How a Young Entrepreneur Keeps a Positive Attitude In a Tough Business World

When talking to Jamila Smith, the young entrepreneur who created the eco-friendly streetwear line, Be Th3 Change, an old saying comes to mind. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Smith has struggled to make a go of her line, with even two failed Kickstarter campaigns under her belt. But that hasn't stop her. 

Be Th3 Change is not the only proverbial iron Smith has in the fire. At one point she worked three jobs. In November, she quit one of them, and the beginning of the year,  quit another. She had been working three jobs in order to set aside money and put it into her business account. On top of all of that, she is a single mother. 

After taking a vacation in Jamaica, she felt recharged. “I have to focus,” she told herself. She decided to add a hat to her designs. The only trouble is that she couldn’t find a manufacturer. Smith sets high standards for her streetwear. They must be eco-friendly and made in the USA. 

Finding domestic manufacturers that make hats has proved to be hard. With hats, there are manufacturers in the U.S. but they outsource a part of production to foreign countries. “That's the wall I consistently run into,” she said. 

Finding an eco-friendly domestic manufacturer for her t-shirts was not easy, either. It took her a month and a half to two months to find one. So, she isn’t giving up on finding a manufacturer for her hat. She’s just putting it on the backburner until she releases her new t-shirt designs. 

Despite being so busy, Smith keeps doing events to put her products forward. Next weekend, she will appear at her first official trade show, a streetwear trade show, in Anaheim where she will release three new designs. She plans on being at all three Green Festival shows (San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland) this fall. “The key is to network, to build your brand,” she explained. “That’s how you get your name out there.”

Smith is now in the midst of a Kiva Zip campaign, which provides zero percent interest on microloans, after unsuccessfully trying to get a business loan. “I didn't want to go through another situation where I'm asking people to donate or lend money or anything like that because I did it twice with Kickstarter and I didn't reach my goal either time." 

The trouble with Kickstarter, she said, is that it's an all-or-nothing platform, unlike crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo. If you don't raise all of the targeted funds you “just get nothing,” she said.  Smith will be using the Kiva Zip loan money to buy the inventory that's necessary to sell at Green Festival events, but also to register for the events. 

Smith knows deep within that she is on the brink of major success. Not only is her streetwear line eco-friendly and made in the USA, but it is fashionable. That is something severely lacking among streetwear lines. 

What keeps someone like Smith going, despite setbacks? Her amazing attitude. She wakes up every morning and says, “My loan is going to be fully funded.” She stays as “positive as possible” by staying calm. Her belief that “failure gives you an opportunity to find a new way to do things” also contributes to her positive attitude.

Simply put, Smith is a woman who knows success comes to those who are willing to work really hard and never give up.

Photo: Be Th3 Change