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Putting yourself out there is scary. Being thrown into the unknown can be stressful—you aren’t sure how people will receive your art. By “art” I mean photography, music, blogs, clothing, all that cool stuff people love to see. Naturally, we fear vulnerability—it’s terrifying, although “it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love” (according to Brené Brown). How many times have you felt an instant connection to or appreciation for someone just because of a personal struggle they decided to share? How often do you support a person or brand because you like them and their story resonates with you?

If you’re like most, the answer to those questions is “very often”. We’re all looking for meaningful connections, some of us are even looking for guidance from people who have struggled through the things we’re currently going through or anticipate we will go through. I’ve taught for 9 years, I’ve taught pre-kindergarten, 1st grade and middle school and throughout those years I’ve received some of the most beautiful thank you letters and gifts from parents and children just for coming to work everyday with a smile on my face, noticing things like new haircuts, giving out snacks to kids who didn’t bring one, or my favorite—just providing a stable environment. My kids look forward to the compassionate, caring, laid-back, high expectation environment my classroom provides. I’ve found that my friends appreciate the same things. My customers often highlight the “amazing customer service” I provide, the thoughtful, gift-ready packaging and quality products. They always know what to expect when they shop with me.

People crave stability, especially in today’s world. People crave connection, they need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. They need what you have to offer. There’s a specific audience that want exactly what you’re offering.

The only regret I have in life is not starting GabeJade sooner. If you’re thinking about starting something, anything. Start NOW. Once you start, you will regret not starting sooner, I promise.

Still not convinced? Keep reading.

1. The sooner you start, the sooner you become the expert.

It can be challenging to start something. Where do you even start? Naturally, you follow what others in your industry are doing. While there is nothing wrong with this (we all do it), what works for one brand, may not work for another. Also, although we may gain inspiration from particular brands, we cannot steal ideas or copy. We have to find our own lane and stay in it. Audiences don’t want to see copycat brands. Remember, you’re a small business, not Sam’s Club vs. Costco, start off as a complete carbon copy of another brand and you’ll fail. You have to put your own spin on things. What makes you different?

The sooner you get started, the sooner you can collaborate, post content, start conversations, ask, observe, see what your audience likes the most and keep sharing those kinds of things.

The images below are how my bowties looked at first (terrible) vs. how they look now.

 

2. Holidays/National _____ Day

There is always some sort of holiday coming up. Take advantage of that. Literally every day is “National _______ Day”. If you’re selling something—find a way to connect it to the holiday (think colors, scents, flavors, wording, graphics), if you’re sharing photography or writing (such as a blog) give your spin or feelings on the day, same with blogging, music and clothing. A lot of people feel lonely around the major holidays and would love to connect with you. Which brings me to my next point:

Valentine’s Day Theme

Valentine’s Day Theme

3. Someone needs you.

Share your story, share your work, build a following. Build a network of people who trust you, support you, value your opinion and advice. People who will look to you for inspiration or even someone who brightens their day. Who wouldn’t want to be that? You’re someone’s hero whether you know it or not. We’re all unsure of how people will receive our art, but I’m here to tell you that your audience will love it. Remember, your audience isn’t every single person in the world. Your audience isn’t every mother or every man who loves dogs. Your target audience is very specific (think age range, interests, economic status, marital status, location, etc). Find it and dominate.

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4. You need you.

Show up for yourself and stop hiding all that talent, it’s time to share your art with the world. It would be a shame if you were to pass on without ever letting the world know just how amazing you are. Is it scary? Yes! I didn’t know if people, other than my nephew, would actually want to wear bowties made from African fabric but guess what? People don’t like it, they LOVE it. I’ve now expanded to making traditional neckties, headwraps and even dogdanas. I’ve been featured in magazines and blogs, even got trips because of my brand. I’ve also become a professional photographer just because I needed good pics of my accessories. Now I get paid for photography too. All these cool things would’ve never happened if I didn’t start. I’m still mad I didn’t start sooner.

One of my favorite, most unexpected features

One of my favorite, most unexpected features

5. Income.

Although it takes time, hard work and C O N S I S T E N C Y (I can’t stress that word enough), you have the potential to make some great connections and earn good money. Of course not immediately—remember you’re building a brand, and there’s no limit to what you can do and the amount of money you can make with time. It actually could be pretty fast, but don’t bank on it. Go into it understanding that this isn’t a get rich quick scheme. You are monetizing something you love to do. You’ll make your first $50, next thing you know, you’re making an extra $5k-$10k a month. There’s no cap. The possibilities are endless depending on how hard you decide to work.

Start now. Your community needs you. You need you.

If you have any questions or need help, feel free to comment below :-)

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We love our little furry, four-legged friends. They come into our lives and fill a void that only a sweet, silent companion can. Although they can’t speak, we know they absolutely adore us and the feeling is quite mutual. They are the only ones guaranteed to be unconditionally thrilled every single time they see us; and we love them so much for bringing a special light into our lives. A love like this deserves to be celebrated with only the finest gifts.

Here's why:

1. Fur babies deserve the finer things in life.

Our dog bandanas or “dogdanas” are made of the most beautiful fabric you could ever purchase for your best friend. But don't just listen to us, listen to our community of buyers:

"The item is beautiful and good quality. I love it and the dog loved it too."

“I love it! So bright and festive and so well made, very happy that I bought two, and gave one to my grand-puppy!”

Absolutely lovely bandana. Arrived in a beautiful box and was wrapped in gorgeous tissue paper. Outstanding!!! Many thanks. My pit bull is proudly wearing it. What a great seller. It was like Christmas in July”

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2. They can match you in a more fashionable way.

We’ve all seen dogs and their humans share matching bandana prints, and while those are adorable, we have something very different. You and your best friend can match in a more stylish way. Our dogdanas have matching headwrap, scarf, tie, bow tie and pocket square options. Looking to dress up and match your baby? Look no further.

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3. Dogdanas add personality.

As humans, we are able to change and enhance our style at any moment. Our furry friends are not afforded this opportunity. Although their fur is beautiful, nothing adds style and distinction like a unique GabeJade dogdana.

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4. Compliments, compliments and more compliments!

Last but certainly not least, when wearing these unique dogdanas, your pup is sure to stand out. You know what standing out leads to? Compliments. Think about how you feel when you see a beautiful dog with beautiful adornments. What follows? Compliments. Our babies deserve compliments and so do we. So head over to our shop and grab a few dogdanas for dog and and a couple of matching sets to show off your love. Click here to shop

Photo courtesy of  www.instagram.com/shaymah.ali

Photo courtesy of www.instagram.com/shaymah.ali

 

 

6 Steps to Achieving The Perfect Bow With Your Headwrap

 
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Understandably, we get a lot of questions about how to tie our signature, larger-than-life bows. We get it, they look sophisticated; people take one look and are overwhelmed. It seems like a lot, but I promise, it’s a lot easier than you think. If you can tie shoestrings, you can tie a GabeJade bow.

6 easy steps to achieving a GabeJade bow:

  1. Hold the wrap behind your head, with one side in each hand.

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2. Cross one side over the other and pull (like you would before you begin to tie shoe strings)

3. Make a “bunny ear” with one side (exactly how you would with a shoe string).

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4. Wrap the other side around the loop and pull to make a bow (exactly how you would make a bow with your shoestring).

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5. Here is the one step that is different from tying a shoe and also determines how your bow will look: you’re going to “open” the two bunny ears. You can move the bow around and twist it, you can tuck the left out ends into the open bunny ears or fluff the ends out to look like flower petals (more on that in an upcoming post).

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6. Enjoy the compliments on your beautiful GabeJade bow!

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Make sure you get these steps down, so you can be ready for our next blog post which will teach you how to achieve our 4 most popular big bow styles.

And if you need more headwraps, click here.

Model: Shayla Meeks, www.instagram.com/me.koh

Okay, So...How Do I Start?

So, after writing about why you should get started immediately, I got some messages asking me how to start. People said they were ready, they just didn’t know where to start. It’s a lot. I know. I really, really want us to all be great, so I compiled a list of a few things you need to do to get started (I also tried to put them in order as much as possible).

I used Arthur characters, because, well…who doesn’t love Arthur? Also, I’m a teacher so I’m used to adding photos to explain and make things pretty for the kids lol. Anyway, I want to get straight to the point, so here it is:

1. Research

Research your very specific target audience. Let’s say you are selling baby toys, you need to read mommy blogs, check reviews of baby toys on Amazon to see what mothers love most about specific items, talk to friends who have babies and pay attention to wording in order to attract your target audience. Your target audience may be something like: “first-time, stay home moms, with babies age 6-24 months, who are looking to give their babies a head start with reading”. Your target audience is not “moms” and it’s definitely not “everyone”. Narrow down your exact ideal customer and market to them. Research pricing, research people doing the same thing as you, research everything. READ. YouTube can also really teach you a lot. Make sure you’re always learning.

You happily researching and keeping notes on your audience, pricing, trends, etc., watching YouTube, reading blogs and ordering books.

You happily researching and keeping notes on your audience, pricing, trends, etc., watching YouTube, reading blogs and ordering books.

2. Build Anticipation

If there’s one thing I wish I had known before actually launching my Etsy shop, it’s would’ve been: get people curious and excited about your product or service before actually releasing it. (TikTok has made this especially easy. People love seeing behind the scenes business footage and watching quick little videos of how things are made.) Almost 4 years ago, clueless AF, I opened an Etsy shop and just started uploading pictures and adding product descriptions. Then I opened an Instagram page and just started uploading pictures. No one knew me or my brand, but I was posting tho smh. I should’ve started my social media accounts FIRST, collaborated with some influencers/bloggers/vloggers, gained at least a small following of people dying to have my product and then released it (after much anticipation).

Your audience anxiously watching and waiting for your debut.

Your audience anxiously watching and waiting for your debut.

3. Collect Email Addresses

This anticipation would’ve allowed me to build an email list full of people who where ecstatic and ready for my products. Invest in an email marketing service like ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, etc. and create a landing page for people to sign up with their email. An email list is essential for anyone starting any kind of business or offering any service. Email allows you free direct access to your target audience (well, not completely free, but better than paying for ads), it also encourages repeat buying. You can also setup emails to wish your customers happy birthday, send targeted emails depending on where they live (let’s say you decide to have a pop-up shop in Brooklyn, or you’re a traveling photographer, you could send emails specifically to people in those places), alert people of new releases, send tips and tricks, etc. Start collecting emails before you launch. Thank me later :-)

People happily signing up for your email list, waiting to buy before your product is even available.

People happily signing up for your email list, waiting to buy before your product is even available.

 

4. Quality Images

Okay guys, this should go without saying but please, great photography is a MUST. You have 2 choices here: 1) invest in a photographer 2) invest in a good camera, YouTube tutorials and decent photo editing software (photoshop, Lightroom, etc). Y’all. Please. Please ensure you have clean, crisp, thoughtful images for your site, store and social media profiles. You won’t be able to reach your full potential with low quality photos. Some people are really good at iPhone photography and that’s awesome! But if you aren’t one of those people? Invest. Either in a photographer or in learning photography.

This is either you taking professional pics, or your photographer taking professional pics.

This is either you taking professional pics, or your photographer taking professional pics.

 

5. Website/Platform

Buy your domain(s) as soon as possible. Check and make sure “yourbusinessname.com” is available before you start. If it isn’t, think of a new business name. Make sure your website has awesome images and has clear “call to action” buttons like “Shop Now”, “Subscribe” or “Hire Me” visible on every single page. Some people have great websites, photography and copywriting but no clear way to contact them or buy. Don’t let this be you.

Decide where you want to sell and/or share your content. If you’re blogging or selling services such as photography, you can use Squarespace or Wix, but please pay the $15 so that it says “yourbusinessname.com” and not “.wix.com”.

If you’re selling items, like candles, clothes, art, etc, you’ll need to decide between Etsy and Shopify. You could use one. You could use both. Etsy is great because it is already a popular platform where people go to search for unique items, so Etsy brings traffic (visitors/potential buyers) to your shop. Shopify does not. With Shopify, you are responsible for bringing your own traffic through ads, posts, etc. Disclaimer: I’m very biased. I use and LOVE Etsy lol, so I won’t say anything else about the platforms. Just do your own research and decide what’s best for you.

I want you guys to note, though, I didn’t mention a logo, color palette, mood board, etc. These are all things that can come later and shouldn’t stop you from starting. Too much unnecessary planning and “perfecting” leads to procrastination. Don’t do that. Start. Start with the things I’ve listed and perfect the rest AFTER you’ve started.

These are things I wish someone had told me. I sincerely hope this saves you some time and at least gets you started out on the right foot. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions.

Love Always,

Ade O.

You going to get started because you’ve wasted enough time doubting yourself and your ability.

You going to get started because you’ve wasted enough time doubting yourself and your ability.

 

How GabeJade Ties Bring Your Shorts To Life

It’s hot outside, your legs desperately need air...but you still want to look dapper. You’re tired of slacks and want a different look, or maybe you just want to channel your inner hero LeBron or fashionable Pharrell.

At GabeJade, we’re all about sophistication, confidence, and most importantly, avoiding boring outfits. Our colorful African print ties give many options for paring with suits, pants, jackets and….you guessed it! Shorts. We are definitely not the first to do it, we’re just the best to do it.

Click photo to shop tie.

Click photo to shop tie.

Everyone has that one pair of khakis that fit just right. You probably wear your khakis one of three ways: with a collared, polo style shirt, a button down with the buttons unbuttoned or a plain T-shirt. Those options work, but it’s time to bring some confidence to your style. GabeJade ties effortlessly bring sophistication to those trusty old khakis.

 

At GabeJade, we’re all about sophistication, confidence, and most importantly, avoiding boring outfits.

Next up: sweat shorts.

Sweat shorts are arguably the most comfortable shorts ever created. Who wouldn’t want to wear them all the time? Now you can. People won’t even notice they are sweat shorts after you pair them with the GabeJade tie of your choice. GabeJade transforms you into the fashion icon you marvel at on Instagram, suddenly you’re the fashion expert. You can even wear the athletic shoe of your choice. If you’re looking for stylish sweat shorts, GQ has a list with prices starting at just $10.

This post was inspired by Queyoun Makor, www.instagram.com/queyoun

Click photo to shop tie

Click photo to shop tie

 

7 Quotes to Ignite Your Style

 

The older I get, the more personal style is important to me. 

 

1. "Style is something each of us already has, all we need to do is find it." -Diane von Furstenberg

2. "Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly" -Epictetus

3."You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it." -Edith Head

4. Dressing well is a form of good manners" -Tom Ford

5. "Fashion is like eating, you shouldn't stick to the same menu." -Kenzo Takada

6. "Style is something each of us already has, all we need to do is find it." -Diane von Furstenberg

7. "Elegance is good taste, plus a dash of daring" -Carmel Snow

8. "Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they notice the woman" -Coco Chanel