In 2016, small businesses have arrived.
When the economic recession of 2008 hit, the dream of graduating from college and waltzing into a cushy career was shattered. Jobs became scarce, and competition more feirce. Suddenly, folks in the 18-40 year-old range found themselves at a turning point – either compete for jobs with lower wages and little to no upward mobility, or go out on a limb and transform their passion and ideas into thriving businesses.
For the ambitious spirit, fulfilling the need to “just go for it” far outweighs the potential drawbacks of entrepreneurship or even worse – utilizing the best of one’s own talents to fulfill someone else’s dream. And the numbers back it up – more companies are starting up and thriving than shutting down. This is a trend that hasn’t been seen since 2007 . And to top it all off, some forecasters believe that more than 50% of all workers will be self-employed by 2020.
In that same vein we find Brie, newbie entrepreneur and co-owner of the brand Breezy Tees. With no job, no apartment, and no friends, New York bred Brie packed her belongings and headed for Spain, following her dream to move to Europe. She admits it was a gamble – but she also believed firmly in the validity of her dream. There was no reason to not go after it. With that same determination, she co-founded Breezy Tee just over a year ago in May of 2015. Her business is now on the fast track to success, and headed toward making a lasting impact in the international natural hair community.
4cHairChicks had the opportunity to chat with Brie, and dig deep – we’re talking about the ups and downs in business, navigating naysayers, and long-term visions. Asking the real questions and appreciating Brie for keeping it 100, and letting the 4cHC crew inside the mind of an entrepreneur in the natural hair space.
Who owns Breezy Tee, and where is it based?
B: Me and my husband – we own it together. Right now we’re based in Portugal – right outside of Lisbon. That’s where we live.
When did you initially have the idea for Breezy Tee?
B: Two and a half years ago, I met my husband and moved to Portugal. There was nowhere in Portugal to get my relaxers done, so one day I Just decided to big chop…and I started learning about my hair. In learning about my hair, I found out that I should be using t-shirts to dry my hair. I literally jumped out of the shower one day, found tee, shirt, cut it up, and sewed it together – trying to make something cooler and classier than an old t-shirt.
What makes Breezy Tee different from other towel brands?
We’re more than just towels. We’re accessories. My love of accessories goes back a long time. We knew from the very beginning that our brand wouldn’t be just towels. It was always in our plan to branch out and do other things. Branch out and do other things. But the difference with our towel – everything I saw [on the market] was microfiber fabric….I tried microfiber. I didn’t like it – my hair still got caught in the towel. With this towel, we thought we had an opportunity…with something familiar that people knew. We just had to convince them…and show them how healthy the towel could be.
Most of our products are 2 in 1 – people wear them as a towel [for drying] and as a head wrap. Some people even wear them to bed. They’re not heavy – they [the towels] feel like an extension of your hair. The same is true for the beanies. Everything has two functions. And when we really looked at it – we didn’t have much competition. Most hair towels are white, and we have color and print options
How do you recommend people use the Breezy Tee towel?
Plopping is gaining traction, and our towels are great for that. Use it like you would your terrycloth towel – but you don’t have to move it all around your hair. Because it’s so absorbent, it’s just a matter of squeezing the water from your hair, putting it on, and doing what you need to do. You won’t be weighed down by a heavy towel on your head.
From inception to fruition; how long did it take to get Breezy Tee off the ground?
When I want something, I’m full steam ahead. A couple of weeks following the idea for Breezy tee, we were rolling. I got a sewing machine, practiced for a couple of months, and then we started making the towels ourselves…we opened online May 3rd, 2015.
Thinking back through it all- what is the single biggest challenge you’ve faced in the process of getting Breezy Tee off the ground?
The biggest challenge has been asking people to think in a different way than they’ve been thinking. Changing minds is a difficult thing. People have been using terrycloth towels forever – [we] just had to convince them like, hey – you wouldn’t use sandpaper to smooth your skin.
What do you say to naturalistas who say, “what’s the difference between this and a t-shirt”?
[Laughs] I’ve asked myself this question before. I can’t argue that fact, obviously you can use a t-shirt. But I feel like, no, I deserve something better than a cut up t-shirt. Why not treat myself to something nice?
From where you are looking back what has been the most rewarding part of your journey with this brand?
I’m proud of where we’ve come in this year. We’ve been profiled by Afrobella, Huffington Post…it’s been a really eye-opening good journey. I’m learning a lot from other black business owners – learning so much about business from them. Between bags and hair products, I’m really looking forward to where Breezy Tee is headed. I’m excited about our future.
If you had the opportunity to start over what is one thing you’d do different?
I genuinely don’t live in regret. I’m a believer that where I am now is a result of where I was before. It happened how it was supposed to happen.
Where do you see Breezy Tee 5 years from now? 10 years from now?
For us, we would like to be around the world. I got so much from women about natural hair, I really wanted to give back to the movement – that means a lot to me. Women helped me, filled me with pride to know that we can help women. Want to help women everywhere. Want to reach as many people as possible
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’m one of the people who believes you should be passionate about what you do. Do your homework. Make sure there’s a market for your idea. Make sure it’s something that can resonate with people. Read up and constantly learn about the industry you’re in. It looks fun on Instagram, but that’s not the reality. Don’t just assume you’re going to take the world by storm. Make realistic goals and own your space.
To learn more about Brie and the Breezy Tee brand, visit www.breezytee.com