Who are you and what do you do? My name is Tiara Slater, CEO of Queen Designs, LLC. I am a Graphic Designer/Digital Illustrator, with a BS degree in Graphic Design (yup, I went to school for graphics and I’m living my daily life through graphics :)) I graduated from the illustrious North Carolina A&T State University in May 2016.
What inspired/motivated you to create your business?
Straight out of college, I knew I wanted to continue in the graphic design field. At first I just wanted to work for a firm and become an Art Director; however when God blesses you with a vision, you have to run with it in order to fulfil your purpose. The following year after my graduation, I decided I wanted to start my own Graphic Design business where I cater to clients who wants any print and/or branding designs. I received my LLC in January 2017 and landed my first Graphic Design position in April 2017 with Azer Creative/the Washington Blade. Being at Azer was a new experience for me. Though I’ve worked at many places where I was the only black girl, this environment was like no other. Having uncomfortable conversations that I never really had to have or being asked questions that I wasn’t too sure about. It made me not only want to find these answers, but to dig deeper into my culture. I had a revelation! That’s when Black is Gold digital illustrations came into the picture. Black is Gold was created not only to uplift myself, but to empower and encourage my fellow Kings & Queens around me. I wanted to create a series that would touch the lives of so many black people. The purpose of this platform is to encourage the black community to never dim your light because of what others can’t handle! We were created golden and great and we must continue to live our lives as such. This series is also to promote entrepreneurship and believing in your dreams. If you can vision it, it can come into a reality, only if you believe.
Do you feel being black has been a barrier in anyway during your career and setting up and running your business? Well, I’m only really 2 years in as a business so I haven’t really came across any obstacles with that just yet. Only because my audience is black people. I vend at black events or events where black culture is praised. But I definitely believe as my business grows and becomes more recognisable, I’ll most likely have more haters and situations where my skin colour and my gender will block some opportunities.
What advice would you give others wanting to start a business? Or rise up through the ranks?
First things first, START IT! I don’t care how experienced who think you’re not, or if your support system is not that great, or even if your income isn’t where you want it to be. All 3 I just named were my situations, but I still started. That’s all you have to do, is give God a yes and I promise you He will guide you along the way. It’s not easy. There will be plenty of times where you want to give up because you may not see progression, or you might be stuck, or you’re comparing yourself to others. But don’t give up!! Just remember you came this far to quit now. You don’t want to live a life of what-if…that’s the worst thought to have. And for me what helps me continue on, is the lives that I’ve already touched. The messages that I receive about how my art inspires them and helps them out of their situations. It makes me soooooo proud of myself and helps me to keep going. I have so many other lives to touch, I’m only getting started.
What have you learnt on your journey as a business owner? I’ve learned several things as a business owner. You’re going to spend A LOT of money at first to see any profit. I’m actually still in the phase. Having a business is about trial and errors. Theres no perfect way to do anything. What works for some people might not work for you. So try best solutions for you and what works for your business.You have to be your own cheerleader. A lot of times you won’t have somebody in your corner cheering you on (this is where the thoughts of “am I good enough?” comes crashing in). Think about where you’ve come from and where you’re going. Read more inspirational books, watch motivational speakers/coaches, and even saving and rereading memes/affirmations always helps me. Promotion is everythinggggggg. Whether it be social media, networking or word of mouth. Always promote your business. (I’m actually still learning this as well lol). Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. In order for us to grow, we have to be in uncomfortable situations. Talk to that person, apply for that grant, get that job to help fund your business, network at that event, showcase your art at that show, etc.
What has been the toughest challenge being your own boss? Being in such a high position?
I think the toughest challenge for me right now would be juggling so many clients and customers by myself. I don’t really have any help as far as employees who can assist me. It’s just me at the moment. I could really use an assistant.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
The best thing about being my own boss is definitely creating WHATEVER I want. Ahhh it feels so good! I don’t have to run it by an Art Director. I can just be as creative as I want and show it. If people like it, they like it, if they don’t, they don’t. But I get a chance to voice my opinion and display my true thoughts in my designs. I may get criticised, but at the end of the day art is subjective.
In those times where you feel like giving up what do you do to carry on? As mentioned before, what helps me continue on is the lives that I’ve already touched. The messages that I receive about how my art inspires them and helps them out of their situations. It makes me soooooo proud of myself and helps me to keep going. I have so many other lives to touch, I’m only getting started. Also, looking at motivational coaches (like Coach Stormy or Dr. Vanetta Rather) and affirmations help me to carry on as well.
What are you reading/watching right now?
I loveeeeee reading…now lol. Believe it or not, I use to HATE reading. But this year, I created a vision board for my life this entire year, and one of the many things on it was to read 1 book every month. I’m actually surpass that goal. I’ve read like 11 books so far. Right now, I’m reading this book called ‘The Breaking to Brilliance’ which is a collection of stories from 15 phenomenal women, sharing their journeys of difficult times they’ve encountered and how they’ve overcame them.
How is building a business in America? America has offered me so many opportunities and opened a lot of doors for me. Of course, there are hardships with being black in America, but that only pushes me to want to create and fight for my people more.
Do you feel there is a women's revolution coming as more women set up and run their own businesses and is it a good and is this a good thing?
There is definitely a women’s revolution and I love it!!!! When I vend at these events, its mostly female owned businesses. I think it’s super inspirational to see so many women putting themselves first and accomplishing their goals. Decades ago, women had to put their careers on hold and risk their happiness for their families. Now…women are choosing them! I think this is absolutely a beautiful movement because it’s teaching young girls that they too can accomplish their goals and at the same time have a family. We can have it all!
What does the future hold for your business? Black is Gold will become internationally known. I believe that with all my heart. I will continue to encourage and reach the black community with my artwork. And hopefully, God willing, I can travel the world and spread positiveness with other entrepreneurs/future entrepreneurs and young females.
Seven random facts about yourself 1. I daydream a lot
2. I love to read at the park
3. I loveeeeeee food.
All kinds of food. My top 3 favourite food genres are 1. Thai 2. Mexican 3. Caribbean
4. I love to laugh. I probably laugh more than the average adult in a day lmao!
5. I hate when people smack!!! While eating, chewing gum, anything. It’s a gross sound.
6. According to Myers Briggs personality test, I’m 60% extrovert and 40% introvert (soooo true). And I am a protagonist, which basically means I am born leader and I’m sensitive to the feelings and needs of others. The main characteristic of a protagonist is the desire to make the world a better place. Sounds like me right? 🤣
7. I talk to myself and God a lot.
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