Meet Lakisa Cherelle, a South Philadelphia native, Temple University Alumnus, successful momtrepreneur and the walking definition of a Self Made Babe! After working in the corporate world for 6 years, Lakisa realized that working 40 hours every week to build someone else’s legacy was not fulfilling or likely to create generational wealth.
While still working full time, Lakisa established a nonprofit organization (Black Boys Matter INC.) and a real estate investment group (Real Estates LLC). It was then, that Lakisa realized her purpose, her natural ability to create and establish!
In 2019, Lakisa took another step to solidify her presence in entrepreneurship. Self Made Babe was established in efforts to help like-minded entrepreneurs build on their passion and launch their business!
Today we had the opportunity to chat with Lakisa about her journey!
Tell us something about yourself?
Well, I’m just a normal girl who was born and raised in an impoverished neighborhood in South Philadelphia. The more I matured, the more I knew that I didn’t want to be a product of my environment. After graduating high school, I attended college and got pregnant with my oldest boy during my sophomore year. I dropped out for about 2 years and then decided to go back. Shortly after, I graduated with a B.A. from Temple and then an M.A. from the slippery rock. (I couldn’t attend this graduation because I was giving birth to my youngest son. There’s something about college that causes me to get pregnant. That’s why I’m not going back lol)
I’ve worked in corporate for about 8 years now and it was around year 6, (after receiving two degrees) when I realized that working in corporate was no longer for me. At that point, my mindset began to shift from wanting to work for a paycheck and pension, to wanting to create generational wealth and financial freedom for myself, my family and my heirs.
What does your work entail?
Self Made Babe is a one-stop-shop for all new entrepreneurs looking to grow their brand and build their business. We offer services and products for every level of entrepreneurship at affordable rates. For those who have an idea and want to legitimize it, we assist with start-up paperwork, partnership agreements, business plans and other business forms. For those who have already formalized their business, we assist with graphic designs such as logos, business cards, flyers, etc.
We offer customized social media content such as puzzles, Instagram highlights, custom posts and web banners.
We offer (physical) marketing material such as stickers, labels, tags etc.
We also offer brand exams and consultations which allows clients to get information and assistance with forming and structuring their ideas and their business.
What motivated you to start a company in the first place? How did you get inspired to shape your career within brand, design and consulting?
Self-made babe is a business that I did not intend to create, I was kind of thrown into it. I started my first business, a non-profit in 2018 with no prior business experience. I read a lot, I talked to people and I was able to apply what I learned and start a business successfully. In that season, I was introduced to my natural ability to retain and apply information. My natural ability to create and establish. Note, I said that I was introduced to it, however, I still did not believe in it.
My boyfriend at the time saw this in me and brought it to my attention. During a conversation, he said “yo, you should really do this branding thing. You’re super dope at it.” I never really thought about it and I think- no, I know that my biggest reservation was that I did not think that I had the authority or the pull to tell someone what to do with their business. After all, I had just started mine, who was going to listen to me? What I want to share with everyone who is holding back because of this same fear is that in order to teach a number 1, you only have to be a number 2! Look at it like this, even if you only read 3 chapters of a 50 chapter book, you still have more knowledge from that book and can teach something new to someone who hasn’t read it at all.
So anyway I still had no interest in branding. A few months later, one of my friends at the time suggested that I start a branding business, in addition to me getting calls from people to assist them in starting their businesses. This is when I began to give it thought because more than 1 one person had told me the same thing, more than one person saw this “thing” in me.
I had a conversation with God and basically said “God, if you send me some sort of confirmation, I will start YOUR branding business and I will do it with full force and full authority.”
Not even a week later my friend’s brother reached out to me. He said he was in need of assistance with setting up a non-profit that he was attached to with an A-List celebrity. I did the non-profit and then I established Self Made Babe.
What does designing your own life mean to you after you have decided to work for yourself?
Designing my own life means absolutely everything. It is one of the main reasons that I began to pursue entrepreneurship. Working 5 days a week and only having 2 days to myself just doesn’t sit well with my spirit. Working to the retirement age of 66 and only having potentially 10-15 years left to live on my terms doesn’t sit well with me. Living paycheck to paycheck and relying on a pension is not something that is fulfilling to me.
Designing my own life means that I have the ability to set my daily schedule and maneuver throughout the days, weeks and months on my own terms.
My children and family will not be able to inherit my job or my degrees if I were to die today or tomorrow; but they would certainly be able to inherit my businesses, properties, and my blueprint. Designing my own life gives me the ability to create financial freedom and abundance for myself, my children, my children’s children and their children as well. Generational wealth does not come from working in corporate alone, it comes from designing your own life and living on your own terms.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Keep going! Rome was not built in a day. Don’t get caught up in how many followers you have or who you think is supposed to support you. The reality is, none of us are entitled to anything. Our family and friends are just that; and while it would be nice for them to support our business endeavors, they are not required to. They owe us nothing. The only person responsible for elevating your business is you. So keep marketing, keep posting and keep promoting your business as your life depends on it because in all actuality it does. If you’re starting from nothing, keep going, build as you go. If your market seems over-saturated, keep going. They may have the same products but they will not have the same sauce. If you have few followers, keep posting, your tribe will find you. If things seem out of alignment and absolutely nothing makes sense, keep going. Whatever you do, just keep going.
Usually, startups have either zero or a very low budget. Which tools should these startups use for an effective branding agency?
For starters, they should contact us at Self Made Babe:-) Essentially, that’s what we do, help start-ups establish their brand at an affordable rate.
They do have a few other options for building brand awareness. Some of these include Canva where they can create flyers, social media posts, ebooks, and much more; Mailchimp which helps small businesses market to their audience and build subscribers list.
Zoom, which is a platform where business owners can interact with their audience through video and chat. Google also has custom business emails starting at $6/month per user. Of course, never underestimate the power of good customer service. This will create the best type of effective promotion for your business, word of mouth.
Why is a brand design and consulting important for every business?
Both are important for various different reasons. Your brand design is important because it essentially is the voice and the face of your business. Many people believe that your brand is limited to your slogan, logo, and/or your theme colors. While this plays a part, your brand is so much more than that alone. Your brand design is also related to whatever quality of customer service you may offer. It is related to your presentation in your packaging. It is related to your knowledge regarding the services you may provide. It is even related to the content that you post and share on social media. Your brand is what you use to tell your “business” story. It is what you use to attract clients and an important part of scaling your business.
If you are a new business owner, brand consulting is important so that you can not only receive input on your business and ideas from a different perspective, but you will also receive the necessary guidance and feedback to successfully launch and build. You may have questions regarding paperwork, or need assistance on creating content, or may not be aware of the resources available to you as a new business owner; This is why consulting is and will always be an important part of starting a business.
In which branch of digital marketing do you have the strongest skills?
I’m blessed to have many skills and many strengths. If I had to narrow them down, my top 3 would be the skill of writing, resourcefulness and my ability to learn and apply information at a quicker pace than others.
Writing is something that I’ve always been strong at since childhood. I wrote speeches for pretty much all of my graduations lol. I’ve always been the friend that helped with senior projects, resumes and even admission letters for grad school. (When the boys get out of line, I also help my girls come up with some crafty text messages lol.) I never really viewed this as strength until I started my business. Strong writing skills have given me the ability to create content that resonates with my tribe, It gives me the ability to write ebooks and workbooks. It gives me the ability to apply for grants if need-be. Strong writing not only allows me to do this for my business, but it allows me to assist clients with their endeavors as well.
Resourcefulness is another one of my strongest skills. The ability to find things out, the ability to gather information and maintain a substantial amount of knowledge is a skill that is so underrated. There are times when I’ve had no experience in a given situation, but in about 20-30 minutes, I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge. This is important because it allows me to assist my clients on projects and questions that neither of us may have encountered before. This skill also allows me to gain new information regarding my business.
Not only am I able to obtain new information, I am able to understand and apply it immediately.
Can you tell us in 5 steps how it went to start a brand design and consulting firm?
For me, the 5 steps to starting a business are pretty much the same across the board.
- Form your business. Whether you choose to form an LLC or corporation, the 1st step is to legitimize your business. Be sure to apply for your EIN as well.
- After your business is formed, your next step is to secure your business email. This is done at step 2 because your business name is not reserved until you have successfully filed your LLC or corporation. Imagine purchasing an email account to later find out that your business name is not even available. This is also number 2 because it forwards you the opportunity to get all business correspondence sent to and archived in one place moving forward.
- Purchase your website domain. Even if you are not prepared to have the website done, it is still important to secure the domain so that it can be readily available.
- Get your logo created. You will soon begin to introduce and market your brand to the world. To do so professionally, you will need a face for your brand, your logo!
- Social media! Secure social media accounts and prepare to post!
What advice do you have for the busy businesswoman when it comes to dating?
I know that it’s difficult. I know that it seems as if finding the perfect one is next to impossible. If you’re anything like me, I know at times you want to throw the whole male (or female) species away and just marry your business lol.(Just kidding)
But I also know that love is intended to be a beautiful thing. I know that we are purposed to be with someone who is equally yoked. Someone who compliments us and helps push us further into our purpose. My advice is, be patient, your human is on his/her way. Until they do show up, take this time to build yourself, build your business, and focus on your happiness and wholeness so that when he/she does arrive, you are able to fully receive them and their love.