This Founder Finds Her Niche in Bold, Beaded Jewelry
Last week in Selfmade Stories we talked about testing and learning. In collaboration with Office Depot, we're sharing how to use that feedback to find your niche. Get ready to meet the inspiring, multi-talented, and always colorful Tracey-Renee Hubbard, founder of Scotchbonnet!, a brand built on accessories that serve double-duty as cheerful conversation starters.
B + C: How did you know Scotchbonnetwas your business to start?
Tracey-Reneé: I love big earrings but I need them to be lightweight. My hair is really big and really curly, and big hair needs big earrings. Scotchbonnet! is a modern jewelry brand inspired by Caribbean culture, African Diaspora and 90s hip-hop. I want to challenge what people perceive as luxury. My lightweight handmade beading makes Scotchbonnet! earrings truly unique.
B + C: What do you think set you on your entrepreneurial path?
Tracey-Reneé: I'm very much inspired by the three aesthetics I mentioned earlier. But also my family. My parents don't play when it comes to education but they also recognize the importance of being happy and well-rounded. I earned my MBA but before that I grew up watching my mom passionate about home decor and my dad had a workshop. My maternal grandfather was born in the South and only had an elementary school education but was able to start a business as an African American while working a full-time job. I really think that spirit of entrepreneurship and perseverance, and continuous learning all inspired me to be an entrepreneur.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
Tracey-Reneé: Selfmade helped me understand parts of my life that I didn't even think tied into business. Instead of work-life balance I found work-life synergy, and really thought about goals that I sincerely wanted versus a milestone I felt like I should accomplish based on what others were doing. Selfmade also gave me a good foundation for elevator pitches and getting all of my business tools in line. The lineup of speakers and resources were invaluable, and getting to connect with so many amazing women was great.
B + C: What's the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
Tracey-Reneé: Pre-Covid, I was able to interact with customers in person at events, pop-ups, and trade shows. One of the things that surprises people the most about my earrings is how lightweight and easy to wear they are and figuring out how to communicate that and connect to people online is challenging.
I have focused on styling and really defining my brand. I put a lot of thought into curating an aesthetic that is pretty tight so people recognize my brand. I also use hand-drawn illustrations and have worked them into my website in a way that is fun and on brand. I stopped looking at what is trending and sticking to what gets traction with my brand.
B + C: Who do you look up to in the entrepreneurial space?
Tracey-Reneé: On a personal level, my mom and my grandma — their perseverance and polish and grace in the face of difficult situations is inspiring. In the fashion space, I'm inspired by how Amy Smilovic, CEO of Tibi, pivoted during Covid. She did an awesome job using her IG Live to convey the ethos of her brand. She had enormous growth and was able to start a dialogue and get a better understanding of her customer base, and she is generous with her time and insight. I also admire Myleik Teele, founder of Curlbox, who set out on a bold, brave mission that no one in the hair care industry thought was necessary.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Tracey-Reneé: Scotchbonnet! is a jewelry and accessories brand but for now I've mostly made earrings. I think just focusing on your product flow and understanding design and what customers are looking for is a good start. Now I'm excited to launch into other categories. Starting small, finding my niche, and growing from there has helped me.
B + C: How do you balance your work with other aspects of your life?
Tracey-Reneé: It's like an equilibrium that is rarely in balance but kind of flows back and forth. Some small business owners want to be huge, but that isn't the vision for me — I want to grow my business in a way that feels organic, and I want to connect with people who understand what I'm doing. Having that emotion is good when it comes to attracting the right people.
B + C: What tools or apps help you stay organized and productive?
Tracey-Reneé: It's definitely creative chaos. I always have a bulletin board with images that change every couple of weeks. I think calendars, email, and business time need to be organized. Also I have a timer, so on days when I'm crafting all day, every 90 minutes I'll have my timer go off and I get up, walk around, and check my email. It sounds like nothing, but I know every 90 minutes I'm going to check and respond to what's there.
Focusing on one thing your business does really well can help you differentiate yourself in the market and grow more sustainably over time. No matter what challenge you may face on your business journey, Office Depot OfficeMax offers a full suite of business services & solutions to help you succeed. With print & copy services to help build your brand to products to help you work from anywhere & organize & save time, accomplish more with Office Depot OfficeMax by your side.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last.