This post is sponsored by Curly Contessa. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
“Write like a boss” is one of my many mantras. Simply put, it means that we writers must think – and act – like business owners if we want to ditch the starving artist cliché and be well-fed writers.
This is why for inspiration I often turn to female entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs like Kristin Farmer.
Kristin is the artist and creative mastermind behind Curly Contessa, a home goods and giftware line that celebrates the beauty of Black women.
Curly Contessa should definitely be on your radar for your gift-giving plans. Just in time for the holiday season, Curly Contessa recently released a Tinsel Toe Throw Pillow and Throw Blanket and Holiday Helper Gift Bags, the perfect complement to the Naturalistas Wrapping Paper. Other holiday-themed gifts available at CurlyContessa.com include Let It Snow off-the-shoulder shirts and nightshirts.
But what inspires me most about Curly Contessa, which Kristin launched in 2017, is the story behind the business. Kristin created Curly Contessa as a celebration, a celebration of survival after she finally got the help she needed to manage mental illness. This story is what has snagged the attention of The Birmingham Times (again and again), VoyageATL, and Official Black Wall Street. Curly Contessa has also been featured on Shop Essence.
And Kristin’s journey and success remind us that our story is our superpower.
I had a chat with Kristin about her business that I’m eager to share because I know it will inspire you, too.
What inspired you to turn your love for art into a business?
One night, sitting on the side of the bed, I searched for something special to treat myself because I finally felt like I had it all. But I couldn’t find anything that culturally represented me other than a graphic tee. I wanted to celebrate my wholeness and all of the craziness in between. You see, I battle with bipolar ll and borderline personality disorder. It had gone misdiagnosed for a decade. There were times when brushing my teeth seemed impossible. So, as an accomplished 29-year-old with a proper diagnosis, medication and psychotherapy, I could now recognize all of my wins and lessons learned. So, at that moment, I decided to take matters into my own hands and birthed my business, Curly Contessa.
How did you balance building your business with your day job?
I am a night owl and weekend warrior. I love creating and designing new products so much that it hardly feels like a business until it’s time to go over my books with my accountant. But honestly, I think it’s important to schedule work hours and self-care so you aren’t pouring from an empty cup. It also helps that I am working my dream 8-5 which makes balancing a company on the side that much sweeter.
Oftentimes, when an artist or writer begins to make money from their passion it can make the act of creating less enjoyable because you have to worry about things like deadlines and customer care. What do you do to keep the business side going while also maintaining the joy of creating?
Looming deadlines used to give me overwhelming anxiety. But I’ve learned to outsource the things that aren’t my expertise. I work at a slow and steady pace. Working only one to two hours every other day instead of trying to cram everything into one weekend. I set a date and time to do more tedious tasks such as reconciling my books.
So many writers struggle with promoting themselves. Have you ever struggled with self-promotion? If so, how did you get over that obstacle and get the word out about who you are and what you do?
Yes, I’ve struggled. I tried advertising through influencers and paid social media. But nothing works better than being authentic and true to myself. I tell my story every chance I get. So many people have mental health issues but it’s such a stigma in the Black community. I set out to change that and to help people celebrate the little nuances of life. It also helps to produce high-quality products because word of mouth spreads fast.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given or the best advice you have to offer to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
I was terrified to step out of my comfort zone and try something different. But my mentors threw me out the window and before I hit the ground, I caught flight and soared.
Dr. Suzanne Martin said, “Just do it!” The worst thing that could happen is that I would have failed. And you learn from your failures. Melva Tate said, “Put in the work.” If you are diligent, persistent and authentic people will take notice.
The women of the See Jane Write community love quotes. What some of your favorites?
“Your life’s work begins where your great joy meets the world’s great hunger.”
— Kate Bornstein
“What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?”
— Erin Hanson