but during college, I interned at Indianapolis Monthly then used my skills to work as a newsroom manager for the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper as well as the Indiana Minority Business Magazine. I also worked for RTV6 news station for some time and freelanced as a writer/social media manager for several companies, some of which I still work with to this day.
No, I didn’t always want to start my own business but I think it’s always been there; it just took me a while to realize it. I’ve always loved to make and create new things. My first job out of college was in journalism and after that, I got into the marketing field. I look back now and realize every single job I’ve had previously has prepared me to start my own business.
Each day is different, and that’s what I love most. I live and breathe by my planner, so I typically take it wherever I’m working. I usually wake up around 6 a.m. and grab a cup of hot herbal tea or warm water and lemon. If I’m not too tired, I’ll do some meditating before I crack open my planner.
The night before, I write down my to-do list for the next day, so that’s where I start. From there the day can take a life of its own. Some days are pop-up shops or vendor events, and other days I get the chance to present to community groups on the concept of Make It Classy. Other days I’m working on fulfilling orders, working with influencers or mapping out a new marketing campaign.
Many of those days I’m not just working on Make It Classy items, but ClassyCurlies content too. This could include writing blog posts, working on sponsored social media posts, or looking over new contracts proposed by brands who want to collaborate or traveling. Some regularly scheduled things include hosting DIY beauty classes featuring the Make It Classy boxes every month or so, and about once a quarter, there is a product photoshoot.
There are several things you can do to help fund your business. My first piece of advice would be to save your money. You may not be able to start your business the moment the idea comes to you, but putting money aside will get you started on the right foot. If that means you need to cut back on luxury items for a while, it’s worth it. Second, look for business grants. Thankfully, I was able to secure a grant right before Make It Classy launched. I can’t explain how important that grant was in kicking off the business. On another note, know that it will almost always cost more to start your business than you think, so plan ahead.
- Test out your product/market before you launch. This will save you tons of time and money.
- Make sure you have a support system, even if it’s just one friend you can vent to every now and then.
- Make friends with other business owners. No one knows the challenges of being an entrepreneur like an entrepreneur.
- Try to tackle too many projects at once. Focus on one thing at a time.
- Forget to take care of yourself. Think about one thing you can do for yourself each day.
- Forget to thank those that help you along the way.
The best part is creating something from scratch and watching it grow. It’s something you can be proud of and excited to see thrive. Since Make It Classy was my first tangible product, it was so rewarding to see even just the box design in person for the first time. The most difficult part is learning all of the things nobody tells you like business taxes, insurance, etc. All of the legal stuff is no fun.
Hearing customers share how making their own products and using plant-based ingredients has helped their everyday lives keeps me motivated. It helps me know that I’m on the right path.
I discovered mediating a couple of years ago, and it has really helped me recenter and calm down when things get hectic. I call my walk-in closet home to my meditation practice. It’s probably one of the quietest places in my home. I often go back there with candles and crystals to just unwind. Surprisingly, I’ve also found coloring very relaxing. After years of questioning adult coloring books, I finally purchased one earlier this year and it really does help your mind relax.
“With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”
- Nicole Johnson, The Invisible Woman monologue
Nowadays, being your own boss is “trendy.” The world is telling everyone to quit their 9-5 jobs and start a business. While I think that’s awesome, I also think it takes a special type of person to run a business. It takes a lot of grit. Being your own boss is actually a lot more difficult than working for someone else. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes that you may be working on for months or years before it's released into the world.
My biggest supporters have been a handful of family members and friends. I seriously couldn’t have launched Make It Classy without their help. Specifically, my fiance has played a huge role in keeping our household balanced while I race around the city to meetings and events. I also have a group of friends who have done everything from working vendor tables to purchasing boxes for others, to helping fulfill orders. It truly does take a village. When it comes to business advice, my coach Jill Wieser from Chameleon Marketing Group has been great at keeping me on the right path toward success. Her approach to business is like any other.
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse into the life of a #girlboss from the Girl Boss herself, we hope that you will go into this decade with the mindset of knowing your worth and your potential to be where you want to be a year from today, or even a month from today. Set intentions, and break them down into realistic increments in given amounts of time, so when you achieve them, you can celebrate your little victories and feel closer to your ultimate goals every day. It’s a bit cliché, but this is the beginning of anything you want; make 2020 your year!