Welcome to the Founder Spotlight series where we get to know a tech founder who is working to create the next billion dollar company. Show your support by sharing her story and increasing the visibility of black women in tech!
Name: Dr. Symone Lewis
@Barelastics on all social platforms
What made you want to become an entrepreneur in tech?
Entrepreneurship chose me. I had a solution to a widespread problem that impact women more than they realize. I have a product which provides a solution and a message of empowerment using techniques to improve confidence and the perception of competence.
As a clinical psychologist I am aware of how social, professional, and romantic interactions can be derailed by such a seemingly little thing as the Off The Shoulder Sleeves rising up and the efforts to cope, be it repeatedly tugging them down, restricting movement if the arms, or giving up and rocking a Founding Father neckline instead of the sophisticated feminine one you intended. In each of these instances the woman loses control of her messaging and others (ie men) make assumptions about her competence in choosing clothing, read the communication of immovable shoulders as she is disinterested, aloof, or shy, they may even chuckle are her efforts and failure. This is detrimental but unnecessary. Shoulder Bare LTD’s first product Barelastics solves the many problems associated with Off The Shoulder Sleeves not staying in place.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
I chicago step (social dance) and I like to wear Off The Shoulder fashions when I go out. I used the safety pin and rubber band “hack” but had pain with this method. I realized there was nothing other than fashion tape or wearing the low Off The Shoulder that looks like a halter top with arm bands to help to maintain my favorite look, so I made one for purchase that is comfortable, adjustable, decorative (option) and works. My vision is much larger and I have learned that I have to work on the smallest factor, get that going and scale as able
What is the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
Getting involved with Tech. I am embarrassed to admit I did not use instagram until I started Shoulder Bare LTD. It was bad, I had no idea of what went into designing a website…I was so moved to see the women especially women of color in the tech space. It was like watching a superhero movie. WTF Women Tech Founders was my first Tech Conference and I was introduced to that by the Director of the Chicago Chapter of BWISE (Black Women In Science and Engineering)Leslie Mckinney. They accepted me as a member because I am an entrepreneur in product development (I think). The Founder of BWISE Erika Jefferson is a panelist at the conference this year.
There is a thrill of connection meeting people in this space, and understanding of the struggle or the drive. I enjoy seeing the “Ah Ha in peoples eyes when they acknowledge they have no response to the problem of the rising Off The Shoulder sleeves other than to keep pulling them down and how delighted they are making the purchase (when I vend).
What are you an expert in?
What advice would you give yourself before you started this company?
When you start pay the professional to get it done right. I may have learned a great deal but it cost me…still is. Talk to others who have started a successful business.
When will you feel like your company is successful?
When I have carried out the other aspects I have planned for Shoulder Bare LTD but in the shorter term I would feel like Shoulder Bare LTD is successful if there were a women’s march and the women are wearing all styles of Off The Shoulder Fashion. I would would know my “WHY” of women empowerment, leadership, and equality was understood.
Tell us something cool you recently learned, big or small!
That instilling fear is a good marketing strategy because people buy off emotion.
What’s the biggest thing we can help you with so that you become a billion dollar founder?
Money and a Mentor Allowing me to participate in the conference is HUGE.
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