367: How Keewa Nurullah Cornered The Kid’s Market In Southside Chicago (REWIND)

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367: How Keewa Nurullah Cornered The Kid’s Market In Southside Chicago (REWIND)

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In this rewind episode, I sat down with Keewa Nurullah. Keewa is mom of two, a fourth generation Black Wall Street descendant, and founder Kido Chicago, a wildly popular children’s brand and destination in the Southside of Chicago.

In this episode she shares:

  • How she scaled her business from a single onesie to carrying 1000s of children’s products online and in her storefront
  • Why she created a community gathering space for parents on Chicago’s Southside 
  • How she’s carrying on the legacy of her entrepreneurial ancestors affected by the Tulsa Massacre

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Guest Social Media Info

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Kido’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kidochicago/ 

Kido’s Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@kidochicago 

Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:00

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Hey friends, welcome welcome back to the show. It's Nicaila here and I'm back with another awesome interview. Today in the guest chair I have Keewa Nurullah is a performing artist, a community organizer and the owner of kiddo and award winning children's shop located in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. As a shop owner, key wa focuses on inclusivity and representation in her curated collection of apparel, books and sustainable toys. named Black Entrepreneur of the Year in 2021. By official Black Wall Street, Clover, and Snapchat. She has been featured in The New York Times CBS mornings, the Tamron Hall Show, CNN, Forbes, and so many other media outlets. She's also a Black Wall Street descendant and a fourth generation entrepreneur. And as such, she is dedicated to black entrepreneurship and community building in Chicago. I had such a great time talking to Keewa. I learned some new things, as you will hear, and I can't wait for you guys to hear this. So let's get right into it.

Welcome, welcome to the guest, Keewa. Thanks for having me. Oh, of course. And thank you for being here. I'm very excited to chat with you. Now I have never spoken to a fourth generation entrepreneur, and, and definitely not, you know, a descendant of Black Wall Street. So I'm really, really excited to get your perspective and how all of that has influenced you and your brand. But tell me before we get into that now you are a performing artist. And you're also the owner of kiddo, how do those worlds intersect?

Keewa Nurullah 3:17

Oh, wow. Sometimes I think they don't intersect at all. Sometimes I feel like that was a former life. But I really do because both of my parents are slash word creative artists. And so I really do feel like when you're an artist, it's a lifelong journey. And with kiddo, I do think that even in my everyday decisions, and my curation of the shop, and the designs, I'm using my creativity every day, so even if it's not performing, and in the same way, I do feel like my artistic brain is just like always working.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 3:52

Yeah, it was just really curious about that, because you've had such a diverse very life experience. And even when we don't think about it, it really all does influence each other and support each other at some at some stage of the game. So where were you when you decided to create? What is now kiddo?

Keewa Nurullah 4:13

Oh, man, I was on the couch, reading under a baby. What inspired I mean, if there are mothers listening, and you can remember that first stage of holding them a lot and being them falling asleep on you and you nursing them or you just wanting them to be quiet and so you're holding them even when you shouldn't be in that type of thing. That's when I did my first like Google research and that's when I just had a lot of time with myself. You know, to be honest, you know, I felt like motherhood was a huge transition and I was having a lot of thoughts and one of the thoughts that came up was just in shopping for my son I was surprised by the lack of options for how we could dress them. You know, it was everything was being pushed a certain way, not very colorful. Not as many options as I expected, I guess before I entered motherhood. And so that was just a recurring thought was my son specifically had acid reflux. And so he was throwing up on his clothes all the time, we were replacing his clothes all the time, it was really hard on us. And so I was shopping for replacement clothing, and just like, do I have to spend my money on this thing that like, I don't really want to buy, you know, for him to wear. And so that's when I started thinking, Well, if he could wear anything, you know, what would it be? Like, if I could dress them? How I wanted to, you know, how would I dress them? You

Nicaila Matthews Okome 5:45

know, yeah, you do do a lot of thinking during that time period in your life. And but not everyone comes up with a business idea. So that is, and then acts on the business idea. So you know, how long did it take you before you decided to explore the idea in earnest,

Keewa Nurullah 6:01

um, pretty quickly, honestly, I would say maybe a month or two, I pretty much, you know, I knew I didn't have textiles, or have some manufacturing connection to make clothes, cut and sew clothes from scratch. But, you know, even just thinking about graphic tees and onesies. That was just like, what, what can I think of what are the ideas that I have? And I wrote them all down? And I, you know, show my husband, you know, is this good? Is this one bad, you know, to get his opinion. And he actually gave me the suggestion that I ended up using for the very first onesie. Oh, wow. Yeah, so it was definitely collaborative. And so then I just had to do the research, you know, how do I get this into artwork that actually fits on the onesie? You know, how do I get it printed? What is screen printing? Should I do it myself? Do I get somebody else to do it? Just that whole kind of itemized list of? How does it go from in my head to actually on someone, you know, wearing it? And yeah, that's how it all came into play. Initially, it was just one idea. And one onesie, and I just wanted to see it physically, you know what I mean?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 7:15

So walk us through, did you decide to screen prints it yourself? Did you decide to outsource that? How did you decide.

Keewa Nurullah 7:22

So I did decide to outsource it. I didn't really want to I wanted to go with the momentum of what I was feeling. And I know learning another trade while I had a baby wasn't really. So I, you know, looked up screen printing companies or services, and ideally, ones that didn't have a huge minimum are that type of thing. And I just shot my shot. I didn't, you know, I just went based off of reviews. And the biggest risk for me was just if I buy you know, all of these onesies, Will people buy them, you know, or am I gonna waste my money and be stuck with this creation?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 8:03

How did you make the decision?

Keewa Nurullah 8:05

I just went with my gut. Honestly, I just went with my gut. I just like if I'm seeing this problem and shopping for my son, I just know that other people are feeling the same thing. And I just needed the feedback of a customer to tell me, do they like this specific thing that I made? Or does it still needs some work? You know, but yeah, I was just operating from my gut. Honestly, just from my gut. That's so

Nicaila Matthews Okome 8:33

interesting. That's really interesting, because some people test it before they actually invest in it. But it sounded like you invested in a few hundreds or so for that first round before even maybe knowing for sure that someone else would buy it.

Keewa Nurullah 8:49

One thing I do think that I had in mind when I started creating the singular product was I did definitely from the beginning want to connect it to a brand. I knew that because I was switching from the arts to kind of this business idea that you know, some people might not take me seriously. And I wanted to present it in a way that looks official. And so even though I have this idea for this onesie, and this product, I develop the branding at the same time, so I got a logo, I you know, figured out what colors I kind of want it for for the business, I got a website. And so even though it was just one onesie, the launch of this one onesie was really launching a brand and using the branding that I still use to this day. So I think there was a little bit more thought put into it because I wanted it to feel like an official business as opposed to like, Hey, y'all, I'm doing this little hobby. On Wednesdays, you know, like

Nicaila Matthews Okome 9:57

I say yeah,

Keewa Nurullah 9:58

in terms of just knowing how People think I want people to think of it seriously in order to spend their money with me. So I worked on all of that kind of at the same time.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 10:08

That is a really interesting point to bring up. Because everyone comes to this entrepreneurship and a side hustle life from a different angle. So I've, I definitely speak to people who just start out just like that, like, Hey, guys, I got a product for sale. And then I speak to people who want to just think about the whole cohesive brand, from the start, and I think when it comes down to is what makes you feel most comfortable and confident, right? Because you have to feel confident selling, whatever you're selling. That's the first piece because How will anyone else buy it if you are not confident about?

Keewa Nurullah 10:42

Exactly, I have to confess that at the very first market, I sold my onesie, and I didn't sell 111. Even though I had the vision, even though I have the vision, you know, it took a while to develop my customer. And I remember it like it was yesterday, but I happen as well, because I had one, I didn't have a selection. I didn't have a selection. And so it took a while for people to actually bite. But presentation wise, branding wise, I do think I had something from the start that was able to kind of chug along, you know, until people latched on to the concept.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 11:22

So you started going to like farmers markets or

Keewa Nurullah 11:25

like different vending events, you know, there was like a an event in our neighborhood that was just like an artisan kind of market. I did a couple of festivals where they had people vending and tents and that type of thing. And I even I have a really close friend Peter who's had a brand for a lot longer than I have. And so sometimes I would just split his table, I'm like, I don't know, like, I can't afford like a whole setup. But can I just sell my onesies alongside of your stuff, because I feel like our customer might be interested. And he was nice enough to let me do that, you know, several times over, just figuring out how I could expose the brand to whoever its customer was, you know, parents, families, grandmas that in person exposure.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:11

Got you. So you were testing in real time on the ground? Sure. That wasn't easy.

Now, what about the investment piece of this? So how were you able to finance this in the beginning, before you had the regular customers?

Keewa Nurullah 12:32

So you know, thankfully, I think something that has contributed to kiddoes growth is just me and my, I would call it a personal brand. But I think I know a lot of people like I have a pretty wide network of people that I know. And a lot of the help that I received in the very beginning was from that community of people. So in the very beginning, you know, it was more family, my husband, my brother, people who know to believe me when I say something like I think this is gonna work. Yeah. But once we were getting to open the storefront on the shop, it became you know, family and friends, I sent out an email that just laid out, you know, I think kiddo has grown into this point. And this is the next step for us. Can you help us get there? And so thankfully, I had a lot of people in our network kind of give a family and friends loan and I paid it back with interest. You know, some people I pay it back within a year some people I paid back within two years, but it takes a lot to ask, you know, but I think as a mom, I've tried to become just more and more comfortable with that as a mother and as a business owner, you know?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 13:44

Yes, I'm so glad you mentioned that because I think more of us need to become comfortable with that it's a muscle that we need to keep flexing and getting better at because you will be surprised who wants to invest in you sometimes who believes in you and it's also a great exercise and seeing yourself the way others see you because there's so many people in your life who are like, you know, key was so awesome Nicaila So awesome. Anything she does, I believe in it. I know she's gonna succeed. Like everyone has those people in their corner so giving people the opportunity to support you and invest in you and giving them that money back with interest

Keewa Nurullah 14:23

Yes, that was definitely high up on the list was like okay, I can't lose no friends y'all like I actually money back trying to be on somebody's list and be out somewhere and they run an app to me so

Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:38

so help us understand though the process going from creating that first onesie to deciding to open a brick and mortar storefront because that is very expensive. And where we are right now in the story is you're not selling one onesie. So there's a gap there. So tell us a little bit about that process of starting with the first ones the and then growing to a point where you're like, let's open The whole storefront.

Keewa Nurullah 15:01

Definitely. So like I said, I was selling at markets and festivals and wherever I could cheaply vend to get the product in front of people. And as I was meeting my customer in person, I was hearing the same thing over and over again, I was hearing that families on the Southside of Chicago, were asking where they could meet other families on the Southside of Chicago. And so as a parent, myself have a baby. And like, yeah, like, where is everybody at? Depending on when you have a baby, either, like everyone you know, is having a baby, or the first one, you know, and so I noticed that that, you know, people may have moved to Chicago from another city, and they're coming here and their community is like from scratch. And so what I realized as I was talking to people, and really just thinking about my network, just as an individual, was that I do consider myself a connector. I consider myself a connector of people. People ask me for things, people ask my opinion on things. And I just had this instinct to like, let that go somewhere. And so the first thing I did was with another mom, I started Southside storytime, just as an event to happen, where I can invite people and say, Here, here's somewhere where there will be other parents and other kids and other families. And it was really successful. Free, we would read like diverse books and books that centered, you know, the Black and Brown experience. Yes, people would come all over the city really just for the Southside storytime, honestly, for the parents to meet other parents that had kids, you know, the same age. And I kind of just went with that, you know, how can I connect the kiddo brand, to actual people to a community to some things that I care about us as a parent myself, with another mom, I created a family day party called the baby soldier him? How can we still retain the cricket aspects of our former life? Now they were parents, I noticed that families were talking about switching off, you know, we don't do as much together because it's like, okay, you hang back with the kids and how go or vice versa. And so we created this Family Day party where the whole family could hang out, there's music for the parents to dance to there's a bar for Mimosa or beer, and the kids are thoroughly entertained. And it was a huge, you know, we've sold out everyone to this day. And everything was just continuing to connect families and community, you know, specifically on the south side of Chicago. So the events ended up you know, becoming more and more and at the events, I would sell, you know, some good stuff, I would sell onesie. And it's to have a little table setup. And actually, I had the shopping center that I'm in right now slide into my DMs and they were like, Hey, we see you we love what you've been doing. Would you consider doing some events in our shopping center? And that's how I kind of started it. They reached out to me, we developed an event partnership and spoke the right financial language to to have that happen for a summer. And then at the end of the summer, it was very successful and they said hey, have you ever thought about having a retail space? And that was it. I figured it out and we've been here ever since.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 18:30

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now was there anything that caught you off guard once you started to have this retail location? How was that transition to the retail space?

Keewa Nurullah 19:32

Oh it was it was rough. It was a lot of good feelings and good vibes but it was also a lot a heavy learning curve for me. I don't come from retail or merchandising background. I just know what I think is cute. Sort of a learning curve cannot what I think is cute to what actually should be done on the inside of a store to me Make things that appeal to the customer. And that took a long time I couldn't obviously hire a professional merchandiser. But the first thing that was was pretty difficult was just filling the space. You know, I have these onesies and T shirts. But when people shop for kids, they want more than that. They want to connect it. Okay, you got shirts, but do you have pants? You got pants? Do you have socks? You guys not, you know, like, people want it. The grandmas, the grandmas want to put together a whole have you know this than that? I realized very quickly that besides teas, onesies and books, I needed those connector items to make it a full shopping experience. So a lot of a lot of lessons, a lot of lessons.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 20:42

And it sounds like there are layers to it. So there's the first layer of okay, now you're paying overhead. Now you have rent to pay each month, correct me if I'm wrong, but that's what I'm assuming. Right? Yeah, as a retail location space fee. And then that cuts into whatever margin you were making, like when you're just doing it online without a retail location overhead. And then the second layer of that is actually filling the space. And so you know, that is a whole new ballgame. So how did you manage those two, one, making sure that not only can you pay the rent each month, but that you're making a profit or at least breaking even. And then tell us then also about how you went to fill the space. So let's tackle one at a time. So first, let's talk about the actual finance piece.

Keewa Nurullah 21:28

Well, considering the events were the thing that kind of propelled us to the point to get the retail space, I knew that I needed to keep that going partly in the store, so that there was always an excuse for people to be physically in the space, hoping that if they come to the store for a little baby class, or they come to the store for a storytime, they'll leave with something. So I knew that marketing wise keeping the events part going was going to help, you know, at least keep our customers in the store. And then the off site events as well, the larger more ticketed events, were just really going towards the gaps. You know, when there were slow weeks and slow months, I knew that, you know, we had a baby soul jam coming up. And I would take my profit from that and kind of spread it around. It was yeah, it was really hard in the beginning. And I think because the opportunity to have the retail space came up pretty quickly and turned around pretty quickly. And I just kind of jumped on it. I didn't necessarily have the whole business plan of the whole situation before I started, I kind of just went in headfirst. And so that first year, there were definitely lots of lessons with every aspect of the business that I just really tried to retain and learn from so that I didn't like them again. And yeah, that's how my my education really came from about

Nicaila Matthews Okome 22:54

on the spot. And so the second piece of this now was filling the space. And of course, you aim to have a shop and a brand that focuses on inclusivity representation. So how did you go about curating this collection of apparel and books and toys that focus on that?

Keewa Nurullah 23:15

Sure, I forgot to mention a very important detail, which was before we open the retail store, I have my daughter

Nicaila Matthews Okome 23:23

you have another you have another way. Okay, okay.

Keewa Nurullah 23:30

When I started online, I have my son, my firstborn son. And two years later, we opened the retail store and so when we open the retail store, my daughter was a baby and my son was two years old. And so the time for doing that kind of industry specific research or all of that, like dwindle, dwindle, dwindle. So honestly, Instagram and the Internet were once again my best friend like they were when I started keto and then when I opened the store they were my best friend because I couldn't go to the trade shows I couldn't do the industry networking and traveling because I had a baby so honestly I would I would follow cute little influencer kids I will follow brands from I was on Instagram using it as my industry research to see okay, who's wearing what I like who's playing with what I like and and compiling that for what what makes sense for the kiddo store. And then getting that contact info getting an email and just emailing Hey, Han Qi on kiddo in Chicago. We're Kitsap blah, blah, blah. Do you offer wholesale? Can you send me relevant info on how I can open a wholesale account like I had? My little inquiry email was maybe not standard. You know, it was maybe not what people typically get did before a mother with two little kids and a shot that she was figuring out like I just emailed blind emailed everyone whose products I thought were cute and that I thought I should have.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 25:05

I'm so impressed. I'm so impressed. Like you're making me feel lazy like

Keewa Nurullah 25:15

I probably couldn't do it now I probably could. But there's something about you needing for something to work. Yeah, that's huge. Yes. I mean, that Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 25:34

Who were some of the first to join? I'm so curious, like, are the brands that you work with? Are they local to Chicago now? Or are they, you know, brands that we will see all across the world are all across Instagram.

Keewa Nurullah 25:46

So now we have brands from all over the world. But the one thing that I had to keep them to consideration that made it hard for me when I was buying for the shop, was the fact that in the shopping center, where we are, we're surrounded by big box stores, like there's literally a target around the corner, you know, h&m or navy or whatever, and shopping for the store, I always have to keep in mind, like, who's our customer, can they just get this for cheaper at Target, like or some version of it, like, everything is a kid. So I have to stand out in a way that I think puts the pressure on me, you know, as the buyer, to really convince our consumer that this is really special, this is for you, it may even cost a little bit more than you want to spend, but you haven't seen it anywhere else. And so in shopping for the store, it's a really specific lens, that I look at everything through, you know, even sustainability. And, you know, we have lines from other mothers and local people, but brands from all over the world, but you know, if they can get it on Amazon and just pay blah, blah. And that's probably not for us. But it's really hard to kind of build a collection like that, because I'm looking down the item sheet. And a lot of things are like no, no, no, no, no. And there may be one yes. Okay, give me that little swaddle, because that's for us, you know,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 27:09

yeah. Wow, that that it's definitely seems challenging. And I again, kudos to you for what you are building have built and continue to grow. Because I think it's so important to have, and be able to trust a space like this, like, I know, I can find this here, I know, I'm gonna find these great gifts, these great items for my child here, because I know what they represent. And you don't find that everywhere, you know, like you're digging through the different aisles, and you're just not finding it everywhere. So again, I just love what you have built in our building. Like I said, In the beginning of this chat, you are a Black Wall Street descendant and you know, you're a fourth generation entrepreneur, how do you think that history has influenced your own path to entrepreneurship, and community building in Chicago?

Keewa Nurullah 27:57

Oh, it's so important. I feel so honored to be a part of that legacy. But I have to be honest, in my life, and probably until maybe 510 years ago, I didn't really know how significant it was. It's really hard to explain. But when I was growing up, they didn't teach it in schools. I didn't learn about it, and grammar school and high school in college anywhere, and no one else did, either. So I have something I knew about my personal history, but I had no idea was important. And this American history in general, most of my friends didn't know that about my history, because I didn't really know it was something that needed to be shared, until we started to get more information about the massacre in general. And so then you got more and more people learning about this event and history and then what it destroyed. And then it was like, Oh, wait, yeah, that my family was a part of that and affected by that. And then we started learning more information about our own history, just because the researchers and people who were wanting to know more were digging and digging to get more information. So it was it's been really interesting to connect to that part of my history because it's almost like a light flicked on and then it's like, oh, wait, like, this is actually really special. And this is a really unique place that existed and so to be a descendant I've definitely it's been a journey, you know, just just having that as a part of my personal history. I will say that when I started kiddo, I wasn't necessarily thinking about it, but when I opened the doors to the shop, I felt my ancestors presents, like having a physical place where people come in and they see your black face and you say, hey, you know, can I help you with anything? You are you Know that acknowledgement and that customer owner relationship is so special. And I felt that informed by something, you know, informed by my history, it just was so clear that that's what needed to happen that I just know that it was my ancestors guiding me.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 30:29

So I'm sure a lot of listeners either are thinking about opening a retail location of some kind may not be similar to yours. But whether it's a food location or apparel, or what have you, a black owned bookstore. I know those kinds of interests exist within our audience. And I think one of the real challenges, of course, is getting people in there. So you talked about events. But you know, I know you can't have an event every day. So how do you go about marketing keto, so that you're getting regular, consistent customers.

Keewa Nurullah 31:00

So I will say that keto has benefited so much from timing with our business. And honestly, when I started keto, online, online, was supplemented by our social media presence. And so I just really had a goal even with a baby, and then two babies to really just post consistently on social media, we have an online brand, they can't come into the shop, we got to show him what we got what we're about. After we open the shop, we were having events, I'm still posting on social media, the shop was open for a year and some change, and then the pandemic happened. And so timing was I think it was perfect for us, because we had already been strengthening our social media presence. And so when everyone was shut down, and everyone was home, and everyone was on their phone, they found kiddo, and we're like, oh, look at this black kid shop, you know, we're dancing, we're showing our products, we were being so creative about how we could make people feel like they were in the shop, even though everyone was hungry. And we really just, we put so much focus into bringing the kiddo vibe to people where they were that we just got so many more followers, and then the unrest, the civil unrest happened. And then people were focusing on black businesses even more. So we benefited from that. But we really would not happen, we really just wanted to, it was really about just having a larger audience get into what we were already doing. You know, it wasn't like we changed anything we were doing. It was just like, oh, black businesses, black businesses. And here we are. And yeah, we've always been great. So come Come join the ghetto party, you know. But I think that social media, part of our marketing has been so important for us. Because families are everywhere, you know, we we have something that I think is valuable, and a mission that people connect with from all over the country and all over the world. So social media just gives us the opportunity to show that day to day fun that people really connect with and then ended up buying our product.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 33:17

And you highlight the importance of never losing the online piece of it, you know, never just neglecting that part because you have a physical location.

Keewa Nurullah 33:27

Yes, definitely. I think we were fortunate enough to already have that online presence. When the pandemic hits, some people had to create a website real quick or something. And we just had to kind of level up to meet the quantity. You know, we grew I think three or four times when 2020. So we just had to make sure that the quality of our customer service and what we were pursuing met that demand and that standard. And that was a transition. And that wasn't easy, but but we've done it and we've been able to maintain that. So yeah, online and social media very, very important for us.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 34:04

And speaking of that growth, because a lot of times people correlate growth with money. And I know that there's so much more to it than that right expenses grow along with revenue growth. So we always talk about how much people lose money in their first few years of business, what has been your experience, you know, losing or breaking even making a profit, able to take an income, like what has been your overall experience?

Keewa Nurullah 34:31

So I would definitely say in the years where it was me and my living room before we had I was losing money all over the place. I mean, I just didn't know what I was doing. And everything I was paying for whether it's the blanks are the printing or shipping boxes was just more expensive than I should have been paying but I just didn't I didn't know it was just the beginning stages and so on. Think at every, at every step of you know, when we went from one onesy to three, or from three to five, at every level up in terms of how much people were buying from me, I tried to smarten up some piece of it. So when we leveled up one time, if I could get a cheaper blank with a higher quality than I was improving that if the next time we leveled up, if I could improve on the shipping the cost of all the pieces of the shipping equation, I was doing that. And that first year of being in the store was definitely a whole lot of lessons all over the place. And then yeah, when 2020 head and we we grew that quickly. With that higher volume, I really just tried to, you know, hold on to as much as I could to improve upon anything else that I needed to learn a lesson from. But shipping was definitely a big thing, since everyone was, I had to make that shipping piece makes sense. All the parts required and the higher rates from the carriers and that type of thing.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:05

And with shipping as well, was it trickier because you're selling different kinds of items, it's not like you can say, oh, I'll just have this and this in this, like, I'll just always default to these kinds of boxes and these kind of package, shipment, thingies. To do sizing,

Keewa Nurullah 36:22

yeah, shipping has been very hard for us. Because I think when you have a small business people expect for the unboxing to be a little bit more special than just buying things on Amazon box. So people were from Amazon, they know it's just gonna be something thrown in the box, maybe with a little bit of stuffing. But when they ordered from a small business, they want more of an experience, and they expect for a certain type of care to be taken with the packaging. So I've always felt a certain amount of pressure to have a gift that's being sent to a child when they open it to be a magical thing. But that costs money, you know, so the box and the postcards and the tissue paper and the you know, everything adds up. And I do feel like because we have toys, clothing and books, that's always a different combination of things. So we have all these different box shapes for whatever particular combination of things people get. Which means that as we've grown, we haven't been able to just put our whole selection of goods to get the filament off site. I know that may have to change or something. But we have 1000s of products. And usually a fulfillment center will cap the selection of products they do for you at like maybe 250 or 300 items. Interesting. So it is really interesting because we're a whole boutique. And we're not just like a direct to consumer, like I fell in love gloss and we've got seven Yeah, you know,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:54

and you could just ship that off to your to your warehouse and they take care of that you

Keewa Nurullah 37:58

don't have to have it in your house. You don't have to have it in your garage, this is what you carry, they have it and they send it it becomes difficult to manage. And we are constantly re looking at it because of all the different combinations of things that people order. Oh, wow,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:13

that is definitely a unique problem that I had no idea about. So I'm glad you brought that up again. You guys thinking of starting boutiques are dealing with that now like this is something to think about. And you know, you might have to reach out to keywords you guys thought partner working out together. Oh, I never knew about that. And wow, you know, well, we thank You. We thank you for having so many options for us to select from. So speaking of that, before we jump into the lightning round, I'd love to know more about what's your vision for kiddo moving forward, you know, what have you always dreamed about when it comes to this brand? And where do you want to take it?

Keewa Nurullah 38:50

Oh, I have such big dreams for kiddo. I think that you know, for us to be a boutique that carries a lot of different brands. My dream for kiddo will be for us to increase our product line more and more until you can walk into a kiddo store and all you see are kiddo products. So what I've noticed and curating items for the store, is that there still so many gaps of like higher quality items that are just have a unique look or are more modern or stylish. I'm always looking for items from for black owned brands. And sometimes these gaps like there is no brand that has this particular toy or item. If you ask someone on the street, like what's the biggest black toy company that you know of? Who would they say? I feel like that people produce like singular items like dolls or certain puzzles or things that have been sold in bigger shops. But when you think of just the power of like a black toy company, there's nobody that comes to mind and I would love for kiddo to be that name. Just like yes kiddo got it, you know, can I guess the whatever toys or books for your child like, that's the first person you think of. So that's, that's my goal is for the kiddo product line to grow to the point where we are the name, you know, for kids, it's very rare that it expands to something that's

Nicaila Matthews Okome 40:24

bigger to see, with a Hasbro or something like that, you know, exactly

Keewa Nurullah 40:27

I Mattel or Hasbro a little tykes, or, you know, Melissa and Doug, like, we could go on and on and on. And we as as a black kid company like that's, that's who we want to be. We want to be like the black owns Melissa Do it, do

Nicaila Matthews Okome 40:45

it, do it. So now let's jump into the lightning round. You know the deal? Just answer the first thing that comes to mind. Keep it quick. Are you ready? Number one, what is a resource that has helped you with kiddo that you can share with a side hustle pro audience,

Keewa Nurullah 41:03

I've said it a million times in this podcast, Google, Google and Instagram. They are a millennial. And also locally, we have the Women's Business Development Center, sort of like a Small Business Association, but specifically for women and their business ideas. And so I would recommend something like that. If you have it in your area, just for those like how to start a business information, LLC or corporation, you know, all the steps that you need to follow, so that you don't get anything that's required. I would recommend that for sure.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 41:44

Number two, who is a non celebrity black woman entrepreneur that you admire would want to trade praise to places with for day and why?

Keewa Nurullah 41:52

Oh, there's so many. There's so many, and I follow all of them on Instagram. But because they each have something different that I value one is angel who's been on your podcast? Yes. The Spy suite, especially with the project she has going on right now. I'd love to hop in and take a look at what's going on, you know, Melissa Butler from lip balm? Or is yes, in terms of that product based business and the scaling that she's been able to do. And then Aurora, James Aurora, James comes from the fashion world. But she has her own company and the work that she's done with 15% pledge I would I would love to see what what goes into that while also, you know, building her own brand.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 42:39

All right, number three, what is a non negotiable part of your day?

Keewa Nurullah 42:43

Is it just me but I feel like by having children, it makes all negotiable. Any.

But I do try to and my husband is very helpful with having a moment in the morning. That's probably the only moment where I am alone. Yes, I have space with my thoughts to write anything down to start off the day. However I need to getting the kids out to school is such chaos, that if he can take them to school, and I can have that moment before I start getting ready to go to work. And so like palate cleansing that I everything, I try to make sure that happens. Yeah.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 43:36

Number four, what's the personal habit that you have that's helped you significantly in business? Oh, I

Keewa Nurullah 43:42

think I'm just a glass half full or all the way full type of person. I think that in building the business, I don't have thoughts of well, what if we cave there? What if we went under or my mind is always to how can we keep going? Or how can we escalate and achieve the goals that we want to? Yeah, I just think I think that can our success is attributed to a lot of different things. But I just always know there will survive. You know, like, that's just wow, flat out. We were meant to be here there's a place for us people value. And I have to always know that and radiate that. You know,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 44:23

you know, it's funny when people interrupting lightning round I know. But there's some times when people say stuff about themselves. And then I'm like, I'm gonna tell myself that, that that that's gonna be mean to Okay. Like

Keewa Nurullah 44:38

I know, interesting because I can do that with kiddo all day. And then with my personal stuff, I'm like, I don't always think that way. So yeah, thank you for the confession. I compartmentalize my hopes and dreams and vibes for kiddo that are always on the up and up and positive because I connects with the children. And it's like they need that. They need that assurance and that inspiration, when it comes to key while by herself. Am I always thinking like, doing it like no? No, but I do also get better at that I need to get better at that.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 45:19

Yes. And final final question. Number five, what is your parting advice for other black woman entrepreneurs who want to start their own business, but are worried about losing a steady paycheck?

Keewa Nurullah 45:31

My parting advice would be listen to your gut, and listen to your potential consumer. I think a lot of people have something in their mind that they want to push forward regardless of what is going on. And sometimes the things going on are telling you that you should maybe just pivot a little bit over here. Or maybe your customer is actually right now looking for something over there. I think despite having a vision and a drive, you need to always be listening, like your ears need to be bigger than your head, so that you're always informed by what people actually want. So it's probably what you want and what you want to see blow up. But then it's partly like, Who are you selling to? And what do they really want to see from you? You know what I mean? Big

Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:25

big ears. I like that. You hear that guys? All right, ears bigger than our heads. And we talk about that often on here. And so I have the Pro Plan to but really getting to know that customer. And I like you know in the beginning he talks about that who you wanted this, you started selling it but then as you were face to face with people, you were learning more, you're getting more granular details about these people and that is what really helps

Keewa Nurullah 46:48

you to scale. Yeah, definitely, definitely my story. So

Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:52

where can people connect with you and kiddo after this episode?

Keewa Nurullah 46:56

We are our website is kiddo chicago.com K ID Oh, Chicago. That's where you can find all the cute stuff. And if you want to engage with us on social media, we're on Instagram, Facebook and tic tac at kiddo. Chicago one DK. I do. I'm on LinkedIn. I don't post a lot but you know. Professionally, you can find my little sale page on LinkedIn.

Chicago, Chicago come by say hey, I doors open seven days a week.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 47:37

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being in the guest Tokiwa. And with that, you guys, 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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