Today’s interview is with former dancer and ballet Instructor Kayla Harley. Kayla has started her own business and is now the proud owner of a brand and marketplace. Read her story today on the blog!
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?
I am the founder and owner of a holistic wellness brand and marketplace called; the Beebodi Marketplace. My brand promotes healthy, happy and whole living in the lives of individuals focusing on the 5 topics of Health: Mental, Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Financial while stocked with au’natural products in our online store and providing professional wellness care services such as Energy Healing, Nutritional Counseling, Prenatal & Postpartum Doula Care and Movement Therapy. Through uniquely curated curriculums we serve the community: educating the public on self-care, of-the-earth health tips, and empowering individuals with positive affirming initiatives. As a Black Female Entrepreneur, I centre the business around the needs of people of colour first and foremost keeping mind the things that would best serve us. For example: “Man Code”, this is a Male Mentorship Gathering for boys and young men led by leaders in the community, fathers, big brothers and experts in the field of health care, finance, hygiene and grooming to help them best prepare for the Back to School and Graduation season. The purpose is to get them to look inward, prioritizing their well being and acknowledge the human body as the ultimate source of life that it is. The name, “Man Code” refers to guy talk which is typically had in barbershops or during sports events– our hosts are trusted voices that bring strength and model behaviour to the attendees to help guide young men’s lives in a positive and effectual way. The event features our most popular BeeBodi product, “Beard Juice”, a facial cleansing spray of which everyone gets a free sample along with an invitation to become a “BBoy” product brand ambassador if they’d like. In essence, what is taking place in the Beebodi Marketplace is an opportunity to build, connect and grow together whether as a customer or partnering organization. Empowerment above all is important. We want those who engage with us to feel like it’s a dwelling place not just for an occasional visit to purchase something. Our network extends across social media platforms including; a Facebook Group “Treat Support & Invigorate”, Instagram, Pinterest. On our website, visitors will find blog articles including shared wellness experiences, product reviews and affiliate marketing advertisements. On iTunes, there is the podcast entitled, “Beebodi Talks” which includes episodes encompassing positive affirmations, ASMR relaxation, soundscape music and discussion on various topics in Wellness. The Beebodi Marketplace has so much to offer.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?
Years ago, I was inspired by the movie Secret Life of Bees starring Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo and Dakota Fanning, I felt that I could relate to these women both in character and as they are in real life–intelligent, creative, ambitious, beautiful and busy as bees. From there, I coined a persona name “Kayla Naturale’Bee” and since then have been being rocking with it ever since. When I decided to make my first product, “Beard Juice” it only seemed right to attribute a skincare product to both the human body and name it after me…..hence the name “Bee Bodi”. I was living in Chicago dating a guy at the time who had a beard. In fact, all throughout the city, the full-bearded look was the style amongst males. While picking up some items from the store including essential oils, I decided to make something for him that was refreshing, cleansing and that, as a woman I would gravitate towards in scent. I have sensitive skin, so even hugging people at times wearing thick scented moisturizers could cause an outbreak for me. I knew for a fact that this had to be the case for other women with bearded male friends, boyfriends or husbands. After making one product, Other bright ideas for products came along that promoted a lifestyle of self-care, relaxation and holism and the BeeBodi Marketplace gradually began to stock up and become what it is today, accessible to All.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS, AND IS THIS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS?
I had a career as a Performance Artist, Dancer and Ballet Instructor. This is my first business and it encompasses everything that I am today: a Certified Breathologist and GYROKINESIS® Instructor in the Movement Therapy services that I offer.
WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?
My advice to young female entrepreneurs would be to–take your time, invest in your work and don’t allow anyone to wreck your flow. What I mean is that there is no rush to being an entrepreneur. If you plan to be in business for a long time then doing things the right way and with the proper legal ramifications is a must. Avoid rushing into things, doing photo shoots and promoting on social media before your paperwork is complete. As a #bossbabe be prepared to take on responsibility no matter what the outcome and put the needs of your clients/customers first. Own up to any mistakes you have–in the world of business the blame game is just plain tacky. Keep it classy in the face of adversity. Yet at the same time, try not to bluff. Keep it simple and to the point, be about your word. You don’t have to say yes to every opportunity, partnership offered or collaboration presented before you. Be smart and think long term, make sure that your operations align with what you’d originally set out to do i.e. your Vision and Mission Statement. Stick to the plan and avoid sudden pivots in decision-making for the sake of keeping up with trends. Any divergence from plans you’ve decided on or discussed with your team should be thought through and reviewed before putting things out there. And lastly, not everyone is going to agree with you, jive or like what you’re doing. Be at peace with the fact that you can’t please everyone, know your target audience and keep at it (even Oprah says so).
MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW DID YOU DEALT WITH IT:
My greatest obstacle at the current moment is being a Sole Proprietor. A business with employees, team members, contractors, in-hires and or contributors is able to scale the business far better than doing it alone. There is a lot to manage as a business owner when you are taking on multiple tasks at a time. I face these challenges head-on yet also pick and choose my battles wisely. I’ll set my calendar daily & use the Google Tasks application. I cap myself at 6/8 hours per day and when it is time to rest, I put work aside and away from me, so I can do just that–rest. I do the hardest work first and in-between time to engage with other like businesses to see what creativity I can pull from for my next project. I use applications such as Planoly, read articles from Medium or Hootsuite and spend time on LinkedIn to keep me informed as to what other business owners or major corporations are talking about. I also invest time and money into webinars because anything that I don’t know, I won’t know unless I do the research.
MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:
My proudest accomplishment thus far was working with young girls at a Summer Camp, The Woman Behind the Business, where I got to teach them how to meditate and apply positive affirmations to their daily lives. When my work allows me to connect with and help improve the lives of others, I feel that I have made the most important contribution.
HOW I BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE I WANT:
There is a saying that goes, “If you love what you do. Then, you love life.” Blending work and everyday life can be a challenge because work as a business owner tends to overlap without your say so. Things are always subject to change and when attention to operations as a leader is required in the most untimely of instances –life has to take a step down. I am my biggest advocate for Self-Care, I understand that I must be in the best shape in order to have something to offer in business so–I, always come first, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. When I feel like I am beginning to resent what I do, I take a moment of pause for regrouping and reflection. If this means having a nap, a day off or a holiday. I will do so. Always keeping in mind the good of my business every step of the way. The key, I believe, is to keep LOVE at the centre of it ALL so that the two: blend happily together.
I AM INSPIRED BY:
I am inspired by nature. There is so much wisdom in the way that Mother Earth is designed, and we as human beings have the pleasure of enjoying it.
WHY I CHOSE THIS CAREER:
This career actually chose me. I’ve had my share of challenges with health that took me out of the range of money-making. So, I immediately turned to creativity and started to devise a plan. As I’d mentioned, love is a very important component to my life and therefore doing something that interests me and fills my heart is a sure way to get me out of the bed every morning and actually want to accomplish things. Being a freelancer and #bossbabe allows me to designate my own schedule and that is a plus. The 9 to 5 pm career plus traffic seems draining and tiresome to me. I enjoy the freedom that being an entrepreneur brings (in a sense).
HOW I PREPARE FOR SUCCESS:
I try to encourage myself in the Lord and rely on spiritual guidance to help me in decision-making Proverbs 3:5. As a Christian, I do my best to hear and apply the word of God to everyday life to make it real to me. In the morning at about 5 am I go for a walk before the sun comes up, I recite positive affirmations for myself and the business then leave the rest in God’s hands. I sit still and meditate and drink alkaline (Lemon or Cucumber) water to start my day. When I feel like I am too far removed in isolation I spend time with loved ones, family and friends and avoid talking about work-related things unless I am asked. When it comes to making my products, I make it an experience–taking up as much room as needed for creativity allowing space to dive in wholeheartedly.
DID YOU WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN? WAS IT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR YOU?
Yes, I did write a business plan. It was very effective to have a blueprint initially and then allow things to fill in and expand in detail over time. My most effective tool was/is counselling. I am not afraid to let it be known that I need help and guidance, I often seek advice from serial entrepreneurs and/or seasoned vets in business.
ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMAN BUSINESS OWNER?
The advantages of being a woman in business at this point are the resources available to us now and the fact that there are other amazing Female Entrepreneurs going after success who you can connect with and bounce ideas off of. While there are some designated loans just for small, starter, female businesses it still feels like there are inequalities towards women and that is the disadvantage that we are working to overcome.
MY FAVORITE BUSINESS TOOL IS…
THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS…