Sonia Smith-Kang, owner of Mixed Up Clothing, shares her heartfelt experience after taking the Blogalicious stage last year. She, along with two other finalists, competed for the Perfect Pitch III contest, where the prize was $5,000 cash and financial mentorship from Wells Fargo. With our fourth contest racing around the corner, we asked Sonia for words of encouragement for anyone interested in submitting for this year’s contest. Read what she had to say below.
I walked up to the stage at Blogalicious ’15 ready to pitch my butt off. I had spent numerous hours memorizing all my facts and figures about my small business, Mixed Up Clothing. I created a beautiful slide show and brought in samples of my children’s clothing line that represent cultural diversity. I felt ready! I was given the “ok” to start my pitch.
My voice cracked immediately and I couldn’t shake it. I was nervous but I finished and waited for feedback from the judges. What they had to say wasn’t pretty…
“You had all your samples yet you never showed us any of them”, one remarked.
“You rehashed all your facts and figures which we already had as part of your application. That time could have been spent talking more about what you would do with the money”, another commented.
Needless to say I didn’t win the competition and I’m not going to lie, it sucked. I felt like a failure and I after the winner was announced, I headed back to my room as I could feel the tears welling up. I took the back way to an elevator when one of the judges caught up with me.
“Can I be honest with you?” she asked. I nodded and she told me
“You needed to own your s-it! You went on stage shaky and rehearsed. You shared all you had accomplished: being on the Today show, The Real and other media outlets. You included celebrities that you have worked with as if to give you cred. You gave others the credit for your success and as a woman, I get it. I’m telling you this because I want you and other women to take ownership of your accomplishments and not give anyone the power.
“It is YOU who made your business happen. YOU got your clothes in boutiques and in the media. YOU are the story behind your brand. You failed because it wasn’t YOU who was on the stage today.”
She continued, “Right now, right here, I want you to tell me why YOU left being a critical care nurse and started your kids clothing line?” I opened up and shared with her my background and how my business came to be as a result of struggling to find clothes that represented my children’s mixed-race background.
“That’s it,” she yelled. “Your face lights up and I see what this means to you. We couldn’t see that on stage. You are the brand and when folks are trying to decide whether or not to give you money, they want to get behind the person who is making things happen.”
It’s been a year since I was on stage at Blogalicious ’15 and I have learned a great deal since that wonderful event. I wish the next finalists the best and would share this last bit of advice I take with me every day: if you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else? Know that you belong there, on stage and in business so own it!
Thank you to all the wonderful folks at Blogalicious who saw the need for us to get together and learn from one another. To my co-finalists: wishing them continued success. To sponsors like Wells Fargo who want to see small businesses succeed and to the judges who take the time to offer feedback to those like me who want to improve. And finally, to the judge who saw something in me and helped me find my voice, thank you.
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Wells Fargo is back again at Blogalicious Weekend with the Perfect Pitch IV. Submissions are currently being accepted until Friday, October 7, 2016. More details here: http://bit.ly/ppivb8
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!