Gabriel Flores 0:00
Hello, everyone and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I have a very special guest, which I'm very excited. I recently visited this store. I really believe this is this truly inspirational story. Camila Adams from Mimi's fresh cheese, how are we doing?
Kamelah Adams 0:18
I am doing great. How are you doing? I'm
Gabriel Flores 0:20
so excited about this because I took the family over to your shop. We got I got some swag. Right. And, and I'm really excited about your story, because it's, it's more than just a t shirt. But first, let's introduce the world. Please introduce the world to you.
Kamelah Adams 0:32
Yeah. Hi, everyone. I'm Camila Adams on our Mimi's fresh tea.
Gabriel Flores 0:38
Mila, where are you from? Would you let's talk about your career. Let's How did you get to making teas? Well, I
Kamelah Adams 0:44
am a Portland native. And I graduated from Grand High School went over, started college at Portland Community College and then transferred over to state. And I always had a passion for graphic design. I always, you know, cared about the community and equality, especially when it comes to the education part of things. So that's kind of how I started these fresh teas in 2018. Because I wanted people to wear their truth without letter in a word.
Gabriel Flores 1:21
So you started in 2018. Now for the folks at home. What is Mimi's fresh teas
Kamelah Adams 1:26
means fresh teas is an apparel company that promotes social justice in women empowerment.
Gabriel Flores 1:32
And why did why was this concept so important for you to create? Well, I
Kamelah Adams 1:36
did a lot of volunteer work at PTA executive at a local school. I was a vice president of racial equity and inclusion. And I just seen a lot of disparities in unequal education, especially when it came to black and brown children. So that is why I created a nice fresh tea. Because a lot of times I've been in a lot of meetings, and I was the only black woman there. And sometimes that can be a little exhausting. And so I was like, what if I could just express the way I felt without uttering a word. And that's when I came with the concept of putting your feelings on your chest.
Gabriel Flores 2:18
I love it. I love it. Yeah. Now, one of the things you mentioned, you know, you mentioned the social justice piece. So let's kind of talk about that because Mimi's is more than just a t shirt. What else is it?
Kamelah Adams 2:30
Yeah, no, I really do feel strongly like we have to build Amish genuine relationships with community members in order to have these courageous conversations about race. And the reason I sent her race is because that's my own personal experience. Navigating this world as a, as a woman, and you know, a woman of color. So it's just really important to community based, and, and just stand up for what you believe in. And hopefully we make small changes, the small changes are, you know, a lot better than no change at all. So that's why it's so important.
Gabriel Flores 3:15
That's very true. In fact, you know, you mentioned changes, what kind of changes are you hoping to accomplish?
Kamelah Adams 3:21
I just really want to, I just want people to be aware of the challenges that a lot of people of color, but people in particular still face in America right now. And, you know, I am in a unique spot right now, because I am advocating one of the things that I also do, too, is I advocate, right now I'm advocating but the school system on some things I need to change the health industry, a few things that need to change, and a lot of other major systems that seem to continue to break by ideology, and new things need to just need to change and I'm just gonna be straight up and honest with you. I mean, some of these systems, systemic racism, I mean, they're all They're on autopilot. And how do we change the system? You know, that's, that's the real question. How do we collectively change in the system? Yeah,
Gabriel Flores 4:27
I definitely agree. In fact, you know, one of the things you mentioned is there, there's still this a lot of a lot of the community of colors are still going through a lot of not sure if it's animosity or aggression. I'm not sure what it is right. We've I can feel it, you know, as being Latino. I know that our you know, people of color community have been filling it. What are some things that what are some nuggets or some insights that we can share with individuals that maybe they are unaware of that they just don't see the systematic racism? What are some things is that you can point out and say, this is kind of what I mean.
Kamelah Adams 5:02
Yeah, you know, there's, let's see, how can I just break this down? Because there are quite a bit of things from what I am noticing. You know, for example, just an equities, let me just say this, for example, in the education system, and how, you know, kids of color are still performing according to the test scores, lower than their white classmates. And that is not because these kids can't learn it simply because the system is failing for children.
Gabriel Flores 5:39
Yeah, yeah. And I, I will share some personal information myself, I will admit, when I was growing up, I was actually an IEP student Individual Education program. Now, what that means is, you know, they kind of, they essentially take you out of your room and say, Hey, since you're unable to do these tests, we're gonna take you to a different location, you'll have your, your test by yourself. And for an individual, especially like myself as being that youth that that kind of curated this already this division for my own classmates, right, where I was the only one being removed from this class to take these tests. And that made me feel dumb. Like it made me feel bad. And it wasn't until my sophomore year of high school, or freshman year, I was like, Listen, if I'm going to fill these classes, let me fill them. But let me fill them with my classmates, let me fail inside the same classroom that these other individuals are getting an opportunity to, to learn, while I'm getting removed from my class to learn in a different way. Right, absolutely. Now, what what has been hard about starting this business?
Kamelah Adams 6:45
I believe one of the things that, you know, it wasn't really let me take that back. It's not it hasn't really been difficult, because I'm passionate about and this is what I love. So when you do what you love, doors open up. So you are aligned with your destiny in what you're supposed to be doing. Because some it's effortless of the things that I that I accomplish. For example, you know, being awarded the Portland Business Journal, woman of influence.
Gabriel Flores 7:23
Give you gotta give you a clap for that one. Let's go baby. I read that article. I remember seeing in the Portland Business Journal, I was like, This is my girl. She made it. I love it.
Kamelah Adams 7:34
Yes. And you know what, it came from community members who worked with me in the PTA, who knew what I stand for, you know, the events that I curated in the community, along with a couple other parent volunteers, you know, like the African American walking down and the back to school cookout. You know, these things are? This is what made me fresh Peace Corps is is like curating community events, and to show in love to, to everybody to our people.
Gabriel Flores 8:07
Yes, yes. And what not, let's let's switch it up. What has been easy about this process? Has there anything been easy?
Kamelah Adams 8:15
Well, it's been easy, but you know what, to be honest, you know, one of the things that have been challenged, and I just thought about it is COVID. Yes. We constantly have to pivot. I just recently falls in person shopping, just to keep myself my family and community members safe. You know, my mom was really ill. And I don't want to take any. I don't want to, I don't want to affect her with anything. Because she's her immune system is definitely compromised right now. So Gotcha. Yeah. So that's been a challenge. But what's been easy is just me. Building relationships with people I don't even know like community members who come into the store to market. That part. It's easy for me because I'm a chatty caddy. But I love to talk. And so that's effortless for me.
Gabriel Flores 9:15
I love it. Now, is this your first business?
Kamelah Adams 9:20
Yes, this is my first business.
Gabriel Flores 9:21
And what? For the folks at home because you know, this is a show about entrepreneurship and trying to kind of educate them on like, Hey, this is kind of how you start the business. What processes did you go did you have to go through to get your business up and running?
Kamelah Adams 9:35
Well, you want to make sure that you come up with a mission statement and a concept for your business. Reserve your domain name that's important. Register your business with the Secretary of State, set up a business account and I think the more importantly due to though, do not put your personal address to register your business.
Gabriel Flores 10:09
This is Yes, I, this is something I think I need to learn. Now, what why is Why do you feel that is so important?
Kamelah Adams 10:20
Well, back in 2020, I received just horrifying death threats to my home address because I before I registered my business. In the state of Oregon, you can't use a peel box to register your business and I understand why. But at the same time, too, it's like, you know, I thought I didn't, I knew racism as a fit, but I'm gonna show that to your doorstep. That is something completely different. And I don't wish that on anyone.
Gabriel Flores 10:54
Yeah, that's, that's really scary. And for the folks that listen at home, I think we all like, you know, I say this pretty consistently during this podcast, and we're all going through a lot, you know, collectively, but we're not going through it individually, there are under even though COVID has, has derailed a lot of in person things or the capabilities of networking, and so on and so forth. Everybody's kind of having their a rough time right. Now. Now you one of the things actually you mentioned was COVID. How has it pivoting right during these during this process? How has Mimi's fresh cheese been able to pivot and kind of keep moving forward during this pandemic?
Kamelah Adams 11:33
Try to do things as safe as possible. You know, my business started solely online. And most of my films are still online. So I just I've offered curbside pickup and things of that nature. But I really do right now, this time, just encourage people to shop online because for a while there weren't any markets happening and things like that. And a lot of businesses including mine was hit pretty hard when that happened. Because you do need. It's not enough just to have a website, but you also know how to you have to know how to market your website, you have to have the right SEO, in your website to drive people to your website. So there's a lot of factors that go into this and you know, but make it happen.
Gabriel Flores 12:26
Yeah. That's that's a great, great segue into this next question. How do you market yourself? You mentioned you started your brand online, how did you market yourself and the brand?
Kamelah Adams 12:39
You know, I just, I just went out in the community and was talking to people and sharing a lot of the marketing was organic too, though. My friends, community members, family, news outlet articles. I mean, there was definitely a plethora of things that really promoted me meet fresh teeth and organic marketing, in my opinion is the best marketing.
Gabriel Flores 13:05
Yes. And you know, I must admit folks at home for those listening. If you have not yet, please check out Mimi's fresh cheese on Instagram. It really she really does have some really cool clothing. But not more than that. She really has some awesome videos. I'm not gonna lie. I'm grateful. I love the content on on the Instagram. Various that might inspire to do now. Now where do you see Mimi's fresh cheese moving forward? Maybe the next year or two? Or maybe five years? 10 years down the line?
Kamelah Adams 13:32
Yeah, well, I love to just have like a big warehouse space and just really slowly just drive everything online. Because I believe strongly that online is our future, online shopping, but at the same time to just continue to curate and do special events. That center racial equity. That's still important. And Black Lives Matter isn't trending no more. So sometime I feel like people forget that. That's still a thing. It still matters.
Gabriel Flores 14:10
So for the folks at home, how could they get involved?
Kamelah Adams 14:13
Well, you can show me nice fresh teeth pdx.com I usually post the events on there. I'll let you know what I'm going to curate up a store. Like this past holiday season I curated with a friend Jasmine from Assam skincare. We curated a women's holiday collective and we have over 10 women entrepreneurs in my space for for about six weeks. And it was just amazing. Just the community just the small little community that we had I mean these fresh teas and and how community members came down there and shopped it was like a little mini one stop shop and we had candles, body cream. Pretty much everything math toy I
Gabriel Flores 15:01
love it. I love it now, you've kind of you've come a long way. You said you started blooming, his 2018 started online, slowly progressing. Was there ever a moment of self doubt that maybe this company would not make it?
Kamelah Adams 15:16
Oh, yeah, I think it's natural to out about like, Am I really doing this? Right? You know, I have doubts all the time. But we have to get past that doubt, you have to keep moving. Because there are a lot of clothing brands out there. But there's nothing like you, you are always unique to your own brand and genuine to your own brand.
Gabriel Flores 15:44
That is very, very true. And so, you mentioned that you just recently had a workshop with with 10 other female entrepreneurs. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs,
Kamelah Adams 15:56
I would say you have to be genuine to yourself. Don't I know it's easier said than done. But try not to doubt yourself. Just be kind to yourself, be patient with your business. And if you're passionate about it, and you love it, things will just align naturally for you.
Gabriel Flores 16:14
And for the listeners at home, you really mentioned the webpage. But how can they you know, really make sure they're following your product. Make sure they're accessing your product, how can they help support your brand
Kamelah Adams 16:24
and support meaning fresh keys by by sharing maybe even sharing your story. Just kind of like checking in with us on Instagram or Twitter or even Tik Tok. I might even I'm working on maybe coming out with a digital blog. Just to kinda like just share some different concepts and indicators continue to educate people on quality that are happening.
Gabriel Flores 16:54
Nice. I must admit I see you a lot on the different socials. Everybody keeps telling me to get a tick tock Do you like the tick tock?
Kamelah Adams 17:00
No, I do I like tick tock because you can just be here you can just be your silly so you sometimes you have you have to get uncomfortable, right? So tick tock really made me uncomfortable but installed it Twitter too. But you have to step out of your comfort zone.
Gabriel Flores 17:18
Man, that's such a great point, I think just growing right as an adult, there are going to be times you're gonna have to get outside of your comfort zone. In fact, you tend to grow more when you're outside of a comfort zone. A great example of this is traveling, in my opinion, in a world traveling, right, if you go to a foreign country, that you do not know the language, you're gonna grow pretty quickly because you're going to need to adapt, right, you're going to adapt to their culture, you can dewlap to their language and you're going to kind of grow that experience pretty quickly. I think that's a very very important thing is just experiencing different experiences is going to help you grow.
Kamelah Adams 17:53
Absolutely, you know, a lot of people don't know but I'm camp I'm really camera shy,
Gabriel Flores 17:57
I don't believe it but i had
Kamelah Adams 18:05
i on the face of this brand it together girl,
Gabriel Flores 18:09
and you're starting, I'm gonna, I'm gonna be honest with you, you're starting to become a face of our community, my friend, I see you, you know, working with, you know, appointed members of Congress, and I see you out in the community, organically growing this business. I see you interacting with individuals that it's just inspiring to me really, it truly is. I'm I'm watching you from afar, my friend and I'm just cheering you on with great, great vigor. Like we you got this, I'm letting me know what I can do to support you because your brand is very important to the community. And I think what you're doing is very important in ensuring that the message is continuing to to your point, you know, BLM is no longer trending. Right? But that doesn't mean it's still not important.
Kamelah Adams 18:52
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, to I think one of the things that is also not talked about is sometimes you have to be careful with posting certain things on Instagram because you can be shadow banned.
Gabriel Flores 19:07
Oh, interesting. Let's let's talk what what is for the folks at home what is Shadow banned?
Kamelah Adams 19:13
Tell them ban is basically is like your account. It doesn't reach as many people on Instagram and sometimes it could actually just be blocked.
Gabriel Flores 19:22
And what would kind of trigger those Do you know
Kamelah Adams 19:26
for example, I wanted to promote my make racism Wrong again shirt and mean, I wanted to pay for promotion on Instagram. Well, that promotion was denied several times because it was too political. And of course it's it's not a real person who's denying this that as a computer system right? On Instagram, and I just thought that was kind of interesting. And sometimes certain hashtags that you use my be considered too political. Just something to watch and be aware of.
Gabriel Flores 20:05
Yeah, and I must admit, I have been shadow banned as well. On Instagram. One of my episodes of the the founder of Il topia studio, Steven Christiansen, he actually had a really great project that you worked here in Oregon, during the George Floyd, killing. And because George Floyd, the name was mentioned, on the sound clip, I was unable to promote it, because that was considered too political.
Kamelah Adams 20:37
Yeah. That's unfortunate. I love his work, by the way to
Gabriel Flores 20:42
Stevens. Awesome, Steven, interesting. Just so Steven, if you're listening, I gotta give you a shout out real quick because this young man is not only to the creator and founder of Utopia studios, he's also studied to be a doctor right now. I know. I'm like I'm just trying to run a podcast do you mean come on. But this also
Kamelah Adams 21:06
overwhelmed if I have a bad day. So Oh, my God, right, man.
Gabriel Flores 21:09
Right. But again, I think to your point, the fact that you know, Steven, and his work really is a testament again to your connection to the community, honestly, because Steven I don't think a lot of people were probably could if you guys haven't, please go back and listen to the creator and founder of Utopia studio, Steven Christiansen great episode, super intelligent visual, and he has some immaculate work. You can you can find it online as well.
Kamelah Adams 21:33
But black superheroes matter.
Gabriel Flores 21:36
Exactly. Exactly. Love it. Now before we leave, is there anything that you want to tell the guest at home? This is your your platform?
Kamelah Adams 21:45
You know, I just want to say let's just continue to build community together because we are stronger together.
Gabriel Flores 21:54
The owner of Mimi's fresh tees