Getting your first clients or customers is rarely easy, but it’s always exhilarating. We asked some of the brightest folks we know to take a stroll down memory lane to talk to us about how they got their first customers back when just starting out.

Meredith Jurica | CEO/Owner

Jessie Smith Photography

I want to say that I initially built up my clientele through Facebook sharing contest. I relied heavily on social media because it was free and I had no advertising budget at the time, If I were to start over today, knowing what I know now, I would have gone to wholesale markets sooner. I did not go to wholesale markets the first year and a half of my business because it intimated me and I didn’t think I was ready but the first market I had, it was a grand slam and I really wish I would have done that sooner.

About me: Makeup Junkie Bags is a leak resistant, high-capacity storage lay flat/pack flat design that is a grand slam. Unlike bulky toiletry bags that take up space, these hold full size products while taking up no space in a travel item and protect your suitcase/purse from leaks. Stuff them…. then the magic happens! Handmade in Texas. Lifetime Warranty! As Seen on Shark Tank.

Dozie Oheri | Founder/CEO

Photographer @Josiah Peeples

When I first started Choose to DO, Inc. in 2017 I didn’t have a population that we were servicing, but I knew I wanted our focus to be helping youth with their mental health. After we were approved to be a 501c3 nonprofit I researched places that could utilize the type of programming that I had in mind. At that time I had nothing but an idea. The next thing I did was take time out to research potential locations and found one that my friend previously told me about called The Pink Giraffe House, which is a transitional home for homeless teens. Then I decided to visit their facility. When I got there there was a sea of people moving about. I stopped someone and asked them if there was staff that I could talk to about running my program, keep in mind I didn’t have a program to pitch them. They pointed me in the direction of “Waffles” who owned the facility and she told me to come back the next day. When I came back to have a meeting with her, I explained who I was, and what I wanted to accomplish. She liked and approved my idea, but not with out asking questions that I wasn’t prepared for. Thankfully she gave my the time and support I requested to work with her teens. Meeting “Waffles” and taking a chance on myself started my journey to building the community we have now. That opportunity opened up doors for me to access a network that supports our efforts and helped to define the population that we serve today. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change a thing. The experiences that I went through came with challenges and lessons that I probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. How we started is why we exist. That type of experience is priceless.

About me: I am the Founder/CEO Choose to DO, Inc. a nonprofit centered around mental health and wellness for BIPOC teens 13 – 19 years old.

When I first started my law firm, I just bought some business cards and started telling my friends and family that I was a business lawyer. I was lucky enough to have a few friends that introduced me to a couple of people and I was able to speak to various business groups and that helped a lot. The one think that I would change, knowing what I know now, is I would have focused more on my mindset. I missed out on several opportunities because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough or didn’t have enough experience. My approach to opportunities would definitely be different as I realized that my own unbelief left me playing small for too long. Believing in yourself and your abilities is important to building a business. You need some courage and self-belief to be successful.

About me: I am a business law and nonprofit law attorney. I work as General Counsel for Small Businesses and Nonprofit Organizations. I help with formations, contract drafting and review, trademarks, copyrights, and overall legal planning and strategies.

Tosin Lee | Occupational therapist; founder/chair of Melanin Minds Matter

When I first started my non-profit, I build my clientele by taking a leap of faith. I made the decision to email a handful of schools in the Houston area that fit my target population and pitched my mental health program to the appropriate staff members. The twist was that I did not have program at the time that I was reaching out to the schools. I only possessed strong passion and determination. I wanted to ensure that the (nonexistent) program that I created in my mind was wanted and valued. Once I started hearing positive feedback and strong interest from the schools, I knew that it was time to put my plan into action. I came up with a name, manual and content for my program and started setting up meetings in person to present my presentation. From there, my clientele grew by word of mouth and being persistent with contacting schools. I started attending community events, became a vendor a different events to showcase my program and created social media platforms to market out program. If I were to start over today, knowing what I know, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I am typically not one to take risks. I enjoy the comfort of familiarity and security. However, I knew this non-profit was placed on my heart for a reason and the only way I would follow through with it was if I took a risk and put myself in uncomfortable positions in order to put a fire under my bottom. And that is exactly what I did!

About me: I am the founder of a non-profit organization that provides mental health and wellness program to girls of color in the school system.

Brittnee Linnear | Brand Designer

MAAD Marketing | Production Team

When I first started business, I thrived on word of mouth referrals and passing out cards & flyers in stores. Lol! If I were to start over I wouldn’t change it for that time frame. It was such a fear buster and empowered me in my business. It gave a foundation to my business that sparked creativity and inspired more ideas on how to serve to grow my business.

About me: MAAD Marketing offers Brand Designs & Marketing Strategies to service based businesses, that are derived from their brands “why.”

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