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.

The Power of Dedicated Social Networks with Mighty Networks Founder Gina Bianchini

The Power of Dedicated Social Networks with Mighty Networks Founder Gina Bianchini

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The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why it’s time to disrupt our existing social networks
  • How we can create a better future when we connect individuals who share a common identity or interest
  • Why there’s room for the old social networks and new interest-driven social networks; entrepreneurs can leverage them both

While we may not have a crystal ball to predict the future transformation of social networks, we have Gina Bianchini as our guest on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, and she has some amazing thoughts about how social networks must evolve. Gina is the founder and CEO of Mighty Networks, a company that facilitates the creation of dedicated communities around an identity or interest, and founder and former CEO of Ning.

Existing social networks served a purpose but we have outgrown them

There’s just no substitute for people who are on your same path.

– Gina Bianchini

When Facebook started 11 years ago, it set out to help you consume information from people you already knew—former colleagues, college roomies, extended family members, high school and elementary school classmates. And, it did its job splendidly. Today, there are 2 billion people who are connected in ways they weren’t previously.

But, as Gina describes in the podcast, Facebook doesn’t support finding, meeting and breaking the ice with people who are on the same path as you—whether that path is a career or entrepreneurship, an illness, parenthood or more—via a newsfeed that whizzes by and gives no context for the updates that you see. Dedicated social networks solve that issue.

Small (with the ability to scale) is the next big thing

The people who don’t already know each other is the next chapter in how the world is going to create new relationships and a better future.

– Gina Bianchini

So, is small the next big thing? Tune in to the podcast to hear Gina’s full explanation, but the reality is that it doesn’t take a lot of people to make you feel like you’re in it together. At the same time, being in it together should be able to scale to larger numbers.

You can connect with people who are at the same stage as you (there’s a reason there’s a freshmen orientation), in the same region as you are and as the network grows you can meet more and more people that are just like you. An interest-driven network should focus on all the kinds of relationships that very naturally mirror the perfect environments of the real world.

So, it’s not really a matter of small versus large. What Gina loves about small though is that it feels attainable. Anyone can create a network based on an interest that then can create these really phenomenal moments and spark incredible relationships that don’t require millions, thousands or hundreds of people. It just requires a handful of people that care about each other.

How to use dedicated networks to grow your business

Think of your traditional social networks as your marketing (or the front of the house), while a dedicated network is the “back of the house” where you trade shop talk with like-minded people. A dedicated network doesn’t have to compete daily with hundreds or thousands of posts on divergent topics and issues and viral sensations.

When you try to use Facebook for everything in your business is where it falls down and where interest networks can really step up.

– Gina Bianchini

There are plenty of useful nuggets in the full episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. about the notion that interests bring us together, the power of dedicated social networks to enhance your life and your business success and the critical role word-of-mouth advertising is even for a venture capital-funded business such as Mighty Networks. Gina also shares what’s on the horizon for dedicated social networks—videos, smarter software (that can actually ORGANIZE events for the network) and revenue features to make the networks even more powerful.

All you need to do is to subscribe to Profit. Power. Pursuit. on iTunes so you access all episodes of our award-winning podcast with the best entrepreneurs of the 21st century.