• Christina Sjahli

Pushing Boundaries as a Woman of Colour and Empowering Women Entrepreneurs

Updated: Apr 7

with Financial Knowledge - The Journey of Stacey Martin (Equity Crowdfunding Series)



Growing a company goes beyond passion and creativity. Women of colour, in particular, are at a disadvantage when it comes to raising capital for growth. Pushing boundaries means having confidence in your vision and understanding of financial numbers to provide investors with concrete answers about funding. Let the numbers tell the story of a profitable and sustainable business.


Your financial numbers are not your enemy. By switching this mindset, you can push boundaries, empower, and pave the way for future minority leaders and entrepreneurs.



In this episode, Stacey Martin introduces her fashion brand, Stacey Martin Lifestyle. She shares her journey from building a business to growing it through equity crowdfunding. She emphasizes the importance of building a community that will invest in what you stand for. Stacey also shares the value of understanding your financial numbers. As a Black woman in the fashion industry, she understands that she’s at a disadvantage. Despite this, she acknowledges that her purpose is bigger than herself and persists in pushing boundaries.


If you’re an entrepreneur or investor of a business for good who wants to know more about pushing boundaries, then this episode is for you!


Here are 3 reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Gain valuable insights on how Stacey is growing her business through equity crowdfunding.

  2. Learn the importance of understanding the financials behind the company and hiring a dedicated CFO.

  3. Discover how Stacey is pushing boundaries in the fashion industry as a woman of colour.

Resources:


Episode Highlights

[08:07] Stacey Martin on Building Her Brand

  • Stacey started her career as a professional dancer in Broadway, New York City.

  • She wanted to bridge the gap between fitness and fashion clothing.

  • From there, Stacey started selling to her friends and family, then to a local boutique.

  • Her brand was initially named KANIA. In 15 years, it has generated over a million dollars in sales.

  • In August 2020, Stacey rebranded to Stacey Martin Lifestyle because she wanted to continue pushing boundaries.


[10:26] Why Stacey Needed to Rebrand Her Business

  • Stacey loves the word “kania,” which means light in West African. However, people had difficulty pronouncing or recalling the word.

  • Drawing from big fashion brands named after their founders, Stacey decided to re-name her brand after herself, Stacey Martin.


[11:52] The Biggest Challenges Stacey Experienced When She Started

  • The biggest challenge was to find the information you need to start the business such as where to get the fabric, how to manufacture the product, the stores to sell, how to find the sales reps.

  • The solution is to keep asking and talking to spread the word and continue expanding your network.


“And that was a solution for every single challenge was basically just keep asking.”


[12:40] Using Her Background as a Performer to Become a Better Entrepreneur

  • Stacey didn't have a design or entrepreneurial background. She credits her entrepreneurial skills to her dancer background.

  • Being a performance artist means getting used to failure and having thick skin.

  • Like performing, having your own business means you have to promote yourself and your product.

  • Her dancing on Broadway was also a means to generate income while trying to launch her business.

  • Listen to the full episode to learn more about how Stacey funded her business without taking a loan.


[16:17] Sustainability and Ethical Practices for Stacey Martin Lifestyle

  • Stacey’s use of sustainable materials came from a desire to use fabrics that allow your skin to breathe.


“And if you can feel incredible in that fabric, that the fabric is holding, you are hugging you; you move; differently, you feel better. And it really can depict your whole life, how you run about your day.”


  • She wanted to find fabric that felt good, so she looked up sustainable fabrics.

  • How you feel in the fabric you wear influences how you go about your day.


[17:37] Why Stacey Chose Equity Crowdfunding

  • Crowdfunding offers a unique opportunity to get the word out and cultivate a community.

  • Investors are people who are proud of the company and passionate about Stacey’s products. They want to support her and what her company stands for.

  • Those who participate in crowdfunding are part of the team; they help get the word out to a bigger audience.


[19:28] How Stacey Will Use the Funds

  • The capital raised would be used in four key areas.

  • 25% will be used for hiring staff who are in-house and full-time.

  • 33% is going to inventory and manufacturing.

  • 33% will be for digital marketing.

  • 9% will be for infrastructure, legal, and administration costs.


[21:08] Future Plans for Financing, Expanding, and Exit

  • Stacey plans to hold the next round of financing in 18 to 24 months.

  • Their approach will be different from most companies because they won't be starting from scratch.

  • The company also aims to incorporate a whole new digital space in the future.

  • Stacey hopes to promote her brand beyond Canada and the U.S.

  • She plans to sell in approximately six years, but she still wants to be part of the brand.


[24:16] How Stacey Understands Financial Numbers

  • Stacey was always naturally inclined to mathematics and computing costs.

  • She met her business advisor, Adam, in Toronto Fashion Week.

  • Adam introduced Stacey to all the financial terminology and processes.

  • Hiring a virtual CFO allowed Stacey to organize the knowledge she already knew through experience.

  • Stacey encourages other women business owners to learn the ropes. It may be intimidating at first, but once you learn it, you don’t forget it.


[28:15] The Benefits of Understanding Financial Numbers and Hiring a CFO

  • At the grassroots level, it is empowering to understand the financials of your company.

  • No one will take you seriously in the competitive business world if you cannot answer their financial questions.

  • Stacey’s CFO tells her that numbers are simply a different way of telling a story.

  • Understanding financials offer deeper insights into your products and gives you a direction to focus on.


“So really, it comes down to it's not all the beautiful, wonderful things that we always think about in business or in sales of business, or marketing. It's based on what do the numbers actually reflect? Because that's what the story tells.”


[35:10] Looking Back

  • If Stacey had known about the value of hiring a CFO, she would have done it from the beginning.

  • Sometimes, entrepreneurs are so passionate and creative that they don’t think about getting the product out.

  • You have to be smart with financials to generate cash flow.

  • With the uncertainty around us, we need to be able to pivot.

  • To learn more about how having a knowledge of financial numbers and hiring a CFO can help a business grow, listen to the full episode.


[38:56] The Effect of COVID-19 on Stacey’s Business

  • The pandemic closed her storefront, trade shows, and revenue sources.

  • After George Floyd was killed, Stacey realized she had a bigger purpose.

  • COVID-19 allowed Stacey to focus on how she wanted to grow her brand.


“So it really was just a matter of once you have the knowledge and experience in what you're doing, you have the experience of grinding. COVID gave me a chance to kind of stop and think about what it is.”


[41:05] Stacey’s Equity Crowdfunding Journey

  • She encourages women to learn more about investing and be an investor.

  • Stacey wants to be a representation of change. She wants others to recognize that investing in her is the smart thing to do.


“I feel like I want to be a representation of the change. I don't want you to just invest in me because you think, ‘Oh, she's a minority woman.’ I want you to see that what I'm doing is actually mindful and smart and will grow and scale.”


  • She found out about FrontFundr through Adam, who watched a TED talk about it.

  • Equity crowdfunding allows Stacey to grow her business.

  • She’s able to make capital for her investors and also build awareness on pushing boundaries.


“This is not just about myself and my brand; this is about the diverse community. It's about bringing awareness to Black businesses that don't have the opportunity; it's about bringing awareness to females; it's about bringing awareness to sustainability.”


About Stacey

Stacey Martin is the Founder and CEO of Stacey Martin Lifestyle, formerly KANIA. Stacey Martin Lifestyle is a Canadian Luxury Loungewear company that combines sustainability, comfort, and style.


Stacey is a mission-driven woman of colour. She aims to empower other women, bring awareness to sustainability, and advocate for struggling businesses run by minorities. By investing in her company, you’re not only earning but also paving the way for future minority leaders and entrepreneurs.


You may contact Stacey through her website or LinkedIn. To invest in Stacey and her brand, check out her FrontFundr campaign.


Powerful Quotes


“Not everybody is going to like your business, but it's not about just that one person that saw that. It’s about the masses; there could be a niche market of people that love what you're doing.”


“As a Black woman, I'm even more at a disadvantage. So I have to have those numbers together; I have to be able to articulate them correctly and know exactly what I'm talking about.”


“I thought also as women, we don't allow ourselves to just have the knowledge to invest, to know what that's like, whether being the entrepreneur or the investor, you know.”


“This way [equity crowdfunding] gives me the opportunity. And not only the opportunity to make them capital, but also to have conversations like what we're having right now to build awareness.”


Enjoy this Podcast?

As a mission-driven female entrepreneur, raising capital can be difficult. But if you understand your financial numbers, you can show investors your vision and the profitability and sustainability of your business. If you enjoyed today's episode of Her CEO Journey Podcast, then hit subscribe and share it!


Write us a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning into the show, then do not hesitate to leave us a review. You can also share this episode with the women you know so they can find financial empowerment and get their ideas into the world.


Have any questions about business finance? You can contact me through LinkedIn or schedule a chat with me at any time. You can also suggest topics you're curious about for future episodes to help your business grow. Thanks for listening!


For more episode updates, feel free to visit my website. You may also tune in on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.


To fueling the life you want to live,


Christina


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CS Consulting supports the Sustainable Development Goals.

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