ABOVE PHOTO: Products from “Danaé”. (Photos courtesy: Danaé Reid)
By Danaé Reid
Danette Reid, my mother, was the first example I had of what a Black woman could be and what one person could create. Because of her, I never placed any limitations on what I could achieve. Because of my personality, I’ve naturally never shied away from the challenge of creation, and because of my parents’ unyielding support, I never had to be afraid to fall.
My mother has owned her own insurance agency for as long as I can recall, but in 2016 she shocked us all when she announced that she planned to start yet another small business that had absolutely nothing to do with insurance. The woman that I’d seen in such a technical light — that included countless two-piece suits, figures and expensive terminology — was now adding handmade greeting card creations into the fold.
Prior to the debut of her business, Jewel Inspired, I’d never seen my mother outwardly express any sincere desire to create, so the news of this new endeavor took me by surprise. However, I found her courage and willingness to jump into such untapped territory to be extremely admirable and brave — so much so, that in the years following, her passion birthed in me a desire to create something unique that I enjoyed and could monetize as well.
Growing up, I was fully aware that I had all the makings of an entrepreneur. I was vastly creative, advanced in art, great at talking, and even better at the art of persuasion. I vividly remember the days when my brother and I would walk up and down our street with a wagon, trying to sell our second-hand books to strangers walking by, or the kids that would come knocking on my parents’ door asking for my brother and I because they wanted to buy bottled water (which my parents didn’t know they were supplying), or even sneaking Halloween candy into our pencil cases to sell to our classmates the next day during lunch and recess.
The love of having money in our pockets is what drove my brother and I to continue to sell whatever we could get our hands on as kids, but what we didn’t realize at the time was that we were both setting ourselves up for what we would both ultimately become — small business owners.
In 2020, during the first lockdown, I decided to take the inspiration I received from my mother and the boredom that came with being “prisoner” in my parents’ home to create a small business which I’ve appropriately named “Danaé.” The brand is quite euphemistic, like myself, so the name fits perfectly.
“Danaé” started with full sized handmade bookmarks made out of pressed flowers and leaves that I pick myself, but has now expanded to mini bookmarks, page corners, afro hair picks, and keychains with much more still to come! In the year since its inception, we’ve been featured in multiple pop up shops, had our precuts in several stores, have been in a few different subscription boxes and was recently featured on Martha Stewart’s instagram and website.
I’m extremely grateful for the things that I’ve been able to achieve since we first began in April 2020, but one thing that I’ve noticed is that people who don’t own small businesses (my former self included) have no idea just how difficult it is to run and own something all by yourself. And because I have a lot of ideas and dreams of expansion, it’s that much harder.
As a one-person operation, I sometimes feel like a robot with human emotions, yet I’m not ready or willing to expand towards having a full team. I’m purchasing all of the product by myself, creating all of the inventory, creating social media content and advertising pieces, monitoring the social media accounts, staying up into the wee hours of the night after my actual workday ends so I can get my product completed, attending pop up shops, working as customer service, handling big orders on a time constraint, going to the post office, having to be okay with an ever-fluctuating market, forever on alert, and the list goes on.
Financial security is the name of the game, so even on the worst days I’m motivated to keep going, but I’d certainly be remiss if I didn’t speak on the few difficulties that come with owning something and growing something that belongs solely to me. The reward absolutely outweighs the cost.
I love my business and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am extremely grateful for the privileges I’ve accumulated that allowed me to begin fairly seamlessly. Like all things, every business is different and needs different things and levels of care and attention, so if owning a small business is something that you may be considering, take some time to think about the aforementioned, but don’t let it deter you! I started my business on a whim, so it absolutely can be done. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to start, so I’m encouraging you to call today day one.
My business Instagram: @danaethe_