“Everything happens for a reason. God planned this out exactly how its suppose to be…” – @iambellachantelle
Sheena Johnson, fashion designer and young entrepreneur from Philadelphia, shares the details of her journey in creating and branding her very own fashion line “Bella Chantelle.”
During a brief phone interview with Sheena, I had a chance to catch up with my old friend, learn more about her fashion line, and the dedication and hard work it takes to establish a brand and becoming an entrepreneur.
Sheena’s interview reflects the vision for Bella Chantelle, her inspiration, motivation, and future goals as an entrepreneur.
Introducing Bella Chantelle, this marks the third interview in a series of interviews focusing on successful African- American business owners and entrepreneurs.
The purpose of this series is to find out the keys to becoming successful in entrepreneurship and to hopefully inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs in 2017.
The first topic on my agenda was to discuss the meaning behind the brand’s name “Bella Chantelle.”
Sheena explained that the original/former name of her line was “Uzuri” (which means beautiful in Swahili). Sheena was content with that name but soon found out that other businesses adopted the name and it would be almost impossible to patent.
Sheena later thought of the name Bella Chantelle; keeping the same beauty concept (Bella means beautiful in Spanish and Chantelle is Sheena’s middle name).
Sheena and I discussed in detail the hard work that goes into creating and maintaining a successful business. Sheena described a typical day as Bella Chantelle’s CEO as non-stop work, 24/7 sewing, editing pictures for designs, and photo shoot preparations. Bella Chantelle has been showcased over 20 times in Philly, Jersey, Baltimore and New York City.
“I’m a one-man band.” Sheena is independently bringing her designs to life; with only her mother to help sketch the figures for her designs.”Mom draws bodies; I draw clothes.” Currently, Sheena is working on a wedding party which involves the creation of five bridesmaids gowns.
I asked Sheena what her greatest attribute to the success of her business entailed, and her reply was creativity. “I find inspiration in everything, cars, objects, colors; I’m a visionary.” Sheena has a vision for something new, and it doesn’t take long for her vision to come to life as quality fashion.
“Success is happiness in what you’re doing; emotionally, physically, financially.” Sheena’s first moments of realizing her fashion line was a complete success came in February 2011 when she debuted her designs and showcased them at FBH Philly Fashion week.
The Philly Fashion Week event was a huge turnout, and it surprised Sheena how much positive feedback and love she received. The praise Sheena received motivated her to keep pushing toward the successful production of Bella Chantelle’s designs as she continues to get the word out.
Inspiration & Motivation
Bella Chantelle’s CEO is self-motivated as she is always pushing to be better and produce better than what she has in the past. Sheena expressed that she has always been into fashion, so the motivation to become an entrepreneur and to create her line was instinctive.
Along with being self-motivated, Sheena admitted that her biggest inspiration comes from her mom and grandmom. Witnessing her love ones pound the pavement for a job they didn’t like motivated Sheena to break the cycle and that’s when she knew she was going to become an entrepreneur.
Sacrifices & Goals
Sheena’s greatest sacrifices as an entrepreneur (like most other answers I’ve received) include time and money. Sheena has surrendered aspects of her social life for building her brand.
Also, striving toward her goals cost money and mostly all of it is out of her pocket. “I want to keep making my own money and keep the debt low…” Sheena doesn’t have any sponsors or investors; her designs are produced solely with her hard earned money.
Some of Sheena’s long term and short term goals consist of: the continuous growth of Bella Chantelle and eventually expanding the brand. She goes on to explain that she would like to eventually detach from social media as a primary source for business and begin manufacturing designs across the U.S. and open up boutiques; collaborating with other major designers.
In addition to building her brand, Sheena offers an opportunity to share her knowledge and to help others be creative and produce their own designs. Sheena provides home sewing sessions where she visits your home and teaches you how to sew, repair, and make clothes.
To the new age of entrepreneurs: “Believe in yourself.” Sheena explains the importance of not settling for a typical job and going beyond contributing to others success. A book that helped to jump start Bella Chantelle is Young entrepreneurs guide to own business.
Sheena admitted that not everything is perfect in being an entrepreneur. Sometimes she struggles with the weight of being independent, feelings of being overwhelmed, and how hard it is to find help. For example, ample time to complete the large bridal party (5 bridesmaids gowns) and three future prom orders.
Three exciting things to look forward to in the future of Bella Chantelle:
1. An official website for ordering Bella Chantelle’s designs. The website is currently under construction: http://www.bellachantelle.com
2. More fashion shows- BellaChantelle independent fashion show
3. More designs (of course) Keep your eyes open for a swimsuit line
Sheena is thinking of ways to recruit staff and may consider social media recruitment for an assistant designer, for PR marketing, and working on a youtube channel for her fashion line.
For more information about Bella Chantelle: