296: How Lola Banjo Launched Luxury Handbag Brand Silver & Riley While Side Hustling

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296: How Lola Banjo Launched Luxury Handbag Brand Silver & Riley While Side Hustling

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This week in the guest chair we have self described dreamer and doer Lola Banjo, the Founder, Creative Director and Designer of Silver & Riley, a premier luxury travel and fashion leather goods brand made exquisitely in Italy. Lola launched Silver & Riley in October 2019 with one main goal—creating stylish, functional and luxurious pieces that do not break the bank, yet make you look and feel like a million bucks. This Black-owned and Black-woman owned luxury handbag line is making waves. And it took years to get here.

 In this episode we discuss:

  • What inspired Silver & Riley and why it took her 10 years to finally launch her business
  • The painful lesson that cost her $20,000 due to a shady manufacturer
  • The response she received once she launched in October 2019 and what happened once the pandemic hit!
  • & so much more!

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Links mentioned in this episode

Silverandriley.com

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Silver and Riley- @SilverandRiley

Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:01

You're listening to side hustle Pro, the podcast that teaches you to build and grow your side hustle from passion project to profitable business. And I'm your host Nicaila Matthews Okome. So let's get started.

Hey, Hey guys, welcome welcome back to the show. Today in the guest here we have Lola Banjo. Lola is the founder, creative director and designer of Silver and Riley, a premier luxury travel and fashion leather goods brand made exclusively and exquisitely in Italy. self described as a dreamer and a doer. Lola launched silver and Riley in October 2019 with one main goal, creating stylish, functional and luxurious pieces that to not break the bank yet make you look and feel like a million bucks. Each silver and rally product is designed in a way that combines her passion for problem solving and building things better through her experience as an engineer. And now as a corporate strategist, with her love for fashion, which she picked up from her late mother, whom the brand is dedicated to. She draws conceptualizes and then works with her manufacturers to bring all silver and Riley items to life. In today's episode, Lola shares how she manages a high level executive position at a global tech company while managing a booming business. Let's get right into it.

Thank you for being here. It's such a pleasure to be able to chat with you and interview you. You know I've done some Instagram stalking, so I'm just loving your brand Silva and Riley and everything you do. And I just need to know what made you start side hustling and particularly why bags. So actually started about 10 years ago, I was in business school and I was in between my first and second year. I was interested. So my internship was at Accenture, which is a strategy management consulting firm. So I had to travel for work every week. And of course, though, that wasn't my first time traveling but I got some prouder business travelers a lot and really observe things that people struggle with in the day to day life of travel. And so I'd started just thinking about like how to make traveling simpler and easier in general. And you know, I had so many different ideas and that's what business goal inspires just a whole just daily range of ideas, right, but didn't know where to kind of nail it down to. And then one flight that I took it was one that was coming back from from my travels like a one Thursday night it was like particularly cold it was in the summer, but the plane was like just freezing. And I asked the Herald's this for blanket I was sitting in economy at the time and I asked the heterosis for blanket and she's like no blankets are only offered in first class

Lola Banjo 3:05

was like one of those things I was like oh really Okay, so we're supposed to freeze back here

hold on the plane, but it sparked an idea in me and I was like, oh, I need to create some kind of like travel accessories where you know, you could bring on things like blankets and things that you need for the conveniences of travel. So I started ideated on this travel products was like this portable blanket that you can bring on the plane at the time that they're now there is like examples of that on the market but at the time there was nothing I started to research that I was like, okay, you know what I can create this so I went on to my my, my significant other at the time, I was like I have this great idea. And we just started like sketching things out he was in marketing and I was a strategy that's what we were studying in business school. And so we built this business plan together to launch this travel accessories brands and when it came time to have like the funding for it and that's where things kind of got stuck because I didn't

you know, but Nicaila, like, with anything in life that's worth it. When you're working at it, it's going to take time and effort, things that are worth it take time and effort, right. So for me, it's been just really knowing how to manage my time and I don't do it perfectly. You know, I think sometimes I do get it wrong. But what I have started to adhere to when I started the business. And actually this was more from necessity than anything when I was calling those manufacturers. When I was on the phone with Italy. I was thinking about the timezone, right the timezone difference, there's six hours ahead of me. So I was always waking up at three or 4am to kind of get that done. So my schedule, and my my body clock, just automatically index to you wake up every day by 3am. And that's the schedule have always kept, you know, so I go to sleep every single day, I'm in bed by 10pm. Or maybe except for weekends, or if I'm hanging out with friends, but most normal days, I'm in bed by 10pm and I wake up around 3am And I start work I start working on my business. And I work on my business for about three to five hours I mean for about five hours or so, you know whether now it's whether it's like, you know, the lists that read in customer emails or ideated on something corresponding with my manufacturers, or building out the new the next collection. I'm doing something for my business right? And then I start Salesforce my job around 9am And I wasn't there I don't have a nine to five because I have an executive role. So it's like whenever I'm needed, right so I could have to travel that day or something right but typically an average day. I'm at work at Salesforce from nine to maybe six o'clock right okay, and then I do

try to pitch it to like you know VCs at the time went to the the entrepreneurship lab at school and l came down to you don't have a viable product Yeah, we can't give you money until you have something

Nicaila Matthews Okome 4:15

right we can show they wanted you to actually produce the product okay

Lola Banjo 4:18

exactly produce the product and actually have some traction have some build a customer base have a user base and you know get some feedback all which required money and if you know like anything regarding like your MBA, you drain your savings and you're getting a loan. So I was already in the financial hole before going into that so I was like saying like how am I gonna start this business? So let me like put the data to the side for now. So I put it to the side and I started my career in strategy consulting, but okay, you know, you know, when you have an idea and you have a dream now, I have had over 100 business ideas in the course of my life, right? I have written down all kinds of business plans like you know, like my my I think most of you I have a lot of ideas by exactly also flesh it out to, you know, right now business plans. And I've done that for so many different ideas. But this was the one that just kept on coming back to me and kept on nagging at me, you know, like, there's something here. So I just started paying attention. Like as I traveled more, I wasn't strategy consultant for seven years. So I got to travel a lot during that time. So as I traveled more, I would just observe or write things down. So my idea started to kind of transform to like travel bags, email, so duffels rolling luggage and really researching that market. And I was like, there's a Bible case here. Everyone travels for the most part. And everyone uses a bag, right? So there is a case, there's this really strong business case here, but I didn't know how to start it. And I was so immersed in my career at the time, I poured myself into my career, and I was doing very well. But the better you do in your career, the more work the you know, the more response

Nicaila Matthews Okome 5:54

that's how hard you work on your plate.

Lola Banjo 6:00

on your plate. Yeah, and all these direct reports and things like so it was it was much harder to to commit to it, but the idea just never left me. It wouldn't like literally haunts me like I would

Nicaila Matthews Okome 6:12

even though it was on the back burner of your mind. It just never left. I was

Lola Banjo 6:17

I was forcing it to be in the back burner. Right? It was naturally wanted to come out. You know, it was nagging at me so much like, I would literally think about this business every single day. You know, and on a vision my life around like when I thought about I'll just be like, okay, okay, focus, focus, get back to work. You know, what

Nicaila Matthews Okome 6:36

were some of the things that made you keep putting it on the backburner? Like when you thought about it? Was it the money was it not knowing where to begin? Was it thinking like, who is going to make this this luxury item I have in mind, like I don't want it to be, you know, just any kind of bag.

Lola Banjo 6:53

I think that's exactly all the above all the above and talus like, so. It was okay, I needed to save up. Because at this point, it was apparent to me that there was no VC that was going to back this. And I actually got to a point where I kind of got like Kaki, even if I even though I didn't have anything? Yeah, I was like, I don't want anybody take my equity. So I'm not giving up any equity. On my own right. I didn't have anything yet. equity, equity is 0%.

Unknown Speaker 7:23

Zero, is there. A lot of people do that. Yeah. Right.

Lola Banjo 7:27

Right. So it was that but it was also just not knowing how to navigate the landscape. I had not had anyone that started anything like as, in my mind, as big as I want it to start at the time, I didn't know where to look, you know. And so around some time in 2018, everything changed. So as I mentioned, like this businesses, it's been like 10 years, actually, more than a decade in the making at this point. Is that because I thought about it in 2010, right, but around 2018, I was like, You know what, I'm never gonna get away from this idea. I know, there's something there. And I will always regret not exploring it at this time. And I was like, it's now or never. And I literally just took two weeks of PTO. And I said, let me just dedicate the time to just like flushing this out with no distractions, literally put my phone on Do Not Disturb and just like started researching things, you know, and just like trying to ideate around like, what is this business? What exactly is it? And then I said, Okay, let me do some consumer insights studies, I hired a firm, and I paid some money. And at the time, it was really still just travel products. So I was like, I want to develop a travel bag that is, you know, combining all these things, all these all these functionalities and qualities that people are saying they wanted, like I was scouring sites like retail sites, like just reading feedback and reading reviews from from different customers in terms of what they wanted. So I hired the consumer insights firm, because, of course, as I was researching on Google, there was so many different directions of where you can go and produce. And I wanted to nail that down. I wanted to like where should that manufacturer that was number one. Number one thing I wanted to ask, I already had an inkling that there was going to come back as Italy but I wanted to confirm it. I don't want to use my own biases to make that decision.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 9:20

Why did you have that include just based on the luxury bags that you buy?

Lola Banjo 9:23

Okay, exactly. Pretty much like if you think about all the luxury fashion houses, they're either made in Italy or in France. Most of them are made in Italy, but I wasn't sure if that was important to people. I felt like it was made in Italy just because that's the origin of of where it comes from, why, you know, Italian Leather, there's a lot of leather be made. There's a lot of family history and all kinds of stuff in there. But I wanted to really pinpoint if it was actually important to the consumer right off the bat to be made in Italy as opposed to just the fact that it's made in Italy, by nature, right. So that's the first thing wanted to confirm. And then the second thing was just like just asking people about the conveniences they want in their bag and their products to make their life easier, confirming that as well. And then running focus groups actually ran like three focus groups on Oh, it was started. And it had like 10 Was

Nicaila Matthews Okome 10:16

this through this consumer insights, firm

Lola Banjo 10:18

notes. So the consumer insights firm is separate. And then also the focus group. So the consumer insights firm, I really just wanted him to actually like, you know, get data about what people like. So it was a randomized sample of people. And the way those firms work is like, the bigger the sample size, the more expensive it is. So I think I settled on, like, 200 people. So they're collected insights from 200 people. And the questions were around, like, when you think about leather, it was we try not to make the questions leading because we didn't want people to we didn't want to feed them the answer. Yet. It was like things like, when you think about leather, and where it's manufactured, what what country comes to mind, things like that, you know, and also does the place that your, your bag is manufactured matter? It was a set of about 50 questions that were asked to be able to get to Italy, and everything just kept on saying to Italy, Italy,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 11:11

I mean, literally, it was like

Lola Banjo 11:15

90% of people were like, okay, the it matters. And I think the biggest disparity is that there is a there is a compensation from you know, bags that come from, you know, certain Asian markets versus Italy. And I wanted to kind of like tease out the comparison, right? You know, because obviously, there's a significant price point and manufacturing price point differential in manufacturing from those two markets. And as a producer, you always want to go to a lower cost market. Right, right. But, but I was like, No, you know, what, if that's not gonna fly, and then I actually did do research, I did reach out to some manufacturers in those other markets to get prototypes of their product. And I was able to compare myself and it was like, night and day. So I was like, Okay, there's no way I will produce an anywhere else other than Italy or comparable like so there are also some, but that's

Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:10

awesome that you you went and got those prototypes made in the different countries to see what the quality would be. Okay. Yeah, this is already sounded like.

Lola Banjo 12:22

And it was about a nine month long process for me in totality, from the time that I started doing the research to the time that I launched, because I got samples from across different markets. I actually, at the end of 2018, I booked a two week trip once everything confirmed Italy. And I started trying to like reach out to manufacturers in Italy not getting any responses not being able to speak Italian. I Am I crazy as fuck oh, I probably can. No, you can. I booked the two weeks to the to on the outskirts of Milan, where there was a lot of leather manufacturers. And I said I was just going to go door to door literally going door to door for this because they were not responding to me or they were saying no. And I was just like they need to, I need to build some kind of relationship face to face. And I went door to door I had a list of factories that I had to visit got my Uber and just literally went there. And actually two of those days, I hired a translator because it was becoming difficult to communicate. And essentially, I had a set of questions. But what I was trying to accomplish was just to find my manufacturer, find the one that wanted to work with me and be able to incorporate a lot of those things that I wanted in my products, but also had the values that align with mine the sustainability goals that align with mine and things like that.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 13:42

So this point, did you have a bag sketched out as like the first thing you wanted to make? Okay. Yeah, the very when you went there, you were asking them? Can you make this? Or can you make

Lola Banjo 13:53

this bag? Yeah, exactly. So it was all like, can you make this back? For me? This is the sketch this is what it looks like. Can you make it for me? What's the process? And the first question they will always ask me was just Do you have a backer, right? Do you have like some kind of financing? And the answer was no, I was self funding. Now keep in mind over the course of like I did, and then the business in 2010 to when I actually started in 2018. I did save some money because I was just like, You know what? I'm going to start putting some money towards this ambitious because I don't want to get funding and I don't have anything to get funding with yet. I wanted to save the money to start.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:33

And when I want to save money. Did you have an amount in mind like this, this is going to require 10,000 This is going to require 100,000? Like what? What was that amount?

Lola Banjo 14:44

I thought it was going to require 20,000 Right? Yeah. And you'd be surprised. Do you want me to share now?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:54

I'm thinking Italian leather and my mind goes 100,000 What did it actually require?

Lola Banjo 14:59

I have invested well to start the business, I invested 120,000. So I thought it was 20,000. Right? Yeah. And I was just like I had in my mind that everything startup costs, it was not going to be more than 40,000. It was 20,000 to produce. But then I had all these other costs, right to read a whole infrastructure of the business. So I put a $40,000 cap on everything. But girl once I went, and I was looking for manufacturers, and they were talking about and they were talking about the minimum order quantity MOQ, which is basically that terminologies like the minimum that you can order for a particular SKU. Right, right, I was thinking that I will find a manufacturer and they will be able to make me 10 pieces of this item. So I can test the market. Right away. They were like, we require 1000.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 15:45

We're like, you cannot pre sale this. Yeah.

Lola Banjo 15:49

We required 1000 pieces up front. And there's no there's no finance terms where I was like, oh, yeah, there'll be able to give me net 30. Net 60. They're like, we don't know you, we have no no motivation to give you any of those terms. You have to do everything up front. And you know, the average back to the bag that was producing, it was the Causton was because Because also my minimums are lower. So it was higher in cost. It was coming up to like 300. And these folks are telling me that had to order 1000 pieces, right? And it was three, like 300,000 Where do I get that from? You know, so I kept on searching and kept on talking get kept on getting rejected, because my minimums I was looking for, I was like, Okay, let me try to find a manufacturer that will take 100, right, yeah, as a minimum. And also would would just want to do a lower a lesser amount of run like so a lot of them will want you to have a collection as opposed to just like two bags, right? Yeah. So it was I talked to 136 That number is going to be forever ingrained in my brain. I'm gonna tell my grandkids this story, my great grandson, my great king, grandkids by the grace of God, like, I will tell them the story of getting rejected by 136 manufacturers before I found the one one single one that said yes, I can work with you within your parameters. And they also check the boxes Darryl was looking for. And it was like this major breakthrough of just like feeling so excited and relieved. But then also exhausted before I even started before I actually had a product that was already tired.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 17:21

If I hadn't been starting businesses this is great. Well, first of all, congrats worthy all those rejections on that trip that two week trip you took?

Lola Banjo 17:31

No, no, no. Okay. During that two week trip that I took, I went and saw maybe about 25 manufacturers, and some meetings were very quick. It was like, No, some are longer, right. So actually sat down and gave me the, you know, the proper respect and welcome and I Oh, who like to work with you in the future? And funnily enough, one of those that did receive me well, I work with them almost exclusively now. Because they were not they were not able to work with me for it because the first manufacturer I did find, yeah, it's not them. Right. So they were there. One of the ones I initially I know girl, there's we was we were not sure I found I'll tell you that story. But anyway, so one of the ones that initially like rejected me, but in such a respectful loving way, it was just like it was the business case was not aligned to them at the time, right that did not have the capacity to accommodate what I was looking for what I needed at the time, but they did it in such a loving respectful way that when I was able to bolster up my financial resources and my manufacturing capacity, I went straight back to them and I was like, I want to work with you guys because I love what you do and I just love the way you handled me as a potential customer I even have a dime for me but you treated me in such a respectful way. But having that one the first one that did say yes the first breakthrough in southern Italy I was so relieved and so excited to finally have a working prototype I can

Nicaila Matthews Okome 19:01

imagine and what what was it about that one like what is it about what you presented you know that everyone else said no to that they were willing to work with what do you think it was that made them say yes,

I think at the time unbeknownst to me, they were also kind of just like starting up their customer list and there they were excited to kind of just maybe they maybe even like let you know just newcomers or like people with less experienced in that industry come in because there were looking for customers as well. They're looking to bolster up their their Rolodex, but it was not a Cinderella story was not a success story. What that meant was that I will say I was grateful even now in retrospective and know that the story didn't end well with that first manufacturer. I'm grateful that I had that breakthrough because I think it was just God's way of telling me like it's gonna work you know, you may not gonna have in 36 doors that say no, but you'll eventually get one so even though that I ended up to be like the ideal manufacturer, you know, that boost of confidence and finding that one. Because after that one, I was able to go back and find one, almost me and went back to the other one, like, very quickly and everything kind of just started, like rolling from there. It's like, after you've gotten so much rejection, you start to kind of lose some kind of, you know, even though I've always seen myself as a positive, optimistic, like, go get it and like, just, I would just keep on going. It could be. Yeah, that's something psychologically,

were you able to create at that first slate of products and sell and at least recoup some of the manufacturing costs? Or did you sever the relationship during the process?

Lola Banjo 20:42

So let me tell you the story about that one that I did find, unfortunately, here's what happens, right? In the, in the manufacturing process, you find the manufacturer or you do the sketch, right, I do a lot of my drawings myself, and then they make it into a paper prototype, you accept it. And then they actually make a physical prototype, they send it to you, your inspector, you make changes, and then they go make the production, right. So that whole cycle is about six weeks long, right? So once I did that, right, for that first manufacturer, I made a big order, because the prototypes that they sent me check the boxes, and I was like, that's great, great. So I made a big order. And I remember sending the biggest check at this point that I had sent. At that point, it was like $80,000, right, and I paid for the order. And when the production bags came in, the first set of production bags came in, half of them were completely different from the prototypes that I approved. And I actually learned after the fact that this happens so much to so many people, what they're essentially what the what the guy did was, you know, send me the perfect prototypes, right within leather, the exact specificity of the leather and the design that I wanted. But then when it came to production, what he tried to do is like, for some some of the skews, use a lesser quality leather or lesser quality accessories. So basically, now I've paid for I pay for the expensive one, right, right. But he's trying to like just get a little bit more money on the side. And they do it all the time. Now, not necessarily just in Italy, but just in manufacturing in general. But that was a hard lesson to learn in a very expensive one, because I ended up having to scrap about $20,000 worth of product that was just like, I could not in good conscience, include this or send it to customers, and also the fact that it's shot my campaigns, right with the perfect prototype, right? Then I'm gonna say like, imagine, like what you ordered, you know those things? What I ordered? I was like, No, that's not, we can't even

Nicaila Matthews Okome 22:49

when they say, What did they say? We'll replace it

Lola Banjo 22:53

like, no, it became a loud issue, right. And I wrote a 27 page document because I got a lawyer, we're gonna go into arbitration, it was it was a big case. So what he ended up doing, because he wanted to, because I also pulled in the international trade committee, it was a big thing, because, you know, I was thinking, even though it's $80,000, it may seem like a drop in the bucket for a lot of these governmental agencies. For me, it was like, a lot more than I even thought of. Right. 80,000 That was a significant when you're self funding, right? And I just felt so cheated. And I was just so angry, like, and so I was just like, okay, no Calm down, take up the legal case. And I found the lawyer, which was also expensive, wrote out the document. And then he said, you know, what, in order to not make it go to the the law and all this stuff, it's a court. Let's just find some kind of mediation, right. And so what he did was, he sent me replacement bags, that were imperfect quality, but in the lesser amount, so I wasn't able to recoup the entire $20,000 I was able to recoup about 10,000. So I was just like, You know what, this is a lesson. I'm not even though fight it because the whole process was taken like a long time, right? So I was like, I'm not gonna fight it any longer. Let me just let this go and know that that was my most expensive lesson to date. I want to learn a lot of lessons. But yeah, at that time, that was my most expensive lesson. And

Nicaila Matthews Okome 24:22

that lesson is, is gonna help so many people who are listening to this, in hindsight, what do you think you could have done? Or what should we do differently what I do differently

Lola Banjo 24:33

differently now is, whenever you have a business that has a global supply chain, you manufacture in a different country do anything like that, you place a large order, you have to first of all be there at the point of shipment, right? You have to have someone that's there at the point of shipment, like a quality control quality assessor, something like that at the start of the relationship when you're still building trust. Now when you already have the relationship like I Have my current manufacturer, I trust that they're going to be if they tell me that they're going to send me this, they're going to send me that because it's actually in their best interest. Now they know that my business is a viable business is bringing in revenue, they don't want to sever the relationship with me as well. So they're always going to do right by me. But at the start, you know, the manufacturers don't know that, yeah, you could just be another because so many people start businesses, right, every single year, they fail. So for them, it could just be a one time order. So they don't care about that relationship. So over indexing on relationships is important. So once you build that relationship, I've invested a lot in my relationships with my manufacturers right now. Like, they, when they tell me that the sky is whatever color I believe them, because we have that trust with each other, but it took a long time to build. But when you don't have that relationship yet, make sure you have somebody at the point of shipment, right. So you have a quality assurance or quality control, whatever you want to call it, but somebody that's actually checking that what you ordered is what you're getting, sometimes there's not a way to do that, you know, a person. So you know, for instance, during COVID, a lot of people can not travel. So you know, you have to maybe like trust that they will send you pictures or videos. So you have to ask for in depth like evidence that everything that you actually asked for is what it is, and then make sure you also get business insurance. That's one thing I didn't do at the start, right. So I ate the costs, you know, that of every error that that I've made in the first year, right? I ate all of those costs, and I do

Nicaila Matthews Okome 26:31

business insurance. Will that apply? globally? Yes, if so. Okay.

Lola Banjo 26:37

Even like right now I have a shipment that's on its way to me. And there's about $300,000 of products, right? Anything can happen, right? Yeah, pirates, because she's the shit. That's real. That's real. That's exactly something anything can happen. So it covers every business situation. It could also be you have an employee that stole from you. That's business, like, so there's so many different business insurance products, right? Of course, if you have one that's like comprehensive, that covers every situation, it's more expensive. But every company offers business insurance, right? And you pay the premiums, you know, you get the insurance that you feel like you need, but I think that's what a lot of us don't do. And I didn't have the advice to do that at the start of my business. Right? Because, you know, I didn't know, I didn't know I needed it. Right. So a lot of the cost that you know, a lot of the things, the mistakes that were made, or the lessons that I had to learn. In the first year, I ate it, you know, so

Nicaila Matthews Okome 27:43

we talk about being self funded. And that's one of the main reasons why I do this show and talk about side hustling, right? Because your job is that first investor. So in addition to your job, were there other resources and other places you look to for Capital to help you fund this business on your own? Yeah, I

Lola Banjo 28:00

did. I definitely looked at like SBA loans as well. I looked at business funding that did not require an equity investment, things like that. I think the first thing again, I was kind of like, I don't want to give up any equity and $0 like, nobody wants equity, something that's still in the red. But I was like, I don't want to give up any equity. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs say that. But there is there is merit to giving up equity because again, you can it can help you grow and accelerate your business and scale to a certain extent. But at that start, I think it was just combination of I still didn't know what I was doing yet. Right? So I wanted to really master this industry, Master my business and master what I was doing before I started pulling others in. And you know, I think also maybe some impostor syndrome was there, I didn't want to be exposed as a fraud in this industry. I was like, I don't have fashion background for say, you know, I wanted to kind of have some set of successes that I've accomplished on my own before I actually go out into the world and possibly ask for support. But also I but mainly, it was just like, I wanted to feel like I was in control of my destiny. I felt like investors may want me to leave my my company right away. And I wanted to be in control of my own pace, right. And in some ways, so I said, you know, thankfully, I did I do have money saved up. And, you know, I was able to tap into those personal resources to be able to, you know, get it to a certain place. So I was like, let me just ride that until I can't ride it anymore. And, you know, see how far I can take that. So that's where the self funding came in. But I did look at some resources here and there.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 29:40

And that's all scary, you know, kudos to you because I mean, they're entrepreneurs who are side hustlers, who have to drain their 401 K's drained their savings, and they're still at the end of the day looking around, like where did my money go? What do I have to show for it? So, at what stage were you able to put silver and rally on the market? Get and start earning for your beautiful bags.

Lola Banjo 30:04

Thank you so much. So it was around October 20. Well, it was in October 2019 that I launched that launched in October because I wanted to launch on my mom's birthday. It's the brand is dedicated to my mom, she passed away 20 years ago. And she taught me a lot of what I know about the energy behind entrepreneurship. But it took about a year of being able to because I when I took that flight to Italy, it was November 2018. But it was also like, you know, when I first took those two weeks off, and August 2018, so just about over a year before I actually got to the point from my from really sitting down to build this business, to launch in it. Now my journey. In total, you can say it was a decade long, right? You don't need a decade, but mine was every everyone's journey is different, right? So, you know, don't feel like if you have a business idea, you have to bring it to life right away. Sometimes you have to learn some things, you have to study the industry, you have to learn the market. Everyone's pace is different. I mean, there was a sense of urgency in the fact that the dream was nagging at me. But because I do have a full time gig, I wasn't financially pressed to start a business, it was like, I want to get to a place where I actually have this and then build an enterprise. I'm not just like trying to do a fast kind of, you know, make a fast buck, I want to build a family legacy. I want to build generational wealth from this. So I'm going to take the time and be heads down and actually study the market, learn about leather, learn about production, learn about manufacturing, learn about consumers, learn about what my customers actually need, do those market research studies, those consumer insights, like build those focus groups, you know, incorporate feedback, I have really been taking the time, because this is a business that I see as you know, i Everyone asked me like, What do you compare yourself to? I say Louis Vuitton? I'm not comparing myself.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 31:55

That's right. Exactly. That's what I see. When I see your brand, you know, and that's why like my mind was just went to 100,000, you know, off the RIP like of investment because I just, I see that quality. And, you know, and I'm glad you mentioned that go in at your own pace as well. I think that, you know, there's always nuance to everything. And so sometimes you see people who spend years and years and they don't seem to get their their business off the ground. And so some people, you know, see that story, and they're like, oh, I need to just go out there. And no, there's this gray area. It's not black and white. Like I love the way that you learned the industry you went and you you went straight, you took time off to go to Italy, you did consumer insights. And all of this takes money. So it's also going back to not only are you saving, but then you're also working, you're working a really demanding job. So it's not like you have you know, time to dilly dally all the time, like there, I'm sure there were periods where you were just swamped by your actual day job. I don't remember a period that I was not swamped. Like that. I know that consulte life, I don't know it personally, but from what I saw.

Lola Banjo 33:14

When I was not been swamped, it's

personal things, you know, from six to eight. And then I go back and look at the business again, for a couple of hours, tie up some things, if it's shipping day, then you know, the schedule kind of changes a little bit, because we ship in the evenings, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. But if it was just a normal day, then you know, I just answer emails or whatever it is, I try to send things that I need to do to maybe editorials, whatever it is, and then I go to sleep by time, and I wake up at 3am and rinse and repeat. So that time management and just being sticking to that schedule. Now, I definitely understand that not everyone can have the luxury of that time, right that schedule, because I don't have kids yet, you know, I don't have a lot of things they're maybe demanding of my time other than, you know, my work and my business and you know, some family things that I have to also take care of, but most most of my time is still kind of my own to manage, right? So I am benefiting from that. So I just say that because you know, I don't want to make a blanket statement later, but I can manage it if you have a newborn man.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:06

Listen, even when I didn't have a newborn baby, I still struggled to manage my time in the way that you're describing. So it's still so admirable, like for you to be that disciplined with your time. So you launched in October 2019. What happened next? What was the customer response? You know, what was the revenue? Like? Was it starting to pick up right away? Or did it take some time to get that customer base?

Lola Banjo 36:31

So I launched to, I had a launch event, which included my family and friends, some industry personalities, like stylists, influencers, and things like that it was a very successful launch event from the perspective of actually made it a selling event as well. You know, I launched the product told the story, it was a party, cocktails, all that stuff. But then people can also place orders. So that was my first set of customers, right? Where they actually place physical orders for the bags. And then, you know, I had a whole bunch of like marketing stuff that I invested in across social media, and of course, my personal social platforms. Hey, guys, I just launched this brand. So that was my first set of customers. It's just like family and friends, right? But then it started to grow from there. You know, by around January, I started to see my first few customers or names I didn't recognize, right. So once you start seeing names, yeah.

Exactly. So about like, two, three months after launch, I started to see names I didn't recognize. And then by February, it was like a lot more names I didn't recognize and I was like, okay, the business is growing. I started investing into more ads on Facebook and things like that. And it was doing really great. And then Mars. 2020. Corona.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:53

Corona,

Lola Banjo 37:54

Corona, Corona. I mean, I'm sure we're all tired of hearing about Corona. Yeah, they had a major impact on my business major in the sense that five months after I launched, everything came to a standstill, five months after I invested $120,000 into my business, everything came to a standstill. I had the first month, the first month in the half of the pandemic, I had zero sales, zero, like literally my Shopify store said zero. Like for those months, there was not one sale. And yeah, I think, again, I'm such a calm, like optimistic and in some cases spiritual person, like I believe in like the vine, you know, I believe in the universe, a higher power. But that was the first time in a long time that actually just like started freaking out, like, Did I make a mistake? Like, am I, you know, am I going to lose everything that I've invested? Again, at this point, it was $120,000 in which was a lot of money to me at the time, a lot of money to anybody, right. But yeah, it was a lot of money. And I was just like, I haven't Of course, I hadn't made a profit yet. You know, everything. Even all the sales that I had made prior to that was being reinvested back into the business. So it was just like, what's going to happen? And then I had four women on my team, you know, that one of those foremost interns or marketing publicists. I had to make the decision. I didn't have any money to pay them. So everyone had to kind of go and it was just, it was a lot. And then the worst part was I had just placed this big order for my spring collection, my spring summer collection. And I remember the shipping date was around like the end of March but Italy was the market that was hit the worst by the virus of your recall. So they shut down by the first week of March. I was like two weeks away from getting my delivery and they had to shut down their factory. The factory did not reopen again, till like August, September. So I had spring collection with all these bright colors coming to me in September, I had all this marketing and everything. So I had all my working capital tied up into that. And it was just, it was a lot.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 40:13

How did you stay sane and motivated and just, you know, calm and not completely just have a breakdown? Or maybe you did it. You know, I

think I had a couple of freak outs, like maybe not a complete breakdown. I think honestly, one thing that kept me kept me grounded, I mentioned earlier that this brand is dedicated to my mom, she's my biggest motivation, inspiration, she was a entrepreneur in our time as well, she passed away 20 years ago, but she had several businesses and she was just a very positive loving person that everyone loved her. And she had such a really grounded perspective on life, which is where I get a lot of my perspective from, and she used to just have whenever things would go wrong, right, she used to always say could be anything small, you know, should be like, no condition is permanent, right. And that's something I heard almost all my life while she was while she was alive. No condition is permanent, right? Everything is going to be okay. And she meant it in the sense that whether you have something when you're in the middle of a storm, it will eventually end. But also when you have good things coming to you, as well enjoy it while you have it. Because everything eventually ends no condition, whether positive or negative is permanent. So, you know, live in the moment when you have the good things, but also know that the bad things will pass. And honestly, you can't let that that was the perspective that kept me going. I kept on I was like on Wikipedia everyday read up all the pandemics that

had happened.

Lola Banjo 41:48

They have an end date. Like, I don't know when you know me, but it's right, something's gonna happen. So I think I was I was a little bit protected by the fact that this was not my source of income. That was right. Like, you know, I was not taking any money from the business, like I still had my job. And I was very grateful for that. And I actually even felt guilty for that, because I saw so many people guilty is for momentarily, because I saw so many people losing their their livelihood, and losing, you know, their financial stability. And so I was like, How can I even dare complain?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 42:25

You're like, I don't have it that bad. It could be worse. I know, that feeling for sure. So guys, have you been thinking about starting your own podcast. So you've been thinking about all these different ideas, or you have one idea that just keeps coming back to you, but you're not sure how to start. Or if you have started, you're not sure why you can't grow it as much as you want to grow it. And you're also confused about how to truly make it your side hustle, right? Like, how do you go from having this show that you do in your closet like I do, to actually making money and actually using it as a platform to grow? Well, that's what I'm here for. I'm going to be teaching you how to make podcasts and your side hustle, go over to podcast moguls.com To register so we can go over some things. All right. And it's also your opportunity to pick my brain stands for the answer, you can get to the q&a, and you can ask me anything that you want to ask me about podcasting, you can talk to me about challenges, and I am here as your resource. This training is completely free. I love doing this because you can walk away from this training, and completely make a difference in your show. So go over to podcast moguls.com Make sure you are registered again. That's podcast moguls.com to learn how to make podcasting your side hustle

when were you able to pick things up again? And how did you go about I'm curious how you you are going about your marketing because I see it now on influencers I see you've been featured in major publications on TV as well. So how did you did you reshift your efforts to your marketing and what did you do to get that kind of coverage?

Lola Banjo 44:09

Yeah, I've always really index on building relationships relationships was so important to me and in the first year and a half two years I said I wasn't going to pay do any kind of paid influenza. I wanted people that were going to just love the brand love what my story what I'm about and I actually had like God placed a lot of people in my life they just like wow you know you have this brand and you're going to yourself and the products look amazing. We'd love to support how can we support some people were reaching out to me and I was cultivating those relationships just because you know I was genuinely like I have had influencers have followed for years you know for years and years for instance, like Shayla all things slim. She was first featured on fashion bomb daily like maybe in 2012 and I followed her for a long time. So when I launched my brand I just like reached out to her I'm like hey, Yeah, I've been following you for all this time, I really love your story. I felt like I knew her family, because, you know, I had, like, seen her kids be born and grow up. And so we connected, we connected like that. So I just, I just like really invested in cultivating real authentic relationships and like, you know, really telling people my story taking the time, whoever responded, now, I will say, like, I sent hundreds and maybe 1000s of emails, and I didn't always get a response, right. And that's gonna happen. I think when it happens, at first, you feel like, Oh, that sucks that injection. But you know, you've learned that it's just a part of the game. And people, people have limited time and resources to allocate. So it's okay, but you know, the relationships, I was able to cultivate, I was able to do that. And then I focused on the marketing side as well, like, you know, shooting campaigns that I felt like were attention grabbing, you know, invest in, in ad spend, things like that, and then you know, and also I reengage with a PR firm as well, okay, see, they can, like help craft the story. And also just like the brand image, you know, so it was just like, really just like taking the time. And again, it was because, like to the to the title of your podcast, like as a side hustle. At the time, it was not the only thing that was bringing in my actually, I was not taking any revenue from it at all. So I was able to do that I was able to take that time to actually see what work I think a turning point in that journey, actually at towards the end of the air page and Dr. Dre, she is an influencer on Instagram, but she's a doctor. She's a real life person. And she's a real life friend now. But she fell in love with the best seller, which is this bag, the convertible executive bag.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:42

How was that you guys like look, I

Unknown Speaker 46:44

can send it to you, by

Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:45

the way. pressure to do that.

Lola Banjo 46:56

So I sent her that bag, and she loved it. So she posted it to her doctor community. And they all love the two. And then that was a turning point. And like, you know, just bringing the business back. Yeah, like so I started actually start seeing sales again. You know, so it was a combination of effort, you know, of just building those relationships, investment in marketing ads. And just like, you know, finding people that naturally gravitated towards the story, the authenticity behind the brands, and what I was also the mission of the brand. So I didn't mention that I give back 5% of all sales to women as grants to start their business, because I know how hard it is, when you're starting now, I have the privilege, the fortune of having the financial cushion that from, you know, having a lucrative job over the years, but I know not everyone is in that position. So I just I just hate to see us stifle our creativity and our ability to actually be a part of this economy be a part of this next frontier, because we don't have the financial resources. And it's so often our story, you know, and I just want to be a part of changing that dynamic, changing that narrative, you know, and being able to provide that access to black women and underrepresented women everywhere. So we can actually have the resources to be able to start our enterprises because we absolutely deserve that we absolutely deserve to build these multibillion dollar enterprises. Because, you know, when you look at the corporations, and you look at, you know, things that have succeeded, I realized that it's not that these people are superior, there's no one that's really smarter or hard work and more hard working than you it's just access, you know, access and, and knowing what's out there, you know, it didn't have to take me a year to actually start my business. To be honest. If I if I had someone that had a Rolodex of manufacturers or made a connection, right, you know, and said, Hey, talk to this person, right? Maybe it wouldn't have taken me a year, you know, it may not needed to take me 10 years to be able to save up money to start my brand if I had the financial resources. Now, I'm not given a million dollar grants yet. But anything it's common, it's come, right, it's common, but anything helps when you're starting. And things add up. So if it's just like, hey, let me help you pay for your consumer insights, let me help you pay for your website, right. So you actually start can start to sell your product. Let me help you pay for your bookkeeping, or, you know, whatever it is like so those brands go towards those things that you know, tend to hold people.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 49:28

So wonderful. Yeah. I love that. That's such a wonderful, wonderful initiative. And I think, you know, you are a shining example of what I want people to be able to do. What I hope people get from this show is that side hustling allows you to take the time you need to invest in everything you need to do before starting your business so that if you go through a slow period before the business is ramped up, you know, you still have your job to fall back on hopefully. So yeah, I love that you touched on that. And I'm also curious to know, given the research you did the consumer insights that you did when it came time to find your pricing in the market? Was that an easier process for you? Or was it still challenging to figure out where to come in, in the market? You know, because obviously, you are your targeted, you're already coming in as a premium luxury brand. As a newbie in the market. How did you approach that?

Lola Banjo 50:27

Yeah, so pricing strategy is something that I've actually done a lot and advise my clients on, right. So for my brand, it was challenging initially, because I wanted to find the right right price point that was not going to, like, you know, deter people from engaging with my brand, but at the same time, respected the luxury approach that was taken. And also some of it was from necessity, as well as, like, if I'm producing this back for 300 $400, I cannot price it at 300, right, because if I lose money, right, so, going into a luxury market, necessitated that I had to price at a luxury price point, what I wanted to keep the brand attainable luxury. So my demographic has always been us, right, women like us that, you know, we have disposable income, we work, you know, we have professional careers, or we do things right, and we have some money, we can spend money on a $2,000 bag, but we don't necessarily have to you can get that same quality in the bag that's like $500 or $700. So that's the demographic I wanted to appeal to the demographic that I recognize, right. So, you know, 25 to 55 year olds that had, you know, a professional career that needed a bag that was functional, that was very stylish and fashionable, but also is going to last from from generation to generation, but they didn't want to invest in a $3,000 bag to get that. And I started realizing from my research that all of the big brands, every single big brand out there is producing the same, same places, I'm producing Gucci's factories right next to mine, like literally, they're all in that same radius, right. And the only difference, the only difference is that they've built the brand equity to be able to price their, their products at a certain level. And they also have a lot more overhead than I do. Right. So they have a huge marketing organization, they have a lot of people to pay, right. So that's why they both lead back to price. So we're paying the cost of their overhead, not the product, right? The product cost $300 to make, right? Yeah, so it's still gonna cost 300 Or actually maybe even lower, because then now they're doing $100,000 100,000 unit runs, right, they're doing million unit runs. So their product probably only cost them $150 To make. But we the consumer, when we buy a high end luxury brand, we're not paying for the products we're paying for their overhead, right? Yeah, so I'm like, if I don't have the overhead, right, and I'm gonna keep that overhead down as a direct to customer brand, right at this time, I can pass on that back to a savings to my customer, right. So it wasn't greedy in the sense of like, I didn't want to price it too high. Because to me, it was just like I wanted to bring build the brand, build the loyalty, build the, you know, the the customer base first, you know, and just really invest in that. So revenue was not an initial motivator for me and price it was like really just finding the price point. That of course did pay me because I am still in business. I'm not like a nonprofit. But the margin was not exorbitant. I wanted it to be attainable luxury, I wanted it to be like you're getting this bag for a price point that actually respected the cost of production and also includes a little bit of margin for my efforts and my map marketing costs and all this stuff to be able to bring it to you so that's that's how I arrived at the pricing. I made a conscientious decision to make to keep all the prices less than 1000 all the bags less than $1,000 This bag is the best seller and I started when I started I priced at a 595 and but unfortunately last year I have had to make the difficult decision to increase the price of 695 Because everything increased in prices like my manufacturing costs for that bag increased by 20% and then DHL once increased their prices to and I'm like what do you guys I don't get it

Nicaila Matthews Okome 54:24

right you already know

that's what all my all my vendors said like everyone was sending me a notice at the end of the year like our prices are increasing by below

I'm like why? Yeah. So what are the signature bags that you have? Now I see you know you have the Durban bag, you have the belt pack. Talk to us a little bit about all the skews that you have.

Lola Banjo 54:47

Yeah, so one thing you see that all the bags well not all the bags, most of the bags have a city name right. So that's hired by this was originally a travel brand and also I love to travel I've been to over 100 countries and So I gain inspiration from all the cities that I've been. So I've named the bag, the Milan bag. So when you go to Milan, it's very chic and stylish. And so that's the bag that I named after Milan. And then I have the Dubai bag, which is more colorful. So some of those styles are more color, and then they have the gold chain, then gold is synonymous to the Middle East, you know, the Geneva bag, I have that as the messenger bag. So we go to Geneva, Switzerland, a lot of people are in business. They're running from here and there. So I created a messenger bag around that. So anyway, so those are all inspired by city. The SKUs are doing the best right now, honestly, since launch has been that convertible executive bag. And it's a bag that literally every woman can see themselves or men, I have male customers that have this as well. But everyone can see themselves carrying this bag because you know comes in now it comes in seven different colors. But this is the best selling color this this olive green one. You can wear it as a sheet bag that I am just taking, you know, just just just I'm a stylish person, I'm wearing this bag, or you can take it to work. Some people use it as a mommy bag, right? And then so yeah, exactly because of the functionality where you can turn it into a backpack, right? So I designed that functionality of you can loop the straps around it and put it into a backpack. It's very convenient. You can wear it in four ways. So this bag has just been doing exceedingly well. You know, so I call it the bag that every woman needs in her closet. This is like you're, you're going out you're running errands, just pick up your bag and go like everyone uses this bag. Right? I have customers that bought all seven colors. Yeah, crazy, because I'm like, oh gosh, like that much. The finish is impeccable. And I'm not just saying this, this is my brand. Like I'm so proud of this battle. It is

Nicaila Matthews Okome 56:49

gorgeous. And I'm so proud of you. Because I mean, you can just tell that you took the time to go to Italy and get this quality because you see people start paying back climbs. And it's hard. It's hard. Because when you say you're a luxury brand, like we all have an anchor in our mind of what deems something luxury. And so you know, you really need to come in on that level. So you made sure that you did that. So that is

Lola Banjo 57:17

just I cannot call my brand a luxury brand. Yeah, have the luxury touches all the backs on what a dust bag, they have a luxury packaging. And just even the way that I like my customer service. That's something that I have you read the reviews that people leave, they constantly talk about the service that they receive, I want it to be a luxury service, like I want it to be like a white glove. I mean, I don't have the infrastructure necessarily to make us fully white glove at this point. But I really want people to feel good interacting with my brand. Like, I want them to feel like they're they get individualized personalized attention to what they mean.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 57:54

And I can already see. So are you doing this on your own now and I talked about having to let go some of your team. As far as customer service, you talked about responding to things are you a one woman show are you have you been able to build some of that team back up.

So here's a lot of entrepreneurs don't like to admit this, because you know, you're on Instagram, people are like, we will respond to your inquiry. Time, it's just a one person shop, right. So all of 22 like at the end of 2020. Well, after the pandemic, once I would, unfortunately had to let some people go. So the rest of 2020 It was all me all of 2021 was all me. And then my brother came in as well, towards the end of 2021. And now I have another person as well, that's helping me. But if I'm being honest, it's still mostly me, like I, my brother helps a lot with the logistics like you know, handling the DHL, and the fulfillment and things like that. But when it comes to the strategy, and the marketing, and even the social media and how engagement influencers, the design aspects, it's still all me and you know, as I grow, I know that I'm going to bolster up the team. Right now it's the three of us. But I've always still be kind of like been conscious of keeping overhead down because I want to keep that price point attainable. You know, you're the only way to keep the price point. Attainable is like my costs go down, right? Or I keep the overhead down. So my cost of production rather. But actually that is happening because as I'm ordering more units, as you know, I'm getting more sales. I'm negotiating better, better pricing with my manufacturers, right. So that is happening, but I'm gonna I'm building this into a billion dollar business. So this prize, right?

Yeah. What's your advice for people as they are growing because it's kind of like, you have to make that decision between okay, you're getting more sales at some point. Yes, it will feel like you're spending so much upfront, right at the cost of goods, the cost your overhead. But then you also need to ramp that up in order to get more sales. You know what I mean? Like, you have to constantly constantly make that calculation. And so are you at that point where you're starting to think like that, like, Hey, I know, that seems like a lot right now. But as someone who's building a billion dollar business, is it a lot? Or is it helping me to get my next round of sales to this, which will then allow me to invest like this? And then get the next round of sales like that? Yeah,

Lola Banjo 1:00:36

yeah, those are the decisions that you have to make as a business owner. And a lot of those decisions are not going to be easy, you're gonna lose money before you make money 100%. And you have to be confident, comfortable with that fact. Because it is a fact whatever business you're building, you know, if it's going to be a sustainable, and profit generating business, you're going to have an investment on front, right? But it's still going to be hard when that investment is coming from your pockets, right? Every single person I pay is still coming from a pockets. So it's like, it's coming from my hard work. Like, it's not just arbitrary money. It's not like VC money. It's not for money. It's real money that I made, right. But it's something I've had to get comfortable with over the last two and a half years of being in business that in order to grow and scale, you have to invest in your business, you have to invest in marketing, and you have to miss a PR, you have to invest in all kinds of things to actually get your business. So point that it's actually lucrative and bringing in the revenue that it deserves, right? So making those investments upfront is super important. And you know, that as you grow in and you're scaling, you're able to actually recoup some of those investments back, you know, so it's okay, because you actually start to see it. So for instance, one example is Facebook spend, right? If you only spend 5000 ads, you're only gonna get 5000 results. Right? Right, right. But at first, it's jarring to think like, I'm gonna invest $1,000 in something that's not tangible, right? So say you're like, but then you're like, Okay, you start to see some of the return and $1,000, right, and like, oh, maybe let me try $5,000 a month, right? That's the stage I'm at right now. Because it is jarring, because like, ads is not a tangible thing. So I'm like, What, am I just putting like, $5,000 into this? Like, what the hell? Right? Right, right to see the return on that investment. Right. And at least you can

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:02:21

track ads, you know, you can track the conversion, you know, with Facebook ads, and you can look and see how people are moving once they come to your site, and things like that. So that makes it a little less scary. But I know what you mean, like, it's not like, sometimes you just, you're like, Oh, I just want people to buy, you know, I don't want them to just visit I don't want them to come back. I don't want to retarget them. But it's part of it's part of the process. So

Lola Banjo 1:02:46

I learned I learned so what I learned and I learned in business school. So just like in school of real life, right? A customer has to see your product seven times before they actually make a buying decision most of the time, whether they see it on Instagram to see it on the influencer, the see on TV, they see it on something, they have to hear about it and see about seven times before they actually go into their pockets. Now. That's the average customer, there's customers that see the bag the first time and they're like, I love it, I want it I love it, I'm gonna make a decision. That's your, like, easiest sale, but the added sale takes a lot of time for, uh, you know, I actually look in I used to study the customer characteristics of people, how long they spent on the site, what sites they, what pages they click on, you know, and also how many times they came. A lot of customers come to the site several times because again, my price point is not $20 Right. So Right. So they have to sometimes they have to think about it like

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:03:41

it's a thoughtful decision. Yeah. To make a very thoughtful decision and but one of the things I love about Shopify you can kind of be like hey, did you forget something in your cart? All the E commerce platforms now you know, okay. Yeah, exactly. I know you were here without right creepy

before we get into the lightning round, I'd love to know you are a side hustler. Now, you talked about your timeline and everything like that throughout the day. But when do you have time to do anything else? How are you fitting this into your life such a you know your business has grown so much you have a really high level job as an executive at Salesforce. So how are you making this all work?

Lola Banjo 1:04:32

Yeah, first of all, I have to give a shout out to Salesforce because they're super supportive of my business and I know that's not a situation that every everybody has sometimes you feel like you have to hide what you do Salesforce actually, like is proud of the fact they you know, they collaborated and like in putting some press out there in terms of you know, supporting the business supporting people that have those that dichotomy of you know, having that business and also working in corporate because it's so nothing to be proud of it's there's a lot of the about the person when you're able to perform in this, you know, this fast paced high demand environment, but also still be able to build a sustainable business who wouldn't want that kind of personality in the enterprise, right. So I do have that support. But that said, it's still a lot of work and commitment, right? You know, you have to be able to be self disciplined, know that this is something that you actually want, because if your heart is not in it, you're gonna just burn out really fast, you're gonna hate and so it's something that I love, and I, I want to actively engage in it, I want to actively engage with my customers, but I'm not gonna lie there. Sometimes I'm just like, so stressed, so tired, I'm just exhausted. And then I have to attend to this attend to that. And I'm just like, I just want to break like, I just want to break I'm about to break down. Like, I'm like, I just need some time. So when that happens, you have to make sure that you're caring for yourself, like, before that even happens care for yourself every day. So some of my non negotiables on a daily basis, like, you know, I have to have that quiet time. That's just me, right? You know, I'm just like, just Zen it out. I read during that time I do some meditation, I do my manifest manifestations, you know that it's time for me. That's the thing about work not to think about what I got to do today or anything like that. But just like focus on me, what does Lola need, I also get regular massages, like, actually started the schedule of like, Monday mornings before because you know, people like talking about the case of the Mondays. I'm like how the Monday that is so cool. Yeah, what I started my Monday with a massage. So I'm starting my Monday, amazing, I don't have a case for the Monday, I'm starting my week, amazing, like feeling good, feeling relaxed. And then I also run as well. I go to Orangetheory. And, and outside of that I run like, you know, during the summers, I run like five miles every day, like that's the one that keeps me very balanced and centered. So whatever that thing is, you have to find that thing that keeps you going, you know, and you'll also like have a supportive group of people, whether it's family, whether it's friends, whether you're part of a business community, or something, people, they encourage you and support you to keep going, I'm very fortunate to have people in your life, they're just like, Lola, we see you keep going, you know, I have friends that tag me and everything, you know, and like on Instagram, people are like, tag black old tags and things. I love it so much, because people are constantly thinking about how can they support me? And how can they make sure that they're elevating my brand, because you know, as a newer brand, you're not going to be in everything, you're not going to be included in every list. And so when people you know, tag you, that's how like, you know, the visibility grills, that word of mouth is critical at any point in the year. And so I'm very grateful for all of that.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:07:54

I really like that. And talking about how you juggle these two worlds, you emphasize what you do to take care of yourself. Because for so many people the answer to that is work more and work harder. And it's like no, you make sure that you pour into yourself so that you can withstand the the pressure and the stress and not burn out. And I so I just really liked that you emphasize that that Monday massage thing. That is brilliant. That is so so cool. So I might have to copy that.

Lola Banjo 1:08:29

Like chain? Yeah.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:08:33

Let's do a quick lightning round, you just answer the very first thing that came to mind. Actually, what you were talking about is one of the questions. So I have to rework that one. But alright, are you ready? I'm ready. I'm ready. Okay, so number one,

what's the resource? First thing that comes to mind that has helped you in your side hustle journey that you can share with the side hustle pro audience. First of all, I keep spreadsheets of everything, right. And I keep a plan of everything like, and again, it has to be individual. But make sure you're writing things down. When you write things down, it becomes a plan that becomes and you're able to take action. So make sure whatever your mechanism is, you're organized, you're organizing your thoughts and your actions and your plans in some ways. And then there's like business resources across the board that you can use and tap into. You can take courses on Coursera about business, a Harvard Business Review. Harvard has an open source resource around businesses as well. You can tap into side hustle Pro to learn about there's so many things out there. If you're looking for the information, you'll find it but the most important thing is centering, centering yourself first and knowing that you actually have a way of motivating yourself to go and get it so All right.

Number two, what's been the best business book or episode or live event that you have attended or you know use to pour into yourself? So

Lola Banjo 1:09:58

I will say okay, one thing I personally do is I read a lot of business success stories, right? So, for instance, like I read the story of Luba time, the actual law of a time, right, and also very weighing how they got started. And I find motivation in those stories. I also find motivation and hardship people that have had a difficult journey, but there was they were able to navigate themselves away out of it, you know, so louver time, for instance, when the when he started the brand, he didn't have customers for 10 years. A lot of people don't know that right up front. Yeah, started with trunks. And then one day, you know, somebody walked in, and there was like, Oh, I love this, right. And then it was started building from there. But it took a long time to become Lobaton. And I think social media is sometimes makes people feel like, these things happen instantaneously. They don't they take time. So not a business book. I have several business book that I read, you know, but you know, for me, the most important thing is just like finding motivation in real life stories, especially stories of perseverance, of overcoming of tenacity, you know, wherever I see that happening, I'm inspired by that, because it lets me know like, through whenever I'm having a hard time with a business that I can keep on going as well.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:11:16

And yeah, number three, who is a black woman entrepreneur that you would trade places with and why for a day trade places with for day,

Lola Banjo 1:11:27

trade places with for a day. It's gonna sound corny, but I've, I've really studied Oprah's journey. I know a lot of people are not gonna say she's an entrepreneur, but she actually is, she's running her enterprise. And, you know, so and she has many different elements in there. So I've always admired her. And I've always like if I could trade places with one person, today. Give me Oprah.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:11:57

Number four, what is a personal habit that has significantly contributed to your side hustle journey,

Lola Banjo 1:12:04

personal habit, meditation. And also just speaking positively to myself, I start my day with a positive intent and positive balm, not that you're not going to encounter things throughout the day. But I always just tell myself, you know, I am a naturally optimistic person, I see opportunity in everything, even in the things that look like, you know, there can be negative, there's opportunity there. So yeah,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:12:30

it's so important. And then finally, what is your parting advice for fellow side hustlers, who may be stuck or discouraged, trying to juggle their own full time job and side hustle.

Lola Banjo 1:12:44

So if you have an idea, and this idea has been with you for some time, and you've studied the idea, you know, that there's something there. And you also know that, you know, this is something that you are passionate about, I just want to say, you don't have to have everything perfectly figured out before you go do it, you have to start it first, right, you're going to learn along the way you're going to do things wrong, you're gonna bounce back, and you're going to learn and you're gonna get back up there. But you have to start, and in terms of balancing it with your day to day, you know, it seems scary and intimidating. But you know, we, we sometimes don't give ourselves enough credit for what we're capable of, because we don't know what we're capable of, until we actually have to do those things, right? We're more capable than we give ourselves credit for. You can do it, you know, you have to, of course, you know, make a plan, make sure that you actually have, you know, you're balancing your time you're balancing your efforts. And you know, you're saying no to the things that don't matter. And you know, you're you're being discerning in terms of what matters. But you can actually balance that time you can do it, you can do the research. You can be slow and steady. Yeah, there's no timeline. Don't let social media rush you into thinking that everyone is an overnight success. That's not the case. Take the time that you need. Make sure you're focusing on understanding the customer. I am hyper focused on customer intimacy. Like I get feedback from my customers all the time. I want to make sure that I'm designing and I'm actually creating products that the market is going to embrace and love and my customers are going to feel great with. So make sure you understand your customer, your demographic. Figure out what you want to target. You can't be everything to everyone. If somebody's looking for super stylish, trendy bag, probably not my bag because my bag is for the everyday professional that also values fashion, right? Find your demographic and be hyper focus on that demographic. Don't try to cater across the board. You know, don't try to be everything to everyone because you're gonna fail. And also be conscious of who you're getting advice from. Right because people people may try to input into your stuff and you should listen you should absolutely Keep an open mind. But also keep in mind that people are only talking from their own perspective. And sometimes that perspective may be limited by what they've tried in the past that didn't work, you know, or their failures, or whatever it is, right. So make sure you're discerning of what advice you're getting as well. And if you've studied your marketing, you know your product, you know that there's something there you really believe in in your heart, you have to go for it how you want to design it, because I'm telling you people told me, you should design this ultra luxurious bag and price of $5,000. Or you should do this that's XYZ. And I'm like, you have to find that middle ground and just know that you're being true to yourself. That those

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:15:40

were some gems right there. Well, you know, where can people connect with you, Lola? And where can people find out more about your brand after this episode?

Absolutely. So silver rally all across all socials, silver rally and Instagram. It's the brand is emphasized. But on Instagram on any social platform, you actually have to spell up and so it's silver, a n d, and Riley Silva and Riley. And then also the website is WWF, silver, and riley.com That's where you can connect, that's where you can find awesome products and I also wanted to share a discount code with the side hustle pro community as well you can get 20% off using the code side hustle 20% I like the code side also. And thank you

so much. We really appreciate that. Thank you so very much and you know, one thing I want to add before we wrap up is this episode has really poured into me today I can't even quite put the words around it what specific thing it is that has done that for me but I just want to thank you for that because it definitely has like feel that in my soul and in my spirit and I hope it has done that for you as well. You guys listening. So with that. There you have it. 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 sidehustlepro.co/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 sidehustlepro.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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