We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Corendis Hardy. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Corendis below.
Corendis, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Almost all entrepreneurs have had to decide whether to start now or later?There are always pros and cons for waiting and so we’d love to hear what you think about your decision in retrospect. If you could go back in time, would you have started your business sooner, later or at the exact time you started?
All stories have an ending, even good ones. During the last few years of my 31-year career as an educator, I knew it was time to make a professional change. However, I loved what I was doing so much that I hated letting go; I couldn’t imagine myself doing something else. Moreover, I wasn’t sure if I had what it took to run a business, especially a bookstore when almost everyone was trying to discourage from doing it. Today, I marvel at how successful my daughter and I have been. I know our positive impact in the community that we serve is a result of immeasurable support from people we know and many we don’t. It feels wonderful being a full-time business owner and although I no longer have a classroom, I am still teaching others about the importance of literacy and learning. As a lifelong learner, I enjoy discovering new ways to improve business operations while staying fiscally strong. My only regret is not starting sooner. Everything I did as a teacher is applicable as an entrepreneur. I have just traded doing lesson plans to completing financial reports and attending faculty meetings with having conferences with the clients that I help tell their stories. As Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Corendis, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Avant-garde Books, LLC is a multifaceted business. On the retail side, we sell books, intellectual tee-shirts, and art that promote positive images and messages about people of color, especially children. However, we also write and publish our own literary works as well as help aspiring authors tell their stories. We also promote literacy, i. e. reading and education in general. In addition to our online bookstore, we are permanently stationed at the Mall West End (in Atlanta) four days each week. We are super proud that we have published over 50 books, either our own or for other authors. We work hard to empower other authors through book signings and promotion. Recently, we had our first story time with award-winning author, Patrice McLaurin. It was a successful event and seeing young children engaged with smiles on their faces is worth more than money because our primary goal is to “save”, not sell. Additionally, we are especially proud of the fact that about 25% of our inventory comes from outstanding, independent authors like Patrice McLaurin, Michael A. Carson, G. A. Sealy, E. Danielle Butler, Beth Bolden, and David Miller.
How did you build your audience on social media?
When you don’t have thousands or millions of dollars to spend on advertising and marketing, social media can be a powerful tool. We have a unique posting style. We mainly do educational posts about writers and other notable figures throughout history. We also share images of our customers with books by authors from all over the world. It might the reason that some of them have visited us at the mall. One thing that most people might not know is that there is a difference between having a lot of followers and garnering loyal supporters. We have the latter and that is why our business has grown over the years. I strongly encourage people to stop obsessing about the numbers and focus on service. I sincerely believe that a genuine desire to help other people is the key to a successful business.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
In addition to selling books, I also publish books. I am grateful that I regularly get new clients whom I help empower to tell their stories. Just recently, I helped a woman who had lost her mother to Covid-19. Before the lady passed away, she had written several children’s books. Her daughter, my client, honored her mother by publishing one of her books. It gives me joy to help create special memories and legacies for people. 100% of my clients are a result of referrals from former clients. It’s true: a person’s reputation can be more valuable than gold. I do my best to make each customer feel special. I welcome questions and feedback. I can’t reiterate enough that good customer service can exponentially grow a business. Of course, I make mistakes, but I have learned to own them, apologize, and work to correct them. Lastly, remember that people don’t care how much you know until they know you care about them. Care. Just do it!
- Website: www.avantgardebooks.net
- Instagram: @avantgardebooks
- Facebook: @avantgardebooks100
- Twitter: @Avant_GardeBks
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxtDczKFAGnBkpECH3kjziA