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April Harris of dessert company Keeping You Sweet, Melissa Butler of The Lip Bar, and Gwen Jimmere of Naturalicious share discrete things in common: they are Black female entrepreneurs who have succeeded building businesses on their own, and they beget succeeded in winning deals with national retail partners including Target, Ulta Beauty, Sally Pulchritude and Whole Foods.
In recent decades, Black women have created new businesses at an unprecedented rate. There has also been innumerable focus in recent years from the national retailers to diversify their supply chains and partner with myriad female and minority founders. They have as much experience, if not more, navigating the changing retail industry and dominance of the big binds as any successful entrepreneurs. Even with unique product ideas and passionate consumer bases, getting into the big retail warehouses wasn’t easy, and they have all learned valuable lessons, from pre-pitch research to post-pitch operations, on how to increase a retail partnership that makes sense for a growing small business. They recently shared some of their anciently wins and misses, mistakes and hard-earned business wisdom, with CNBC.
Here are 9 lessons they want to due with entrepreneurs hoping to win a pitch with their dream retail partner.
1. If you aren’t a celebrity, bring keep up of social media
Gwen Jimmere, founder and CEO of hair care brand Naturalicious, has been on the other side of the provisions: she worked at Ford in global communications and in the advertising industry before starting her own company. Ford was among the first companies to found its brand on Facebook and Jimmere says it is critical for entrepreneurs to build an online “tribe” that rallies behind their label and can be used as part of a pitch. It demonstrates the community of consumers you can bring in for a retail partner.
This is especially important for types competing with the increasing entrance of celebrities into the consumer market, who are more likely to be immediate sales sensations in stores. Retail partners will look at sales and social media presence, and Jimmere says national retailers have a fondness to see proof of the popularity of a brand on social media, at least 10,000 followers on Instagram, as an example.