Recently launching her fur collection, Furgo, in collaboration with Jerrika Karlae and coming up on the one year anniversary of Unicorn Universe, Brittni Mealy shares some insight into the life of a thriving entrepreneur who is juggling multiple ventures and building a successful online presence — all while maintaining her Life of Brittni app that has garnered the support of Karen Civil, Tammy Rivera, Erica Mena, and YFN Lucci to name a few.
We caught up with Brittni to get the exclusive on the root of the ideas behind Unicorn Universe and Furgo, some of the failures that turned into her biggest lessons towards success, and some valuable advice that any Girl Boss would want to hear.
How did this collaboration come about with Jerrika to create Furgo?
Jerrika and I have been knowing each other for awhile now. Everybody gets this misconception that we just wanted to do something because the boys [Future and Young Thug] collaborated on a project. When really we hung out before they started hanging out. We’ve always been in contact and always been cool. We’re both girly girls and just like fashion and looking cute.
She hit me up one day and said Britt I think we should do these fur jackets. I thought it was a dope idea! We just put our heads together and the unique thing is that we’re both Virgos. So somehow I wanted people to know that fun fact through our company name. We started brainstorming out loud and after a few stabs at it we came up with Furgo and got super excited about that!
What was the root of the idea behind Unicorn Universe? What does it represent?
I always called myself a unicorn. I always tell people how I have had this faded unicorn tattoo on my finger for so long before everyone got on this unicorn wave and even before I started wearing colored hair I always called myself a unicorn. Then I noticed my followers and fans started commenting unicorns under my pictures and everyone else started to identify me as a unicorn. Then I realized that this was something that I could monetize but how could I incorporate it with fashion since I love fashion. Ideas just started coming to me and I came up with Unicorn Universe. There are two sections on the site — one is ‘Unicorn Faves’ which is clothes that I source. The other section is ‘Originals’ which are things I get manufactured from scratch where as if you don’t get it from me you won’t be able to get it anywhere else.
With so many online boutiques and social media brands, what techniques and marketing strategies have you found to be highly successful for you to get your brand name out there and selling your product?
I don’t have a particular go-to marketing strategy but what I have noticed with Unicorn Universe is that it grew a lot faster when I started using my face as the brand. Previously, I didn’t want people to know that my brand was my brand. I just wanted people to love it so much that they became super curious and actually wondered who was behind the brand.
And me becoming the face of my brand wasn’t even intentional but so many people used to yell at me about how much I need to wear my own brand and how crazy it was that people look up to me as a fashion inspiration and then when I post what I’m wearing on Instagram none of it is actually what I sell. But that just wasn’t the approach I had in mind at the time.
Then it just happened that at the last shoot I had a model came and didn’t really know what she was doing — even after I specified that it was a paid shoot for an experienced model. I payed her and thanked her for her services and at that point I decided I was going to do it for myself since I know exactly what I wanted, how I wanted the poses to be, and what I wanted it to look like. Then it all came together that if I want people to buy into my brand then they are going to want to see me in it.
I don’t consider myself a model because I wouldn’t do it for anybody else’s brand but it works for me. Failure is important. There is no manual to being an entrepreneur. There’s no blueprint. Business is trial and error and modeling for my brand is working for me.
What is your advice to women who feel like finances is what’s holding them back from starting a brand?
Start with what you have. Do what you can with what you have. That’s why it’s called brand development. Your brand will develop. Your brand is not meant to be perfect the exact same day you start.
Take it one step at a time. Get your website done. Invest in your marketing plan. We’re in 2018. You don’t have to be rich to start a business. Just start.
If you start a business, how much time should you allocate to it before you consider it a failure or a loss of money?
Most businesses I’ve started have made money in the first couple of weeks. I’ve been blessed and never had a business where I had to slow grind it out. But a piece of advice I do have for that question is — don’t put all your eggs in one basket especially if you have no experience in the field.
For instance, with Unicorn Universe I wanted to start manufacturing the first day. But I rethought it and started small. That’s why it’s called a small business. You don’t start a business and become a corporation the first day. But now I’ve gained experience, witnessed what did and didn’t work and now I manufacture.
Can you share some mistakes you’ve made on your entrepreneurial journey that you have now learned from and that other women could learn from as well?
When you say you want to do a business you have to really ask yourself, “Do I really want to a business?” — not just do I like the idea of a business. Do you just like the idea of saying you’re a boss? Because you’re going to get what you put in, and you’re going to have to put in the day to day leg work and these may be duties that you feel like are beneath you that you may have not realized is apart of having a successful business. It’s not cute. It’s not glamorous. It looks cute on Instagram but it’s a lot of work on top of maintaining a personal life and being a mother if you have children. So that’s the first question that should be asked. Do I really want to start a business or do I just like the idea of it? From there you have to be consistent and work at it every single day.
But something that’s personal for me and something that I’m learning but also probably something that all girls have went through or will go through is getting caught up in men so much that we put our business on the back burner. You don’t see guys stopping what they’re doing for us. If they have business to do, we can tag along but the show will go on by any means. We’re always so willing to stop what we’re doing or reschedule important things when really we just have to learn to balance as businesswomen. Opportunity may come up that may never come again and you might have to turn down a date or baecation but your business is like a baby so it needs to be tended to properly. It’s not something you can choose to do on Monday and Wednesday or whenever you feel like it. Weekends, late nights, literally every single day you should be putting in the necessary work.
What helps you stay in your own lane and not compare or compete with everyone else you see on social media?
I feel like every girl is in their own lane because no one can be you. But when I created my app, I wanted something that no other person had. I wanted it to be something that girls could identify with daily or a one stop shop for millennials — fashion, beauty, lifestyle and a diary with personal things that have happened to me because things don’t always go my way because believe it or not I’m human too. So when I did the app I knew that would create my own lane.
As far as Unicorn Universe, it’s so personal to me. It’s me from the inside out. It’s me in a brand form. That in itself, is me in my own lane.
Top 3 artists on your playlist?
As for this week, I’ve been listening to Quavo and Travis Scott’s Huncho Jack project. Oh, and Trippie Redd.
Do you plan to branch out into other things besides fashion? Any ultimate goals beyond Unicorn Universe?
Fashion is my passion, but my app is really important because it explores the tech side in which I want to explore more of. I’ve also taken a few acting classes because I eventually want to get into acting but I’ve learned as an entrepreneur you have so many ideas and they can all be great ideas but you have to focus on one until it has maximized to it’s fullest potential. But eventually I want to pursue acting, tech, and of course continue my pursuits in fashion.