The image that changed it ALL for us.
The top half of the picture you first see was taken in 2014. We were literally WISHING that we could sell in a store like Target. The bottom half is our products for sale on Target shelves in 2016. How did we go from a small company from South Central Los Angeles all the way to one of the largest retailers in the world? Well… glad you asked. Lol
The year is 2014 and our entire team was sitting around unsure if we were going to shut the entire business down completely. We launched our company “Kyra’s Shea Medleys” in the fall of 2013 with the goal to produce all-natural hair and skin care Shea Butter Creams. While we were able to experience some incredible highs such as being featured on “Good Morning America” alongside Daymond John for the “Shark Tank Your Life” segment which led to huge boost in sales, to be honest as a team, we had the slightest idea on how to maximize from what was in front of us.
We were all born and raised in the inner city of Los Angeles, CA where the world of entrepreneurship is a completely foreign concept to the residents. Neither of us had ANY kind of formal business education, training, background, nor networks. We just had an idea, a vision, and saw people on social media launching businesses, and thought (maybe foolishly at the time Lol), “Well if they can do it, we can do it too!”
Following Good Morning America we found ourselves lost as we had scaled too quickly without the foundation/systems to properly manage such growth. And no matter how high you go, if you don’t have the wings to sustain such heights, you're going to come crashing down. And that’s exactly what happened.
Sales began to decline to the point that we were unsure if we’d even survive the year. We found ourselves in the middle of a morning meeting, nothing but heads hanging low and depression at the realization of what was happening. Were we in over our heads? Should we just cut our losses and pack it in? What do we tell our family, friends, and customers who EXPECT us to succeed?
Our hand-whipped, all natural, nutrient-enriched, shea butter.
And then the magical idea revealed itself…
“Grab one jar. Head down to your local Target. Make sure the coast is clear and place that one jar on the shelf as if your Butter Creams were being sold there. Take a picture. Take back the jar. Fix the shelf back. Walk out.”
When stated it sounds CRAZY… but there was something about the idea alone that gave us a bit of peace. It just “felt right.”
We walked into Target, jar in hand, and headed directly to the beauty section. Thank GOD the store wasn't as busy as it usually can get!
Once the entire aisle emptied we looked around, over cautiously checking for store employees, and placed our jar right on the shelf. After we snapped a couple pictures with our phone, we then removed the jar and walked out.
That was it.
Didn’t lead to one more sale.
Didn’t fix any of our business problems.
Still went back to the same issues we left the office with.
Yet, the picture that we took became our computer and phone backgrounds, and we made an effort to try to focus on the picture at least ONCE a day. And as we began to do this our entire company started to shift…
What changed was our mentality.
We found ourselves staring at the image, really taking it in and allowing us to VISUALLY see ourselves living in our desired destiny. We’ve always dreamed about one day having our Butter Creams on the shelves of Target, but seeing the picture of that one jar on the shelf really brought it all into FOCUS…on another level for us. It’s one thing to SAY what we wanted or have an idea of our goals, but now to SEE it in front of us, always on our mind, things began to slowly manifest themselves.
Three of ten variations of our line of hand-whipped Shea Butter Creams.
Around a year later, we were informed by a friend of an opportunity to learn about Target’s supplier diversity program (or so we thought). We realized the application (which was massive Lol) was a chance to PITCH to Target and it was due that SAME DAY. After looking at it, we were lost as we were still a small online-only company, now having to deal with one of the largest big box retailers wanting to know every detail about what we do, how we operate, numbers, forecasts, and projections, etc.
So what did we do?
We went BACK to the same Target we “sneaked” into to find the store manager who we felt could help us navigate through this maze of an application. She was incredibly helpful and willing to work with us on a very short notice. With a 12:00am deadline, we were able to submit everything we could by 11:56pm. WHEW!
Three weeks went by with no contact from Target, which led us to believe that we missed out on the entire opportunity completely. Then the self-doubt kicks in:
Did we forget something?
Maybe we messed up.
I think we blew it.
But out of the clear, we received a call…
“We would love to invite your company down to Santa Monica, CA next week to pitch for us.”
The room lit up! All of us hugging, smiles being shared, laughs going up and all of a sudden reality sank in again:
We never pitched to a retailer before, ESPECIALLY one this large.
So we went to work on it. Google, YouTube, and Prezi became our best friends for the next week leading up until our pitch day. Hours upon hours. Late nights. Early mornings. Still running the business between all of this. We put together what we felt was a competitive visual presentation, had our numbers in order, and was ready to go.
Pitch day finally arrived.
Entrance to “The Pitch.” (Nervous shaking hands took this picture as you can tell. Lol)
We pull up to the location pumped up and incredibly nervous at the same time. As we were walking in, Steve Balmer (former CEO of Microsoft) is walking out past us, nods in our direction, which really woke us up to the magnitude of what was taking place.
We make our way into the waiting room immediately noticing that from the look of the other companies pitching that day as well, we were outclassed severely. They had full charts, brochures, tote bags, better packaging, better marketing, clearly higher budgets, already in other retail stores and more! We were there with our digital presentation, no experience, our Butter Creams, and labels on our jars, which we printed at Staples the night before. (Wasn’t the best look folks. Lol)
The KSM team in the waiting room waiting to be called.
After a while, in the waiting room, they call our company name letting us know they were ready for us.
We set up our laptop, handed out test jars to the judges, and then we realize once again that things weren’t going to go smoothly. Our presentation was online-based which required wi-fi to work, and for whatever reason, the wi-fi there was down that day. Scrambling to resolve the issue while we stalled the judges a bit and went strictly off the top of our heads with our presentation, we found a strong enough signal to finally incorporate our digital presentation to back us up and really bring our brand to life before their eyes.
Target Team x KSM Team
We wrapped up our time, thanked them for the opportunity, walked out to our car, and took the long ride (three freeways to be exact) from Santa Monica back to South Central Los Angeles, somewhat relieved it was over, yet so unsure of how we did and if we really just blew our entire chances altogether.
Long story short, after roughly another three weeks we get a call:
“Hey guys this is _____ from Target and we’d love to launch your brand in our LA stores.”
We could have jumped to the moon and back!
We went from “sneaking” into Targets, looking out for store employees, placing our Butter Creams on the shelves to take a picture so we could have something to dream about, to walking into Targets and seeing those same store employees we were looking out for, stock the shelves with our Butter Creams for us.
Our Butter Creams on sale at Target! Dream come true!
To some, this might not be a lot, but for three young entrepreneurs from South Central LA, who were never really READY, but were always WILLING… it meant the world to us.
What we learned from all of this:
- You have to see what you want with a CLEAR vision.
- You have to FOCUS on that vision DAILY.
- MEDITATE on what you truly want for your life. The doors will open themselves for you.
- Sometimes being WILLING is more important than being ready.
- Develop the right MINDSET for where it is you want to go and what it is you want to do.
- You can’t allow FEAR and SELF-DOUBT to direct your steps.
- Go after your DREAMS as if they are already yours.
- Be 100% aware of your strengths and weaknesses and do your best to turn those weaknesses into strengths. (It can be a humbling experience)
We still are learning and trying our best to master those keys and more each and every day, not just as a brand but as people. All of us are the first in our families to do anything close to this. To be honest, this doesn’t happen for people who come from where we come from unless you kill at sports or are musically talented. However, we look to set a new standard of achievement. The same way that we continue to believe in our dreams, we believe in yours. If you were looking for a sign… let THIS be it.
Follow your heart.
Chase that dream.
Feed that vision.
Don’t give up.
Trust the process.
…and just know that we are rooting you on every step of the way.
- The KSM Team