By Lamin Turay
Every month Maveriqs hosts a Content Creators Collab event here in San Diego. In our latest Content Creators Collab event we covered the topic of "Blogging The Right Way." We executed a couple of blog writing exercises with the group that got everyone's creative juices flowing. We also went into detail on the various aspects of a successful blog; from time spent writing content, to frequency of publication. It was an excellent learning opportunity, and I'd like to share the information that we covered with you. Here's what we learned at the event...
Content Exercise #1
Storytelling: Extend & Advance:
Pick a topic…any topic. Write about that topic for 30 seconds. Stop! Extend on that topic by going into more detail. Extend for 1 minute. Stop! Now advance the topic to provide more to the story. Move the story forward by advancing its direction. Advance for 1 minute. Stop! Repeat your extend and advance steps one more time. You now have a story. Cheers!
Topic Overview: Blogging…WTF?
Initially blogging involved a personal web log, in which a person would journal about their experiences. A diary of sorts. From the term “web log” came the shortened term “blog.”
Like most new innovations on the internet, many saw the marketing potential in having a blog, and it took off from there. A blog can be used for marketing, home business, or documentation.
Sometimes a blog is often confused with a website. This is due partly to the fact that many businesses or individuals integrate their blogs and websites into a single web presence. However, there are two features that separate a blog from a website:
Topic Overview: Why Should I Care?
Search Engines Love Content:
The older and deeper the content on your website, the higher it will rank when people search for you, your business, or your services online. A blog is a fantastic way to produce content that will rest on your website and increase its overall amount of index-able, archived information. The more relevant content your site has, the more credible it will appear to search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Keep Your Audience Informed:
A blog is a great way to keep your customers or followers up to date on what’s going on with your
business, let them know about great deals you’re offering , or provide useful tips. The more a person
comes to your blog to stay informed, the more likely they are to spend money on your goods or services.
Your blog allows you to build trust and rapport with your followers as well as your business prospects.
Not only can you develop articles about what you know, but you can also get to know your audience by
interacting with them in your comments section.
There are multiple ways to generate income with a blog. However, you’ll want to develop a deep,
engaged following before you decide to monetize. Some methods for monetizing a blog are as follows;
Pay-Per-Click Ads, Partnerships, Affiliate Marketing, Sponsored Content, Influencer Relationships, and
Paid Media. Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential partners or sponsors and ask them to work with
Topic Overview: Things to Consider
Blogs Require Time (A Lot):
For a blog to be effective at SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and engaging readers it needs to be
updated regularly. The success of a blog comes from having people return to it in order to read new
content. People will only return to the blog if it is consistently updated. That means you need to publish
content on your blog several times a week.
Blogs Require Fresh Ideas:
To keep people coming back to your blog you need fresh ideas to write about. These ideas should be
both topical and relevant to your audience. They don’t always have to come from you though. You can
leverage guest/contributing writers, freelancers, or curate content from other websites.
Blogs Require Patience:
When it comes to blogging, the payoff is not immediate. One of the biggest frustrations bloggers realize
is that a blog is incredibly time-consuming with little initial payoff. It takes time (usually 24 months of
daily posting) to build a readership.
Blogs Require Consistency:
Again, in order to experience success with a blog you need to post content multiple times a week, and
distribute that content in the places where your audience spends their time online. The founder of
Copyblogger (one of the most successful blogs on the internet) did not earn his first dollar until he had
been posting on his blog every day for two straight years. That’s the kind of consistency that is needed.
In order to experience success with a blog you need to post content multiple times a week."
Successful live blogs on the internet:
Effective tools to help with your blogging efforts:
Content Exercise #2
Rewriting: Improving Your Creativity:
Pick out a word that you can use to hone your story from Content Exercise #1. Words like “Why,”
“Simplicity,” “More,” or “Deeper” are all good. Now give yourself 5 to 10 minutes to rewrite your
original story using that word as your inspiration. When you’re finished compare the two stories and see
how you've improved.
We've really enjoyed hosting our Content Creator Collab events, and the incredible amount of useful information that has come from them. We look forward to the next event. Like our Facebook page and stay tuned to our Email newsletter for more information!
Maveriqs Profile - Roosevelt Williams III - Young Black and 'N Business
By Lamin Turay
Attending networking events is a fantastic way to meet potential clients and business contacts. They help you to learn more about the entrepreneurs, businesses, and services that are offered in your area. They're also a great way to maintain your in-person business development skills. Last month I attended my first Young Black and 'N Business networking event. It was great! They had close to a dozen business exhibitor booths, showing off their goods and services. They were providing free haircuts and shoe shines. They even had guest speakers educating attendees about useful business techniques. The event was hosted by the founder of Young Black and 'N Business, Roosevelt Williams III. He's created a powerful platform for generating positive group economics in the community. After meeting him in person we decided it would be a good idea to schedule a discussion so I could bring his story, and the story of his company to a wider audience. Here's how the discussion went...
What is it that your company does, and what problem do you solve?
Young Black and ‘N Business is a platform for entrepreneurs to work together cohesively in order to ascertain financial freedom by sharing and expanding their network. We solve some of the issues that I have witnessed in the San Diego community. Issues related to the disconnect with entrepreneurs in the area. There has not yet been a working unit that practices group economics. Everyone is pretty much fragmented. They don’t know who each other are, or what each other does. There’s a lack of coming together to work together. We’re bringing entrepreneurial understanding to the community.
What is unique about the way you approach the industry that sets your company apart?
What’s unique about the company is the pathos, ethos, and logos that we use. We leverage direct and in-person marketing. It’s about shaking hands and making a friend. We’re building a network one person at a time by highlighting unsung heroes. We’re giving these individuals a space to market themselves and their brand, and we’re doing it for free. We create the platform by paying for the venue, providing food, booking entertainment, and maintaining an environment where they can thrive.
So it’s almost like a turn-key platform to showcase your brand?
Absolutely! Also, the fact that it’s free of charge sets us apart from other companies. We don’t have an entry fee. If you’re young, black, and in business we understand that your business may be brand new, or that you may still be learning certain aspects of business. You can come to Young Black and ‘N Business and develop those skills.
Given your own experience, how did you arrive at creating a platform like Young Black and ‘N Business?
In the past I’ve worked for a number of elected officials, and I was able to see a lot of things from a 5,000 ft. (high-level) perspective. From that high of an elevation I began to notice that there were disconnects within the community. So I decided to use the political skills that I had gained and apply them to the business arena. Politics is business, and business is politics. There are certain individuals who don’t know how to speak to an audience or how to gain access to certain places because they don’t have the background or the knowledge. So I’m using my skills to bridge that gap and bring everyone together. We all have a common goal, which is to be successful, healthy, and happy.
What was the moment that you decided to make a business out of the idea of bringing people together to achieve that common goal?
So I’m a cobbler as well. I repair men’s and women’s shoes, handbags, and luggage. One day I was working on a pair of shoes, and as I was putting them together I thought, “If I can put together a pair of shoes, I can put together the community!” I began to think with the end in mind. By thinking with the end in mind I started to see us all (the community) in a healthy and successful environment. I saw a whole sector of people practicing group economics. I decided that if I could be a cobbler and put together shoes from the sole up, then I could also be a cobbler for the community. Given my experience with both business and politics I felt comfortable pursuing that goal.
In what ways has your life changed since you’ve been executing on that idea?
I continue to be associated and affiliated with positive-minded individuals. They’re people with a millionaire mindset, positive thinkers, movers & shakers, and people that are resourceful. When you’re thinking positive, the positivity comes to you. A lot of individuals achieve success by attending one of the mixers or networking events that we put on. I’ve read and heard multiple testimonials from our attendees where they talk about the connections they’ve made just by being involved in our platform.
When you come to one of our events you can get a free shoe shine, a free haircut, and you can have a successful day! We offer those services free of charge because we know that when you look good you also feel good, and that helps you to perform well.
Success is not a doorway - it's a staircase. It takes one step at a time, one meeting at a time, and one day at a time. You have to take the steps to reach success. You can't just walk into it."
What’s something unique about your offering that not a lot of people know, but that you wish more people did know?
I wish more people knew that we have a lot of resources in-house. I want more people to know what we do and how we do it. We’re about connecting individuals. It’s about going past just the first name, and knowing how they think or what they’re working on. We want our community to know what each other’s end game goals are so they can help each other out. Part of all that is simply knowing what services everyone provides. For example, a lot of people don’t know that I’m a cobbler because I wear suits, but if you get to know me and we build a relationship, that opens up more opportunity for both of us. There’s a power in that. 2017 is a P.O.W.E.R. year, and our next event is the P.O.W.E.R. Mixer. That stands for…
P - Purpose-Driven
O - Opportunity Chasers
W - Willing To Go Solo
E - Energetic
R - Relationship Builders
When you come to one of our mixers you can know that there are P.O.W.E.R. people in the room, and we’re all following that mantra. We’re looking to create a culture of more P.O.W.E.R. people.
What are some business challenges you have run into that you weren’t previously aware of, and how have you overcome them?
There are challenges every single day, but I look forward to them. I like to get a hundred “No’s” a day, because that means I’m out there looking for the one “Yes” that will make a difference. There are plenty of things I’ve had to learn. Knowing how to build a website, certain tax codes, how and when to promote on social media, tons of things that I didn’t initially know. However, by tapping into my network I’ve been able to make the group and team a lot stronger.
I also truly believe in positivity. A random text message saying “Keep up the good work!” really means a lot. That helps you move forward. Every single day is a challenge, but I like to say that, “If there’s not a challenge to it, then it’s not worth doing it.
What’s some of the best advice that you have received about entrepreneurship?
Some of the best advice I’ve received was from an attendee of one of our mixers. His name is Leonard Mack, and he has his own sauce business called Mack & Pepper Sauce. What he told me was, “You can take this mixer that you’ve had here in the neighborhood and have it in the convention center.” That was a great piece of positive reinforcement. I’ve also had a number of mentors that send words of encouragement, telling me to keep up the good work and to continue to think with the end in mind. More recently some of the best advice I’ve heard is that, "Success is not a doorway - it’s a stairway. It takes one step at a time, one meeting at a time, and one day at a time. You have to take the steps to reach success. You can’t just walk into it."
How do you continue to learn about your industry and self-educate?
I like to read. Right now I’m re-reading the book Machiavelli “The Prince.” I’m also reading “The Law of Success” by Napoleon Hill. Another book that’s one of my favorites is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. I also like to watch the news, and check out different news channels. From Fox News ,to CNBC, or KUSI. I like to keep my education diverse, and be a diverse thinker. I don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and I like to relationship build. It’s about keeping my saw sharp. I’m keeping myself aligned with my one hundred year plan. I have a one hundred year plan that I wrote a while ago, and I like to keep aligned with that plan and purpose.
What do you see as the future of Young Black and ‘N Business?
The future is to create a model here in San Diego that we can then implement in other cities such as Chicago, Orlando, or Atlanta. We’ll be bringing a platform for young entrepreneurs in these cities to get exposure, and to share in the one hundred year plan. We want to create an entire culture around Young Black and ‘N Business. We want to catch aspiring entrepreneurs at a young age and help them move forward, and before you know it they’ll have their own old money. At that point they can teach the next generation how to do things like open up a checking and savings account, how to get a credit card, how to leverage your network, and how to be resourceful. So it’s about creating that business culture for everyone involved. We’ll eventual want to spread the model nationally, and then globally after that. That way we’ll have both an economic and political impact for positive change.
What’s some advice that you would provide to others who are looking to execute on an idea and turn it into a business?
I hate to be redundant, but P.O.W.E.R.! You’ve gotta be purpose-driven, an opportunity chaser, willing to go solo, energetic, and a relationship builder. Beyond that I’d like to share the ten most powerful two-letter words in the world, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” When you’re an entrepreneur that means it’s up to you! If you’re lazy, your business is gonna be lazy. If you’re motivated and driven, then your business will be the same. You also want to be part of a good team and be a good team member. Good team members are the people that bring resources, ideas, and solutions. Bad team members are the people who you have to constantly tell what to do, where to go, and how to be. That’s dead weight. So you want to both be and be with good team members. Associate with people who are driven to be even better than what you’ve imagined is possible. That will keep pushing you further toward success. Also, write all of your goals down. That will keep you accountable.
Where can we find and follow you?
Company Website: https://www.youngblackandinbusiness.com/
Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ybandnb/
Company Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ybandnb/
Direct Number: (619) 665-3031
I'd like to thank Roosevelt Williams III for taking time out to tell us the story of himself and his company Young Black and 'N Business. We support platforms that are centered around the growth and prosperity of aspiring entrepreneurs, and look forward to attending more P.O.W.E.R. mixer events. What do you think of Young Black and 'N Business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Company Profile - Fiesta Ziesta
By Lamin Turay
After interviewing Alejandro Ramirez (the Founder of Fiesta Ziesta) about his personal journey and perspective as an entrepreneur, I felt it only right to dig a bit deeper and unpack the details of his company itself. What I found while executing this company profile interview is a layered company with a strong focus on corporate social responsibility as well as the advancement of its artisan and manufacturing partners. Alejandro has built not only a quality product company, but also a platform for the growth of makers from all over the world. Through the company's mission many will be able to flourish within the Fiesta Ziesta family. Alejandro and I were able to discuss the overall structure and direction of his company. Here's how our conversation went...
What is the mission and/or vision of Fiesta Ziesta?
The mission is to grow the company while supporting our artisans, those who handcraft that products we sell. We’re working to provide as many handcrafted products as possible to our customers, while also contributing ten percent of all net profits to paying for, developing, and providing education opportunities for our artisans. We’ll be creating scholarships and support systems that enable our artisans to grow in their careers and, hopefully, provide similar opportunities for others in the future. A lot of these guys have been working in this particular trade for many generations. They may not have any other skills aside from creating these specific products. We believe in offering them the chance to go to school and learn more about fabrics, techniques, and equipment. It’s a chance for them to gain an understanding of contemporary product development.
As the company grows are you seeking more artisans to work with? Where do you look for new talent?
We’re open to working with artisans from across the globe. We want to help them from the ground up. Things like the provision of more and better looms are something we’re already working on. If we’re talking current day specifics, we are supporting and working with primarily Mexican artisans. That being my own cultural background, I feel it’s a great way to give back. It’s become a business-driving goal for us.
What is uniquely valuable about the products that Fiesta Ziesta offers?
Let’s talk about the beach blankets first. Those are our flagship products. They're a multi-functional product that you can use in many different scenarios. You can roll them up into a bag form, they have a shoulder strap for easy carrying, and there’s a pocket built in where you can store your phone or car keys. The blankets are great for picnics, you can also use them at a music festival, some of our customers even use them as a table cloth or runner. I’ve even received messages about our customers using them as decoration on their couch or walls. They’re very versatile.
We also have the Mexican hoodies and our dog collars. Those are made different, we have great designs and better quality than any counterpart you’d find on the market. Our hoodies are constructed using recycled fibers; a combination of cotton, polyester, and spandex. They represent a sustainable product. They’re also super soft and have a fleece lining. Usually Mexican hoodies are made of wool. That makes them heavy and itchy. Ours are much more versatile, they’re more than a souvenir, they’re something you want to wear. The dog collars are unique in their own way too. They’re a combination of high quality leather and knitted fabric. We offer them in a variety of vibrant colors that reflect the beach and outdoor lifestyle.
Where are your product materials sourced from?
Everything is sourced from Mexico. A lot of materials come from a town near Mexico City. The beach blankets come from a little town in Oaxaca, while the dog collars are produced in a small town in South Mexico.
How does Fiesta Ziesta select the artisans that it works with to create the company’s products?
Trade shows have been very helpful. We met two of our artisans at a trade show in Mexico. Myself and my mom actually flew to one of the artisans home towns. We had lunch with the family, and made a really great connection. We are partners and good friends. They showed us their house and the other artisans that they are connected with. We got to see exactly where the product would be produced. We like to interact with our team and make sure we have happy workers. It was a very intelligent setup. They’re modernized, they have cell phones, internet, and are computer savvy. Sometimes technology can be a real challenge working with native artisans. A lot of them are very traditional and want nothing to do with modern tech.
One of the hardest parts of running this business has been finding quality artisans that are also understanding when it comes to modern business practices. It’s also a matter of trust. We want to work with artisans that have a desire to be a partner, and see this enterprise grow. Right now we’re working with a rotating roster of about fifteen artisans, and as I mentioned previously, the goal is to grow enough to produce enough demand for them to be full-time Fiesta Ziesta creators. We want to support them 100% through this company.
We like to interact with our team, and make sure we have happy workers."
How would you describe the company culture at Fiesta Ziesta?
We’re a lifestyle brand. On the surface it’s about enjoying life whether you're indoors or outdoors, and having versatile products that you can take with you on any adventure. Internally we’re about supporting our team, and designing products that break the mold. We want to change people’s expectations around the Mexican beach blanket and Mexican hoodie. Even the dog collars are the result of challenging the status quo. Our products are multi-function and should be used in a lot of different scenarios. We want to make sure that Fiesta Ziesta looks, and is viewed as different. In these days people have a bad impression about Mexican products (cheap and bad quality) and we want to show the world the opposite. It’s not your classic or typical Mexican product company. Our designs come from the result of a lot of computer and traditional research and development, as well as field testing by our team, friends, and customers. The commitment to being different while focusing on quality for the end-user is what makes us unique in this space.
How do you decide what products will be offered to that end-user?
It’s definitely been a learning process since we’ve been in business. Some products have worked, and some have not. The beach blankets, dog collars, and hoodies have proven themselves and are our go-to offerings at this point in time. We used to offer hammocks, but they proved to be more of a challenge to sell. We like to keep our ear to the ground, and listen to what the customers are saying. We read reviews, comments, and social messages and even get ideas from our following.
The process for developing new products from start to finish is pretty complex. Typically the type of artisan that we work with will specialize in creating one very specific product. It’s one of the reasons we’re able to trust the quality of our goods. However, it also presents a challenge because we have to find multiple artisans to craft the entire line of our offerings. Since everything is handmade, sometimes we may not be able to offer a product that’s sold out or in high demand. It’s a supply and demand game that we have to constantly try to stay ahead of.
We go to the trade shows in Mexico and other locations to meet with, and get to know our artisans in order to vet them for partnership. We want to know that we’re creating products with individuals who care about the environment. Who do things like use recycled fibers, or sustainable methods in their craft. They also have to deliver on time. It’s a standard that we feel makes our brand more responsible.
What is the Fiesta Ziesta product experience?
Our customers should expect high quality product all the time. They should also feel good that they are supporting a community of makers who produce goods with their hands. Finally, they are getting versatile, multi-function goods that offer a wide array of utility. Our hoodies & ponchos for instance, are perfect for fair weather snowboarding in the mountains. They look super unique up there among the bright colored snow gear. We also offer product for the beach when you’re hanging out around the bonfire. It’s an all-season company. We’re trying to communicate that through our messaging on social media. We have pictures and videos of people enjoying the product indoors and outdoors. It’s a useful way of conveying our brand identity.
How does Fiesta Ziesta give back?
Creating consistent jobs for our artisans has been a big part of us giving back to the culture and community from which our products have been conceived. Again, after we’ve reached a point of considerable growth we’ll be providing ten percent of the company’s net profit to the education programs for those artisans as well. Aside from that, we’re creating friends! Friendship and connection is a huge deal in this business. You need to have a great relationship with your suppliers and also your customers. It’s part of the ecosystem of quality that we wish to exude.
We also pay close attention to the pulse of the customer voice. We check out all of the reviews across many different websites and try to learn from them. We listen to what the customers think about the products whether it be the construction, the design, the features, or the prices. In the future we’ll be offering a loyalty program as a way of showing our appreciation. Right now we offer seasonal discounts as well as discounts to students, or people who have already purchased our products.
Why does the world need a company like Fiesta Ziesta?
The world needs a lot of companies like Fiesta Ziesta, not just one. Things are rapidly changing, and there are a lot of topical issues related to the environment that make people more choosy about where they spend their hard-earned money. People, especially in California, are much more concerned with things like recycling, not wasting water, using their car less and less, eating organic foods, and buying products that they know are supporting socially responsible practices. That’s something that we support now, and will continue support moving forward.
Who are some companies or individuals that you would like to partner with to grow this business?
Right now we have a strong focus in San Diego, California. I recently met the owner of a company called Sun Bum, a sunscreen company. We discussed partnering with them to produce a line of beach blankets that may be co-branded. We’re also very interested in selling our products in hotels and resorts in the local San Diego community. We’re very much looking forward to partnering with resorts large or small to do private label r collaborative product sales. Finally, we’d love to continue down the music festival route. We’ve been to great music festivals like Kaboo, and would love to have a presence at a festival like Coachella or Stagecoach. That would be a great opportunity for partnership, and perhaps create product with their logo that they can then distribute to their audience. Action sports is another realm we’re looking into with a keen eye.
Where will this company be five years from now?
We’ll extend our online sales globally. We’ve already had some international sales, but we’d really like to expand that portion of the business. We have some touch in Canada and Europe, but it would be great to distribute to South America and Asia as well. That’s where we want to be from an online perspective. After that we will place a strong focus on wholesale. We want to sell our products into some large accounts. That might be boutiques, surf shops, or even hotels and resorts. Eventually we’ll want to open up our own retail shops. Having gained experience in the online and wholesale space should help us when we open the doors to our own brick & mortar locations
We look forward to the day that Alejandro cuts the ribbon on his first Fiesta Ziesta physical retail location. Learn more about this company on their website or follow them on social media for timely updates and fresh content. Let us know what you think about how Alejandro runs Fiesta Ziesta, the company's mission, and what the future holds in the comments below.