Chicago, IL, US
Today I am extremely excited to share an interview with amazing Kyla S. – the CEO of Bondoogle Buddys, a Handcrafted Accessory Boutique business. She is also a medical assistant studying to become a pediatrician.
Starting at a fairly young age, she would craft keychains just for fun. Little did she know that this would lead to developing a very successful business venture. She developed her skill by crafting more and was able to master basic stitches and move to more complex ones. That and the great feedback she got from her target audience were crucial in getting her hobby to grow into a successful business.
Since starting her business, Kyla has managed to gain over 1K followers on Instagram without using any ads, got featured in podcast interviews, experienced major sales and has new products dropping every week. She continues to grow, spread peace and gain new Buddies every day.
Read along to see how you can also turn your hobby into a successful business.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED?
I am Kyla S., the 24yr. old CEO of The Handcrafted Accessory Boutique, Bondoogle Buddys. We are black-owned, woman-owned and operated. I currently run my business solely myself, while continuing to work as a medical assistant and studying to become a pediatrician. I’ve always loved to read, craft, and write as forms of relaxation. Unbeknownst to me, a hidden passion was always there for a certain craft.
My skills with “boondoggle” started at a young age during summer camp. I first started crafting keychains just for fun! Little did I know I would circulate back to this craft to help me relax in my adult years. As my life’s responsibilities increased, I found myself crafting in the car, at school, at work during breaks, really anytime I could. At this point, it was apparent this was a definite hobby of mine.
The more I crafted, the more my skill developed. I was able to master basic stitches, successfully try more intricate stitches, while also continuing to learn even higher-skilled designs. Crafting for me soon blossomed from a hobby into a full-blown business, where I was able to craft jewelry, accessories, makeup kits, and much more; all in addition to my basis of keychains. Couple that with my natural customer service skills, my ability to connect with others, and my willingness to please all current and potential clients; thus Bondoogle Buddys was born!
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.
The best way to summarize how I launched my business was really a determination. I woke up one morning after thinking over months on how to turn my hobby into something bigger and just decided to “get it done”. I started very basic, with a free FB profile and page for my business, free IG business page, and an Etsy website (social media really is a comfort zone thankfully for growing up in the “technology” era). I had an arsenal full of keychains, basic friendship bracelets, and rings, so I felt I was ready to launch my products. I came up with my business name very easily, “Bondoogle” relating to the basis of the type of craft I’m doing, which many know as different names (boondoggle, gimp, etc.) and “Buddys” because I’m a friendly person, I like to think of all of my clients as buddys as we do personalize, cater to, and assist all of our clients from start to finish. Allowing the ability for our clients to become creative in their own unique way. They will always walk away knowing they are hand-cared for. I was blessed enough to have a great support system and awesome feedback from my target audience! I was ecstatic to say the least. I was able to gain my first few sales on Etsy until my boutique inventory began to increase. This increase in skill and a huge range of products caused me to seek a bigger website platform to better target my audience and of course, grow more sales. I was lead to Shopify ($30/month) to which I was able to purchase my own domain name ($14) and finally advertise my business website: BondoogleBuddys.com!
Not only did I have my business name in the forefront whenever a client was looking up anything “bondoogle” related, but my Instagram following continues to authentically grow to over 1K and counting (yay!), my Facebook engagements and following is constant, and my twitter interactions are increasing steadily. This was all done without Facebook or Instagram ads (just hard work, consistent positing, great customer service, and trial & error). I say all of that to say this; it didn’t take me $1000s of dollars to start my own business (it wasn’t completely free either! I had some inventory, I did have to pay for my website and other things), I was blessed enough to have some guidance from business owners within my personal circle and great Facebook business groups (so utilize your free resources, ask questions), and with a lot of determination starting your business is literally an “epiphany” away!
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?
A typical day at Bondoogle Buddys consists of saying “good morning” or some type of welcoming message in the morning to get my followers engaged. Next, either post a product, engaging question, etc. (see our “Self-Care Sunday’s” on Facebook for more detailed examples). Then, fulfill any orders, assist clients, answer any inquiries, while also updating ALL other social media platforms.
I try to pre-plan when I’m going to send out emails to customers (I use utilize Mail Chimp and Privy within Shopify; both are free!) to assist with getting promos, important information, product updates, etc to my clients. Lastly, I prepare for the next day to engage with my audience.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?
I would say my biggest achievement thus far is being able to get such a positive response on my handcrafted accessories while maintaining that authenticity in growth and in interactions with clients and other entrepreneurs.
WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?
I used a combination of things for my strategy to grow my business. One of the 1st things I did was developed my business plan. I set up yearly and monthly goals (product goals, adding inventory, upgrading a feature, increasing my following, increasing sales and profits), I also set up a budget tracker, to track sales, profits and losses, and business expenses.
Something I believe in, in my personal and business life is customer service is key! Our main goal and aspiration is to spread peace through our handcrafted method, which is why it’s so easy to put our client’s needs and ideals first. Each item is uniquely crafted in a way that can’t be replicated. We pride ourselves on always providing top quality additions to our client’s everyday life.
We also believe in celebrating our customers often, so we do free giveaways (on Instagram), coupons (through our emails) and “Self-Care Sunday’s”, which is a motivation post dedicated to encouraging, informing, and promoting self-love. This is done every Sunday (check out our self-care Sunday’s on Facebook EVERY Sunday)!
As mentioned before, Bondoogle Buddys is solely owned and operated and all products are all handcrafted solely by me (Kyla S. CEO).
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?
My business is currently in a flourishing growing period! We have over 1K followers on Instagram, some podcast interviews, major growth in sales, new products dropping every week, and much more.
We have a goal of making over 5K followed by the end of this year, be on the lookout for some celebrity clients being added to our “BonBabez” on Instagram, and some adding of influencers (I have several inquiries now, please email us or contact us via any social media if you would like to be a BonBabe influencer) and our 1st major event, hosted by our CEO. In the near future, we will be turning from an online boutique to a brick and mortar business as well! (That’s the biggest goal of all).
We continue to grow, spread peace, and gain new Buddys every day! I’m so excited about the future of Bondoogle Buddys.
RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS
PLEASE RECOMMEND ANY RESOURCES AND TOOLS THAT YOU USE TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS.
Etsy (free to start, but will charge per product),
Shopify (free to start, I chose the $30/month plan; use Privy within Shopify to help with email set up and having email sign up on your website).
Social Media apps:
Some Customer Service tips:
When conversing, networking and responding to potential clients.
Maintain a professional tone
In person, through messaging, and on the phone.
Seek to give more than you receive
Focus on what you “can do” to help your customers.
Speaking from a product-based business standpoint, your clients are your business!!
Be more than willing and happy to help in all aspects you can. Be diligent.
Be open and honest. If you promise something, get it done.
Be upfront about any mishaps or shortcomings on your business side. Inventory tip:
Keep inventory refreshed for the upcoming season!
If you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BUSINESS BOOKS, PODCASTS OR BLOGS?
Some resources I’ve gained some great business knowledge from are:
“Black Women, Small business owners” group on Facebook,
The entrepreneur Gary Vee (Gary Vaynerchuk) on Instagram,
The podcast “Drink Champs” by Noreaga.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Start the business!!
This is the hardest step, get out of your own way and just start the business. Don’t expect support from anyone!
Expectations are personal standards, not many may abide by. Those who are meant for your business will support! Stay consistent!
Even if you have 0 likes, 0 followers, 0 purchases, I promise you I was there, the growth will come! Just stay motivated. Find daily inspiration!
Remember why you started your business, the plan you have for its future, and stay inspired.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WOULD HAVE ONLY $100 TO START A BUSINESS?
I would definitely start a business with $100 because I have already! My current business was started with less than $100, so it’s very possible.
I would sell and promote!
I would sell (get my inventory together) and any websites (using a free trial 1st) and promote (by using an IG influencer as some of them have great prices, or if you’re more into the Facebook ads those are definitely priced well as well)!
Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!
If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.
By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.
If you are interested to share your own story on the Biz Ladies LET ME KNOW!