Name: Ms. Keysha Best
Attended: Fayetteville State University; North Carolina A&T State University
Business Name & Description: Elect Elegance the Boutique, Women’s clothing, shoes & accessories
What year did you found your company? 2011
What was the most exciting and/or fearful moment during your HBCUpreneur career? The most exciting day was the day I got my first ‘like’ on the facebook business page. To know someone was interested enough in what I was about to offer them was humbling. Can’t say I’ve experienced fear yet. Even when I fail to meet a certain goal, I’m excited about the lesson that was gained in it.
What made you want to start your own company? Having been perceived as “fashionable” for so long, I was ready to offer women style and looks at affordable prices and hope that I could encourage them to become more confident and proud of whom they were.
Who was the most influential person/people for you during your time in college? Having graduated HS at 16, my college experience was not the most memorable in a positive way. I did however, meet my husband while in school and he has influenced me tremendously since then.
How do you handle complex problems? Every problem that’s presented to me I look at it as if my entire company is riding on it. If it’s one customer or one vendor, I handle it with compassion because I never know how those individuals may show up again in the future. Other issues I try not to stress about. Being a fairly new company and not having any professional training in retail, every lesson is self-taught. I don’t want to be too hard on myself because I’ll lose sight of my end goal(s).
What is something you wish you had known prior to starting your company? I wish I would’ve known that there were a million other female (and some male) entrepreneurs trying to do the same thing. Finding that out now makes me try harder to set myself apart from the others. We may all have the same products to offer but I want to give my customers more than just a piece of jewelry or clothing.
What do you believe HBCUs can do to spur more innovation and entrepreneurship while their students are in school either as undergraduate or graduate students? I honestly don’t believe an institution can assist in this area. It’s a mindset. Some people feel the need that they HAVE to work for someone else, not realizing that they’re working for an entrepreneur. Perhaps if students were actually persuaded to take courses in things that they are naturally gifted and talented in, they would see that they are here for another purpose. But again, that’s way past a standard any University can set.
How do you deal with rejection? I haven’t physically experienced it yet. What I could call rejection is perhaps someone not liking my pages but I would write that off as them either not knowing about it or feeling my products aren’t what they need at present.
When you have down time, how do you like to spend it? When I’m not spending time with my family, I’m shopping for exclusive items. I don’t have much down time.
In leaving is there any advice you have for budding HBCUpreneurs? Things may go wrong, and they may happen more often than you wish but you only fail when you quit. Take every setback as a lesson and learn from it.