To make a difference domestically & internationally through commitments of continuous benevolence.
To celebrate the beauty of the cultures & communities we support through fashion.
Need we say more? Today we bring to you two brilliant young women, Sasha & Michelle. The Bené Scarves' journey began with an abroad trip to Ghana and has ended with a mission to make a positive and sustainable impact in girls' lives. Read our latest Solopreneur interview with Bené Scarves' founders
For our new readers, what sparked the idea for Bené Scarves ? While I was a student at the University of Georgia, I had the opportunity to study abroad to Ghana. Forever changed by the experience my best friend, Sasha, and I were inspired to start Bené, a collection of scarves committed to help support girls in Ghana continue their secondary education by providing tuition, books, supplies and uniforms to fulfill their dreams. www.benescarves.com
Tell me about your first couple jobs: During college I had several internships with AT&T and Macy’s in New York. Both opportunities were great learning experiences and helped me realize early on what I enjoyed doing and what I didn’t. Ultimately, these experiences helped me make the decision to start Bené full time after graduation.
What has been the best part about owning your own business? The best part of owning a business is knowing that I am being purposeful in my work and that real lives are being impacted by it. It’s so fulfilling to to see our thoughts and ideas come to fruition.
How did you develop a strong business sense? (i.e. did it come naturally? Did you take classes? Get guidance?) I went to school for Business Marketing and a minor in Fashion Merchandising at the University of Georgia and Sasha studied Mathematics at Florida A&M University. I think a lot of our business sense has come naturally but we also read constantly and surround ourselves with great mentors.
Who have you turned to for mentorship/guidance throughout your career? There have been so many people that have played an instrumental role in helping us grow Bené and provided guidance to us as we have embarked on this entrepreneurial journey. Attending different industry events and taking advantage of my university alumni network has allowed us to gain insight from mentors in different industries.
How do you handle fear and self-doubt? Fear and Self-Doubt are very real but you can’t let it get the best of you. I have had to learn not to take our failures personally and know that it’s not a reflection of my capabilities but that it is all a part of the process.
If you had 24 extra hours in your week, what would you do with it (personal or professional)? I would definitely work out and read more. When my schedule gets busy, unfortunately, these are the first things to get bumped.
In the spirit of our #sheforshe campaign, which women have supported or inspired you the most throughout your career? My mother! Two weeks after graduation I launched Bené full time, like most parents my mom had questions about how I was going to support myself but she has been my biggest champion, she is at every event, is always providing encouragement along the way and has allowed me to turn our home Bené’s headquarters/warehouse/etc. If I didn’t have her support this process was be 10,000 times harder.
What advice would you give to your teenage self? What advice would you give yourself 5 years ago? What advice would you like to give to your future self? In every stage of life I would remind myself that everything is going to be ok. Even when you don’t know how things are going to happen and when things don’t necessarily go as planned, trust that everything always works out. A lot young women know what they're passionate about and would like to pursue that path and “follow their dreams”, but aren’t sure how or where to start.
What steps would you recommend for them? You have to let go of your fears and inhibitions and just go for it. If you are gripped by an idea go for it, you don’t want to live with regrets and question what could have happened. Be sure to prepare yourself by researching your field, gaining experience and getting great mentors but at some point you just have to start. You will never feel like you know enough, have enough money or is the perfect time...and truthfully you never will.
How does Bené Scarves differentiate itself from other purchase with purpose brands ? One great thing about Bené is that we make sure we focus on the fashion and quality of our scarves. We spend a lot of time designing our prints in-house, pulling from West African culture and fashion trends. Our scarves are for women who want a bold and timeless accessory. We don’t want you to just fall in love with our mission but the beauty of our product as well.
If you could offer at tip to help boost self-confidence to all the young women out there - what would it be? Everything you need is already within you.
What is the biggest struggle being a female entrepreneur? Truthfully I can’t think of anything. I think women make some of the best entrepreneurs.
When you hear the phrase, "She only lives once" - what comes to mind? Sasha recently posted a quote that really speaks to what I think of when I hear, "she only lives once": "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.” -Erma Bombeck
What makes you feel strong & beautiful? Seeing progress in my business. Going into meetings when you have a on great outfit and your hair looks good, this always gives you a guaranteed boost.
What has been your most memorable experience thus far since starting your business? Sasha and I recently did a commercial with Pantene for their “Stronger Together” campaign featuring inspiring women, which can be seen here: http://wm6.walmart.com/pantene-stronger-together.aspx
What is the largest misconception about the fashion industry? I think a lot of people go into fashion thinking that they will be designing and going to fashion shows and parties all of the time. These things do happen but more time is spent on the business of sales, marketing, finance, etc. A lot of people just want the glitz and glamour but there is a lot of hard work that comes along with it.
How do you keep motivated during hard times? Reading the Bible and surrounding myself around people who believe in me really gets me through.
How do you wind down after a long day at work? I need to do better with setting a time to actually stop working because I can find myself staying up all night working.
How do you maintain a healthy, balanced life while running your booming business? Sasha and I are both trying to be more intentional about making sure we are leading healthy lives by setting out time to work out and being more conscientious of the things we eat. I think that since we are both on a mission to do better it helps keep us accountable for one another. Making healthy decisions definitely is not easy when you are always on the run and have work to do but we know it’s important and in the long run we will be more productive from it.
What's next for Bené Scarves? Our F/W’15 collection launches in September! Visit us at www.benescarves.com and follow us at BeneScarves to stay connected.
Favorite quote? “Go for Great” -Michelle Blue
Favorite female entrepreneur(s)? All Female Entrepreneurs that make the step and go for their dreams
Most courageous thing you have ever done? Walking in faith and starting the business
Favorite resource(s) for inspiration? Bible, WSJ, Fashionista, Refinery29, NY Fashion Week