Boss Ladies: "You are enough!"

Updated: Sep 29, 2021





Ladies, it has been a phenomenal journey getting to know such talented, passionate, and warm Boss ladies, and the female representing for part 3 of this 4-part series is no exception.


Despite the harsh, competitive, and sometimes lonely walk she is facing, this female continually strives, thrives, and drives the vehicle of her life into the biggest and best directions. She drives that vehicle adapting it from a car to a ship to a bike, in order to navigate the narrow roads and deep waters of her chosen industry.


Onyx Yayas presents to you the proud owner of Blessed UP Ltd, Lorraine! A woman after my own heart, she has taken her exceptional talent to uplift the minds of others and made it into a successful clothing business.


This candid interview was filled with laughter, bold beginnings, and wise statements. Lorraine is a Black Jamaican woman on an empire building journey to…endless possibilities. I know you’ll love what she’s got to say, so let’s get into this!

OY: Lorraine, tell us a bit about your background

L: Hi everyone my name is Lorraine, originally my background was very corporate I started out in a letting agency where I worked my way up from being a negotiator to property management. So, when I first became self-employed, I became an estate agent and specialised in residential lettings. It was corporate, very formal always formal. But somewhere in there {she laughs, a knowing and infectious laugh} I knew I was creative, life stresses and wanting to do the mainstream thing, career, mortgage, family life just clouded my view, but I always knew I was creative.


OY: What made you decide to start your own business?

L: Wanting to be creative played on my mind but it was seeing t-shirts with inspirational wording like ‘love yourself’ that opened me up to what if! Despite the positive message, the images I saw were not representative of me or my children and that solidified the idea for me to start my own T-shirt company.


OY: Hold on, let me get this straight, because right now you are making this sound too simple, not that I’m underestimating your grind. But, it was seeing something that you wanted for you and your children that you couldn’t find anywhere else that made you decide I’m going start my own business?

L: Yeah, I guess lol! The slogans and images we were seeing didn’t match us, didn’t connect with people who looked like me, it was as if we were being ignored or discouraged and especially the message ‘Be yourself and love yourself’ that was society’s campaign, but not for us. This message was being withheld from Black people. I recognised and felt this daily when I was working in the private sector, there’s positivity, but not for you. The corporate world, which was predominately dominated by white males meant I couldn’t just be myself; it was like a negative thing [nervous laugh] it would backfire on you if you were your real self. I saw this as a gap in the market, a market I shopped in, and so I filled it!


OY: How did you get started?

L: In the beginning I just started printing T-shirts myself, for me and my daughter. I would print images of little girls with Afros and little boys reading books and add those slogans that I loved and would see everywhere. We would be out, and people would just stop us and say they liked the message, or they loved the images on the T-shirts. I then wanted to be me, and anyone who knows me knows I like colour, mixed patterns putting together textures and tones that are daring and bold, I’m a Jamaica and being from the Caribbean we love colour it creates an atmosphere and makes a statement. I also grew up in the era of Fresh Prince and his vibe got thrown into the mix.



On top of that I wanted my values to be visible and so I brought in my lingo and started putting Jamaican proverbs and sayings over colours. People were stopping me in the street and saying they liked those T-shirts, the first one said,

‘Puss and Dog Nah Have The Same LUCK’ translated means ‘what works for some might not work for you’! Oh, and there was another one as well that said ‘I didn’t choose to be Jamaican I just got lucky’… [ok so we are both laughing out loud at this point and then Lorraine says] ‘listen I then adapted, by incorporating my Caribbean roots, the island vibe grew with so many requests being made by my customers for clothing items in their island’s colours.




OY: Why do you think customers were requesting this type of customisation?

L: I think as Caribbean people we are all very proud and loyal to our roots. The customers loved the items of clothing but then seeing them in Jamaican colours just added that extra flare and if they weren’t Jamaican, they wanted their own flare, Bajan, Trini the messages kept coming!


Now though things have changed, I’m still being led by my customers, but they are much more interested and requesting items in solid Black, Navy and Grey, these colours sell really well and catering for my customers is key. There is still a part of me that will encourage my customers to be themselves and wear a bright yellow t-shirt if that is representational of them.


OY: Was your industry welcoming?

L: Oh no definitely not welcoming. This industry is extremely competitive and the opposite of what I thought I would find. I felt like my Brand and personality was so positive and uplifting it would be easy to work with others, collaborating with businesses selling accessories like jewellery and handbags, I was excited, but no. I truly thought I’d find people with character who would appreciate my “I’ll help you, you help me” mentality but that was a false belief. The more I helped and pulled up other’s the more I realised was doing all of the pulling. In the clothing industry people would rather imitate others than be themselves and those they were imitating, were not friendly. Thankfully my customers, are phenomenal.


From the very start I had some loyal customers, and they just kept coming back to my website BlessedUP and buying and buying and when they had everything, they started making suggestions about what I could do next. This then naturally transitioned my business from T-shirts to other items of clothing. Every one of my customers love the message Be yoUrself and the BU logo. This made me decide to focus on the BU logo and put the quotes to the side for a while.



Still keeping the positive messaging but through the Brand, I want the BU to stand out so when people see it like other well-known brands, they will know exactly what BU is and the meaning behind it.


OY: What tools do you use, when things get tough?

L: Being a mum, it’s tough, there is not enough time. So for me, when things get tough, I literally slow down, I slow right down to the point of shutdown and tell myself “I can only do what I can do”. Once I’ve said that I can get back to focusing on everything by dedicating specific time to things and not just doing things as they come up. I get up early and start the day before everyone else, this is so I have the space and the quiet to prepare for my day or plan the week ahead or build on a new idea. I use meditation as a form of self-care, it grounds me and lifts my energy.


When I started, I really did not have much to invest, not like now. Back then I had plenty of ideas but I had to make time around work and my family, I had to just keep going. What women need to understand is that to get started in business is really an idea, passion, and perseverance. If you think about it, most people work a job earning around £9-£9.50 an hour and all they have to think is, can I replace that? Can my service or product provide me with at least what I make an hour now? If the answer is yes, then do it, risk is scary but not impossible!


This thinking, I use as self- motivation, it picks me up or keeps me going. Lastly, I use social media as a way of gifting positivity, I do for others what I would like done for me. I like and share other people's content and comment too, because I know the buzz I get when people do that for me. Social media is a powerful tool that I like to use to encourage others.


OY: What's the best thing about owning your own business?

L: The best thing about owning your own business is the freedom to create. I can stack my ideas and be free to play around with them for as long as I want, developing the original idea or adapting it to work with another idea, the ability to think freely is rewarding. Another thing is freedom of time, you can decide on what you want and when you want to do it. For instance, I might have an idea but not know exactly the final look, so I design, create and wear it. I then test it out on friends and family maybe even survey my customers. I like feedback, it helps me to decide what works, what doesn’t and what will work but needs more time in development, and that puts me back into my freedom to create {the smile lets me know creating is her joy}.


OY: What 3 things have you learnt, that you wish you knew earlier?

L: Yeah, great question, well let me speak directly to the audience here so they learn them faster than I did lol!

  1. You are not selling for friends and family so don’t be frustrated by their lack of enthusiasm for your ting.

  2. Business will be quiet sometimes. Right at the beginning I went through 6 months of crazy sales, and it slowed, but I don’t let things like that phase me. I got back to being creative and developing my ideas, put them in the shop and bang sales were up again. That’s how it is, not always go, go, go, but I’ve been blessed, things have just continued to steadily climb.

  3. Dreams become a reality. If you've got no money, don’t let that stop you, I had an idea for a hat for a long time, “I was wearing one of the hats from my collection and looked up at the peak thinking wouldn’t it be nice to see a positive message every time you looked up”, but I didn’t have the money to make it happen. I held onto that vision until finally reality took shape, and if you go to my shop now, the hat is there and it’s a great seller.




OY: I can agree with that, I bought this hat myself and I struggle to locate it. In my house people think it's one size fits all and this hat gets all the love from one head to another!


L: Lol you need to buy more hats!


OY: She got me, cha ching!






OY: Who if anyone has inspired you, mentored you or have you aspired to be like?

L: When I first started, I had a family friend he was my go-to, my mentor as well as family and his name was Patrick Kevin. He knew how to motivate me, to get me ready for that next thing or think bigger but he also inspired me, so even if I didn’t do anything with that knowledge right away, it stuck with me. He gave such good advice, he designed for Mariah Carey and other celebrities from across the world wore his clothes. He was good to turn to and he felt no way about helping me even with the small things which made such a different to my business, like neck labels and positioning prints. He died just over 2 years ago which was such a shock and a massive loss. Since then, I have had no mirror to look at for guidance and have had to rely solely on the internet. In an already lonely industry this has been tough.


OY: I am sorry for your loss; he was an artist who did so much for his industry, black males and youth. It doesn’t sound like you can replace what you had but would you consider mentoring someone else?

L: My time with him definitely makes me want to mentor others, it’s a blessing to have someone who knows more than you and their intentions are pure. I’ve had that and I would definitely offer that to others, I just haven’t had that opportunity yet.

OY: Is there anyone you're aspiring to be like?

L: No, I had to think hard about this question and even think back to my childhood, I remembered watching a Janet Jackson interview and thinking she's awesome, but nope I have never aspired to be like anyone. The whole idea goes against my ethos of BU, I can and do aspire to be a better version of myself but never of anyone else. We can't be anyone else, we can only be ourselves, when we think that way, you will halve your disappointment lol. You can always grow you!


OY: What advice would you give our sistas wanting to start a business?

L: “You are good enough”! I am going to be the first CEO collecting an award in batty riders, I’m Caribbean {big smile and laughter}. Richard Branson use to get so much stick about his messy hair, he’s a millionaire, so BU!




Be careful of the influence around you. Your community, cousins, friends, everyone will have something to say when you step out of the box and some of those opinions will be a shock. They will discourage you, mostly unintentionally, “because you’re all at that same place in life and what you’re wanting to do, they don’t think they can do, so why should you believe, you can”. Others may put you off or even put you down.


“Funny story, I had someone who was pushing me towards making drinks T-shirts for alcohol brands, I started to go with it and then I was like why? I really had to push back hard because this was not the message I wanted to put out and it was not in the best interest for my vision. That was their beliefs, and I had to listen to my inner voice. We all got one life to live”.


Oh, and I have a great tip that I only found when going out through the process myself, Ladies, research your banks. Know what your business account can and can’t do and what extras are available. They may offer training or money off business resources or equipment, reduced fees for a period, so make sure you explore your options and chose what is right for you and the type of business you are setting up.


OY: What will you be doing next?

L: Oh wow, there’s a lot of different things but I have a lot of email suggestions from my customers, especially about introducing a male tracksuit line. Most of the requests come via the women in their lives, so I don’t know if men avoid or do not enjoy online clothes shopping.

I do have some ideas that I on working on and I am looking to get those pieces stocked in a men’s store, ideally a sports shop.


I will definitely be working more on my branding establishing the name and the vision internationally. I have several catfish companies out there imitating my brand and selling online. “They think I’m good enough to copy”. It’s a compliment I'm told, and imitation is a form of flattery but it’s also frustrating because they are not authentic suppliers and the quality of what they do cannot match my collection.


To get around some of that I currently have an Esty which is linked to a printing company in America. I have several customers in New York and Florida and by using that store they pay less in shipping costs. If I am honest though they still seem to end up ordering from my main website [add link], they prefer to navigate my collection there and they are not put off by the extra shipping costs.


I also have to build on my IT skills, I am learning as I go, and my website has over 100 active people viewing the site daily, but I think stronger IT will turn more of those views into sales.


OY: Where can we find you? Socials and websites

L: Instagram, Facebook, Tulsans and Twitter


OY: Lorraine it has been a blast speaking with you, your laughter is infectious and even as you described your hurts during your journey you have done it with an expectation of better things to come.

L: Thank you, it's been so nice, and I hope helpful to other Black women taking the steps to freedom. I wish you all every success!


OY: There you go ladies' blessings being sent your way from a fellow sista. I hope her message, one of collaboration, uplift and a willingness to engage with others, comes across and connects with you as she shares it through the BlessedUP brand. Lorraine has decided that being her is bigger and bolder than anything and everything else in life and that is testimony to her strength of character. In her words ladies “you are enough”!


LADIES, we are giving a 'Bigg Shout Out' to Lorraine for gifting all of our OY subscribers with a 20% off voucher code for BlessedUP!


Subscribe below to access the Discount CODE.


#bosslady #blackfemaleentrepreneurs #blessedup #onyxyayas





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