Khila James is a business development expert, digital marketing strategist, project manager, and speaker. Her journey in business began in 2017 when she saw a need for more collaboration, support, and resources for women of color to succeed. At 19 years old she started a non-profit organization called SHE Muse Inc., a women’s empowerment organization  that’s focused on building bridges between established and aspiring successful women. Currently, she is the founder of Bougie Business Brand where she helps entrepreneurs in the beauty and lifestyle space in launching and growing their businesses.

What inspired you to start a business while in college? 

Well my first business actually was a community organization called SHE Muse which was basically a platform for women who were interested in beauty and fashion and things of that nature to connect with each other. That idea actually came from me just realizing there were a lot of women on my college campus of Saint John’s University in Queens, New York that were all trying to pursue their passions individually and I just realize that we would all be a lot more successful if we worked together. I feel like when you’re in your late teens & early 20s there is a lot of competition and cattiness and I just wanted to create a space where women were supporting and helping one another without all of that drama. It was actually my experience running that business that caused me to realize just how much support and help women need when trying to pursue different ventures that caused me to start my now current business of business coaching and mentorship. 

You were able to grow your business to 6 figures in 90 days, how were you able to grow your business so quickly? 

Honestly, around that time I was launching this business; after working on it for about four months (I had several businesses previously some successful some not successful) but when I was launching this business, I was basically at a place where it had to work. I had drained all of my savings, I had spent day or night 24 hours a day for the last four months working on this business, and so I just decided I was going to do whatever it took to make sure that this business was successful. And what I believe I did differently with this business that allowed it to grow so quickly is first of all I had applied everything I had basically learned in the two years prior of running multiple different businesses. All of my failures and things that I tried that didn’t work and things that I tried that did work, I used all of that to create an action plan. 

Two extremely important elements that I believe helped the business to grow so quickly is that I am providing a product that is of value to people. Starting a business is extremely difficult. I’ve had a lot of experience with it in so I know this. & So people need resources that can help them start these businesses and so I knew that if I could provide these resources at an affordable rate then there would be an audience. Someone would want to purchase this and then I studied extensively how to market to them. I always tell my clients, the key to starting a business is valuable products plus a website plus traffic. I created a product and I drove massive amounts of traffic to the website. This formula was key in my success. 

What are some of the challenges you face as a business owner? 

There are just so many day-to-day challenges especially when your business is growing at such a rapid rate. I struggle with leading my team, I struggle with people copying me online. I struggle with so many things but the thing I struggle with the most I would have to say is imposter syndrome. It sounds crazy but on some of my best days I actually have to call my mom to calm me down because I’m just so overwhelmed at just how well the business is doing and the fact that I’m only 22 years old with a full staff and just all of what happens behind the scenes on a daily basis. I just sometimes struggle with the fact that I was able to build this, you know, because anybody that knows me, knows how bad I wanted it and for how long I’ve wanted it and I’ve been working tirelessly for the last few years on it and to actually see it come into fruition and be successful and be of help to people is just unreal and cab be overwhelming. I just can’t believe it’s actually “me” doing all of this. 

What advice would you give to young women who want to be entrepreneurs? 

The best piece of advice that I can give to young women who want to become entrepreneurs is to honestly just do it afraid. & I say that because I truly believe that the biggest reason a lot of aspiring women entrepreneurs put off starting their business is because they’re afraid. You know, they’re afraid of failure, they’re afraid of what people are going to say about them, they’re afraid of just all of the trials and tribulations that they know might come with starting a business and clients actually asked me all the time, “how do you stop being afraid” or how do you defeat this feeling of failure that they have and the reality is that you cannot. You have to honestly just do it afraid. I still get scared when I’m making various decisions for my business. I was scared in the beginning, I get scared now, and I’ll be scared years from now but the reality is that you have to push through the fear. There is no eliminating the fear, there’s no not being scared anymore. You are going to be scared the entire time but you just have to decide that no matter how you’re feeling, no matter how scared you are, you are literally just going to do it anyway. You have to do it afraid.

What do you have planned for your business and brand in 2020? 

I actually have so much planned for my business and my brand in 2020. The bougie business brand is actually going to change from a boutique style to more of an agency style. Instead of having just a variety of e-books and courses that you can purchase individually, we are actually going to be focusing more on providing social media, email marketing, graphic design, & consulting services to clients looking to grow their businesses. We will be providing e-books and courses but it will actually all be packaged into one extensive course. I just started to realize that the best way that I can provide the most value is for them to have everything that they need instead of going on and needing to pick a bunch of different things. Because most entrepreneurs that need help with certain things don’t even need to realize that they need help with it until they get it and so I kind of just want to give them everything that they’re going to need to start a business instead of allowing them to go on and choose. I am, however, also working on a couple of other platforms/brands that will still provide business start up resources but specifically for certain industries such as beauty and fashion. I myself want to get from behind the screen a little bit more and get in front of people to be able to provide value. I want to do a couple of more speaking engagements and just be able to connect with my audience more in person in 2020. 

Featured Image by Villainoire