Encouraged by guest speakers in her marketing course, Tiffaney Youngblood ’16 (marketing) established Brave Little Ones, a children’s clothing line, last year. She discusses her inspiration, business model and advice for student entrepreneurs.
Tiffaney Youngblood ’16, a senior at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, knew she wanted to launch a business that would make a positive impact in the lives of children. She had considered writing children’s literature or even starting an orphanage.
In April 2015, she launched Brave Little Ones, a kids’ clothing line, after being inspired by guest speakers and Mihaylo alumni and brothers James ’14 and Ryan Fratzke ’14 (marketing), who spoke to her MKTG 351 – Principles of Marketing course.
Humble Beginnings and Bold Plans for the Future
“During the class, I wrote down five things that I would like to accomplish,” recalls Youngblood. “I narrowed it down to one I wanted to do first, which was starting a children’s clothing company. I spent that night doing online research on how to start this business.”
Her model focused on purchasing children’s clothing from wholesalers, designing inspirational logos and selling the finished product on her website. A devout Christian, her clothing designs feature encouraging scriptures and faith affirmations.
Her enterprise had humble beginnings. “I started my business with $200,” she says. “I had no computer desk, so I would work on the floor in my walk-in closet. On my first day in business, I only sold one piece of clothing to my mom. But after one month, I was doing so well, with the assistance of my fiancé, who is a graphic designer, I was able to quit my job and focus on my new clothing line.”
Looking beyond her graduation this semester, Youngblood has high hopes for her startup. “As a student, I currently work on my business part time, so when I can devote double the time I’m hoping my income can double as well. I hope to expand my marketing efforts through search engine optimization while developing more designs,” she says. “I am confident that I can make a reasonable income working for myself, so I’m going to take a leap of faith and try.”
She is currently looking to hire English majors to assist her in creative writing for her enterprise and graphic artists to create shirt designs.
Social Media and Social Responsibility
Social media has been crucial to Youngblood’s success, with an estimated 95% of her business originating with her Instagram page. With nearly 8,700 followers, her clear and consistent branding and high-quality photographs of children wearing Brave Little Ones clothing is clearly resonating with her audience.
“I started with ‘brand rep searches’ in which I would do a contest to repost a promotional post with my logo and product on it. I would send the winner several free items each month in return for professional photos,” she says. “Most of these brand reps have thousands of followers and they post pictures wearing the clothes, which helps get the name and clothing designs out there and provides professional photos to use for marketing purposes.”
Many businesses established by millennials incorporate social responsibility into their business models, and Youngblood’s enterprise is no exception. Brave Little Ones currently donates $1 from each sale to Under His Umbrella, a nonprofit that seeks to improve the lives of children in underdeveloped regions of Africa. “I have sponsored a child in Rwanda, providing her with essentials such as education, health care and clothing,” she says. “I visited Africa over this winter break and had a chance to meet the child my company sponsors. What Under His Umbrella is doing in Africa is amazing and we hope that as we grow we will be able to donate more and more to help them grow and make a change in Africa as well.”
Let Your Dreams Guide You
Youngblood says that students should follow their dreams when determining their future steps. “First, determine what your dreams are,” she says. “It helps to write out a couple of them and figure out which ones would be feasible at this point in your life. Second, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I ask questions to everyone anywhere I go.”
For more information on Brave Little Ones, visit them online or contact Youngblood at email@example.com. For more on Mihaylo’s marketing programs, visit the Department of Marketing online or at SGMH 5214.