Today we’d like to introduce you to Alana Sutton Watkins.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Alana. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I was pregnant with my third child, Yara Imani, I began scouring the web for African inspired baby dresses. A month or so after her birth, I found a lovely woman in Ghana and her team made beautiful pieces for my entire family. We took pictures in our new Ghanaian clothing and used one of the pictures for our holiday cards. The response to our cards was overwhelming! Everyone loved our clothing and wanted to know where they could find similar items for their families. It was then that I realized there was a need to connect consumers with African and African inspired designers. And with that, Yara Imani the business was created and named after my inspiration, my daughter Yara Imani.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress” – Frederick Douglass
I have a Master’s degree in accounting but wanted to get as far away from “numbers” after years of collegiate studying and corporate grinding. I avoided the financial and analytical areas within my own business, making costly mistakes. I priced items incorrectly. I over committed my time and resources. I commingled business and personal finances. I could go on and on…
Instead, here’s what I’d say to entrepreneurs of all ages and stages.
Pay attention to your financials and analytics. How financially healthy is your business? What is your profit margin? How are users arriving at your website? How much time are they spending once there and what are they viewing? I review these numbers daily and use them to create both short and long-term plans.
Know your customer. Talk to your existing customers, read industry publications, consult your girlfriends and other confidants. Understand who your customer is, what her pain points are, how she likes to shop, and what she likes to do. Having this knowledge will provide clear direction for sustaining your business.
Find your voice and use it! I love sending handwritten notes with every order. Early on, I remember writing notes with “hot” or trendy words, but they felt so inauthentic. Now, every email, newsletter, and social media post is written in my voice, with my magic!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Yara Imani – what should we know?
Yara Imani is an on an online boutique of African inspired apparel and accessories. As a boutique, we are known for head-turning clothing designs and bold statement accessories.
I partner with designers and artisans on the African continent and across the diaspora in order to curate a collection of unique, authentic, and ethically created items.
I am most proud of creating positive images of Afrocentric beauty & culture while encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit within my children and my community.
We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
I am extremely fortunate to have met many phenomenal, supportive women that have helped me along my journey. Leaders who have connected me with media outlets, invited me to speak at or attend their events, recommended events for me to showcase my boutique, provided feedback on my website or product selection, and shared my business with their networks. I genuinely believe that we all can do better and be better when we work collectively. I actively seek opportunities to support others and to repay the gifts and blessings that have been bestowed upon me.
- Website: yaraimani.com
- Phone: 214-830-7520
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: yara.imani
- Facebook: yaraimani1
I’sha Gaines (I’sha Gaines Photography), Marrica Evans, Nikki G Glemaud (Nikki G Productions), Takiyah Wallace (Some Sweet Photography)