Why Most Minority Businesses Fail

You're having a heart attack in the middle of a busy city street. You're laying on the ground, chest pounding and look up and see two men standing above you. One is wearing a nice business suit, Rolex watch, smells good, hair well groomed... the second man is dressed in baggy jeans, lower than his waist, sneakers, t-shirt, scruffy cut. They both yell at the same time, "I'm a doctor", then stare at each other and then at you. Who are you going to let save your life? 

That split second decision is just as serious at the choice to fully prepare yourself to put your business out there for the world to see without fully investing in the presentation of your new business.

Now, I didn't want to lay this out there in this way, but there's just no better way to say it than to hit hard and be real. Why is it that two hair salon/ barbershop owners of two different nationalities will do things entirely differently and get different desired results? Both have the same intention- to open a successful business. What makes me sad is when the Caucasian business owner plans well and prepares to open their business and it succeeds and the Black or Hispanic business owner takes the ghetto- fab route and they fail!

I hate stereotypes, but when there is truth to them it burns my skin, because this one can be prevented, but the mentality has to change! As a designer, I see this all the time! I've had a front row seat to it, over and over again...The Caucasian business owner is on point! They do the demographics on the area, they have their business plan. They research and procure the best space for their salon or shop. They hire me or another designer to design their space. They secure the proper amount of funding or have been saving on their own to open this business with enough money to do it all well. What I mean by that is that they have considered all needs to open that brand new business. They've taken extra care to ensure their new look brands them, so they are investing $30,000 in their build out of their space. They know exactly how much equipment they need and invest in that. They understand that marketing will take them places, so they get great signage for their new space and the right advertising in place to promote their business. 

Meanwhile, I meet a minority business owner looking to open up that same shop or salon. They have big dreams but either don't want to spend the money to make them happen, or think they can get Moet on a Mad Dog 20/20 budget. They don't care about establishing a cohesive look in branding their business and think they can half ass the look of their space. They focus on "being real in the hood" and catering to their people, which is great and all, but will your location bring you the best R.O.I (return on investment)? I find that most minorities flat out don't think things through when planning to open their new space. They seem to feel that, outside of rent, they can open up a new spot for $6,000- $10,000. That's just not possible! NOT AT ALL! What happens as a result? They run out of money in the midst of renovations. They get "hood favors" to do their remodels, paint done by the guy down the street and you can tell, used chairs that don't match and mirrors from Ikea everywhere. What they fail to understand is that that first impression in a potential new customer's mind is framed in the first thirty seconds upon entering your space. That quick glance over your new establishment let's me know whether your fees are worth it and whether or not I feel like you are qualified and I want to sit in your salon for the next two hours. 

It drives me crazy to patron a potential gold mine like a Puerto Rican restaurant in Phoenix or Mesa and see that they haven't put the proper investment into their business that makes it look like somewhere you'd want to sit and eat for a few hours versus order take out. The customer who dines in will spend far more money that the one taking it to go! You get that idea to open that business and you just can't wait, you don't have the patience and preparedness to do it right but never realize how important that start is. Then you see business decline and wonder why you're failing. Why not plan to succeed from day one?

I'm not just speaking out of turn. I've been witness to dozens of minority owned businesses over the years who have come to me to help design their dream, yet some didn't even want to pay to help them develop that space from the gate. Others got the grand total and decided to go it alone or find Tyrone down the road to help them do what they could. I've had a major ball player come to me talkin big talk about his new salon and when it came time to create that space, he cheaped out on it and it went out of business in less than a year. Yet, around the same time a Black owned barbershop in Mesa named Clippers was celebrating their second year in business, after investing the proper amount of money to create the brand they envisioned. Six years later and that business is doing amazing! He planned to succeed.  

It can all be so simple and yet we make it so complicated because we think there's an easy way to success, and there is...it's called The Right Way! The Right Way garners big business. The Wrong Way brings a short-lived business. The Right Way requires planning. The Wrong Way is quick to react. The Right Way is conscious that the presentation of your business IS the MAIN reason for it's success or failure, followed by excellent customer service. That's sad to say, but it's true. If you don't look like you will do good work, I won't even spend the money with you to see if your services are good in the first place. It all goes back to the two doctors in the beginning of the story. They may have both been trained in Harvard, but when your life is at stake, will you trust that the ghetto scrub can save your life or do you go for the guy that looks like he's successful? Don't kill your business going with the ghetto guy! Plan to succeed! Perception is reality, whether you like it or not. There is a system in place that already works. Don't hate on those who have successfully done what you're failing at and blame it on your skin color. Instead, play the game the same way and achieve the same success. Need help in making that business dream a reality? Call me and let's discuss the many ways we can crush the competition and take your business to the top!

Focus on Photography (Part 1): Creating a Romantic Bedroom with Couples Photos

You've done a wonderful job creating the most beautiful home. Every room is comfy and now you're ready; your focus has turned to your bedroom. I will be explaining about how to create the perfect bedroom space in a future post, but today my purpose is to spark the romance in a space that is the most intimate place in your home. 

The rest of your home is a showcase for your visitors to see but your bedroom and master bath are for your eyes only. That doesn't mean it should lack style or art. It should be just as amazing a space and one of the best and most intimate ways to do this is with photography that shows off your love. 

Couple's photos are a way to showcase the beautiful tone of your relationship with your significant other. They can be sexy and steamy or just capture the love and tenderness you feel in a moment in time. Gone are the days of posed photos in front of a boring backdrop. Welcome to some of the most amazingly well captured snaps into your relationship, done through photos and film and in Arizona, I am blessed to work with a man who knows the best way to create this form of art. His name is Robert Billings and he's the owner of Robert Billings Photography. I asked him to show off a few pieces of his work and for some insight into how he creates such beautiful memories for his clients. 

Photo courtesy of Robert Billings Photography

Photo courtesy of Robert Billings Photography

Me: What is the mindset you have when meeting with a couple or individual for a more romantic style of photo shoot?

Robert: "The truth is that in both boudoir and a typical couples shoot the subjects tend to look for the same thing, intimacy.  They want what they consider and feel to be the "real" them captured and viewable (and understandable) by anyone who sees it.  What I mean is that in these types of shoots the product is extremely personal to the client.  Both types of shoots reveal a softer and more vulnerable side to them (usually).  Each of these shots belong to them 100% because it is them and yet anyone looking at these photographs, even people that do not know the subjects, understand something about them.  They feel that moment and can relate to that moment.  Its familiar to them and it resonates.  Its why I call my particular style of boudoir and couples shooting "Nostalgia".

That's the hope anyway.  That's the goal."

Photo courtesy of Robert Billings Photography

Photo courtesy of Robert Billings Photography

Me: I love how you seem to catch the couples in silent moments that you create a story around. They are so natural, versus posed couple shots. Why do you prefer to shoot this way?

Robert: "Very rarely will I pose someone. People naturally move at their own pace and with their own rhythm.  My job is to match their rhythm, not change it.  Its why I mentioned heart beats before.  A lot of photographers, especially in the digital age, just click click click away hoping to capture something awesome in between the heart beats.  It works, but there is too much luck involved.  Too much uncertainty and wasted moments.  I started out on film.  The kind where you had anywhere from 10 to 36 shots only and you couldn't see a single one of them until later.  You learn to slow down, to wait.  To watch and click at the right time.  My shift to digital hasn't changed that mindset.  I move slower than most photographers I think.  Also, I still shoot a lot of film."

Photo courtesy of Robert Billings Photography   

Photo courtesy of Robert Billings Photography


As a fan of his creations, Robert brings a lot for me to work with when designing a romantic space. I can work with him directly on creating a theme or color scheme for the photos to be placed on the walls of the room I'm working in, but most love working from what he creates in it's natural state and drawing inspiration for my rooms from the work itself. The above three photos are of one couple's shoot, yet each one has an entirely different mood, all personal and gorgeous. I can frame these photos or they can be mounted on canvas. I can play with different matte applications and group them as a gallery, or hang them in different areas for individual focus. The photos are not steamy, yet the love and intensity of the connection between these two shows blatantly in these subtle moments captured so perfectly by Robert. I love what he does for his couple clients and nothing speaks more romantically in decor than reminiscing your own love each time you look around your bedroom. 

If you'd like to create some beautiful, intimate art with Robert, you can reach him by phone at 480-666-1076, on his website www.robertbillings.net or at info@robertbillings.net. 

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we discuss his boudoir shoots.

Oh what fun I'm having so far this year!!!

Well, it's almost Valentines Day and, outside of the frustration that I've had with my website being down for two weeks thanks to fighting between Yahoo and Go Daddy on my domain hosting transfer, work at Fashion House Interiors is as busy as normal.

What am I up to, you ask? I just completed a living room turned music room for a couple in Scottsdale and plan on creating a post all about it in the coming weeks. I've just completed a basic fireplace redo in Ahwatukee and are working on three bathroom remodels in that same house. I'm always excited when I get to use a new product in a home project, so I'm looking forward to sharing my post about these bathrooms and the metal trim I'm using to top the wainscoting in them. Here's a sneak peek.

Peterson guest bath almost done.jpg

I'm also working on a living room redo and a kitchen reface in Chandler for a lovely woman who is letting her feminine style shine all over her house... think pinks, powder blues and a love of iridescent kitchen tile. Stay tuned for that one!

Topping that off I'm planning a beautiful teen girl named Autumn's room in Scottsdale and completing a few plum hued rooms in Laveen.  

Starting this week, I'll be back to steadily blogging... I said that last month, but then the flu hit my house, followed by a second wave... and now, finally... PNEUMONIA! This flu season is said to be the worst ever and with me being busier than ever, the two has been a difficult combination, but I'm working through it. So, stay tuned and get ready to hear my mouth again about all things design, including interviews of some of my favorite local vendors and inspirations to my work. I'm also starting a segment for my alter-ego "The Mad Designer"... and she's MAD, really mad about lots of things. She'll tell you all about it!

More than anything, I'm blessed! I'm blessed to be busy doing great work for amazing people and to have found a few new contractors that have made my life a whole lot easier! Life is great when you love what you do, but it's even better when you get to do it with people who don't stress you out! Lol.

Welcome back to my blog and life with Fashion House Interiors, where design is ANYTHING... but beige!