Growing a Business For Good with SheNative founder Devon Fiddler

Growing a Business For Good with SheNative founder Devon Fidler

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The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why Devon’s personal experience as an Indigenous woman, plus her political science background, moved her to start a fashion-focused brand with a social good mission.
  • How Devon bakes SheNative’s social good mission into everything from social media content to employee management to big business decisions.
  • Why and how Devon reached the media to cover SheNative’s story, including global news stations, NBC radio, Shaw TV, and local radio stations before she had a single product.
  • How Devon raised almost $23,000 on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter to fund product development and SheNative’s first production run.

Today on Profit. Power. Pursuit, I chat with Devon Fiddler, the Chief Changemaker of SheNative Goods, a brand of handbags and accessories that helps to empower and change perceptions of Indigenous women and girls.

We cover how she first got the idea for SheNative, how her company’s social impact mission affects both her strategic thinking and her daily activities, and why she chose fashion as a conduit for change making.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On baking a social mission into your brand

We feel that our designs and what we’re doing as a company are really a catalyst to transform public perceptions of indigenous women by sharing positive stories and conveying our cultural teachings embedded within our designs. It’s in everything we put out. It’s about empathy and accentuating hope for positive change to the public.

— Devon Fiddler

At SheNative, Devon’s approach is based on a social good mission: to empower Indigenous women and girls. That mission is baked into everything she does from posting content on social media, managing employees, and making important business decisions.

As Devon shares, one of those big decisions was closing her retail store. She struggled with the choice, knowing it would cut jobs, “but I knew that in the longer term that there will be more jobs later on,” she says. “I’ve had to just think about it in a big picture level — because the day to day stuff like that can really bog you down.”

What’s your business mission? Even if it’s not a social good one, your mission gives you direction no matter if you’re mapping out your content strategy for the month, reviewing potential partners, or hiring new employees.

Define your business mission — and see it through everything you do.

On launching a fashion brand without a fashion or business background

There’s a million ways I could have started a company that helped empower women, but I knew that I wanted to be in fashion. I had no design experience whatsoever when I first started. I just jumped into it. I hired out designers and creative people to work with and that’s where I’ve seen the connection as to how we can help Indigenous women: by working with them and by sourcing out all of the creatives that I can, as well as putting my vision and touch into it.

— Devon Fiddler

What I love about Devon’s story is that she believed in what she was doing, she jumped in, and she didn’t ask for permission. She didn’t wait for the perfect timing. She didn’t go to fashion school to prove she could do it. Instead, she worked with creative people who could do what she couldn’t.

Through that process, she also found that she didn’t need to be the maker: she could serve as the visionary and still add her personal touch while providing jobs to Indigenous women in her community.

If you’re a business owner without formal training in business, you probably resonate with the quote above. As an entrepreneur, you don’t need to know everything because you can find people who compliment your strengths and weaknesses as Devon did.

On reaching out to the media

The first time I reached out the media, I had no idea what I was doing. I created a media list first, then I wrote a personal email about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I really focused on the why. I basically told them: you know what, I don’t even have product yet but please cover me because we really need your help in order to raise money so that I can start this project. That’s what really interested a lot of the media outlets that covered me.

— Devon Fiddler

Sometimes you don’t need to wait to perfect your pitch or learn how to write a press release. Sometimes you just do it. Armed with a social good focused business and a positive story, Devon reached out to the media in an honest and authentic way — and it worked for her.

If media outreach and coverage is a struggle for you — or if you haven’t even considered it yet — remember that your pitch doesn’t need to be perfect. Start with where you are, with your unique perspective, and just dive in. Like Devon showed, you don’t even need to have product yet. Instead, use your business’ mission and story strategically to get media coverage and build momentum around your cause.

Listen to the full episode with Devon Fiddler to hear more about how she bakes her social mission into everything she does, how she created SheNative around her personal experience and beliefs, and much more.

What would you do with 15 minutes of fame (or more)? Free Training Call

What would you do with 15 minutes or more of fame?

Many business owners are waiting for their big break, that one press mention or hand up that takes their product to a whole new market. I’ve written before on how this is not a great strategy.

Essentially, for those waiting on 15 minutes of fame to take the steps that will make their businesses work, the answer to the question above is “Nothing.”

Your business and it’s operations have to be prepared for the surge of interest & the rush of potential customers before it happens.

That’s why I’m thrilled to let you know that I cornered my good friend Brigitte Lyons, a masterful media strategist for microbusinesses, and asked her to shed some light on what a business needs to have in place to truly take advantage of publicity when it comes.

It’s FREE. And it’s tomorrow. You’ll get the recording if you register.

Click here to register.

The Great Engine of the You-Centered Economy: Media

Media is the great engine of the You-Centered Economy.

Why? We are all producers, writers, broadcasters, and personalities. Access to all forms of media has never been so open. You are at the center of media creation & media consumption.

Media is also a source of connection (to each other, to our communities, to the world) and a source of experience (trust me — watching True Blood is an experience). Meaning? Well, we’ll get to that.

Media is a unique entity in which we actually understand how we are both – constantly – creator & consumer. In the You-Centered Economy, this is true for all forms of commerce but it is less obvious. Media is a give & take of production, attention, and manipulation.

Chris Brogan has been considering what it means to be a “media channel” in 2012:

The ‘gee whiz’ has worn off, and now, if you’re looking to build professional value from this whole jumble of the social web, it’s important to start thinking like a TV station and a magazine and start building out content that takes advantage of that.

Right. So it used to be quite the marvel that you could create your own TV station all from your MacBook Pro. It’s not anymore. Now it’s your job. Your responsibility. Your livelihood.

Or maybe just a super fun pass time.

Either way, as Brogan said – the ‘gee whiz’ is gone.

In social media & online entrepreneurship, the ‘gee whiz’ has turned into formulas and proven techniques. It’s boring. It’s noise. I don’t want to read it.

What should be playing on your particular station? I write about what is currently inspiring me, nagging at me, or pissing me off. I’d like to read more of that from you. I want your analysis. I crave your insight.

For me, what adds “professional value” to this content is understanding my purpose & vision. It means I can take a story or inspiration and turn it into meaningful content at the drop of a hat. You get relevant posts that feel professional but immediate.

Use your own media channel to present professional passion. Click to tweet it!

Then you won’t be saying “Me! Me! Look at me!” to get my attention. Your content is already part of my attention because it’s what you’re paying attention to. I trust you.

Creating professional content doesn’t mean following a formula but it does mean understanding your purpose & vision.

Click to tweet that!

Creating professional content allows you to connect with your audience in a personal way.
They see into your psyche. They get how you think. They know how to relate to you. You’re not an Every(wo)man but you are in touch & in tune.

Creating professional content enables you to create an experience for your audience. Whether it’s an experience of that very moment right on the page or an experience that is formed over time outside your media channel, your work has the capacity to affect your reader & the way they experience the world. Affect them.

Creating professional content empowers you to imbue meaning into every aspect of your business.
Just as traditional media has provided channels for better understanding the way conventional news, trends, and entertainment create meaning in our lives, “new media” powers the meaning that drives our consumption. You suggest that a product, service, or application has a certain meaning and suddenly, it does.

Media, more than ever before, is helping us consume better.

True, you can listen to the hype. You can watch the ads. You can endure product placement after product placement. Or you can stop. And listen. Pay attention. Share what matters.

Media is now giving consumers more choice than they ever had before. We have the choice to put up with paid promotion. Or we can pay attention to media that educates us, entertains us, and connects us.

Media that educates, entertains, and connects is still media that we’re consuming. The media, in turn, is teaching us what to consume outside of the experience of the media. It is begging us to make lifestyle changes, associate with a community, and better understand our own role on the planet.

And, again I agree with Brogan, we have a greater responsibility to the media we consume:

1. Don’t just consume, absorb. Take it allllll in.
2. Share. And don’t just push the stumble, the retweet, etc, but give some value to the share by giving your points, adding your two cents, blogging a piece around it, etc. If you had time to read it, take the time to share it well.

If what we’re consuming – media or otherwise – contributes to a great relationship with the world we want to live in, it’s our responsibility to share that consumption with others. The more people we can bring into our communities of affinity, the better for us.

Share. And comment. Tell me why. Bring me into the fold. Connect me.

As you share, you are bumping up against those touchpoints: connection, experience, meaning. I need you to share with me. Connection, experience, meaning: that’s what we’re all looking for in this New Economy.

The context of our media consumption – and our general consumption – suddenly has a greater meaning. It’s part of our identity. It’s part of our network. It’s part of our movement.

Media: the great engine of the You-Center Economy.

We are in & of the media. We are creators. We are consumers.

The media drives our connection and our experience. It influences the meaning of what we pay attention to.

Don’t fear the media. Embrace it. But do so with purpose & vision. Do so in service. Do so with passion.