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37 Oaks' Small Business Spotlight! Meet Erika Nicole

Shining a light on the amazing small business owners that power the communities we live, work, and play in.

37 Oaks has the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing small business owners around the country. They started off with a passion or a hobby, then we guide them towards growth. Let's take a moment to shine a light on the rock stars!

Erika Nicole, Lotus Noir (Chicago,IL)
Erika Nicole, Lotus Noir (Chicago,IL)

| 1. Tell Us About Your Business

Lotus Noir® Co. is a sustainable handbag and apparel brand with a community-driven purpose: to create opportunities that ignite, enrich, and empower the Black community. We intend to heal the community through entrepreneurship, creativity, and fashion! Igniting hope and desires to everyday life with high-quality products that exceed our community’s desires. We aim to be synonymous with both affordability and Black luxury. Lotus Noir® exists to contribute to the style and economic growth of Black women in business.

| 2. What Makes Your Business Unique?

In addition to creating sustainable products, we aim towards our mission by:

  • Actively seeking the services of Black-women-owned businesses to support the growth and development of Lotus Noir® Co.

  • Partnering and hosting accessible and purpose-driven events with Black-women ran organizations within our city

  • Donating and contributing time to youth-centered organizations whose missions and services are aligned with Lotus Noir® Co. to empower the Black community through creative art outlets.

| 3. What Inspired You to Start Your Business?

My professional background blankets a few industries such as Mental Health, Education, and Marketing. But one thing that is common is the type of communities I have served. It brings me intense joy to work with individuals through challenges as we all know those in life are temporary. Through my healing process, I gained the drive for full entrepreneurship. Through the ups and downs of healing, mentally, physically, and even financially, I knew that ownership would unlock an avenue to health and wealth not only for my legacy but for the communities I serve.

| 4. Describe The Challenges Faced In Taking Your Business From A Hobby Into the Early Growth Stage.

With the decrease in income due to being laid off, it has been difficult to scale the brand at a steady rate and as originally planned. I started my brand from passion and learned quickly that securing an adequate and consistent flow of capital is what is most difficult as I scale.

| 5. How Did 37 Oaks Help You Overcome These Challenges?

37 Oaks was Godsend! I was praying, scrolling, and saw an ad for the Definition Innovator program. It came right after I was laid off and helped me ground myself with my brand, expand my network, and kept me motivated. I wasn't aware at the time of its true power, but it was perfectly aligned with the pivot that took place within my company. I learned quickly that slow progress is progress indeed, pivots are necessary for business even when unexpected, and when following your God-given passion, your tribe will surface. I have newly been accepted to the E-commerce Learning Lab and looking forwards to continuing to grow with 37 Oaks!

| 6. What Is Your Greatest Win So Far As A Small Business Owner?

There have been so many in the 2 short years.

Participating in Amazon's Black Business Accelerator, becoming certified by ByBlack by the United States Black Chamber, and graduating from 37 Oaks. However, securing both the logo and brand name trademarks has been a huge win! My brand is protected even with it being so new. It also was completed by a Black female-led law firm which aligns with its mission.

| 7. What Advice Would You Give An Early-Stage Entrepreneur Working To Grow Their Business?

Just start! It will come together and fall apart time and time again but it is part of the refining process. When you start, your tribe will form and you will soon have a village full of support to take you to the next level!

| 8. What's Next For Your Business?

We're expecting! I am planning to roll out new items to the store from handbags, leather accessories, and apparel. I will also be participating in some major expos coming up! Stay tuned!

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If you or a small business owner you know would like to be featured in our Small Business Spotlight...



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