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Started From The Bottom, Now We're....Still Kinda At The Bottom

I started selling Fancy Free Pomade for Hair & Skin in March 2015, it was on a whim. No business plan. No real plan for it at all. My goodt goodt girlfriend knows her stuff, after using it once, she said "Sell this." So I started selling it. That first year was a world wind of packaging, designing labels, solidifying vendors....or at least trying to solidify vendors, but that's another story. You know, just trying to figure it all out without having the slightest clue of what I was doing. What I did know was that I had something good. I had a great product with a great concept and as soon as people tried it, they were hooked.

When I saw what I looked at my profits from 2015, I thought "We might be on to something." If I had the right guidance, if I had the right influence, if I had someone to show me, step by step, how to run my business, this could really be big. But I had none of that. I didn't even have a real website. LOL! I talked to a few people but no one who could commit to really mentoring me the way I needed. I am a scientist, not a business woman. I was floating by in the first half of 2016. Taking my sweet time to get my website together. I mean, I was selling on Etsy and eBay, good enough. I had this HUGE project that I was working on at work. I had a baby in my belly. I had a lot on my plate. Then I got a call to for Shark Tank casting. Whaaaaaatttt??????? OMG! I was so nervous. I had to record a video. I didn't know what to say. My website wasn't finished. I didn't have a business plan. My numbers were pretty puny compared to the type of numbers I had seen from other businesses pitching on the show. But I went for it. Kicked in to high gear. Rushed to have a special box designed to send samples to California. I was not polished. I was all over the place. I had no experience shipping in warm temperatures, so I'm sure the product was melted when it was delivered. Fancy Free was not selected for the second phase of testing. But I did not get discouraged. I used that experience as a lesson. I took that lesson and got to work.

Fast forward to June 2016, a second Shark Tank casting. No call back. Then in August 2017, an application to pitch to Betamore at Beta City. Yes! Finally, I think this is going to be the one. I go to the workshop they have on creating a pitch. The presenter offered some great insight, maybe you don't need an investor, if you're profitable and small, your efforts can probably be "bootstrapped". No. It's not as secure as having a millionaire back your efforts. Yes. It will take longer. But why give away equity in your company when it's very possible that you can achieve your goals without having to. Needless to say, I did not get selected to pitch my business to an investor at Beta City but I was selected to become a member of iFundWomen's Maryland cohort.

iFundWomen is a platform for women entrepreneurs to encourage and support each other through raising capital to start or grow their businesses. Founded by Karen Cahn during the 2016 Presidential Election, iFundWomen has since raised $700,000 for 120 entrepreneurs. The mission of iFundWomen is to close the funding and confidence gap for female entrepreneurs by working with early stage companies on coaching, brand positioning, and sales strategies, to get them off the ground, and onto "Main Street". 

Living in the city, I see all of the disparities of Baltimore. My husband and I chose to purchase a house in the city because we know the solid community is the only thing that can reverse the effects of school to prison pipeline, drug addiction, absentee parents and other challenges our people are experiencing. We decided that we wanted to set an example and be the change in our city that we want to see. Our goal is to play a major role in rebuilding our city and the sense of community that we once held so near and dear to our hearts. With help for iFundWomen supporters, I will be able to do just that. 

I have a really hard time asking for help publicly, especially monetary help, but I realized that my project was bigger than me so I got over myself. I am offering rewards for every giving level. This is where building community begins. If you offer a helping hand, I am in a better position to help someone else because you helped me.

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