We recently connected with Destiny Williams and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Destiny thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Are you happier as a business owner? Do you sometimes think about what it would be like to just have a regular job?
I can say with 100% certainty that I am happier as a business owner. As someone who has worked since the age of 15, I’ve held many titles in many different lines of work. Everything from retail to education – you name it, I’ve likely done it. It wasn’t until I gave birth to my daughter that I realized the value of my role as a mother which ultimately led to my entrepreneurship journey.
My husband and I decided early on that our daughter deserved the full attention and care of a parent versus paid help. We also understood that a full time stay at home parent would mean surviving on less income. Unfortunately that’s the reality of so many parents here in the U.S. it’s a difficult decision to have to make when our parents were able to not only survive but thrive off one income.
I stayed at home for two years before the financial burden became a bit too much and soon joined the workforce, part-time. Between schedules, babysitters, and appointments, I quickly learned that my place was at home with my daughter. We needed the income but we also needed peace of mind when it came to our daughter’s emotional, mental, and physical health. That was non-negotiable. So it was time for me to get creative. I mean that literally. I took what I was already gifted at and decided that I had to make this work in order to raise my daughter in the kind of home we envisioned for her.
I started off using Etsy since I was already familiar with the platform and the fan base was essentially built in. I spent hours researching proper business startup, tax laws, startup costs, niches, and everything else in between. Was it tiresome? Absolutely. Was it confusing trying to legitimately build a brand with no prior expertise? Definitely. But what was the alternative? Sacrifice the time with my little one for a paycheck? No thank you.
It was that desire to remain where I am most valuable that pushed me into entrepreneurship. It’s also what has kept me sane on this journey. I honestly cannot fathom going back to work a “regular job”. I’ve developed an amazing bond with my daughter that would only suffer if I went back to the workforce. Any business owner will tell you that there are too many ups and downs in this journey to keep count. But the fact that every single ounce of labor I put into my business increases it’s value is enough for me to stay the course.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I’m Destiny, a married mama of one with a background in education. After giving birth to my daughter in 2017, I decided not to re-enter the classroom so I could focus on my new role as a parent. It was fun, and exhausting, and wonderful. It also left me feeling more passionate about the kind of world I want to raise my child in.
As a Black woman, I have often found myself in places where I’m seen as an after thought versus a valuable asset. I see it now with other stationery companies – for years Black women weren’t represented in this field at all. Until recently, our options for artwork that reflected us were minuscule compared to others. I didn’t want my daughter to ever think of herself as less than simply because others choose not to see us. That’s when I decided to take my creative skills and use them to create a place that embodied what I wanted my daughter to understand about herself and community. Alas, Adaeze & Co. was born.
The vision for Adaeze (pronounced uh-day-zee, after my little one) & Company has always been to help others feel seen and valued in their respective communities. The stationery I create are born from the perspective of an African American woman in solidarity with the multiple communities I am a vital part of – being Black, a woman, a mother, a former educator, and all around creative. I want members of my community to feel seen, heard, and uplifted.
Initially a digitally only shop, Adaeze & Co. has grown into a recognizable stationery brand in over 15 physical boutiques and shops across the country. You can find everything from vinyl stickers to notepad planners to keychains, all with hand drawn illustrations celebrating Black women. It’s the perfect gift shop for the paper stationery obsessed.
I’m proud of the way my brand has grown in its short two years. I’ve collaborated with other amazing companies that are looking to help place underrepresented communities at the forefront. I’ve connected with complete strangers who’ve found their hobbies just that much more enjoyable because of the products I offer. It’s a feeling that will never get old, having others thank you for making them feel seen. I truly believe that when we make others feel seen, we give them a chance to be heard. When we amplify their voices, we give them a chance to inspire others. Community rooted art is a stepping stone to great change.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
Social media is hands down the best marketing tool for small business owners. But let’s face it, creating content is a full time job in and of itself. Nevertheless, growing your audience is essential to scaling your brand. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to adapt to social media while running a business:
1. Create a realistic schedule! If social media isn’t your thing, start by creating a realistic schedule for posting. Start with posting every other day or just once a day. The only way for people to find your brand is for you to show up consistently. Keyword, consistently. Operating on a schedule alleviates the stress of what/when to post and allows more opportunities for followers to find you.
2. Talk with your followers! Respond to comments, like your followers’ posts, share their stories. Use your stories to do fun Q&A’s with them. This helps build relationships and that’s key in retaining supporters. I adore my followers and chatting with them helps me create the things they actually want to see.
3. Invest in quality photos and setups. It doesn’t have to be expensive – I use natural sunlight, an iPhone, and Lightroom for my product photography. I use the same settings for photos and videos so it’s aesthetically pleasing for my audience to look at. And who doesn’t like pretty things?
I could go on for days about my methods but these three tips lay the foundation for a social media presence that seeks to do more than just sell but connect with with your audience. Besides, when you love what you and take pride in your work, it sells itself.
How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?
I think the number one thing that helped build my reputation within my market is intentionally connecting with my audience. Most of the products I produce are based on actual people I’ve had the joy of meeting & interacting with. That adds to the vision of helping others see themselves in my artwork.
I often hold Q&A’s in order to get to know my followers better and get their thoughts on future products/releases. It’s a relaxed environment that lets my personality shine through and that’s something that draws people to my brand. They can relate to me, my work, my life as a mother, etc. Word of mouth still holds weight when it comes to running a business. Being relatable helps them vouch for me when their circles of friends and family are looking for reputable brands that provide the kind of quality products I do.
- Website: www.adaezeandco.com
- Instagram: www.Instagram.com/adaezeandco
- Facebook: www.Facebook.com/adaezeandco
- Other: www.Etsy.com/shop/adaezeandco
Photography Headshots: JFSM Productions