Client Profile: Aceani Ross-Bigbee
In addition to starting her own fashion brand in high school, Aceani Ross-Bigbee has dreams to inspire other would-be fashionistas become their best selves. We sat down to talk to her about what she’s working on and a little about herself.
Tell us about your new venture, The Possible Me.
The Possible Me is based on the Possible Selves theory. Possible Selves focuses on self-improvement and growth through the idea of 'trying on' different futures.
Based on this theory I created a community organization called The Possible Me. We use omni- channel community connections (social media, workshops, and community outreach) to provide tools and resources to groups who would otherwise be overlooked or not have access. I was able to launch the organization at Kent State on October 3rd, 2018 though a five-workshop series titled "Finding Purpose."
Being a student, I recognized that a huge issue many students face is not understanding their passion(s). So my solution, through the series, was to help students explore their passions and interests in order to start walking towards what they believe their purpose is. We met every other Wednesday with an average attendance of 16 students. I developed a curriculum that included interactive activities and worksheets as well as bringing on Javon Miller, Kent State sophomore and certified life coach [AND LaunchNET student fellow!], to help lead. Outside of the workshops, we made holiday cards for the women's homeless shelter, and raised almost $150 to purchase and donate essentials to a youth homeless shelter, along with clothes, shoes, technology, and a sewing machine.
My next steps for The Possible Me is to start a youth camp. This has been a passion and dream of mine since I was 17 years old. I was fortunate enough to have parents who could afford to send me to a week-long fashion camp in New York City, but many kids do not have this luxury. With The Possible Me Youth Camp I want to open up opportunities to high school students who otherwise would not have it. The camp will include classes to teach fashion illustration, buying and planning in the fashion industry, branding and more. They will also have the chance to connect with industry leaders such as manufacturers, designers and models.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
In fourth grade I realized what my passion was and began working towards that dream at a very young age. However, this is not the case for most teenagers and young adults. As a student, I recognized a huge frustration that many of my peers don’t understand their passion(s). So my solution was to create a workshop that helps students explore their passions; it was through the planning process of the workshop that I had a vision to create something bigger, with more longevity. I told my mom about it and she helped me lay the foundation and chose the name, The Possible Me.
Where did your funding/capital come from, and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors/customers for your venture?
Since launching, the organization has been completely funded by myself. I am currently looking for sponsors and grants to help grow the organization and bring more opportunities to the community.
What would say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
I believe the greatest key element every successful business has is a clear vision and purpose. People buy into your brand because they connect with and believe in your vision so it has to be clear and honest. What creates that vision is passion. Passion has to be the driving force behind what you do.
What’s your favorite entrepreneurial book or movie?
Recently I read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, which is a great book about a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not. Two other great entrepreneurial books are The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Good to Great by James C. Collin.
Who or what motivates you?
I am highly motivated by other people's success. I love seeing people reach a goal they set and get excited about their accomplishments. I think it's most rewarding when I receive messages from someone sharing how I inspired them to make it happen. Knowing that the work I am doing helps others do great work and stride towards their dreams keeps me going.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Apple is a company on most people's admiration list. I look up to how they've penetrated their market through vertical integration, innovation, and strategic marketing.
What have you always wanted to try?
As random as it sounds, I have always wanted to put on one of those sumo suits to try sumo wrestling!