We had the good fortune of connecting with Jamila Lake and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jamila, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The thought process behind starting my business actually came from my mother. Like many creatives, having the support and admiration of family and friends is enough gratification. However, the thought of having my products out in the world for others to critique was a little nerve-wrecking.
Instinctively, mothers always want the best for their child, never wishing for fear to rule their lives. Her only worry was that she didn’t want me to have any regrets in my old age. So with a nice, swift kick in the butt, I started YellowBagDesigns.
Why the business name, YellowBagDesigns??
Well, all the original names on my list were taken…go figure.
It’s kind of interesting how I came up with the business name. My mom and I were driving to work; she has since retired, but that fateful day was her day to drive, which gave me the opportunity to fill out the sales tax/business name application. Yellow is my absolute favorite color! One can’t help but smile when they see something yellow right? My purse was sitting in my lap and as I made the most important decision of my life, I kept affirming to myself that I make some pretty cool jewelry designs!
Thus, I placed ‘Yellow’, ‘purse’ & ‘designs’ together. However, YellowPurseDesigns didn’t quite roll off the tongue as nice, so I interchanged purse for bag, and YellowBagDesigns was born!
YellowBagDesigns started as a wire wrapped jewelry company and my designs were extremely wild and whimsical! Throughout the years, I’ve continually added new products to my collection and recently found a new medium to create with (resin) and became completely enamored! With this inclusion, my resin inspired jewelry & home decor pieces emerged consisting of geode resin trays, wine bottle stoppers, napkin ring holders & door knobs. In addition, I also added air freshener/aromatherapy products to the line which include incense sticks, room/linen sprays, fragrance burning oils, fruit/floral wax sachets and coming soon, a reed diffuser line.
In retrospect, I often ask myself with all the success and failures I’ve experienced if I would do it all over again? The answer is, without a doubt, a resounding YES!
Being an entrepreneur has been the best teacher of patience, perseverance, and understanding. Although I have experienced many setbacks and disappointments in this venture, those lessons made me a stronger person in all facets of my life. What has helped me grow even stronger has been the love and support I’ve received from fellow entrepreneurs; their guidance and expertise have played a key role in my success, which I truly appreciate.
I will forever be grateful for this journey!
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What am I most proud of?? I’m most proud of all the highs, and even the lows of running a small business. The outside world may often look at those who consider themselves entrepreneurs to not be special if they don’t reach a certain level of material gain. To them, success is acquiring fame along with a substantial amount of money in the bank but not everyone measures success by these metrics. Now, at some point do I wish to make it big, at least my idea of big, absolutely! But I believe your perception of success should be your own, and not influenced by what others impose upon you.
Creating brings me so much joy! I think as a child, I was always drawn to the arts; from drawing, sewing, art & crafts to creating jewelry, it is such a delight seeing a finish product. I wake up and go to sleep thinking about my business! She is my baby….next to my four-legged mini schnauzer (haha).
I remember the first few sales I received when I started, and it was the best feeling in the world! With every creation, I aspire to bring that same level of excitement and joy when the customer either wears or places one of my creations in their home.
For anyone interested in joining this entrepreneur world, my advice to you is to have fun above all else! NEVER lose that aspect! When it becomes a job and the fun dissipates, the creativity won’t flow. Also, the best lessons I’ve learned throughout the years is that not everyone will be a customer/fan and not every idea needs to make an appearance. These were and still are very hard pills to swallow. As creatives. we naturally want everything we touch to turn to gold, but that’s not realistic. When thinking of products to incorporate, they need to make sense to your brand. Remember, “don’t waste money before you do the research”.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Due to the climate we are currently in, going out to the typical hang out spots will look drastically different than what we’re used to. However, because my bestie knows I’m a super home-body who doesn’t mind the occasional outing, I would definitely have them visit The Spice Suite & Donut Run, which has the best vegan donuts I’ve ever tasted! You will be completely shocked they’re vegan! For a little thrill and child-like behavior, we would definitely hit up a go-kart track! The DMV is famously known to have the best restaurants to satisfy any palate! With that in mind, we would visit Taqueria Fresca for some great tacos (shrimp & fish for me since I’m a pescatarian), Weakness for Sweetness for some much needed Caribbean food and Ruby’s Southern Kitchen for the most flavorful Shrimp & Grits!
After we were good and stuffed, we would of course do some much needed retail therapy! But who am I kidding, retail therapy would probably be an everyday thing (haha).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shout out to my lovely mother for the most wonderful kick in the butt (lol), my father, brother and dearest friends for their continued love and support; my father and brother for being the muscle I needed to help me out during outdoor pop-up events which entailed toting tables, props, tents and products; my customers for all their continued support and last but not least, the awesome group of black owned women entrepreneurs that I’m proud to be a part of called the Spicegirlin’ squad, assembled by none other than Angel, owner of The Spice Suite in Washington, DC! Be sure to check Angel out on IG @thespicesuite and the Spicegirlin’ squad on IG @spicegirlin.