Monday, May 2, 2016

Pursue Your Passion Until Your Passion Pays Your Bills: Kelli Newman Mason

Representation and creation are necessary for businesses to thrive. When Kelli Newman Mason of Sundry Style noticed that black designers were underrepresented on the e-commerce side of the fashion industry, she conceived a vision dedicated to giving black designers a larger platform to share their designs with the world. Kelli and I connected a few weeks ago and after hearing about her store and the concept behind it, I immediately knew I needed to introduce you to her! Get to know the business woman behind Sundry Style (you'll be so glad you did):

Who are you and where are you from?
I'm Kelli Newman Mason, a former attorney turned entrepreneur. I'm from Texas

What is your Purpose?
My purpose is to create opportunities

How does your purpose align with your passions?
I'm passionate about supporting small businesses and black-owned businesses, as well as about fashion and gifts. Through Sundry Style, I'm able to create opportunities for up and coming black creators to share their work with a larger audience. I'm also able to create opportunities for socially conscious consumers  like myself to find gorgeous outfits and thoughtful gifts that help create jobs and wealth in the black community. 

How did you discover your passion?
I was always drawn to diversity and inclusion efforts throughout my school years and early in my career. At one point I realized that I was unhappy practicing law and that I could find a way to make money while remaining true to my passion and purpose. 

What is Sundry Style and what makes it unique?
Sundry Style is a curated marketplace for clothing, jewelry, purses, bath and body products, gifts and more all by black creators. It stands out for a few reasons. First, each product is made by a black creator, which means that each purchase on Sundry Style helps create wealth and jobs in the black community. Second, we curate each piece to make sure that is in line with our aesthetic, quality and customer service requirements. When you go to Sundry Style you know that you won't have to sift through mediocre products to find something you love. 
How did you conceive the idea for your store? 
There was another e-commerce site I followed for a while that focused on supporting emerging designers. Since I have a special place in my heart for small businesses, I loved the site. But one day it struck me that none of the designers they featured were black. I went to their site to check and confirmed my suspicion: of over 250 creators, only one was black. I knew right then that I had to do something to help support emerging black designers.

Are you looking to work with new designers?  
Yes, all the time! If you know of any black fashion designers or artisans (candles, bath and body products, baby blankets, you name it!), please send them my way! Or they can apply directly at sundrystyle.marketplaceadmin.com

Do you have any mentors who have helped you on your path? If so, how did you find them and what advice would you give to someone seeking a mentor? 
I didn’t have any personal mentors, since my path wasn’t very typical, but I used all the resources I could find like blog posts, YouTube videos, interviews, and more to draw inspiration and advice from successful people whom I would love to have as mentors. My advice on that front is to not worry so much about finding someone who will personally guide you, but rather take guidance wherever you can find it. Sundry Style’s blog provides a ton of great advice for women who want to take the leap into starting their own companies, directly from women who have been there and are happy to share their tips and lessons learned.

How do you use your passion for good? 
I’ve created a platform that helps people support the creation of jobs and wealth in the black community and that helps black business owners grow.
What motivates you to persevere when obstacles arise? 
The idea that “we are all going to die, but how many of us are going to truly live?” I’ve faced several obstacles on my path where I could have given up and gone back to practicing law or another job I didn’t love, but I haven’t because I know that I want more from life than a steady paycheck. I want to meet new people, to make a difference, to build something -- to truly live as I see it.

Have you ever felt like giving up or lost focus of your passion? If so, how did you get re-centered?
Yes! I’ve definitely felt like giving up at times when my bank account is low and I don’t make any sales all day, but then I get an email from a designer telling me that they were going to give up until they started making sales on Sundry Style, or from a customer telling me how ecstatic she was to find a site with amazing products by black creators. Knowing that what I do touches other people’s lives helps me recenter my focus.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned while pursuing your path? Fail fast! I’ve gone through a handful of business models around the basic concept of Sundry Style but because I was confident enough to admit “this might not be the best approach” I’ve been able to quickly find what, at least for now, is definitely the best approach.

What advice would you give to a young person who wants to pursue a career path similar to yours? Don’t go to law school! I loved my experience and went to an amazing school (Stanford) that has opened up tons of doors for me, but I would tell my younger self to try to follow your dreams first and then if you’re really hitting several walls, you can always go to law school later.
What legacy would you like to leave? 
I want to be remembered as someone who was exceptionally kind and always there for her friends and family. 

Where can we find you on social media? 
@SundryStyle on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

PS: Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I'll be sharing some of my favorite pieces from Sundry Style as well as a special treat!

6 comments

  1. Thanks for the amazing interview! Great questions! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for participating! I loved your answers.

      Delete
  2. Great questions and great answers! I loved reading this. Sundry Style is amazing.

    Jameela

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great interview. I'm going to check out Sundry Style

    www.iriechicstyle.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good article. I like your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Fashion eCommerce Platform

    ReplyDelete