Summer Lucille and Stormi Steele DiscussHow Using TikTok Helped Them Build Their Successful Businesses

The Canvas Beauty and Juicy Body Goodness CEOs detail how their brands took off using the popular platform and how Black women can thrive as entrepreneurs.

For the first time, TikTok recently released an economic impact report that explores the platform's impact on Black creators and entrepreneurs nationwide. 

The study also includes new data and case studies about how the platform has impacted diverse communities and how TikTok is economically viable for emerging creatives. Additionally, the report details all that’s at stake for Black-owned business owners, creators, and underrepresented communities throughout the US if the U.S. government bans TikTok.

To examine the impact behind the data, spoke with two innovative and successful Black women entrepreneurs, Stormi Steele, CEO of Canvas Beauty, and Summer Lucille, founder of Juicy Body Goodness, about their experiences as Black business women and how TikTok expanded their brands.

Born in a small town in Kemper County, Mississippi, Steele did not have many models of entrepreneurial success but she had a dream where she envisioned a bigger future that transcended her reality.

“I grew up in a no-stoplight town. So when you grow up in a place that small, there’s not a lot of people dreaming or pushing you to dream. I was a creative and an artist by nature,” Steele said. “I used to tell my parents that I wanted to act or dance but they would say, ‘That’s nice, but you have to be more realistic.” I always kind of took Picasso's idea that anything that you can imagine can be real. I think just being told to be more realistic pushed me towards my own version of what's real.”

After high school, Steele entered the military, and her mother had already picked out her college courses. Eventually, she dropped out of college and entered hair school, which would begin her new trajectory.

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“I ended up moving to Huntsville, with $800 and I was just determined to make a name for myself in that field. My first hero product was my hair blossom serum in 2015, I made the jump to be a stylist. My clients helped me push that product for it because I would only use it on customers,” Steele recalled. “After they started telling their family and friends about it, the product was in such demand that I made another jump and launched the business in 2018.was able to grassroots do a million dollars in sales just by being diligent, and I've been growing ever since then.”

Lucille, a native of Columbus, Ohio, began her entrepreneurial journey after graduating from Ohio State University and moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she worked in IT.

“I tell people all the time that entrepreneurs are not born. They're not made. It's just in us. They have that passion and drive for success,” Lucille explained. So, I've always had this passion and drive to be an entrepreneur and an innovator.”

After working for several years in the corporate world, Lucill drew upon her passion since she was a child selling painted rocks around her neighborhood and decided to go into business for herself in the beauty industry.

“I started with mostly hair extensions, wigs, jewelry, and I had a small selection of fashion items from size two to 10 in 2011. People would come in here for plus-sized fashion and I didn't even have it and I was plus-sized. It didn't make sense, Lucille said. “So it just hit me in 2016 that I should do plus-size clothes because there's a need there. That’s when I started really hitting off and built my confidence up.”

Both Steele and Lucille noted that TikTok helped them grow their customers acceleratedly. Their viral videos allowed them to grow and sustain their successful brands in an almost impossible way if they stuck to a traditional business model.

“TikTok came at the most perfect time. In 2018, I made the first million, and then by 2020, we had over $20 million in sales. When you hear that, it sounds impressive and amazing. But I didn’t have the infrastructure or even the proper people who wouldn't take advantage of me to handle something that big, ‘Steele said. “So, I almost lost everything in just a short period of time by 2020.”

“I got on TikTok and tried to figure out how to turn my business around So I started sharing this process and went back to having fun like I used to,” Steele continued. “I ended up going viral on TikTok. That changed the trajectory of everything for me, and now my business is bigger than it was in 2020.”

“When I talk about TikTok, it’s kind of bittersweet. I've been the same person since 2011 working 18 hours a day, seven days a week, working myself to death, missing out on my dad's and niece's birthdays,” Lucille said. “It wasn’t until 2021 that a nine-second video changed everything for me.”

“I was on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, paying thousands of dollars a month. just for a boost. In less than a month, I was able to open up a 15,000-square-foot warehouse from one viral video,” Lucille continued. “Before that,  I was packing out of the back of my store with maybe less than 400 square feet. TikTok changed the game for my business.”

Steele and Lucille shared that burgeoning entrepreneurs, especially Black women, should be building their businesses on TikTok as they continue on their paths of success. According to them, the platform is essential for any business to thrive.

“I always tell people that you don't have to have resources to be resourceful and TikTok is one of those platforms where you can truly use and be resourceful. You can show up as who you are. I was struggling and getting on TikTok changed everything for me,” Steele said. “So I would tell any budding entrepreneurs that people are truly inspired by the process. Because when you take people along on the journey, through the highs and the lows, the ups and downs. It allows them to be able to resonate with you, learn from you, and gravitate toward your authenticity. TikTok is one of the most powerful resources that you have out here.”

“TikTok gave me the opportunity that y'all wouldn't give me for almost 10 years of working so hard. I could never get a loan for my business,” Lucille said. “When they say they want to get rid of the app,  it puts me in my feelings really bad,” Lucille added. “This platform gave me the opportunity to get my piece of the American dream. So I get really defensive when people talk about banning TikTok.”

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