369: Hoop Mobb Is Becoming A Household Name By Making Jewelry For The Culture

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369: Hoop Mobb Is Becoming A Household Name By Making Jewelry For The Culture

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This week in the guest chair we have Donyale Walton, founder of Hoop Mobb, Home of the Hoop Earring. Coming from Flint, Michigan, Donyale made her way to New York to learn the business ropes and was inspired to pursue her own ventures. 

 In this episode she shares:

  • How she went outside of the box of where she’s from and gained unique skills by working in fashion 
  • Her process of finding and working with the best manufacturers 
  • How she’s able to build the best team and balance hiring family and friends 

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Guest Social Media Info

The Hoop Mob Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehoopmobb/ 

Donyale’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/donyalewalton/ 

Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:00

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Hey, Hey friends, welcome. Welcome back to the show. It's Nicaila here back with another episode. And today in the guest chair, I have Donyale Walton, and she is the founder of hoop mob hoop mob is home of the hoop earring. She started in 2019. After her time in the fashion industry between New York and Michigan, she felt like she spent a lot of time conforming to what was deemed appropriate in predominantly white spaces. And she wanted to highlight and celebrate hoops because of what they represent in black and brown culture, their form of self expression. So today, the mom of one has grown the brand to over seven figures in annual revenue with a community stretched across the country. I really enjoyed hearing her journey coming from Flint, Michigan, all the way to start in this amazing brand that I myself shop from and that I know that you love as well. So let's get right into it.

All right. So welcome to the guest chair. Donyale, how are you?

Donyale Walton 2:20

I'm great. Thank you so much for having me. This is like, first of all, you don't know the impact of your podcast, the business world, but this is like a one of my bucket list to be on.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 2:32

I'm so honored I could just never believe never understand when you're just felt recording out of your closet and talking to people of course, but hearing and seeing the impact is always so surreal. So thank you. I appreciate that. And I actually I've I have purchased from hoop mob. I have. It's like has roses and it says what is the top? Yes, give us our flowers. I have that T shirt. Let me tell you I saw that. I will get into you know how you market and stuff like that intentional versus just coincidence, but I saw it on one of my YouTube girls, Monroe steel. And you know, I buy like so much that she recommends so

Donyale Walton 3:17

she is a problem.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 3:23

So, tell us a little bit about who you were growing up. I understand you're from Flint, Michigan, and shout out to Michigan. But Flint Flint is kind of different, right? Like I grew up in the Bronx. So I think that we had some similarities there. So when you were in Flint when you were growing up, what did you see yourself doing as an adult?

Donyale Walton 3:40

Yeah, so growing up, I really I was always the kid that wanted to do something in the arts. Like I was acting as a kid like I wanted to you remember those barbers on school? Yes, that was me signing up with a model. I wanted to cheer I wanted to just I wasn't one of those kids who was like a dreamer, basically. Which I don't want to say is odd and Flint, but it's just you know, far fetched that you can really make it that bar from Flint. We are a automotive town. So General Motors is their view it was their you know, so it was more like a factory town kind of like a you know, middle class lower middle class town and then they took a lot of the factories away so I kind of just saw the decline of the city. But for me growing up like I was always wanting to do something I know my mama was tired of me I want to do gymnastics and I want to do this and I want to do that and like thankfully she really did like expose me to a lot of things so I was really grateful for that but yeah, I was definitely just and an ideas person is so funny like girl going up and becoming an adult you really like your younger self knew the whole time. Oh, yes. I will come up with ideas and my, my cousins, I'm like, alright, this week we're gonna do this. And they're like, Oh yeah, like we

know we're gonna do a lemonade stand. Like all these ideas all the time. It's so funny. I always had that like entrepreneurial map.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 5:31

That's right. It is so funny to look back at who you were as a kid, because that creative spirit is really what was given us signs all along, like you said, and sometimes you guys that might be a hidden, you just need to tap back into your inner child a little bit like Who was I? Before I started living for societal expectations before I started doing what I thought and think I should be doing. Who was I and go from there. So exactly. I understand you move from Flint to New York at some point. Why Why did you make that move? What were you doing in New York?

Donyale Walton 6:07

So I was I went back and forth for a second. I went out there to intern. I was going to I was going to a local community college. I went to my community college and Flint. And but you know, we grew up in that era where we're watching the heels and the city. Yeah, like all those girls. They're doing these fashion internships and I was already really into fashion. So when it came time for an internship, I'm like, Well, only internships. I notice fashion internships in New York. So I want to try for that, you know, so I was just applying for all of these different internships. I ended up getting one at Marie Claire magazine. And so I went there for five months. And while I was there, I was also interning at Elie tahari, which is a brand like and Lord and Taylor. So, yes, so I did that for a while. I came back home, um, you know, finished school. And then my friend he, of course, Stokes. He's big in the fashion game now. But he was able to kind of hire his own assistants at that point. He was a stylist. Yeah. And so he's like, Well, whenever you you're ready, like, come on out. And that can get you you know, a job like a freelance job. Okay, cool. Yeah, tell me

Nicaila Matthews Okome 7:22

shout out to their friends.

Donyale Walton 7:25

Yeah, yes. Always. So he told me that and I was literally there no later than three weeks. Okay, so I moved to New York and slept in his living room. I literally put like a little twin Bay is living room. And just was grinding like, I once I got there, I was working with him. I was. So what I would do is go to Barnes and Nobles. On the weekend, I would pull all these fashion magazines sit and like look up who are the stylist, who's the editors, like the photographers, and I would email them I will find that Google and find their email addresses and say like, oh, you know, I'm an Assistant, do you need an assistant coming up or anything? And they will email me back and say, Yeah, I need an assistant for this shoot, or, oh, yeah, we're doing test shoots, and we need some help. So that really worked out for me.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 8:17

What I love it. I love to drive like I remember to going to Barnes and Noble myself, like oh, those were the days like just sitting there. And I buy nothing but I'm gonna read inspo and for you to take that extra step of reaching out to these people. That is amazing. Okay, tip right there. Y'all don't be afraid to reach out to people. Now, what happened next? I know you didn't go from interning in fashion to starting hoop mob, right? You had a lot of life to live in between that. So what was that journey before you became an entrepreneur?

Donyale Walton 8:58

So in New York, I again was just kind of I wanted to be in fashion. That's all I do is like I wanted to work in fashion some kind of way. I was really creative. But I would say my my time in New York was really interesting because I was kind of bouncing around from job to job. I worked at like a consignment store in Brooklyn. I was at it took another internship. I took a full time internship at Oprah Magazine and their fashion clockwork It was

Nicaila Matthews Okome 9:27

great. I love it.

Donyale Walton 9:30

Yes, I was soaking up all that knowledge. So I worked in their fashion closet. I was their jewelry intern which is ironic considering now I have a jewelry

Nicaila Matthews Okome 9:39

but like shows the signs don't touch it. I love that the live shows us signs y'all pay attention. Okay.

Donyale Walton 9:47

Yes. And so I did some time there and then I ended up getting hired full time at Brooks Brothers and their marketing department and so really just kind of on their ecommerce shoot You know, helping on set sometimes I would help pack up all of the clothes and ecommerce is really just kind of like a tedious like, kind of routine. So, but I really enjoyed my time there. It was good, but after a while New York is great, but the older you get, you're like, oh, man, this is getting old

Nicaila Matthews Okome 10:26

Yeah, you gotta take a New York break sometimes. Yeah, I don't even know. I'll be coming back to New York. I'm in New York now. Because yeah, I reached that point to where it's like, I don't want roommates or living at home. I'm from New York. So I moved back home and my parents to get my own place. I had to leave. I had to leave. Yeah. Exactly what happened after you were like, Okay, enough, enough,

Donyale Walton 10:49

is enough. And I remember the day it was so funny. I was. It was snowing. It was like that slushy snow. And I was living. I was commuting from what like 42nd Street to like, a paltin. Like, deep in Brooklyn United me. And I'm like walking home from the train. I'm like, why am I doing this? This is just like, I knew I wasn't completely happy at my job. Because although I achieved that dream of like, corporate job in New York City working in fashion, I wasn't able to be creative. And I still felt like, okay, maybe this is not completely okay. And so, I did a little bit of soul searching like, Okay, what do I want to do next. And, but I figured I could figure that out at home. For what I'm paying here, and like the, you know, it's just not as comfortable as I want to be. So I went home, moved back in with my mom, and she was so gracious of like, figuring out whatever you want to do, like, was not pressuring me to like, you know, find a job right away. And, you know, hurry up and get out of her house, she was really just kind of giving me grace to figure out what I wanted to do next. So I just started working here at night, I still wanted to, like hold on to that fashion thing. So I was working at I worked at FX, I worked at Neiman's. I worked at J Crew for a little while,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:20

were you working remotely or in the Detroit office?

Donyale Walton 12:24

Detroit in Detroit here at the retail store? Got it. So, which was also very, I don't know, anywhere at work. I really tried to think of it as like, what am I supposed to learn from this place? Like, during my time here, what am I supposed to take away? So I'm working in New York, and like the fashion capital is kind of like above New York is like a little bubble like New York feels like nowhere else really exists or matters.

Yes, the step out of that, and then work still working with like, you know, high end designers at Saks and Neiman's and stuff like that, to see how people were responding to the clothes. You know, you're in a space where it's like, oh, fashion shows and runway and, you know, all of that. But then to see how people actually react to the clothes, it was like, really a learning experience of like, okay, this doesn't work for everybody, or when you put it in the real world, you know, people want their arms covered, or they want this or they want that, you know, so I really kind of soaked everything in from every job that I had, I thought, Oh,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 13:32

interesting. So people had different considerations, like in New York is like, I just want to dress to impress, and I saw it on the runway, I don't care put it on me. Whereas in real life, everyday communities where people are just like everyday, middle class workers, they're just like, Okay, what's practical? I want to look good, but also I have some practical

Donyale Walton 13:51

needs. Yeah. And I, you know, sell for now with my business now. It's really we listen to the customer so much. It's so important. I feel like to monitor the customer seeing how they're reacting to things. And I really kind of took that from my time in retail.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:09

Excellent. Excellent, very wise of you.

Yeah, at what point did you start side hustling?

Donyale Walton 14:22

So I kind of always love the side Hustler, which is funny. During that time in New York, I started a like a home decor business. I was making candles. I had a business in New York called Walton home in New York. And so I was making candles. I was making little like, prints like wall prints and stuff like that. And was kind of just doing that on my spare time. I tried to do that still when I came home, but it just wasn't really like catching on like I wanted it to and I tried like styling people it's really hard to sell people in from Michigan.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 15:06

Why? Why is it hard to sell people?

Donyale Walton 15:09

Well, not people from Michigan I'm just saying like, this is a market you know, people don't really understand yeah, having a stylus or don't maybe don't even see the need to have a stylus, you know. So I was always like trying to figure out something. And then with hope map, so let's see in 2017, I got pregnant. And so that really kind of put a hold on everything. I'm like, Okay, let me just I was like working. You know, I was pregnant, I had my baby and January 2018. And then I will stay at home mom for several months. But during that time, I was still kind of looking for like, what is that next thing for me? You know, just thinking of ideas. I'm really I'm a big like, vision board person. Pinterest is like my best friend. I have like, a million hidden boards on everything. So like I said, I was a stay at home mom for like eight months. And then I actually started working with the Lip Bar. So I was a good friend, Roscoe and Melissa, we all lived in New York at the same time. Okay, so rascal just hit me up one day was like, Oh, do you want to do social for lip? I'm like, yeah, why not?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 16:28

Connection big fans. Over here.

Donyale Walton 16:31

Same same. So I started working for the Lip Bar, and I worked with them for like a year and a half. And it was really, it was such a good experience. Because one, like, it just feels so good to work with black girls. So it was like a really good, like, nurturing environment of just all my peers were amazing. But then not only that, it was like a, an opportunity for me to grow. Because with having different businesses and wanting wanting to do different things. I had a limiting mindset of like, okay, you have great ideas, but you don't know how to make money from them. Or you have good ideas, but you don't know how to build a platform, you don't know how to build an audience. You don't I mean, so I would tell myself these things. And I feel like God gave me that opportunity at the Lip Bar to show me like, no, look at what you're doing for this company, you do know how to do this, you're helping them grow, you're helping to create, you know, like, and, and it was an opportunity to be creative. So like I said, in New York, I felt like I wasn't really given the opportunity to really be creative, like I wanted to be. And working to deliver I was so it was so like natural for me, because the voice of the brand, like was resignated. Right? So I was able to really kind of just be creative. So that was

Nicaila Matthews Okome 17:51

really phenomenal. I didn't know that about your background that is so awesome. Because you bring up some really important points. The fact that we can't move forward unless we learn to address our biggest critic, which is the voice in our head that tells us these things. We like to blame it on imaginary people like oh, what will they think? Or they'll say this? No, it's you. It's you. So let's, let's address what you're telling yourself and why and unpack that. And I love that not only were you doing it for them, but you also got to see a black woman CEO in action, who looks like you, you know, her style and a personality like you and you're like, well, she could do it. I can do it. You know, and she's also from a city of Michigan, right? She's Detroit, right? And your Michigan your Flint? So yeah, it's like, how much more I can do this, can it get? So at that point, what was the first step you took to get started? Did you know whose mom was gonna be your thing? At that point?

Donyale Walton 18:50

So it was so funny. I was at the office one day with the girls. And I was like, Hey, I got this idea. And I just kind of ran it by them to see, you know, to get feedback. And immediately everyone was like, yes, absolutely. When you go start it, like start this immediately. And I'm like, really? Are you? You're sure like, okay, so I'm still I was really kind of nervous to start it. Because, again, still working through that mindset piece of like, you know, you can do this. But I started working on it. And it was, it's so funny because God was literally putting so many people in my life to say like, hello. My daughter, her dad, he he actually has an E commerce brand. And I was helping with that at the time. And that's when I realized that I really did like E commerce I love just being able to put a product out there and put an idea out there and seeing people's response to it, seeing how they, you know, they're posting and they're sharing and they're liking that and so it was him and then it was like, confirmed with like being with the Lip Bar, like I just really saw like, I like this. And so the idea for hoops came from I was literally at home when I was at home stay at home, I was Googling and YouTubing like how to make a million dollar million dollar idea, oh, we all business ideas for 2008 to you know, like all of that. And so all of these, like dropshipping videos kept coming up. I really liked watching them because they were these guys were like, starting a store from scratch and walking. You threw like their first sale. Yes. And I was like, This is so interesting. But then when I started thinking about it, I'm like, I could never dropship like that would be that would be so nerve racking for me of like, never seen the product and not being in that process, you know. And then I was trying to think of like, what that product could be for me, though, you know, like that, because a lot of them had like single product stores. And I'm like, that is so interesting. Like my mind was blown by the concept and just like how much money they were making and stuff. So when I thought about jewelry, and then I was like, oh hoops, and I'm like, Oh, wait, hoops. Like, I know, this really kind of it's deeper than just like how to make a million dollars. You know, it really means something to me, it means something to my community. I'm like, I know, I can connect with women through this, you know what I mean? So it was like, Oh, this is a great idea, you know, and when I shared it with people, and even when I started it, I launched it with almost no inventory. Like it was just a no, it was like I was so afraid to invest that I bought like five of them. You know,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 21:48

I could relate relatable content,

Donyale Walton 21:52

let's say I really did not, I was so scared to invest in inventory. But when I launched it, you know, it's everything pretty much sold out same day. And which again, was not much so it was easy to

Nicaila Matthews Okome 22:07

sell out, though it looks good.

Donyale Walton 22:11

But, um, so from there, I would, you know, I wouldn't reach back right away, I was still, like I said, working full time. So I, I really wasn't putting my full energy in it. And at least on three different occasions, random like friends, but like, you know, friends that I don't talk to that often called me and I remember specifically this girl was like, um, I know, you have all the ideas all the time, but you might want to keep this one. This one is a really good idea is die. Like, I know, you had the home decor stuff. And that was cute, and you know, whatever. But like, don't let this one die. Yes. Okay, you know, and then come 2020 I wasn't working at the bar anymore. And I did I had this box of inventory sitting that I just kind of wasn't, you know, I didn't hadn't listed it or anything. And I was like, You know what, let me start like putting my all into this. Because I think with running a business with marketing, like when you're first starting off, you have so many things, internal things that, you know, you're telling yourself that really don't matter. I don't want to post out I don't want to get on peoples nerves. Yeah, I want to seem like I'm driving this down their throat, you know, I don't want to, like I don't want to see him. I don't want to see him. And it's like, you gotta make some money, you know? So, I literally, I just, I told myself, I have to put my ego down. Yes, basically, I have to put my pride aside, I just put my ego down and I have to really like put my all into this. And so I had a really cute, like authentic Instagram for the brand, you know, um, but then I started promoting on Facebook as well. And then when I started promoting on Facebook, a lot of my friends were like, Oh, I didn't know you were doing this. And I'm like, oh, okay, you know, you people see stuff. No, they know. Yeah, I mean. So once I started promoting on Facebook, people were sharing people were like, oh, you know, what, when are you getting more of this? You know, and I remember one day, we had done as much in one day as we had done the previous month. Wow. So that that whole month of March. I think we had done all of that in one day in April. And it was still it was very minimal. It was like under $600 but it still was like, Huh, okay, yeah.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 24:39

That shows Yes. And I love that you again bring up that just how much you have to push past yourself in this process. So I think that is the biggest obstacle like I have a side hustle guide and I spend time focusing on that because it is truly the biggest obstacle. It's not anyone else. It's not money. It's not business cards. It's not A website. No, it's not logo. It's what you tell yourself. And sometimes we use those things we tell ourselves, oh, I need that. That's what's holding me back. But again, it's inner work. It's that mindset piece. And it's that inner critic, not even so much ego or whatever. It's the inner critic. And I also love that you remind us that people are not seeing your posts as much as you think. So you can post all you want. And don't even worry about it. Because different people are going to see different posts, it will not be too much, because just the way the algorithm works, they are not seeing it all. And it's funny because this happens to like, I have posted less about this pregnancy, but every time I post someone's like, oh my god, where have I been? And I'm like, nowhere, nowhere. I just, you know, I posted one post and everyone didn't see it. Because, of course. Like you, you've been where you are, don't worry. Success Story hosted by Scott D. Clary is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals, success story features, q&a sessions with successful business leaders, keynote presentations, and conversations on sales, marketing, business startups and entrepreneurship. I recently checked out the episode called How to focus like Einstein, where Scott discusses how to zero in on this laser like focus, because we all know that we can accomplish more in less time, if we just focus, listen to success story wherever you get your podcasts.

Let's get into the inventory piece. I'm curious how you matched your vision with a manufacturer that fit your vision that felt unique to hoop mob. And while also, you know, not physically making every piece yourself, how did you go about that process?

Donyale Walton 26:53

So a lot of long nights on on the computer, literally a lot of long nights. A lot of our vendors and our manufacturers are of course overseas, where I'm like talking to them all hours of the night, but it's literally just it's so funny, because, you know, you get people they're like, Well, you know, do you are you going to teach a class share your vendors isn't that I'm like, it's like a hodgepodge, you know, you understand, you're like, you try this out, and you're like, okay, they're good for this, they're good for this, like, I Okay, I can source this from this person, or I think they can make me this because I see that they make this you know what I mean? So I literally have just had to put together like a combination of good manufacturers and vendors that I trust. And that's a process to you know, you have to test them out, try them out a lot of our stuff we do, you know, wear test and make sure it's not too heavy, make sure it's not going to irritate you, all of those things. So it's just a lot of testing and learning. So we also were, you know, sourcing from LA and New York and stuff like that, but poop my grew so fast to where they weren't having, they didn't have enough for what we need it, you know what I mean? So we have to quickly like, pivot from that. So it's just been, it's still Nicaila it has not figured out a learning process. Because, um, you know, we're continuing to grow, and now we're getting into more, you know, original designs to us. And we're having to go through that process of like, just back and forth with our manufacturers and making sure we get, you know, to the correct credit. Yeah,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 28:39

it's okay to not, we're all I mean, I'm still in the I'm figuring stuff out every day. Like that's the real of entrepreneurship. I think anyone who comes on here and acts like they're all have it all figured out. It's like, line

and it's just not relatable for most of us. So I hear that 100% If someone wanted to start a business, like accessories, jewelry, whatever it is, what's a reasonable investment, they should be ready to put down for inventory?

Donyale Walton 29:12

Honestly, it can vary like I just snowballed it so I feel like when I went from just a little teeny tiny amount of inventory to like, okay, a sizable amount. I mean, you could spend anywhere between like 500 to $1,000 and just investing in like a small collection, I wouldn't, I wouldn't just go you know, balls to the wireless with, you know, a small kind of collection of and then kind of test and see what your audience likes what connects with you, you know what I mean? Because I think you have to kind of connect with it to to be able to really market it well, but yeah, I would say you can start with definitely like $1,000 or less. Okay.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 29:51

And when you start with that, how do you determine pricing for these things, but you're just looking at what other people are charging for similar Where's or do you have another pricing structure?

Donyale Walton 30:04

So my accountant will tell you right now that he is over me and my pricing. Okay.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 30:14

Let me let me go to the website now in order before I got these prices, what are you doing if people come on this show, and then the prices change?

Donyale Walton 30:28

And we are always going to be affordable. But um, that was my thing. I'm like, Okay, let me make sure. We're definitely making a profit. But while remaining affordable. However, as we're growing, there was stuff that I wasn't accounting for, like, the marketing expenses, like, you know, packaging, like all of the other little costs that that go into, like pricing something. And then once you know, demand goes up, and I'm like, All right, well, I think we can like raises maybe like $1 or two in my account, like, what math did you do?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 31:10

Thank you account.

Donyale Walton 31:15

Right. Yeah, and definitely still like testing and learning. But I do think I think we will always remain really affordable. Like what I have on now like, this is part of our lips collection, which is still really affordable.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 31:29

I've been staring at this jewelry the whole time. Yeah, you gotta check this out. Because I'm like, okay, cup in that cup in that. Like, I love a good stack. And I feel like, you know, and this is why influencer work is so important. Because I need to see it's dialed. Like, sometimes I can't look on a website and say, Oh, that would look good together. But when I see it stuff, I'm like, Oh, give me all of that. She wore that. Like, I liked how she wore it, give it give it all to me. And that's what I'm gonna do after this call. I will go on the website and look, everything you wearing.

Donyale Walton 32:00

That is so funny. That's a huge part of just how we connect to our audience to so I go live every week. And it's like a party every week. Like it is so funny. They come in on the last and they're in the comments like hey, yeah. Yeah. So but like you said, it's important to see it. So sometimes I'm like, Oh, I know. They haven't thought to pair these two things together. So I put it together on live or, you know, I'm showing the new arrivals are showing things that's coming. So yeah, that's super important. But

Nicaila Matthews Okome 32:39

we didn't talk about the main but hoop mob. I just love that name. You know why? Because it immediately signals community. It's like it immediately is I buy this, but I'm also part of something. How did you come up with the name?

Donyale Walton 32:51

It literally just came to me I was playing with names. And originally I thought a hoot gang. But I went to look up like the hashtag and stuff and people were already using that name. So I went back to the drawing board and I just came up with my and I'm like, I like this I like the look of it like it was I don't know it just stuck to me. So but you're right every time we have like a huge draft or something and stuff is selling out quickly. People are like the mob was the perfect name. Yeah.

So yeah, it's such a community and I think, you know, when people talk about you know, positioning and like what, what sets you apart? Yes, of course, you can get accessories almost anywhere. But I think the fact that we celebrate who our customers are we specifically talk to black and brown women. And they feel a part of this. They're like they have a sense of pride. Yes. And with us and wearing I think so I think that really kind of makes the difference for us.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 33:59

Now, a few years not even a few but four years in right. We're four years into hoop mob, what's your system for determining how much of each product to get so that you're not under estimating yourself and you're not frustrating your audience but you're also not carrying too much inventory.

Donyale Walton 34:19

It is a delicate dance. So we saw my sister she is also like huge into fashion. She lives in New York as well. She is like our buyer now so she helps with that and her and I put together kind of like some basics of like, okay, if this is a style that is kind of risky. Then we're like okay, we're only gonna buy like we have a base number of like, no more than this. And then we test it to see if it if it sells out quickly if it's just sitting and that helps us to determine if we're going to restock it or not. For example, So we have in the mob, if they see this before it comes out, they're gonna be jumping for joy. But we have a collection called the melanated collection. And it's different shades of brown hoops. And so those are like, have been like our top seller for two and a half years now like they they're always selling Yeah. And so we know they love that. And we and they've been asking for a smaller size. So we're going to create a small size and that we know we can invest deep into, and it's important to, for us what I was coming up against is like, okay, let's say I buy, I only buy 100 of something that doesn't really give me a much, you know, if I know that this is something that they have either been asking for or like or, you know, it's very similar to something else that I really liked. If it sells out quickly, that really doesn't give me time to like for marketing, let's say we did like a whole campaign on it. And it sold out first day. Yeah, we can't even use those pictures anymore. You know what I mean? So it's such a, it's so funny to think about that, right? Yes, a lot of my friends, they're like, oh, I don't think about it so deep. It's like if we spend money on models of photographer, all of that, and then that thing sells out day one. It's great, it's sold out. But we could have sold so many more, you know what I mean? If we had more if we would invested in it more. And if we can run, you know, ads on something and kind of give it a little bit more breathing room and a little bit more time like, so for those things, anything that you see in an ad from AdMob. We have at least 500 or more of that, like, yes, we have a lot of that thing, because I still personally run our ads. So I don't like to have to switch the ads every other week. Like a set it and forget it type of thing. All right, we got a bunch of this. Yeah, we're gonna let these ads run and do its thing.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:59

And you know, when they go when they click on it, they're gonna be able to get it. Yeah. When things do sell out, though, how quickly do you reorder? Do you ever say, alright, this sold out, I still have more promo for it. So I'm gonna place another order and maybe on the website, it's like, what did they like to put pre order? Right? You have that for reset? Now we don't do pre orders.

Donyale Walton 37:21

For you, I mean, we have we done it a few times and every time it's a disaster

Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:29

Why is it a disaster,

Donyale Walton 37:31

because there's so many variables that you can't account for. So maybe just out the blue, you know, your package is stuck in somewhere, you know, and it's like, I promised them this by this day, and we're not able to get it. So now we're either we're having to backtrack with like offering them a discount code to make sure you know, just to keep the customers happy. We're having to do all this extra communicating. And so when we first started, we did a t shirt. And not right now our T shirts are print on demand. So they're, you know, third party, but we did a t shirt. And I had a friend who who does shirts and stuff so he was gonna make them forth and we did pre orders for those. And the blank sold out.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:14

What is that? What's the what do you mean the blank the shirt blanks?

Donyale Walton 38:18

So you know how you you have to buy Cheryl the

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:21

actual Yes, yeah. Oh, no. Like are you kidding me? Right, because your shirt, you know, you pick the field that you like the cut all of that. So if it sells out, you can't just oh my god, any black T shirts are printed?

Donyale Walton 38:38

No. And it was like acid washed shirt. And like, was marketing that shirt that fit that size? And it sold out? I'm like, What are we gonna do? Yeah, but we had to pivot and do a different cut of that shirt. And we had to like communicate that to the customers and show them that it was just it was me. I was like,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 39:03

No, I get it. Now I get it. And one other thing too with manufacturing. I used to work for a what do they call themselves a ecommerce retailer as well and we would do drop shipping where you know we would do pre orders everything was like you place your order. Then we communicate to the manufacturers how many we need based on how the sale went. And then they were supposed to ship us that amount and they would often short ship. So you you place an order for 100 Why am I getting 97 I gotta go customer. Oh, I know you paid for this. You entered your card information. You're not getting it

Donyale Walton 39:44

and now you're a scammer.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 39:49

So, so much can happen. Very, very important to know about this stuff. How are you doing in the space of finances? A lot of people lose money. A lot of people are and make a lot when they first started out what has been your experience?

Donyale Walton 40:03

So we have been really lucky in that we haven't lost any money. We've been profitable pretty much since day one. However we have, like, the profits are less and less the more you grow. Talk about it. You are Yeah. So you're investing in more, you're expanding your team like now we're a team of seven, okay. With a few contractors as well. We're spending more on ads, and just like, so when who my app started, it literally started just guerilla style. Like there was no website design. I was using a Shopify template up until like, this year. Yeah, this year, I was not, we did not have a web design. Luckily, my daughter's dad, he's a graphic designer. So he made the logo, the original logo, but like, it was like no, really no overhead cost, because my my idea, my thought process, how we were talking about, you know, all the colors and the logo. And then after that, I didn't want any of that to stop me from like, getting to my first sales, you know what I mean? So I just kind of went out there very bare bones. Luckily, like I do have an ISO, I was able to take really good pictures with my phone. I got a camera. So I was able to take good pictures myself, but still like, I mean, up until very recently, I was still like taking pictures. When it first started, like I was doing all of the modeling myself. You know, going like it was like a one woman show, like sending out the emails sending me. Wow, yeah, well, my mom, she came along, and she was like our shipping manager. But like all the marketing and like, the technical side of the website was me. So you know, as I have to let those things go and kind of delegate those things to other people. You know, your expenses grow so

Nicaila Matthews Okome 42:07

fast. So let's talk about mama. Now, I understand that you convinced her to quit her job to work for you. What was the story? How did that come about?

Donyale Walton 42:22

So my mom, she is everybody loves her. She's the sweetest person. She is such a hard worker. And when hoot mouth started taking off, she would come over she would work her job and then call me and say you need help with anything. And I'm like I do actually. So she would come over every day. And like help me package things. To the the mama she would take us up to the post office, especially cuz I had a daughter, like my daughter was two at the time when stuff started taking off. So she was really just like helping me every step of the way. And my grandmother, my grandmother just passed not too long ago, but she was coming over and doing what she could it was it was like a whole a whole little thing. So we had hope, crossed the six figure mark. And I was still scared to hire like we were still doing everything out of my dining room. And my friend Kiana, she is a lawyer, she opened her law firm, and I went to the opening and we're talking and you know, I'm telling them like, yeah, we crossed six figures, oh my god. And I'm like, I feel like I need to hire somebody. She's like, Yeah. Like, you can hire somebody, like, please, you're gonna kill yourself, you need to hire somebody. And I knew I wanted to hire my mom just because she had been there from the start. And she's, and any job she's ever had. They loved her. Like she's so hardworking always on time. Like, she's one of those people just very dependable very, like, you know, solution oriented, all of that. So she came over one day. And

Nicaila Matthews Okome 44:06

I said, Well,

Donyale Walton 44:09

I think I think it's time I think I think you should quit your job. I was like, I told her like how much I would you know, I will be able to pay her and I was like so can you quit Friday? And it was like Tuesday

Yes, because, again, like implant. We were implant like outskirts of plant basically at that time. And there's a lot of like factory jobs and stuff like that. And so that's what she was doing. And I'm like, you know, they barely get a lunch break. They got to work six days a week and it's like, you know, you can't be on your phone and I'm like, that is just not how my mom should be living. Okay. So I was just so happy that I was able to build this way are basically still like she I'm sure she's at the office right now like she this is her baby she don't play about hoop my because it's my baby, you know, I mean,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 45:09

I just think that's so impressive a lot of people we want to hire family or we want to, to retire family even and to have your ducks in a row enough to be able to do that. That is really impressive. And it doesn't always have to look like super smooth. Like, for example, when you did that, did you have an official payroll processor? Or were you just going to do that? Just manually doing your bookkeeping still?

Donyale Walton 45:34

Yeah, so I had an accountant, but we weren't doing payroll. Yeah. And so my accountant was like, well, you can just schedule bank transfers, like, you know, sale payments or something like that every two weeks. And just so we have record of like, you know, payments being made. But no, we didn't start doing payroll until the following year.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 45:53

Got it. Got it. And how did you find your accountant? I love that you have that squared away.

Donyale Walton 45:58

Yes. So she, she was actually from my as well, but she was living in Atlanta. And I always knew of her and knew that she did that. And so the first month that we did five figures, I think our first month was like 12,000. I was like, girl, tell me what to do. I don't know what to do. Make sure I'm not you know that I'm really making this work. So yeah, I got her on board right away.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:24

Hey, man, I love it. I love you can't have Uncle Sam coming up to you like, hey, how much did you make? Where's that money? Where's my? Exactly? How have you gone about expanding your team hiring? The right people who are also like your mom dependable, and solution oriented.

Donyale Walton 46:44

It's funny, I have a lot of family and a lot of friends working for me, which I know a lot of people could, you know, speak against that. And I'm totally understand. But, um, so like I said, My mom works for me, my sister, my aunt. Um, and then some people that I've worked with in the past have come on board. And so how I go about it is basically, I don't know, I really think I'm good at kind of seeing people's skill sets outside of like, you know what they're doing, like, if I can see like, you know what, she's really good at this. And maybe she doesn't know it. You know? For example, my aunt she is. And we're like, same age. So she's not, you know? She loves hoot mom. That's first of all. So just even her love for the brand makes her really dependable. And she cares. You know what I mean? So I saw that I'm like, she really cares about the company and the success of the company. So I feel like she I could bring her on board. And so she manages like the inventory, basically anything that comes in, she's warehousing it putting it away, counting it, making sure Shopify matches up with what we actually have. So she does all of that. But when we do anything, in person, like a pop up, we just went to essence fest. She is so good with customers. It is just insane. Like the upselling. Essence, like we had. So our booth, praying that we had like a line in our booth and like, people were waiting, you know. And so some people were getting frustrated, and you can kind of see that. And she was like, are you okay? Yeah, it was. So it was so funny to watch. But just seeing that, you know, I'm really paying attention to things because we do plan to expand to, you know, open a retail store in the future, and I'm gonna manage that store because she's so good at this, like, customer service, and she cares about the products and the, you know, just the merchandise and all of that. I'm like, okay, I can see her doing that. Um, my sister, for example, I'm like, okay, she was she came on board, initially doing customer service, just because it was remote. We needed somebody. She was living in New York. But then I'm like, she went to Parsons, like, why is she doing customer service? needs to be in the mix? Product? Yeah. So she now helps with the buying. And I think she loved that I really what I'm really doing is empowering people who, like me, when I was in New York, I felt like nobody was like giving me the opportunities that I wanted or that I mean, you could do Yeah, me, for example. And so I'm just really paying attention to people and I'm like, I think they can do this. And I'm like empowering them to do it. And I think people feel really good when they are trusted with more responsibility. They perform well, they're appreciated for it. So yeah, my hiring process has not been like in the past. I think we did that once. But then we ended up hiring somebody that was like related to my friend I, like all in the family.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 50:03

always curious about that, because family dynamics are so interesting. Like, I would wonder, you know, some families would be like, I'm not listening to you like, Oh, thanks for hiring me. Don't tell me what to do

Donyale Walton 50:19

yet my mind is so interesting, because I was like, That's my mom. Girl, we gotta run this bit. Right? You gotta separate. Yeah, I but I think it just depends on everyone's personality, you know what I mean? Like, and there is some people, not family, but like, maybe some friends or whatever that I'm like, I couldn't trust you in here, you know what I mean? So I definitely think you have to, I don't know, have some intuition about who you're dealing with allergies, and all of that

Nicaila Matthews Okome 50:54

you have grown to this amazing point where you can hire grow your team pay family, let's talk about what it took to get there. What did you do in the early days to market the business to grow your following, so that you grew such a huge customer base.

Donyale Walton 51:13

And, um, so initially, again, just kind of, I guess diversifying our marketing from Instagram, and Facebook, and then, but I started going live pretty early. Okay. And I think that was really helpful. And just people seeing the product. Number one, it was 2020. So people were just at home. Anyway, so it was pretty, you know, it was, I don't want to say easier, but you could get people's attention pretty quickly, because everybody's at home. But I was going live, we started a Facebook group, which I think was really, really helpful. Because if you think about it, like, I can see how people would get discouraged when they're posting and nobody's interacting, or did anybody see it? Or I we only got three likes, oh, Lord, you know, I can see how people will get discouraged by that. So when we've made our Facebook group, that group is literally just to market, my products and my brand and to interact with my customers. So it's like focused attention.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 52:20

But how do you entice people to join that? Like, why would they want to join a facebook group just about you marketing to them? I'm sure that's not how you position it, right?

Donyale Walton 52:30

So there was some scarcity built in our brand, not purposefully, but just because we weren't investing a lot into inventory. Initially. I think that whole thing of like, Oh, she's gonna sell out, let me make sure I can see it. And, you know, and then I'm notified first. But also, our group was like, open initially, so we were just adding people. You know? Invite invite, invite, like, hey, you know, I'm computer and by all these people that we've just added people, and they didn't mind, you know what I mean? Because it's like, oh, this is cute stuff. Um, and I think I think that had a lot to do with it, too. Because although our marketing was very kind of like bare bones, it was still I still made sure like, we have good lighting. The pictures are clear. Yeah, the videos are nice. You know what I mean? It's not a bunch of crap in the background, you know what I mean? It was still like, everything was still pretty polished, you know? And people were kind of intrigued by like, oh, who I love hoops, you know what I mean? So it's like, yeah, let's see what this is about. And then the fact that it was like, actually cute stuff. It was selling out fast. So it was kind of creating that, like, Buzz and anticipation. And then when I would go live, and it's like, oh, this week, she has a new color, oh, this week, there's a bigger size, oh, this, you know, so the lies are really, really important to the growth of our brand. And then once we got to a certain point where, you know, we were generating enough revenue, that's when I started investing into Facebook ads, and that really kind of took us took a tap so

Nicaila Matthews Okome 54:12

and did you do any investment in influencer marketing? Or did that happen organically from people discovering your brand and wanting to share with their audience?

Donyale Walton 54:22

We didn't start doing influencers until last year. Okay, so we ran and huge no huge, but we definitely tested out a bunch of influencers last year, and we just, we took a budget and we're like, Okay, we're gonna split this we're gonna try to get 10 influencers and just see how it goes. We're gonna repurpose their content into ADS and just, you know, see how this goes. And it went really well as far as like, brand recognition and just, you know, getting more eyes on us, but some of the collaborations were bigger. So we did a collection with sign I'm Blake Okay, um, and that one did really, really well for us. And then we did, like a bigger collaboration. Like I said, with my Rosedale and her literally all I have to if I look at our analytics, traffic coming from YouTube, I'm like, Oh, my Roadmaster mentioned with videos, literally, and I know it, because there's so many things that I have purchased.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 55:30

You know? Exactly, exactly. That's why I just thought that was so smart for you too. But I know that you have to build up to that level. You know, do you have any tips for folks before we jump into the lightning round? Any marketing tips from when? Is it worth it to look to influencers to you know, what have you? How do you make Facebook ads really work for you any tips before we jump into lightning round?

Donyale Walton 55:57

Yes. And I hope people are not like, oh, here we go, st Mo, but you literally have to know who you're talking to. So and speak their language. So I think our ads perform fairly well. Because, you know, one again, like are the actual content, the actual creative looks really good. Yeah. And then we're taking things that are like, they're already doing really well. So if we know products are already like top sellers, it's like people like this. So obviously, if we put it in front of new people, the new people will probably like this as well. So our ads will perform better. And we'll get them in the fold. Because that's the main thing is like getting someone in your ecosystem, you know what I mean? Like once they make their first purchase, okay, now they're part of our email list. Now they're a part of our text message list. Now, we can retarget them with ads. But you have to, you know, kind of use your, your shiniest toy to do it, you know what I mean? You have to use the thing that you know, people are gravitating towards anyway. And just making sure you're really speaking to people. And then I would say to so with hoop mob is so funny, because our customers are now asking for like hoop my branded things. And I've always been against that. Well, not all we've done it a few times, but I don't favorite because it's not really about the brand. It's about the customers and how they relate to the brand or how the brand like like Louis Vuitton, it's not about Louis Vuitton. It's about I have lutein. It's not about the actual brands like what that means for me, and like, what that makes the customer feel. So I feel like when we are talking to our customers, it's really about them, you know what I mean? And it's, the brand is just a way to tie it all together. You know what I mean? Like people kind of lead with their brand and lead with the the name and all that. Like, if you're a new brand, I don't know you I don't care about your name. It means for me.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 58:03

I hear that. Alright, so now let us jump into the lightning round. You know the deal, just answer the first thing that comes to mind. Are you ready? Just take a sip of water. Yeah. All right. Number one, what is a resource top thing that comes to mind when you think about a resource that has really helped you and your business that you can share with a side hustle audience?

Donyale Walton 58:28

I would say YouTube, when people ask me for help with their Facebook ads, I always point them to YouTube. There are people who literally show you step by step. Like give you all the tips and tricks YouTube University is my friend.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 58:43

Yes. Number two who is a black woman entrepreneur who you would want to switch places with for a day and why? Ooh,

Donyale Walton 58:52

I think I want to switch places with Monique Rodriguez. Okay, because she has grown her brand, just to the moon basically. And so I would just want to see, you know how it's operating now. I feel like like all of us she kind of she started in her house very small and to have it be you know, just a huge national brand like that. I would love to see what that

Nicaila Matthews Okome 59:15

look. Yes. I love what she's done. Um, and we might have to circle back for update episode for her. All right. Number three, what is a non negotiable part of your day these days? If I'm

Donyale Walton 59:27

deciding to check out and take a nap that's just a non negotiable I don't need the car guilt free. Okay, yeah. Yes, I am going to check out and check it out. I am not one of those entrepreneurs who are just on all the time.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 59:49

That should be the title of this episode. Number four, what's a personal trait that you think has significantly helped you in business?

Donyale Walton 1:00:00

being personable. I hear that a lot people say like, Oh, you're very relatable when we were at Essence, people were surprised that I was the owner because I was just in the trenches helping them. Yeah. So I think just being able to run the business without my ego taken over have helped me.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:00:19

Absolutely. I love that about you. And then finally, what is your parting advice for fellow women entrepreneurs who want to be their own boss, but are worried about losing that steady paycheck,

Donyale Walton 1:00:31

I would say bet on yourself, nothing is guaranteed, you can get fired tomorrow, and you'll have to figure it out. Anyway, um, your best investment is yourself. You have all the tools you need, literally, I'm sure there is signs leading to, you know, the things that you really want to do. Or what's on your heart or the gifts that you have. So I would just say to to listen to that to not be afraid of that literally all things are possible. So to just really believe in it.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:01:03

Perfect way to end the show. And you guys, remember to check this episode out on YouTube and see if you haven't already gone to her Instagram or what have you just heard awesome, awesome line. I mean, I'm looking at my earrings. They're all dull and flat, and your jewelry is just popping off the screen. I am. I'm like, What am I doing my life? Like? I mean, it's real. And get me some hoop up. So please, please do that. And where can people connect with you and hoop mob after this episode?

Donyale Walton 1:01:32

Yeah, so if you want to connect with me, you can find me on Instagram. It's just at Danielle Walton. And then you can follow hoop mob at the hoop mob on Instagram. Also, if you're on Facebook, make sure you join our Facebook group which is called hoop mob hideout. Sometimes we show things ahead of time, you know we get your opinion, your feedback, all of that jazz, so definitely stay connected.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:01:56

Alright guys, and there you have it. I will talk to you next week. Hey guys, thanks for listening to side hustle Pro. If you like the show, be sure to subscribe rate and review on Apple podcasts. It helps other side hustlers just like you to find the show. And if you want to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram at side hustle Pro. Plus sign up for my six bullet Saturday newsletter at side hustle Pro, that CO slash newsletter. When you sign up, you will receive weekly nuggets from me, including what I'm up to personal lessons and my business tip of the week. Again, that side hustle pro.co/newsletter to sign up. Talk to you soon.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Meet the host:

Nicaila Matthews-Okome

Hi! I’m Nicaila, the Creator and Host of the Side Hustle Pro Podcast. I started Side Hustle Pro when I was a side hustler myself. I was a digital marketer at NPR by day, side hustler by night. Through the powerful stories shared on this show and the courage to launch my own initiatives, I was able to quit my own job and go full time with Side Hustle Pro.

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