Hello and Happy Monday!
Our blog is a day late because I wanted to include an update on our mug shipment. I received a message from our broker a little less than an hour ago, letting me know that the mugs are in customs and are due to arrive in Chicago by the 1st of December. Once they arrive, we will begin shipping out to everyone. If, on the off chance, they arrive later then December 1st, we will ship the merchandise that is here now (T-Shirts, Black Girl Magic and Natural Love mugs) on the 1st and ship the rest of the merchandise once it arrives. We very much appreciate your patience as we not-so-patiently wait for our new mugs to arrive.
IT'S CYBER MONDAY!!!
It's Cyber Monday and our last day of our 30% off special. All of our merchandise is 30% through midnight tonight! We do have a few Natural Love and Man Not Target T-shirts left - purchase them today because, once they're gone, those designs will be retired!
WE MADE THE NEWS!!! WELL, SORT OF...
We had a ridiculously busy Black Friday Weekend! We were at the Black Friday Night Market held at the Bronzeville Incubator. Wow! what a wonderful event! There was music (Joe Kollege - Best. DJ. EVER!!! and you can find him on our Buy Black page...), libations and wonderful people that became patrons and who, I hope, will become long time customers.
On Saturday, we were at the Connect South Shore event, hosted by The South Shore Chamber of Commerce and The Silver Room in Hyde Park. These fine people renovated an old Dollar Store and packed it tight with vendors from the Chicago area. As with Bronzeville, there was music, entertainment and, most importantly, so many people that were excited and eager to shop with local black businesses! This event was featured on ABC7Chicago news! Though I was not featured in the segment, you can see me twice - once when I was posting on the "gram" just before the event started and, if you look behind the lady in white, you'll see me flailing my arms while interacting with a customer!
FEATURED BLACK BUSINESS
This week's featured Black Business Owner is Emanuella Israel! Emanuella is an extremely talented, accomplished and aspirational young lady - she's written poems and essays that have been published in Oxford and and her illustrations have been published in Germany! Her Easy business, Souls for Eccentricity, centers around the black woman in a nurturing state and one that embraces nature. Her pieces can also be used as adult coloring pages! I was was incredibly moved when I read over her bio she sent for the blog - she's incredibly focused, she has so much positive energy and she's incredibly driven - she's destined to succeed! I'll be purchasing a few of her pieces as holiday gifts (and a few for myself...) and I encourage you to do the same - they're absolutely stunning!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Emanuella Israel, and I'm a 23 year old Chicago native. I graduated from University two years ago, where I received my degree in Art History with a focus on African Art and Textiles. I'm currently a full-time preschool teaching assistant at a Montessori school on the Northside of Chicago, and I adore it. On my own time, I am a poetry writer and an essayist, as well as a visual artist. I've actually had writings published in Oxford, England and illustration work published in Germany! The arts are my life, and I hope to one day make my arts business a full time commitment.
What made you start a business? Why artwork?
I have always used art as a channel for communication and representation. I first started seriously producing art prints when I was in college for art fairs in an effort to promote minority confidence across campus. I attended school at the University of Iowa, and though the university was the most diverse in the state, its recognition and appreciation of people of color left much to be desired. So, I started creating artwork that promoted the beauty of women (primarily women of color), which I would give away and sell at student art events to help the small number of POCs on campus to recognize their beauty and remind them that they are seen. After getting positive feedback from my peers, I decided that I wanted to expand my network and start selling my art as an entrepreneur.
From where or what do you draw (no pun intended... your inspiration?
I draw my inspiration from women as well as nature. Both are beautiful and forces to be reckoned with! I've always felt that the female body, in all its shapes and forms, is the most beautiful subject matter. You can trace our strength and our struggles through our stretch marks, muscles, and wrinkles. I actually think the physical traits that people try to erase as "imperfections" are the parts of ourselves we should be most proud of. Just like trees have rings and physical signs of the long lives they have led, we have the same. Our bodies grow and change as we mature and find ourselves, and stretch marks and other bodily markings are tributes to how far we have come. Furthermore, women of color are just magical! I have so much fun drawing our hair that is so versatile and defies gravity. I draw women who I think are relatable; just like anyone else, I am inspired by the realistic representation of black women. Yes, we can glamorize and glow up and be conventionally "sexy", but those aren't the only times we are beautiful. We are beautiful just laying at home in our sweats, wearing our bonnets and watching tv. I want to normalize black beauty and the beauty of general womanhood in its essence of just being.
Do you focus on one medium or do you work in several?
My foundation is in creating black and white fine art prints with just pen and ink. However, I'm branching into experimenting with colors (particularly watercolor). I want people to have the option to buy black and white or color versions of my designs- whatever best blends into their personal aesthetic. One day I would love to have my designs printed on merchandise ( planners, notebooks, shirts, bags, etc). I can just picture young women of color walking around their high school or college campuses carrying around notebooks I designed, and feeling confident, powerful and ready to learn. So, just 2D prints for now until I get the means to branch into another medium. But I'll get there!
How long does it take create a piece?
Maybe 1-2 hours? I always finish a print in one sitting.
When starting your business, what was your biggest challenge? What’s your best success story (so far...)
Well my business is still pretty new- my Etsy shop opened earlier this year- so I'm still currently facing a lot of challenges. I think my biggest issue has been becoming visible to the Etsy community. There are so many online shops now, you have to put a lot of time and energy into making your presence and your product know. I am not the most social media savvy individual, so knowing that most shops have to really gain a following on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. can be very discouraging. It's also cumbersome when you have a full time job that isn't your shop, and you don't have as much time as you would like to study up on how to get better at marketing and networking. However, I think my biggest success was in creating my shop in the first place. It takes a lot of courage to put your passion on display for anyone on the internet to scrutinize. Even though I'm still trying to navigate my way around the online seller world, the sales slowly trickle in and I learn more and more everyday about how to better my brand.
Do you have any advice for those who are wanting to start a business?
Everyone has to start somewhere, so just start. Don't spend time worrying about whether it will be successful or not. If you believe you have something worth buying, then others will too. Also, reach out to other artists or sellers! Feedback from others is your best friend, whether it is positive or negative. Don't be afraid to network and reach out to people you're inspired by for tips and advice- more likely than not people will offer to help. Everyone has been a newbie at some point!
Finally, do you have any holiday specials?
This Cyber Monday ( November 27th), get 40% off any order $10 or more on my shop! It's only one day, so make sure to take advantage! Follow me on Instagram @soulsforeccentricity or follow my Etsy page "Souls for Eccentricity" for access to giveaways and updates on upcoming Christmas sales as well!
Emanuella is listed on our Buy Black page. Click on the Emanuella's photo and you'll be taken straight to her shop to see her collection of pieces. You can also click on any one of the above photos to purchase. Please support her business - you will not be disappointed!!!
Hang Out With RoyalTee
We'll be at the "He Said/She Said" event on Saturday, December 2, 2017 from 1:00 - 5:00 in Calumet City - we hope to see you out there!
As always, we appreciate your support. We recognize that we would be nothing without you - thank you for taking this journey with us!
Until next time,