Think your idea is already taken. The industry already saturated? Don’t let any of that deter the plan you created. Check out this Q&A with the CEO & Founder of Sincerely Glamatrix.
Jemia Williams: Hey Erica! Introduce yourself to my readers. Tell us a little bit about where you are from and your background.
Erica Strunkey: My name is Erica Strunkey. I am now the CEO and Founder of Sincerely Glamatrix. I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. I graduated from Baruch College with a Public Communications degree. I came from parents of Caribbean descent, and I am first-generation college grad.
JW: Having Caribbean parents growing up, what did that mean?
ES: They had this tremendous vision for their kids to all graduate college. And growing up, education was a critical factor in my home and upbringing. They just wanted you to focus on making education your priority, graduating, making sure that you get a good job to see the opportunities that America has to provide.
JW: Before we dive into your business, maybe tell my readers a little bit about the connection that you and I had, how it started where it started. I think it is a cool story.
ES: I met you at an event to help with the transition of my career. I found FindSpark through my friend, and I attended, and it was just something about you that stood out to me. You had your beautiful Afro, and I felt like I must talk to you, she seems like someone I can connect with and your energy was just on point. You welcomed me so warmly and gave me your contact information. I made sure that over the years, I would stay in touch with you because I believe in being a mentee for someone who is in the seat I would like to be in and learn as much as I can from them. And because you were so warm and welcoming, and I felt like it was serendipitous how we met. I want to make sure that even if we didn’t talk every month that I would stay connected to you and see how you were doing every six months.
JW: I think our relationship that fostered over time has developed into something that a little bit even beyond just kind of mentee/mentor, because I also feel like I have learned things from you. You give me just as much inspiration and motivation. But I want to talk about the importance of professional development, and building on yourself. Why do you think that’s important, specifically for young black women?
ES: I think it’s essential because not enough people address issues that black women have or experience enough. And black women sometimes don’t know where to go and get that information, it’s not just given to us. Being a person that wants to strive for excellence, I try to seek that out anywhere I can. And I don’t only seek that out for myself because I am a firm believer in lifting as I climb. I believe that I can impact other young black women and people of color in general because I feel like we don’t have the exposure or opportunities that other people might have to gain these skills that you need to survive in this world, to be honest.
JW: I want to go back to the beginning and ask, what made you want to start a business, especially when 20% of small businesses fail within their first year.
ES: It goes back to my childhood. I’ve always been a child that was super creative and artistic. I remember my mom used to give us the JCPenney catalog and we would circle the gifts that we wanted for Christmas. I would always circle a briefcase, cell phone, and appointment book. I remember identifying myself as a businesswoman.
At 14, I wrote my first business plan for Sincerely Glamatrix. I didn’t know what it would be called, but I used to call it a one-stop glamour shop. I always loved fashion and putting pieces together and bringing my imagination to life. And since I realized I’m good at empowering and talking to people, I decided that I wanted to bridge the gap between people of color and resources that they don’t know they have access to. Oh, and Black Excellence.
So I thought, how do I marry all of that to become something you know? Then I thought well, I’ve always had clients, but I didn’t realize they were clients. My friends would always ask how am I doing my makeup and how to style an outfit. When I was 15, people twice my age would ask me to help them pick out an outfit for ladies’ night, a date or big event. I didn’t know this is what I was doing at the time, but a few of them told me that I needed to have my own business because I was really good and passionate about what I was doing for free.
And so it finally clicked to me, like, you know. And I finally decided that I’m going to put my foot down and make this thing comes to fruition. August 2019, I introduced the world to my business.
JW: Did you did I hear you correctly? Did you say at 14, you wrote a business plan?
ES: Yes, I did.
JW: How did you know what a business plan was? Did you take your composition notebook and write down ideas? How did that happen?
ES: Literally. I’ve also always been a writer. I would write poems, songs, and music. I would write anything that came to mind. Like stories. And I remember saying, I wanted to have a one-stop glamour shop, and I wrote that down. That’s what it was going to be called at first. I wrote down what the glamour shop would look like.
At first, it was a brick and mortar, like a beautiful storefront in the city. I would do all types of things for my client’s image and help them feel confident about themselves. But these were just the ideas that I’ve had in my head, and I wrote it down. And as I got older, and I started learning what business is and how it works. I realized, wow, this is my business plan because they were blueprints for creating a business and being an entrepreneur.
JW: You said you always interested in fashion. So where did that come?
ES: I think it’s a part of my DNA because I’ve always dressed up. I’ve always wanted my nails done. My family calls me a glamour girl, and I’m known as the resident fashionista.
JW: So what does Sincerely Glamatrix mean? What is your definition?
ES: OK, so after calling it the one-stop glamour shop, I realized I wanted something with a deeper meaning. I wanted to keep the word glamour, so I put the word matrix, which means to develop an environment or change an environment behind it. I said, ‘Oh my goodness,’ I’m going to make this Glamatrix. And that means to change glamorously. Sincerely comes from my heart. Because I sincerely want to help all my clients find their style and do it with confidence.
JW: That is an amazing and creative name. So let’s talk about what are some hurdles you encountered while creating Sincerely Glamatrix. Let’s start there.
ES: There were a lot of hurdles, especially being an entrepreneur who has never been an entrepreneur before. But I would say the biggest hurdle was getting started, like, where do I start? And what does that even mean, to start a business? Do I focus on building my brand first; that way, people are attracted to me? Or do I create a logo? Or do I see if people would even be interested in this business, or is it a waste of time. And so my biggest hurdle was getting started.
JW: How did you initially find your footing? What did you so what did you do first?
ES: I started with my launch event. I wanted to see how people would receive what I was working on. Because we all know fashion as a super-saturated market. And styling is a very, it’s a very niche market in the way that you have to know people to get far. So I knew I would have to make my company different than what’s already out.
I did a lot of research. I called people like you. I called my friends and asked for their input on many ideas that I had. I would ask if they would be interested in this type of event? Or would you be interested in styling services like this? Or how do you think college campuses would receive me. And based on the feedback that everyone gave me, I understood where I would start. I decided to start with my first event, which allowed people to understand my business and the services that I provide.
JW: You just jumped out there. Good for you. How did it go?
ES: It went well. I was very nervous about charging for tickets. I didn’t know if I was going to charge at first. Especially being a brand that no one knows. But I took the leap, and I charged $41 per ticket. I thought I was pushing it, but everyone believed in me, and I sold 25 tickets, which was like more than the goal I set. The event was a time for women to mix and mingle and learn more about what Sincerely Glamatrix is.
JW: Alright, so tell me what services does your company provide?
ES: There are two aspects to the business; one is where individual clients come to me for personal style and image consulting. I will personal shop, style for special events, create a wardrobe for photo shoots, including hair and makeup suggestions. I also clean out closets for the season and add the essential pieces of clothing that you would need for every day.
The second part of the business focuses on professional development. I go to campuses and hold workshops and seminars. I am teaching students how to dress for corporate success. Not enough students or schools have the resources or classes that will teach students how to dress for purpose. They teach them how to get there, but they don’t teach them what to after they have landed the job.
Professional attire is significant in creating that lasting impression, and not enough students know how to begin, especially people or women of color. Questions come up like, do I wear my Afro, do I wear my hair straight, do I need to perm my hair? Do I wear a floral dress? An eight-inch pump? That’s where I come in to teach students and young professionals how to dress corporate success. And how to do this on a budget. Not every college student or recent college grad has $500 laying around to purchase a new suit. All of my services teach people to be confident and fashionable on a budget.
JW: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a big one. You have a lot of amazing things happening right now. What do you see for the future?
ES: I want to do more personal styling. I would love to be Oprah’s stylist one day. Or style her for an event. That would be my ultimate goal. But from a professional development perspective, I want to be able to touch several college campuses and teach the young professionals the importance of making lasting impressions through their attire. How to take their wardrobe to the next level, all while incorporating their style and on a budget.
JW: Before we hit our lightning round, what is some advice you would give to young black women who are looking to put themselves out there.
ES: Go deep within yourself to figure out how passionate you are about what you want because that’s when the resources magically come to you. Trust me, it just happens, and you have to be ready to receive it. So believe in yourself and have the confidence to do whatever you set yourself out to do. Secondly, I would say to utilize all the resources that you have around you. Ask people for advice. Don’t just look for older or more experienced people, seek out advice from whoever is in your network that can help you in some form. Finally, never give up, and believe that whatever you want can come to fruition, as long as you have perseverance and tenacity.
JW: Good advice. OK, here’s our lightning round. First question, who are your favorite people you love to follow on Instagram?
ES: OK, I have four. Oprah because I love her story and what she has done of there years. She has lived through turmoil, and she has made herself into a mogul. A Black Woman that is doing really well for herself. I strive to be like Oprah one day. Denise Vasi from the TV show Single Ladies. I loved her style on the show, and I model my one-stop glamour shop after her boutique on the show. I also love to follow Kerry Washington and Teyana Taylor.
JW: What is your Favorite TV binge or TV show?
ES: Being Mary Jane. I can watch that over and over. Also Sex in the City. That show inspired me to be a stylist.
JW: Favorite black movie?
ES: Um, that’s a tough one, but I always say Love and Basketball.
JW: Final question, how can my readers get in contact with you. Layout all your details here.