Small Business feature!
Hi guys! It’s Black History month. Why don’t we kick February’s blog posts off with a black AND woman owned business?! This go round, we are checking out the awesome brand, INSPIRE by Shika My’Chelle. Here‘s a little background on the creator:
Name: Yashika M. Stewart-McDaniels aka Shika My’Chelle
Hometown: Wyandanch, NY
Family Dynamic: Wife and Mother of 1 amazing son
Personality Traits: Determined, Creative, Humble, Social, Funny, Encouraging, Dependable, Vibrant, Compassionate, Trustworthy, Independent, Honest
Hobbies/Interests: I love Cooking, Listening to Music, Reading, Writing, Photography, Singing and Songwriting (Oh... and going to Concerts and Plays make me one happy woman)
Now that you know some things about the owner and CEO straight from her mouth, let’s get into the interview!
1. What was the thought behind the name, Inspire By Shika My'Chelle?
When I first started creating for my business, I didn’t even have a name. What many don’t know is that Inspire By Shika My’Chelle started off as a t-shirt brand. I knew I wanted to create a brand that embodied positivity, inclusion, self-love, and empowerment. I took my time creating every image and chose all of the wording on my tees. The first tees I created didn’t even have a logo or brand name on the back of them. One day, my best friend and I were talking and she asked me if I had come up with a name yet. As cliché as it sounds... God released INSPIRE in my spirit and from there, INSPIRE By Shika My’Chelle was born. Based on what others have shared with me, it feels like our name is starting to live up to its meaning.
2. What made you want to go into skin care/candles/etc? How long have you been in business?
Without sounding cliché again, that also was a God thing. Inspire By Shika My’Chelle officially started in 2017 and I had NO IDEA that the pandemic was going to flip my business completely upside down. I genuinely love people and have really learned to simply trust God. I’ve been through sooo much that even when things don’t make sense to me and I don’t have any clue what I’m doing, when He gives me vision, I choose to trust Him to give me the rest. I started making my body butters at the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019 and they were the only bath and body product I was making alongside my inspirational t-shirts. I have really sensitive skin and I started to battle with eczema during Summer & Winter. I couldn’t find a really good product that didn’t irritate my skin, would moisturize my skin, AND smell good; so, I started making my own. Then, people asked me about my body butters and I started making some for them. Honestly, I knew very little about the beauty industry prior to March 2020 when the pandemic hit. God took my brand in an entirely different direction and it has been mind-blowing. It had been a headache trying to find soap for sensitive skin when the pandemic started. I began to research how to make my own and the next thing I knew, I had an entire line of self-care & bath and body products.
3. Where do you draw inspiration from for your items? Names, scents, etc.
I’m about to bore your readers with my responses. :Laughs hysterically: but I literally get my visions and directions from God just by staying connected to Him. I choose not to really discuss my business ideas or moves with anyone before things are ready to be released. Far too often we’ll talk to people about plans or ideas and they’ll give us their opinions; they don’t always have pure intentions so we start to doubt ourselves. I'm hands on with every aspect of my business and I draw inspiration for names from everywhere. Sometimes I’ll use the actual fragrance name for scents, especially if it’s a popular scent so my customers can find it easily. Other times, I simply tap into my creative side and go wherever the scent takes me.
4. What’s your favorite product you’ve made so far?
Oh my... My favorite? It's probably my Froot Loop scented candles and wax melts. Then it's a toss-up between my soaps, roll-on perfumes, body butters, and whipped body creams. Those are 4 products that I use daily in my everyday life.
5. Do you like to do other types of creating or crafting? If yes, is any of it going to lead to items that will be offered with your business?
I used to produce and host a radio show, “The Inspire with Shika My’Chelle Show,” that I LOVED; however, the pandemic came and shook things up. I have loved writing since the moment I have been able to hold a pen in my hand. I used to LOVE writing short stories and poetry when I was younger. Oh! I've also had a love for music for as long as a I can remember. Singing and songwriting have always been a passion of mine. I LOVE cooking and photography, too. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see which of these passions take a front seat next.
6. Is anyone in your family or friends’ circle crafty, too?
My son is incredibly creative. I think I’m pretty much the crafty one in my friend group. They’re all pretty awesome in their own rights though.
7. How much time would you say you spend creating products? Weekly/monthly/etc?
I spend about 6 hours or so a day creating products. All of my products are handmade and hand poured, so it is important for me to maintain the freshness of each bath and body product. As a result, I choose not to keep a lot of those products in stock. Typically, my wax melts and candles are made in advance since they need time to set and cure, but my bath and body products are pretty much made as orders come in. I feel like it is important for me to create products based on my customers individual needs.
8. What do you like the most about owning your business?
Aside from being able to set my own schedule? Honestly, it's being able to be a blessing to others. Through my business and my nonprofit organization, Beautifully Unique Inc., we were able to bless so many people during this pandemic. As a small business, many of us were struggling to make ends meet but I truly love what I do. Being able to create products that not just cleanse the body but also the minds of my customers is truly a blessing. I’m grateful for every single one of my customers and I’ll never take them for granted. I put 100% into every order that I am blessed to be able to create. I literally set the atmosphere when I’m working on orders to make sure that nothing but love and positive energy are going into each order.
9. Do you have any plans to do craft or vendor shows this year?
I’m in New York, so I’m waiting on these Covid numbers to go back down; but yes, I do plan on doing some shows this year.
10. Any words of advice for others who are second guessing their business venture?
Absolutely! Remember WHY you started in the first place and simply TRUST THE PROCESS!!! Celebrate your small accomplishments and don’t waste your energy competing or focusing on others. Tunnel Vision!! Social Media sometimes makes us feel like we aren’t doing enough and we’ll never be as successful as those influencers many of us follow. We get all stressed out about “likes” and “followers” but at the end of the day, none of that truly is proof of success. That simply means you’re popular and last I checked, I can’t pay one bill off of popularity. Lol. (I’m always going to bring it back to God so forgive me if that isn’t your thing, no judgments.) If God gave you the vision, He’ll also grant you provision for whatever you need. Yes; it gets hard sometimes. Heck, sometimes we even feel like it’s not worth it because the support isn’t always there despite us investing all of our time and money into it... but keep going anyway! Anything worth having is worth fighting for. Chin up Queen (or King)... You got this!!
Thanks again to Yashika for putting her heart and soul into her business AND this interview! Please check out her online presence and her wide array of products. I've been using them myself since 2021 and am pleased with all I received: soaps, roll-ons, wax melts, etc. I even kept empty candle jars because the smells are still there.
Email: Inspire.By.ShikaMychelle@gmail.com or Info@InspireByShikaMychelle.com