Diving into your Start Up opportunity – Mercedes’ business story

Mercedes W. Bahamé, a mentee of Urban MBA has, this year taken the brave leap to pursue her dream career as an image and personal brand consultant.

From a very young age, she recalls fashion always being her first love and used to sit on the porch of her childhood home in Uganda posing and modelling for passers by on the busy street. Having been based in the UK for over two decades, she went on to study a degree in Communications, Linguistics and Politics and spent many years working in the exciting world of comms.

But, her ‘irk’ to pursue her love for fashion and style never died and she spent her extra time during the global pandemic building up her very own image consultancy Bell and Beau Image and Style.

We all know 2020 threw major curveballs for all people across the globe and some, like Mercedes found themselves in a position where their nine to five was no longer there and finding stability was not going to be easy. But when the rug is pulled, the question she asked herself was ‘”Am I going to sink, or am I going to swim?”

Despite what many can relate to as a highly stressful time in their careers and having had to re-navigate the way in which they work, she chose to dive in, seek opportunities and catapult her skills to adapt to the digital world (which I am sure we can all agree – nobody was really ready for).

Having started a brand new business in the midst of a global pandemic, Mercedes took the path of combining her skills in Communications with her love for fashion and style and thus Bell and Beau Image and Style has gone from a side hustle to a full-time gig

Fascinated with the written word and the importance of content in a world full of clutter, she aims to give her clients an edge to stand out from the crowd and do it in style!

Mercedes has tackled her new role under the ‘new normal’ and her journey is a great example for many new freelancers looking to make the plunge. Her top tips for building a successful brand in the current and still uncertain climate are:

The Internet is vital to staying alive and being relevant. Going online and engaging with clients through online personal shopping, video consultation and fittings has been a critical means to consult with her client base.

Hosting of online workshops is a great way to create a fun and meaningful experience for people in your same industry and will benefit networking opportunities well into the future. The power of video allows freelancers and start ups to scale their business and offer new services.

Alter your business model for a fully online experience. Mercedes’ business faced the same challenges that everybody else did, it had to become a digital service and product offering and fast. Nobody expected the world to go fully digital until we had no choice. So get savvy and fast!

Seek gaps and know your market because needs are changing with every development in the world every day. Stay ahead of consumer behaviour, identify challenges and innovate new solutions to stay relevant.

Be malleable and willing to shift. You never know what the next normal will be, so it is good to be prepared. The ability to be malleable and shift to the new digital way of doing things is critical.

Finally, she advises those who might be considering their own start up to look at this year, for being a year like no other. Instead of waiting to be pushed, just dive in – sometimes storms disrupt us to settle us in a different place that maybe you didn’t have the courage to go to. Take the risk and go for it!

This year has equalised a lot of industries – the online world is open to everybody – you should focus your energy now on content more than ever to cut through the clutter.

“If it isn’t a happy ending yet, keep writing” she says.

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