• Denay Dominic

Tierra Thompson- Free as a Bird

Baybee! I truly love my job. I have greatly enjoyed speaking to so many women and hearing their stories. This must be what Oprah feels like after a successful interview.


Well today I have the honor of introducing to you the owner of Free Bird 1985,

Tierra Thompson. Free Bird 1985 offers handmade jewelry, clothing and other household goods. It was not only an honor and a pleasure speaking with her, but I felt like I was talking with a life long friend. I hope that you enjoy learning about her and the Free Bird 1985 brand as much as I did.


Interview


How did the idea for your business come about?

In 2015 I started to "dibble & dabble" in making jewelry for people. I have always had a creative spirit, but in 2016 is when I officially became an LLC. It is not my main job, I do work full time. Although Free Bird 1985 is another full time job, it is not my primary source of income. This is a passion project for me so hopefully it will become my only business at some point. I currently work in Human Relations.


What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

It is nurturing something that you can call your own and being your own boss and building a business from the ground up.


A few years ago, I decided to go back to school to get my Master's Degree. I wanted to do something creative but I wasn't sure if I wanted to go into Interior Design or Fashion Design. Jefferson University offered a program in Global Fashion Enterprise where you are taught the business side of fashion. I figured that with my brand it would help to cultivate my brand and grow it on a larger scale. The courses helped me to elevate my brand.


How did you come up with the name for your company?

I am a free spirit, a free bird.


How did you raise funding for your venture?

I personally fund Free Bird 1985. That was a personal choice of mine. Typically I allot a certain amount of money from my primary income into my business. As the business grows and if I need to hire people, then I will consider getting funding from grants or loans.


How do you build a successful customer base?

Relationship building is really the key. I think about what is important to me when I am shopping at other businesses.


Growing my social media base was important to me but also I do a lot of vending events. Since I am an online only business, it helps me to meet people in person and it allows for the customer to interact with the product in person. I have found that word of mouth is popular too because people speak about the product and the experiences that they have had. So I have had alot of traffic based on the reviews of other people.


How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?

Instagram is my main source of getting the word out and Facebook is secondary. Most of my typical customers are from Instagram. I have a Twitter account but it's rarely used. I also do email marketing.



How many hours a day do you work on average?

It's a lot of hours. I would say typically before the pandemic I wasn't able to put as much time into it. My creative process was stagnant and I was only able to create on the weekends. It was not the best way because I had to force myself to be creative on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, since I am working from home, I am able to manage my time and it isn't regulated. But I have to learn to set better guidelines and boundaries for myself.


How do you generate new ideas?

I watch the trends on social media and I do themes for the holidays. I get inspiration from what people are wearing, store designs and the seasons. I am a really big fan of vintage pieces and things that are funky.


What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

I think my greatest fear is that this will fail. When I started this business I don't know if I ever thought that one day I would make millions (of dollars). To me it was more of just seeing how it goes. But now that things are going pretty well because with the pandemic people were doing more online shopping. There are times when I have my moments but the biggest part is to just keep pushing and to keep at it.


How do you define success?

Everyone likes monetary success, but a measure of success for me is when people have a positive interaction.


What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Knowing that I am keeping something together. When you count yourself out but you then see all that you can accomplish, even when you could have quit or things got really hard. Not giving up and making things better is a really big deal to me.


What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

I am really excited when people tell me that they have seen someone else wearing my brand. It's people knowing who I am and recognizing the work that I am doing.



What piece of advice would you give to college graduates who want to become entrepreneurs?

Don't be afraid to start and don't be afraid to learn. Be clear about your vision and your plan to nurture it.


If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

I would have taken a chance on myself sooner. When I was younger I didn't take alot of risks and I took the easy way out. I say, "Be scared and do it anyway". I am not saying to jump into the river if you can't swim, but don't be afraid to take a chance on yourself. It's okay to try new things and to express yourself. Be free to be you.


What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

  1. Time management for business and self.

  2. Have to be able to interact with different sets of people and be aware of your own biases.

  3. Have a willingness to learn and rely on the resources that are available to you. Don't be afraid to ask for help.


What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?

Take courses. There are community colleges that offer free courses such as accounting. Learn how to use social media. Instagram will tell you which posts are rated the highest. The algorithm is important. It may seem menial but in the grand scheme of things it makes sense. Aligning yourself with like minded businesses- find your tribe and make connections. A like minded business is a company that has the same goals. Be willing to receive constructive criticism.




Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My mom is still my biggest inspiration. Leading through example, she's taught me to be driven and self sufficient while also supporting me to go after what makes me happy. My mom is also a super creative, who finds inspiration all around her. Her creative projects range from handmade one-of-a-kind paper goods, to repurposing thrifted items, to interior design projects and so much more. She is the source of my creative interests, and I aspire to one day be as creatively in-tuned as her.


What business-related book has inspired you the most? (or, What is your favorite book?)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.


If you had a magic stick, which are the three things you would change in the world?

  1. The disregard for Black lives. It affects everybody. When you try to do good in the world and do right by people, but someone will only see the color of your skin.

  2. I would change the distribution of wealth and resources. There should be no reason why people do not have access to healthcare and education. That makes no sense to me.

  3. More happiness. People feeling like they aren't allowed to be who they are. That makes me sad.

If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?

I Am Still Here.



To find out more about Free Bird 1985 check out the website https://www.freebird1985.com

and Instagram @free_bird_1985