Go behind the scenes with some of our favorite makers! We sat down with these entrepreneurs for a deep dive on their businesses, what makes them tick and what they’ve got in store for the future! Join us as we Meet the Maker!
This time, we sat down with Michelle Moore of blaksands! Let’s dive in.
Q: Give us your back story! What made you want to start your business?
A: It started a little bit by accident when I was looking for a creative outlet at the time. As I developed and grew my business more, I realized it complimented what I was already doing (photography) and has already grown into a thriving business in just a little over a year. It’s the perfect way for me to express and share my beliefs on sustainable fashion within my industry (fashion & photography) and has allowed me to grow a side hustle into something I truly love!
Q: Did you come in with experience or did you learn as you went?
A: I find so much joy in building a business from the ground up. I am very fortunate to have come into blaksands with a lot of previous experience. I’ve had my own photography business for 16+ years and this extensive knowledge of running a business has helped me immensely; from being able to build my own website to content creation and marketing. I absolutely LOVE running small businesses and it has been fun to learn the ins and outs of a new industry since launching in 2019.
Q: What makes blaksands unique compared to other companies?
A: I curate and sell women’s vintage/secondhand clothing, with some re-worked/up-cycled pieces (such as tie-dye sweatshirts) and select items from other sustainable brands. I think the biggest thing that sets me apart is that I pour my heart and soul into the small business community on social media. I love to share and spread love to other small businesses, while also using my platform to educate others on all kinds of topics from sustainable fashion to business tips. I pride myself on a thriving community and feel that my purpose is so much bigger than just selling vintage clothing.
Q: What kinds of challenges have you had to overcome as a small business owner and entrepreneur?
A: The biggest thing that my vintage business faced at the beginning of COVID was the ability to source new inventory. I took this as a time to reflect and re-think what I had in back stock, which led me to tie-dye experiments, making face masks and beyond. I had to find new ways to source items, pivot to 100% online sales (after not being able to do in person pop-ups) and many other things like shortages on certain supplies and shipping delays. The past few months have kept me on my toes and I am enjoying that aspect of needing to re-think and re-imagine old ways of doing things.
Q: How have you coped with COVID? How have you had to pivot?
A: This year has been hard on me mentally and personally, but I’m grateful to have this business to focus on. I wake up every day excited and ready to tackle marketing plans and to show up for the small business community on social media.
One way I pivoted was with face masks. I had a pile of secondhand fabric sourced for a future sustainable scrunchie collection, but seeing all this fabric and the need for masks, I quickly found someone local to make and sew them, which launched our give-back program in late March. Our masks are made from secondhand fabric and are sustainable (meaning they are made out of 100% cotton and use no elastic) plus they support a local freelancer who sews them AND gives back to communities in need. It’s a win-win-win!
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: I get up between 7-8am and immediately make some coffee! I love to sit in a quiet place and enjoy my cup before I do anything else. Then I’ll typically get ready and head to my office where I’ll do all my desk/office work. I like to work on packing up orders first thing, and getting a post ready for Instagram. My afternoon is usually reserved for either a photoshoot for my photography business, or prepping new items to list for blaksands. Lately I’ve been trying to “end” work around 5-6pm so I can be at home and relax but I’m always “working,” whether it’s answering customer questions over Instagram, washing and prepping recent finds, or getting ready for my next collection to drop. I find that I am always working, which I don’t mind, because I’m able to take time during the day for myself when and if needed.
Q: Is this your full time job?
A: Yes, this and photography are both my full time jobs so I am always working a little bit on both. With the shut down at the beginning of COVID I wasn’t able to do any photography jobs for 3 months, so this business has definitely been getting more of my attention this year!
Q: What are your goals for the future of blaksands?
A: I plan to keep working on building and growing blaksands into a bigger company, and would love to be designing my own (sustainable) collections in the next 2-3 years. I want this to be a lifelong business, one that grows and expands into helping other small businesses develop and grow, all while being able to educate the masses of the importance of sustainability and the negatives of the fast fashion industry. I would love to see more and more people embrace vintage/secondhand in the coming years!
Q: What do you like most about what you do? What keeps you going?
A: I LOVE the thrill of the hunt (for vintage) and finding all the special one of a kind pieces. My favorite thing to do is get up super early to go to estate sales. I always find the best things there. Honestly, I also love the marketing and content creation part as well. Being able to plan my own creative photoshoots and style the model is really fun, as well as coming up with ways to market and promote online. It never gets old. The drive to continue to share and grow my business keeps me motivated even on my worst days.
Q: What are you looking forward to most, post-COVID?
A: Definitely travel. I LIVE to travel and I miss being able to go to all of my favorite places. I also miss markets, but am grateful for all the growth I have experienced with selling online this year. I would love to move into a bigger space in 2021 as well as get on the road for more sourcing trips, photoshoots and pop-ups!
Q: We’re suckers for fun facts! Tell us more about you; share some deep dark secrets!
A: This year I decided to learn how to roller skate, as well as take up knitting! I love cooking and am so excited for soup season; fall and winter are my favorite times of year! There are so many things that I want to learn how to do, that I’ll just dive in and go for it. We are BIG TV watchers in our household and have cruised through (way too much) Netflix in 2020. My favorite show recently is Beforeigners – I love anything sci-fi. Growing up I was definitely a morning person, but now I can go either way. If there’s something worth getting up for I do still love a good early morning; everything is so quiet, and I love being up before anyone else to enjoy the peacefulness of the day before the hustle bustle of city life kicks in.
Be sure you check out our virtual market and see if they’re participating; our virtual market vendors often offer up exclusive discounts to our virtual market attendees. Shop small and save! Drop us a comment if you’ve shopped this maker and tag us in your photos when you’re using their goods! Put your money where your heart is and join us as we continue to support small. We believe this artisan is the next big thing, and we’re happy you met them here first!