Summer Business Update

Friends — this is the first of a quarterly-ish series where I will share business updates. Creating my business with my values intact is important to me, and I want to share with you how I’m committing to that, where my money is going, and what I’m doing now and next.

What am I doing now and next?

Style coaching is transforming our relationship with clothes, breaking free of self-criticism and overconsumption, and uncovering our singular style.

I've been doing one-on-one packages, as well as pay-what-you-can one-hour strategy sessions. I also just launched my first group class, Unfolding, which is a four-week workshop and discussion circle to help you make value-driven style decisions. I currently have six incredible students who are wonderful and committed to practicing wearing their values. I have open one-on-one coaching spots available now, and plan to offer the group course, Unfolding, again in October. I also have some exciting collaborations and things coming up in September that I can’t wait to share with you.

So, that’s the current state of things. Next I want to talk about accountability and money.

Money, my anti-racism pledge, and accountability

Even before I officially started this as a business, I said over and over, if I can’t do this with my values intact, I don’t want to be doing it. I know the world we live in doesn’t value clothes and style; it doesn’t value women’s work and the work of BIPOC women and gender non-conforming people even less; it doesn’t value “soft skills,” and business isn’t often set up to support people. But that’s important to me—to reject doing it the way it’s been done just because that’s how it’s done. I took Jennifer Armbrust’s Feminist Business School, which was excellent, and I fully believe a business can embody feminist values and in her words, “model new ways of living, working, and being together.”

I recognize that being a feminist business is a commitment, not an achievement, and I am committed to this lifelong effort. I work to own my various privileges and to create services that acknowledge and respect everyone’s unique experiences and style. I strive to be receptive to feedback and change.

Earlier this summer in June, I watched Rachel Rodgers’ amazing Town Hall, Reimagining Small Business, on creating equitable anti-racist businesses. She created a pledge, which I have taken, and one of the commitments was to make both the pledge and a statement available publicly, so you can always find my values and mission and this pledge on my website. Thank you to MaryAlice at Alice Alexander Co for sharing this with me.

The pledge asks for business owners to:

  1. Name white supremacy and the impact of racism on both our personal and professional lives.
  2. Engage in anti-racist education for you and your team.
  3. Commit to open-conflict and allow discomfort in your team and spaces.
  4. Invest a portion of your monthly company budget to the Black community; we recommend 30%, on hiring Black employees, vendors and contractors, services, etc.
  5. Express your sincere, long-term commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization by creating a permanent statement.

While I don’t have a team, I maintain a business education and operating expenses budget and half of it is dedicated to Black, BIPOC, LGBQTIA+, and/or women educators.  Rachel suggests 30%, and for the last three months (which is really the entirety of my official business life), I’m at 72% of my education budget going to Black or BIPOC owned teachers, and the remainder to women or groups who have dedicated inclusivity statements and values. That’s about 56% if you include my software and apps, like Zoom, which are white-owned and unfortunately mostly by men.

I joined Rachel’s entrepreneurship group, which is incredible, and it’s incredible to learn business skills from a Black woman who recognizes both the power of mindset AND the realities of the world for women. I currently support both for Aja Barber and Nicole Cardoza’s Anti-Racism Daily newsletter on Patreon, and I’ve been learning a ton from Andrea Ranae’s Whole Self Liberation classes she did earlier this summer. As I begin to do collaborations, or speaking, or events, or even hire people, I want to be really intentional about hiring people who share these values too, paying fair wages, and not just doing what’s always done.

I also take 10% of my total income for donations to organizations dedicated to eliminating oppressions of all kind, and share that information publicly. I’m particularly, personally committed to food access and food equity, supporting women in the sustainable and ethical fashion world, women entrepreneurs, and of course supporting organizations local to me in Austin.

I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, but as we’ve heard over and over, accountability is really important. I want you to know I intend to build this business with my values intact, and that I am putting my money where my mouth is.

In May, $50 went to supporting local Austin Black businesses rebuilding after a fire set during protests, including Altatude’s, a local fashion boutique.

In June, $100 to Third Wave Fund for Give Out Day for BIPOC and LGBTQI sex worker-led organizing and community care. Thanks to Lydia @styleisstyle for promoting and fundraising this one.

In July,  $50 to Andrea Ranae, since it was her birthday and she’s launching Whole Self Liberation, her online school for people who are working to shift the culture in their lives and work, which is amazing; and $50 to Indy Smith’s BIPOC Community Urban Farm Fund in Los Angeles, where she is building an urban farm where it’s most needed.

I hope this will grow beyond 10% in the future, as my business grows, too.

Last, one of my values for my business is this:

We model the world we want to live in.
We participate in the community and world in a positive and intersectional way, because we believe that small change is still powerful. As individuals, we recognize that our actions have impact, and how our behaviors can cultivate a better world. We value cyclical growth and know that we are strongest when we are connected with others.

I do regular self-study and self-development work, both as a coach and on anti-racism. Y’all know I am a voracious reader, but I also work to integrate what I read into my life. It’s important to me that as a coach when I talk to clients about style I’m being inclusive of their experiences, and creating spaces in my classes and even here on Instagram that model the values I believe. My clients all sign an agreement with me, and my group class takes a code of conduct, and this includes agreements like working on negative self-talk, lovingly calling out beliefs that come from fatphobia, diet culture, racism, and the meritocracy, and of course, a hard line on harassment.

I am continually learning how I can do better at this myself, and getting additional training for myself on inclusive coaching is high on the list of future education to do’s. At minimum, this also involves not selling my services to you based in shame, or fear, or scarcity mindset, but by connecting to what helps my clients, you, really get in touch with your inner self and wisdom about your style, with your values, and gets you to a new relationship with your wardrobe that feels good all around.

I’m always interested in talking with you if you have questions about this, or if you’re a fellow entrepreneur or business owner and sharing how you are doing this for your business. There's no perfect, only a committment. Thanks for reading and thank you for making it possible for this business to exist.