With women entrepreneurs on the rise, inquiring minds want to know how is it that women can do it all. Millions of women are starting and running multiple businesses, all while building families, becoming influencers, furthering their education or even working a profession. What can these women entrepreneurs teach us about how they manage without giving up? How can their "Made It Over the Hump" stories inspire other women entrepreneurs? This monthly column features women entrepreneurs tackling the challenges of growing a business while maintaining a healthy and stable lifestyle.
Product Developer and serial entrepreneur Noor Mizana is the CEO of Genuine Artistic Talent, LLC. She is a creator of beauty and hair line products, a professional hair artist, and entrepreneur. So, how does she do it? Starting businesses, patenting products and building a full circle brand, this inspired entrepreneur is dedicated to materializing her dreams.
What motivated & inspired you to start your business?
"My Family motivated and inspired me to start my own business. My grandfather owned a Tailoring business for as long as I can remember. My father was a freelance Painter by profession. My aunt had her own modeling/talent agency where she recruited models and organized fashion shows statewide. Apparently, entrepreneurship runs in my dna. My first job as a hairstylist was in my cousin's hair salon. I could have chosen to limit my creative expressions to work in a corporation but I am better suited for the freedom and vast outlet of creativity that comes with being an artist."
What steps did you take to get your business started?
"After attending Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC, in 2006, I started my company. My step-dad had given me $5,000 and with that I hired an attorney to put Genuine Artistic Talent, LLC (also referred to as GAT), together. Soon after establishing GAT, I hired a graphic artist and completed a ready-to-wear clothing line called NYRI Collections. This was my very first technical product idea that I had major plans for. Although I had a business plan drawn up, I was not stable enough to have a well established, thought out, tangible and practical plan on how I was going to move this business to the next level. I wanted my line in stores nationwide. So, I used some funds I had saved and/or left over from my step-dad's donation, and my mother and I flew to Las Vegas to a trade show, MAGIC. There were so many people in this fashion industry who were just as passionate. I simultaneously, felt discouraged and at home. I networked, made connections, and met lots of aspiring designers as well as successful ones. After careful evaluation and exhausting my funds and resources for this clothing line, I decided to take a different approach."
"In 2008, I put NYRI Collection on hold and went back to school; for Cosmetology. I figured if I could work in the beauty industry, build my own brand, and re-introduce NYRI Collections, I could make it. Since then, I have committed myself to constant evolution and creative advancement, yet I badly needed a solid plan. I needed a plan for positioning myself, as an entrepreneur, in the industry and leveraging my invaluable talents and abilities for a profit. I wanted to gain residual income because I knew this type of income or cash flow would give me back the most valuable resource I had which is my precious time; based on the said need, my spirit led me to patenting a hair tool iron that would revolutionize the hair tool market. The "Piranha" emerged as a culmination of the yearn to invent a tool that would significantly impact my objective to earn residual income. The Piranha iron hair tool will be in stores nationwide by mid 2018. Despite my mistakes, failed attempts, wrong decisions, and fears, I stayed the course and accomplished materializing my dreams."
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business?
“During the beginning stages of my company, social media was still in its relatively formative stages. We attended events and shows which connected us more intimately with the fashion industry. Now, I use the advertising impact and strength of mass marketing made possible by social media, traditional email blasts, cross promotion strategies, and the reputed reliability of coupon offers to successfully market my business. I recently hired a digital media company to effectively manage and expand my base of followers on various social media networks. My products are now branching into the Beauty Industry with my custom wig line, Noor Mizana Custom Units and my hair tools line, Piranha Hair Tools. I also offer services such as lace installment and Mink Lash extensions. Times are so much easier for business owners to build notoriety. I am quite impressed with the creativity and business mindedness of the entrepreneurs of today.”
How do you manage running a business & maintaining a fulfilling lifestyle?
“I don't consider myself as having reached a fulfilling lifestyle. I may never experience that in this lifetime. But what I would like to do in terms of "retirement" is traveling, more humanitarian centered work, investing. I will never stop working and creating. This is what I live for. To reach a fulfilled "lifestyle" is to have mastered your abilities to the point where there's nothing left to do but lie on a hammock sun up to sun down. lol.”
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
“I have been hustling with my company for 11 years now and have faced many challenges. I may never stop being challenged as I continue to create. A mother brings life into this world after undergoing strenuous hours of painful labor; such can be equated to birthing a successful business which rewards one with a "fulfilled" life. This is how I see things. Recently, I had to decide if I should involve myself in the wig designing market. This market is growing rapidly and my decision to expand my business into this saturated segment of the industry was a difficult one; having a tangible product aside hair tool iron that was in alignment with what I have been doing consistently now for 9 years, hair. I needed this website for online presence so I built my e-commerce website in June 2017. I thought about how much time it would take me to gain popularity, how much time and energy I had to give to social media for this branding phase. All the amazing wig makers out there have been doing this for years now. And here I am trying to establish myself in an endless sea of competing artists, an intimidating feat to say the least. Having to constantly stay relevant, popular, and fashion savvy is a job in and of itself.”
What are some of your business habits that set you up for success every day?
“My daily business habits revolve around building business credibility for banks and lenders to see how competent my business is. Part of this process is my online presence. I use social media and email blasts to gain more visitors to my website. I use digital media companies and brand ambassadors to gain more followers. I engage and interact with my followers, comment on other pages, and offer coupons and giveaway promos.”
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
“My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to learn business credit and how to leverage it for funding or expanding your business. I recommend entrepreneurs to read more articles on finance and less articles on fashion. I suggest entrepreneurs to always have more than one stream of cash flow.”
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