How to Tap Into Community
As creative entrepreneurs, one of the hardest things to accept is we don’t know what we don’t know (about branding, partnerships, finances, etc.) and that trying to figure it out solo can be a path to discouragement and burnout. That’s where community comes in.
This week, Phoebe is joined by LaToya McInnis, founder, creative director, and designer of accessories brand Cocoacentric (plus longtime GGC community member!) to discuss the impact community opportunities and connections have had in her major success.
Learn how LaToya found her footing in the entrepreneurial world by way of in-person pop-up markets, online classes (like GGC’s Level Up Academy), and big brand partnerships—opportunities born from her willingness to say “YES” to new opportunities from her ever-growing community.
You never know who’s looking at your brand.
[08:25] HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE JEWELRY WORLD?
LaToya has always loved fashion and grew up steeped in style. She feels she’s always been a creative person and came up around family and community who valued self-expression through personal style. In college, LaToya studied fashion merchandising and soon after got a job as a jewelry merchandiser, which sparked her interest in accessories.
[11:23] HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH COCOACENTRIC?
LaToya launched Cocoacentric in 2018. She held her first pop-up at her friend’s spa in San Francisco and noticed how receptive customers were to her work. That confirmed she was on the right path, and she continued to build Cocoacentric while working full time. She invested in her first photo shoot and continued to do pop-ups + craft fairs in the Bay Area (including GGC!).
[20:03] CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH GGC OFFERINGS?
After Cocoacentric’s second ever pop-up at Girl Gang Craft’s event at Classic Cars West, LaToya continued to follow GGC on social media. She knew she was ready to grow but wasn’t confident which direction to move in, and she took an in-person GGC course on brand refinement and strategy. She continued to take advantage of other GGC classes and activations and notes the confidence and courage they gave her in her current business practices.
[25:26] WHAT DOES YOUR BUSINESS LOOK LIKE TODAY?
Like many creative entrepreneurs, LaToya was laid off from her full-time job during the pandemic. At the time, Cocoacentric was still not generating enough income to live on. She took this setback as an opportunity to fully lean into Cocoacentric and take ownership of the brand, and now the business is thriving.
There are times where I get zero online sales. You can’t give up. You can’t stop.
[29:03] CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT ATTENDING NEW YORK FASHION WEEK AND YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH ROCKSBOX?
Rocksbox is a popular jewelry rental subscription service. Earlier in the pandemic, one of their merchandisers had been following Cocoacentric’s journey and reached out to LaToya with a partnership opportunity for a Fall 2021 collection as well as an invitation to be a featured designer at a NYFW event.
[36:52] WHAT ELSE HAS HELPED YOUR SUCCESS DURING THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS?
LaToya attributes Cocoacentric’s recent success to her commitment to her vision and her overall tenacity. She acknowledges how many small business owners give up early in the face of setback or failure and strongly encourages listeners to stay the course and keep pushing forward even when business is slow. She also advises entrepreneurs to continue to seek ways to reinvent and educate themselves and to explore new opportunities.
[40:05] WHAT’S NEXT FOR COCOACENTRIC?
Coming full circle to her childhood love for fashion magazines, LaToya would like to secure more editorial placements for Cocoacentric. At the time of this recording, she had a fresh photo shoot in the works. She has also recently partnered with manufacturers in order to free herself up as a CEO so she can continue to drive the business forward.