I Want to Quit My Company: A Black Woman Entrepreneur’s Struggles to Overcome Self Doubt

By Kim Lewis 

“I think I’m quitting CurlMix,” are the words I said to myself a few months back.

I almost quit CurlMix before I even began. When I first started CurlMix, I was so excited! I jumped in head first. I started with no money, built my website in a day, and reached out to all the curly girls and DIYers I knew.

After one month of promoting CurlMix, I had a whopping 2 orders and they were from my cousin and a close friend lol.

That’s pitiful. I thought I was a failure.

You hear so many Facebook stories about “overnight” success and I wondered why it didn’t happen to me. CurlMix seemed like a “no brainer”, a DIY subscription box for curly hair.

People love subscription boxes and they love DIY, ergo they will love CurlMix. It just made sense. What the heck was wrong with me, did my idea suck, was I not working hard enough? In that month of promotion, I emailed vloggers for partnerships and I didn’t get a single response.

Zilch, nothing, nada, crickets…

Clearly I didn't know what I was doing and after one failed business under my belt, I couldn't let CurlMix be the second. Sometimes I attribute the lack of successful Black businesses to the lack of access to resources. I’m not talking about money and high up connections. I’m talking about the Uncle or Auntie who runs a successful business. You don’t have anyone to go to for advice and guidance.

As for me, I had no one to look to for mentorship, and as a result I made a lot of mistakes. I thought that CurlMix was a “no brainer” and a “sure thing”, but I was wrong. I began to think my idea was a flop, and that there was a reason no one else had a business like this. Then I got a word of encouragement from my husband, he never lets me quit.

He told me how even some of the best start ups in the world, like AirBnB and Instagram, launched 3 or 4 times before they finally got it right. He knew I was missing something, that I just wasn’t connecting with the people.

So, I went back to the drawing board one last time before I decided to give up. Over the next month, I got the guidance I would have gotten from an Uncle or Aunt by READING.

I spent the entire month doing the following:

- Reading research papers on DIYers
- Reading blogs on how to craft pitches
- Reading books on influencing people
- Following a host of successful entrepreneurs on social media

My two favorites are Zim from Travel Noire (@Zimism) and Myleik form curlBox (@Myleik). They are like my entrepreneurial aunties lol. I follow them religiously because they provide so much “behind the scenes” info.

After a month of in-depth research and reading, I started over.

I re-drafted my emails to vloggers, I re-wrote my pitch to magazines, re-directed my marketing, re-designed my website, and decided to re-launch CurlMix on September 1, 2015.

During this time, I emailed Hey Fran Hey on YouTube. As I wrote the email I thought,

1. - She works with million dollar companies, brands like Marriott and Shea Moisture, I’m sure she isn’t interested in little ol’ me
2. - She gets hundreds of emails a day, she’ll probably never see this
3. - She is going to think CurlMix is a scam and delete the email without even reading it.

I thought up every reason why she would say no. I thought it was impossible to get someone like Fran.

Then it happened…

The day after emailing her, she replied. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest. She was SO COOL in her email but still very professional. I loved it, she had the professionalism you look for in a business partner but the sweetness of your best friend.

She was ecstatic about CurlMix and so ready to work with us. She fully supported our DIY movement and thought it would be perfect for her followers. I literally did my happy dance, jumping
around the room when we spoke on the phone. I was OVER THE MOON.

I say all this to say that I almost quit before I got my big “YES”. After Fran’s big “YES”, all of the other Yeses started rolling in. After 3 months of business we have achieved the following:

- 3 Major Vlogger partnerships (Nikki Mae, Jenell B. Stewart) and our largest one to date with @HeyFranHey Check out her DIY video here.
- We have built an email list of approximately 3,000 DIYers
- Over 300 customers
- Over 700 shares on Facebook
- Over 30,000 Website Views
- Features In: Essence, Ebony, Refinery29, NaturallyCurly, HypeHair, Brit + Co, Mimi Chatter, Curly Nikki, Bustle & Style Blazer

And I’m sure many of you reading this have felt like quitting time and time again. I just wanted to show you that there’s always rain before the rainbow. I want to encourage you to keep going. Fran’s CurlMix is very special to me, it is a moment in my entrepreneurial journey that I will cherish forever. It was her big “YES” that gave me the confirmation I needed to continuous CurlMix.

I would love to know about a time in your life where you were about to give up but someone stepped in and encouraged you or gave you a big “Yes”. Leave your story in the comments.

Thanks for reading. I hope you were encouraged.

This post has been made possible by Curl Mix.

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