Aired: August 25th, 2021
Audio and Photo Source: Jacquelyn and Instagram
This Wine Down Wednesday, our Founder and CEO, Orion Brown "kikis" with the Founder and CEO of Greentop Gifts, Jacquelyn Rodgers! Y'all this is a hefty convo, we had to ask ourselves how we covered all these topics and in less than hour! Here's a few things you'll learn. 1) The number one question you should ask before committing to a group trip. 2) A huge lesson in entrepreneurship when working with creatives. 3) The inspiration and motivation behind Greentop Gifts. You've got the highlights, but get into this WDW for the full effect. Tune in!
Wine Down Wednesday: Jacquelyn Rodgers
Speaker: Orion Brown 00:04
Hey folks, we is back. Hey. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hey y'all. Hey, y'all, what's good? What's good? It's Wednesday. We made it another week. I look forward to this every week now. I really do. I look forward to kicking it with y'all. Oh, we ready to go, Miss Jacqueline's here. Our guest is in the building. Look, technology, y'all. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Orion Brown. I'm the founder and CEO of black travel box. We're personal care products company for travelers of color. And this is wine down Wednesday. If you got a glass of wine. Wait. I've got a too full. You got a glass of wine throw it up. I see y'all coming in. We are about to kick it. We're going to talk all things, travel beauty, whatever comes up, honestly, like really depends on how deep you get into the wineglass, where the conversations going. And today, we have a dope guest. I would love and this is our tradition. I'm calling it our tradition here at wine down. So, I want you to introduce yourself and tell everybody who y'all look. Wait, hold up. Look at that. Look at that. That is a symmetrical damn shame. Let's just take a moment of silence for my nails that have chipped and peeled. So, I won't be talking with my hands. I'll talk with them below the camera. But tell us your name, where you from, where you live, it’s two different places, and how many stamps you have on your passport.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 01:56
Hi, thank you so much for having me. I am Jacqueline Rogers. I am from North Carolina, Hillsboro, a tiny town outside of Chapel Hill. And I live in Atlanta, Georgia. And I have to gather old and current passports because I just got a new one. And I have 13 stamps.
Speaker: Orion Brown 02:17
Look at you. And it's so funny, I love how seriously people take it like to like check out the number of stamps. And they're like “Wait, I couldn't find the one book but I had to extrapolate.” And I'm like, “I love it. I love it.” 13 stamps, what was the most touching or heartfelt trip you've ever taken or moment that you've had on a trip to one of those countries?
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 02:41
I would say Barcelona, because I got engaged and I flew out to me my fiancé, he proposed and left and went to Barcelona for during his MBA to go to do study abroad. And I went out to meet him and my grandfather had just passed. And I was so sad because he was there and I wanted to like grieve and talk to him about it. And so, I was like trying to be strong. And then we were watching a movie and I just like lost it in the middle of the movie. And I felt like I finally let it all out. But it was a really great, wonderful trip. But that was probably like a trip where I felt like I had like, I got away and I had a chance to think.
Speaker: Orion Brown 03:25
Oh, I love that and trips like that. You don't know how stressed you are until you show up on the trip. And it breaks out, it breaks through and you're like, “I feel so much better. I didn't know I felt bad. What's happening?”
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 03:40
I feel so much better. I had a good ugly cry too. Oh, it was an ugly cry. I was like “Okay, I think I can enjoy the trip now.” Yeah.
Speaker: Orion Brown 03:47
Were there any things that you did on the trip that helped you or that helped along that process that prompted you to kind of release and let go?
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 04:04
I don't know I don't feel like I was in my self-care journey than I am now. So, a little while ago so I felt like… we kind of like we toured and walked around a lot we ate good we went to some museums but I don't remember a moment where I like was like, a moment of reflection I think probably just being still in that moment they're just watching a movie and kind of I don’t know, something about the movie there was a death in the movie and it just like all my thoughts crept into my head it. I got really dark earlier on, promise I won't be dark the whole time.
Speaker: Orion Brown 04:39
I love this though because travel encompasses more than just having fun and being on a beach. And actually, if I'm having fun the way that I want to want to beach I'm probably not wearing a bikini but I am having several cocktails and snacks. So, it's like everybody has a different thing but there is something really powerful and at black travel box we say, “Travel is my self-care.” And like, it's so true. It's true for me, it's true for our audience, it’s true for our customers. That travel is such a huge part of self-care and self-care isn't always pretty. Sometimes it's the ugly cry. Sometimes it's your hair looking crazy. Sometimes it's all of those things so that you can get to a place of… and travel can be an amazing part of that, people that you meet and experiences that you have. So, I love that you were at the movies. So, what kind of movie like what was it a Spanish movie? Were you watching it with like subtitles? Do you speak Spanish? What was the deal? Was it fast and the furious?
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 05:39
I won't say it’s worse than that. But it was a Madea movie. [Laughs] It was a Madea movie but there was a death and it just was too much.
Speaker: Orion Brown 05:51
Well, you see Tyler Perry will sneak up on you whether you like Madea stuff or not.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 06:03
I should have just lied and said, “Yes, we watching with subtitles, it was Spanish.”
Speaker: Orion Brown 06:07
No, don't. Look, by the way, I'm not a big Tyler Perry movie fan. I'm a big fan of Tyler Perry himself. But I laughed my ass off watching the Halloween one. So, it is what it is like I have, it just depends on when you're in the space. But I think there's something really interesting about… he does find poignant moments because he's always teaching even though there may be the craziest stuff going on, and the worst weeks we've ever seen, oh my god, the worst wigs. But so, Tyler Perry is internationally touching hearts, that's really good to take away. I love that. So, we'll take it out of sort of the sad release self-care piece. And let's talk a little bit about one of your more relaxing interests like, do you do solo travel? Do you take time with yourself? Or have you gone on trips just to pamper yourself with others?
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 07:08
Yes, I solo travel. I haven't done a lot of international travel. I have a girlfriend who is the queen of solo travel, and I live vicariously through her. She was traveling anywhere on God's green earth by herself. And she is a pro at it. And I love that about her. And she makes most great connections. And I love to hear stories when she comes back and people should meet some of the things she does. So, I'm not a solo traveler. But I do have two small children and I do like to get away and have some self-care. And I'm a firm believer in getting away by yourself. I used to travel a lot for work. So, I would try to make my work travel my time away and try to plan a spa or something in there. But most recently…
Speaker: Orion Brown 07:49
Which is nice, but it's not the same as just like doing it for yourself.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 07:52
It’s not. Because of COVID, we haven't traveled a ton but we went to the Bahamas and in Miami and it was great. And when I travel it's like I'm the same with you. I don't want to excursion, my form of excursion is like the pool, the beach, the best spa, repeat. People like ATVs and like hiking.
Speaker: Orion Brown 08:13
I do the ATVs I do but that's not my relaxing vacation. That's my fun vacation. Yeah, that's not the relaxing vacation. If I'm like relaxing vacation, I stay in the room and sleep just as they got those like the perfect pillows. I have taken vacations just to sleep and I'm not ashamed of it. Because that's what I needed.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 08:34
I'm not either I absolutely would. So not International. We went to Denver recently. And I went by myself and we hiked a little. I went to the Red Rocks amphitheater and like hiked around and walk around. And I was not a big hiker, my sister-in-law got me into hiking. And prior to that I had no desire to hide, but it is very therapeutic and relaxing. And I do enjoy it. So yeah.
Speaker: Orion Brown 09:04
And it's crazy. So, I'm in Denver, I've been here for five years, I've been hiking maybe three times. It's so bad. And every time I go, I love it. But it's the going. It's almost like when you move to a city and I don't know what it's like in the ATL area. But you can even say with like being a Hillsborough so I went to Duke for grad school. And so, it was like Chapel Hill was kind of a hike. It's like this is a target. It's not that far, but after a while you get used to it and like bigger cities, New York, it could take you hours to get somewhere and it's not even across down, but yeah, so to me, I'm like, I can see the mountains and I can osmose the feeling but it's not the same as going out there. It only takes like 15 20 minutes and I'm just like, “The fuck.” Yes. Yes, yes Red Rock. Golden. I did go hiking a few weeks ago and golden and it was absolutely beautiful. And then I remember that I haven't hiked in a really long time and I was breathing hard. And I was like, “Okay.”
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 10:11
I'm really hard every time I I'm like, “Oh, I'm moving muscles I did not know I had.” I have my sore in place. I was like, “How was I moving that part of my arm yesterday?” “Why am I so sore?”
Speaker: Orion Brown 10:22
Because it's all out of balance. And that is another thing. So, when I travel, so every time I used to go to San Francisco, I would go hiking, which was crazy. I don't know why, like I would go hiking when I would go there, but not here. But that is the beauty of going to places where you have to walk. I went to Croatia a few years ago. And it's not rural, but it's like you have a main road. And then you have these hills because it's like going right to the water. So, when you want to go stay at a place like a soap, they have like basically Airbnb type homes here to take your luggage and not somebody to come and help you. But you got to take your luggage and you're walking uphill and downhill and stuff. And I was like, I have a tiny muscle up under my hip that I didn't know was there. I was going to learn today, I found that hip muscle. So, I totally feel you on that. What prompted you to come out to Denver,
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 11:19
My husband's going play flag football. And I was like, “Oh, go like at being in the house with COVID is like…. I've never been to Denver, I'm going too. Let's go.” Feels good, those were good times. Beautiful.
Speaker: Orion Brown 11:34
That's amazing. And this is like one of those locations around, domestically that make great just road trip type locations. Like if you if you get in the area and just like drive around, you can do a lot of stuff. Not come in contact with a ton of people and still really enjoy yourself. Are there any places in your area that you've taken like road trips or anything to try to escape during COVID?
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 12:03
Yeah, I went to Savannah, so cool. And so, I dropped them off the second day of school and I got in the car and drove for hours seeing my girlfriends in Savannah and we ate.
Speaker: Orion Brown 12:14
You said deuces, y'all can stay there.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 12:19
And we went to the spa, we ate good. We had an Airbnb, and we just like it was going to have been like two years, we just Kiki to laugh and play culture tag. We just had a good time.
Speaker: Orion Brown 12:32
I just bought that. Now I need to Kiki to take it to.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 12:37
It is a ______ goal. We were like in here. And then it wasn't the point we couldn't play. We're talking about cards like we were like, it was like, okay, the timer is not working. We was having these one offs about okay, is a fun game.
Speaker: Orion Brown 12:50
I love that. So how did you guys kind of put together this perfect Kiki. Now I'm going to have RuPaul in my head. Let's have a Kiki for the rest of this conversation. By the way, it's going to be direct.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 13:03
Well, I have to say one friend was like, “Let's go.” And she planned everything. And I just showed up. And I thanked her the whole weekend for all the effort. All I had to do was zone her money and I thanked her again and again and again for doing the hard work. It was funny though, on the ride down. Another friend Mike had messaged me and told me go places for us to go eat. So, all my friends that we should go eat these great places. And I forwarded them the text that you sent me. And they were like, “Oh, we're going there Sunday night, to one of the restaurants” and I go “Sunday night. When are we checking out?” And they go, “Oh, we're checking out Monday.” And I was like, “Oh, I didn't know that. So let me let people know back home and they'll see me on Monday.” and then we just laughed about it.
Speaker: Orion Brown 13:55
Then we just laughed and laughed and laughed. I love that. That sounds amazing. So, what were some of the highlights and obviously, spending time with your girls, especially if you're close is just golden in and of itself. But like what were some of the highlights where you were like “If I were to take somebody to Savannah to have a great time, I would definitely take them to this place?”
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 14:19
The restaurants, we ate some really great restaurants good brunch spot. And I'm blanking on all the names.
Speaker: Orion Brown 14:28
Because I put you on the spot, that's all.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 14:31
We went to a wonderful spa. I'll put them in the comments after this if you post this and then people can find them there. But we just ate brunch, we slept in. We did late dinner the second night I like was this tire and they were like we're going to miss our dinner reservation and they let me sleep because they knew I needed that sleep. And then we just got takeout and it was wonderful. And then they brought me food from my favorite restaurant in Charlotte. So, these are my dogs. These are my homies. So, it was a great trip. We just relaxed, we ate we went to the spa got great massages, and then we just walked around the Savannah and there's tons of great little shops, tons of history in Savannah. There's lots of tours, you can take historical tours and there's some great bars on rooftops. So, it was it was really just the way and to see friends and…
Speaker: Orion Brown 15:24
Was it packed with people? Or was it nice and mellow? I didn't know Savannah was this turnt, just having the rooftops in the great brunches.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 15:34
Oh yeah, there’s some really great rooftops like restaurant bars near like the river, there were areas that were a little crowded for me. I felt like they had to table space out and all the restaurants we went to, and in the spa, they were mask so I felt comfortable there. It was the first time I've been in spa, pre pandemic. But I felt comfortable. The only place I would say is like probably close to I can't the name of the street but close to the river like one street over that I felt was like at night it was kind of congested on the street. But we had our mask, I felt comfortable today because really because of where you go, we go like nightclubs are like bars, like bar bars, enjoy bars, everyone was like an outside area place. So, I felt safe. We were vaccinated. They work in healthcare. So, they were like, they’re not trying to be around a bunch of other people either.
Speaker: Orion Brown 16:24
Right. So, there's something about that, too. It's almost like having a canary for this. You look to the one person you notice in medicine you like, “So is this cool?” I was supposed to be doing?
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 16:38
I'm coughing like so. So, what's it looking like up there? I CPP Do I need to restock on my phone? What's the come on? Tell me what's the latest, tell me right now.
Speaker: Orion Brown 16:48
I love that. I love that. Well, I'm glad you got that trip in and I love this. But girls’ trip, vibe, especially when you don't get a chance to be social. And you didn't have a big group. You said there's only three of you.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 17:05
I don’t travel in groups. I don't do big group travel. That's not my ministry. No, no, no, no, not like four to five people.
Speaker: Orion Brown 17:11
It sounds like you’ve had some experiences.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 17:13
Four to five people is the max. I don't want to be eight to ten. We got multiple Ubers. One person's late, we can’t sit at a table for the dinner. No, that's not my ministry. I don’t travel like that. I've done it. And I won't do it ever again. I'm like, I'm out. I'm out. I can't go. I can't go. I’m more like “Who are going people?”
Speaker: Orion Brown 17:39
That is a quotable y’all, when somebody invites you to a group trip, who are going? is the first thing you want to ask.
Speaker: Orion Brown 17:49
So where did you go? And what were some of the elements? You mentioned like having to separate Ubers and cabs and stuff like that. But where did you go and what made it like not group friendly.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 18:01
I would say I took to New York before moving to New York. And that was just a nightmare just to meet people. Probably some random trips in college like DC or like somebody else's homecoming is just with my sorority sisters. Just to meet people like I just I don't like large groups of people. I don't like large groups of couples. I just no like, give me one or two other sets of couples and I’m good. Smaller, intimate is better. You're not yelling down the table. You can enjoy yourself; you can talk to people. It's just that me. I don't enjoy 20 people that's not how I invest. That's not fun for me
Speaker: Orion Brown 18:46
To say worth the trip, if I'm not having fun, I feel you.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 18:49
No. I'm won’t do it.
Speaker: Orion Brown 18:55
Oh my gosh, you right, you right. I've been on a few. And two, we're like, okay, we could probably have coordinated this better. And then one was actually excellent. And it was totally on point. But I think the saving grace was we had a group within the group. So, it was a group travel trip to Cuba, but four of us were friends and then we didn't know everybody else. So, it was like we could kind of go off on our own and then…
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 19:25
Was it four of you? Was it 20 of you? See, see?
Speaker: Orion Brown 19:29
Well, it was like 16 of us on a bus going around Cuba but like we still had like core groups that we could kind of cling to so it wasn't like you're just kind of floating in this thing. And there's a lot of personalities right and so like it's good to have a personality or two that you can just kind of like “Okay, you know how to travel Cool, let's do this.”
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 19:54
Some people want to go I don't mind. I like to do a little bit art museum. I want to get some history and where I'm at. Some people just want to party and drink. Some people just want to leave those spots. Those are all wonderful things. But I think you got to know what your group likes to do.
Speaker: Orion Brown 20:12
And you can't all want to do it at the same time. Yeah, that's a that's a… I've seen some stuff happen in small groups like five, six people buy people where it's like, “I don't want to go there, but four of us want to go. Well, I don't. Oh, you don't do this. Okay, cool. Cool, cool, cool.” But I think there's also a curation that has to happen, like, I don't have dinner parties at my house, unless I curate who was invited. So, I used to do when I worked for a big company, like a big corporation. And I had a lot of friends in that company. I would not tell part some of them about it. Because, they like “Why didn't I get…?” I’m like “Oh, no, I just don't have enough room in my place. You come in the next Tuesday.” But I would curate it because it's like, if you don't have the right mix of people, somebody is going to fight, somebody is going to get an attitude, somebody's going to get political.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 20:59
Somebody is going to get drunk. You have to know, I'm a firm believer that, all of my friends, are my friends, but they may not all be friends with each other. Yeah. Right. If you're going to be really mindful of that, when you’re, planning and hosting things. And so, I'm a firm believer in that. So, I understand.
Speaker: Orion Brown 21:15
That is such a good concept, because you can't just put just because you like them. They are reflecting off of different parts of you. And these people aren't all going to be the same. You can't just put them together in a pot.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 21:30
And expect everybody like jelly at a time. It's just not going to work,
Speaker: Orion Brown 21:34
That's when you have your cards, I have cards against Humanity. And it's like, you got to have people who have an irreverent sense of humor. You can't have people that are like, easily offended because that will kill the entire game. Not even close your pearls. I've literally had somebody just be like, “That's not funny.” It's like, and everybody else is like, “You're hilarious. Are you serious? Are you serious? Oh, my bad.” But you got to know the audience, that’s a huge thing. So, I'm definitely using that. I'm like, “All y'all are my friends, you not each other's friends. Let's not get it twisted.” So, are you looking forward to any new trips? Are you watching out for delta and kind of staying put? How are you thinking about getting back out into the world again? And obviously you came to Denver recently but…
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 22:39
Yeah, we went to the Bahamas and so we had to do the whole COVID test before you go. It was our and we're like winning image trips when let's go somewhere with a quick flight because I don't want to get a mask over the long time. So, I was like, “Okay, Bahamas is like Atlanta to Miami, Miami to Bahamas.” It's a quick flight so we did that. And it was everybody went to mass on the resort it was two I just wanted like a relaxing trip. I wasn't looking to go super far away right. So that was a good trip and then we did Miami on the way back for a few days. But as far as like the next trip I'd like to do I don't have anything planned. I'm kind of waiting on to see how you know Delta the variant is going to do and then that'll determine my next travel. I've got some smelters and one of belief away little stuff like that but nothing major. Yeah, my sister in law's going to Greece in a few days so I'm like living through her trip. And I'm like fine. She’s got a friend there and she's going to stay in some small village is going to be great. So, I'm excited for her.
Speaker: Orion Brown 23:46
I don't even know her and I'm mad at her right now. I'm just like, “Oh, you get to stay in a village.”
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 23:49
Yeah, like she's going to like she was telling me that her friend doesn't there's like not even an address. Just tell them her name and this little…
Speaker: Orion Brown 23:58
Girl that cracks me up every time like go to Jamaica and it's like you don't write it full address on the envelope because the mailman knows them. And I'm like, my mailman doesn't even come at the same time every day. It is not even the same person.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 24:14
You don't have Mr. Earl. Mr. Earl knows everybody in Jamaica. They listen, he knows everybody, wherever this town is. Yeah, so, I don’t have any trips coming up. We have not I have not been to the continent of Africa at all, I'm ashamed to say. So, I would like to be fair, I would like to do, my son wants to go to Egypt, he’s obsessed with Egypt. I would like to go to Ghana. We have an illustrator that we work with there and I have not met him in person. So, I'd like to go there. I would like to go to China because we have two manufacturers that we use there for business that I have made a connection with on Skype and WhatsApp, very late hours but I haven’t met them.
Speaker: Orion Brown 24:52
But you haven't gone there to meet them and stuff.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 24:55
But yes, like I want to go and like see the factory and see them because I've done a lot of business. with them, but I haven't met them in person.
Speaker: Orion Brown 25:01
Tell us a little bit about that. Because I've had people on who have used their business as a means to also kind of like, hit that travel bug, tell us a little bit about your business and where the international connections come in? And have you used any of them? Or is that something that you're, you're looking forward to.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 25:22
So are my businesses green type gifts, so we bring diversity celebrations through multicultural gift back home decor, and apparel. And we launched with plants, balls of black Santa, and then we expanded into our big paper about some lunch and baby shower product that I'm all super excited about. So, they did business for five years this year. And we sourced some of our product here in the US, some of our products manufactured overseas. Illustrators we work with are somewhere in Canada, some are in Ghana, some are in California. And then we have manufacturers, some of US based and some of them are in China. So, and in India, so we do a lot of communicating with them through shipping of samples back and forth or off something that I like that I want to get sourced and often in the sample, like I want this, but I want it this way. And then they will communicate and talk about it and work through it and contracts and I wire money and send it back. And then our product will arrive at a port to the door and it comes to our location. So, it is exciting and extremely nerve wracking when you are sourcing products overseas. And you've never seen that person. And I can tell you the first time I wired money to an illustrator, I wired it Western Union because they didn't have PayPal where he lived. And I was like it's either going to be a scam, or it's going to be an amazing opportunity. One of two is going to happen. So yeah, so that's kind of what our experiences are with sourcing products.
Speaker: Orion Brown 26:54
Wow. And so really, there is an opportunity as you continue to build out sort of your vendors and your partners and your suppliers. Although you already have like the definition of supplier diversity, my goodness. But you do have some reasons to kind of go out and like, “Oh, I need to hand take this over to you. So, you can see exactly what I mean.”
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 27:18
We need to talk face to face. And I can Yeah, we'll talk about that. Yeah, this is a business trip
Speaker: Orion Brown 27:23
I love that. How do you make that decision? or how are you thinking about making that decision in the future? So, we have a lot of folks that watch that are also in entrepreneurial space, it's like, when you have sourcing from different places is great because it’s less expensive, and this than the other and talent is great. But like when do you decide like, “Okay, I'm going to put the investment of bringing me to them, and co creating?”
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 27:51
For me, I want the best quality product. And so, I am a paper snob. I love gift wrap, stationery, greeting cards, I love it, I can spend days and hours and gift shops and paper stores. So, for me, I'm not going to sell our customers anything I don’t want to buy myself. And so, I always want to make sure we have the best quality, the best products, and the illustrations come to life and are magical and can make a child go and make an adult, bring joy to them as well. So yeah, it is if you have that sense of magic, then I don't I don't want to work with that artist.
Speaker: Orion Brown 28:29
You're basically Disney movies for gift wrap.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 28:33
I'm trying to do like and I like it, I will take it. Yeah, I want people to connect with our products. I want it to appeal to a senior, a grandmother, an aunt, professional [not clear] 28:40 to paying because we'd like to call them. And so, a kid. So, it's really important for me that when we're sourcing illustrators, I always like to work with them. But I don't like to stifle their creativity as an artist, because I think it's really the best work from an artist, when you allow them to do the work that they do well. If you're like, “No, I need to blue and I need to just change that” then you're taking away their creative expression. So, if you don't really love the artist, they're probably not a good fit for you.
Speaker: Orion Brown 29:11
Hmm, that is a word right there. Because I think sometimes as we try to find creatives to bring some things to life, it can be a challenge. And you're like, “Well, I have my vision.” But there's someplace where you have to find somebody that can be a partner where you can give them an idea of the vision and they can run with it. But if it's not fitting, it's not fitting, rather than creative directing, find somebody that kind of gets you. How did you manage to do that?
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 29:42
It's hard because as a business owner, it's your baby. It's your business is your product; you know exactly what you want it to look like and how you want it to come to life. But then you're working with a creative who may be designing a box or a bottle or a scent or fragrance or whatever it is that you're doing. And if that's their expertise, there's a fine line of you getting what you have in your head and them telling you what they know is their expertise and giving you a quality product. And then you screw it up because you're like, “No, I want it blue.” And they're like, “No, the background needs to be black for the top to pop.” And you're like, “But no, I want a blue.” So, we give it our own way. And I think, I don't know, I think this is, I always try to be mindful that and I try to be mindful that when I'm working with creatives upfront, to let them know, like, “I'm going to let you have some leeway. But these are few things that I really want this way. But everything else is on you.” And I think you get better work when you allow them to be creative and let them do their art. I think you get a better working relationship.
Speaker: Orion Brown 30:42
Wow. And that's, that's a word right there just in terms of letting sort of their gifts shine, as it were, no pun intended, but like letting their gifts shine and letting them do what they do best. And so, trusting yourself to know that you picked well.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 30:57
Yes, and picking well that you don't like, sometimes, they're just not the right fit. If you are trying to make somebody who's never designed logos, do logos for you, then they might not be the right person. You got to find people that are talented in those things.
Speaker: Orion Brown 31:12
And even if they have, sometimes people have just their creative niche where you're like, “But this looks just like the five other logos you just made for these companies” and I stylistically if somebody wants that, that's great. But I need you to pivot and don't ask people to pivot on things. It's not really their ministry as it were.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 31:32
Speaker: Orion Brown 31:35
Right. I love that. And so, you mentioned you actually have creators in different parts of the globe. So, what are some of the challenges or even some of the benefits you've had in terms of creatively like communicating with them and getting to the thing that you're looking for?
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 31:51
Communicating, I did an interview, I found this illustrator that I really like she was in Brazil, she spoke very little English. My neighbor at the time, was from Brazil, she spoke Portuguese. Her daughter was like 17 or 18. And I was like, “Can you translate a zoom call for me?” And she's like, “Huh?” I was like, “Can you translate a zoom call for me?” So, we did the interview, and the 17-year-old translate it for me and her, and she's from Brazil, lives in the US. And she translated the meeting. And the girl’s art was awesome, but I was just buying, this isn't going to work for me because I she didn't know enough English, there was just no way I knew it was going to be too much work for me. And I was like, as much as I want or this person, this was going to be hard, like, hard to deal with. But I'm like, for as far as even working with manufacturers in China, I try to be very careful to not use a lot of slang and be very direct and very descriptive, when I'm talking with them to make sure that they understand what I need and what I want, always asking for samples, mock ups, pictures, and then over communicating exactly what it is you need and want because it can get lost in translation. And that can be a very expensive error in communication where you're working with a manufacturer or a creative, and they don't understand what you're saying. So, I would say ask for proof and review that contract, review that invoice and double check it three times.
Speaker: Orion Brown 33:25
Triple check it, triple check it and especially if you're ordering things in bulk, there were stories, but you order things in bulk, and then you realize, “Oh, you packed it completely different than you pack the sample. That's interesting and crazy looking. So, when were you going to tell me?” Being really clear. So, one of the things that I've noted is having manufacturers take photos of the product as it's boxed, so you have an idea of what's coming. I've done that with when COVID started, I did not do that. And I had custom fabric made from masks that I was really excited about. And I was like “Cool custom printed from Korea.” And it arrived at the seamstress or the sewing house. And they sewed them all up. And then I got them and I was like the printing, like the ink hadn't adhered to the fabric. And so, it was like a shadow. And even with the sellers. They were like, “Well, we did the job and you paid us so that's it.” and it's like but you didn't look at that and go, “This doesn't look like what you sent me.” People aren't going to do it for you. So, you got to check it, you got to check it every step of the way.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 34:42
Expensive error right.
Speaker: Orion Brown 34:44
It was a very expensive error. But but when you're waiting for four weeks for something to get to you, that’s kind of one of those challenges, not like Amazon when you send that sucker right back free, free shipping. Nope.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 35:00
I ordered a few 100 coffee mugs that were printed wrong. And I learned that there. I still give them out to them when they come to my house and like, “Would you like a coffee mug?”
Speaker: Orion Brown 35:11
People are like, “She’s so nice, Jackie's so nice. She gave me this coffee mug but why I look like that?” shut up, it's mine.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 35:23
It’s free. It's a welcome gift.
Speaker: Orion Brown 35:26
You know what, that's when you do mystery gifts. So, for those of you who have businesses do the mystery gift. And do your bumpy ugly stuff, as long as it still works. Alright, you know stuffing with some candy call it a day, cascos.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 35:42
These are lessons to be learned. I hope people or anybody who's getting things manufactured, hearing these things, prove check, triple check, ask these questions, because you are right, you can’t do anything when you are manufacturing.
Speaker: Orion Brown 35:55
You really can't. Unless you control the product, like the manufacturing line, there's nothing that you can assume. And at the end of the day, the worst thing that can hurt to ask is that somebody like, “You asked me. But hey, I saved some money.” So, tell us like, at so I want to talk about this wrapping paper because I remember seeing articles and all that. And now it seems like there's a bunch of people doing it. But like, how were you kind of keeping your creativity innovative, and what part does having this team all over help to do that, if any?
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 36:40
I think for innovation it is, for me, I was double touching, I was working full time, and I was working on the business on the side. And so, it was more of a seasonal business. And then this past February, I quit my job to work on the business full time in 2020. And so yes, it was the only way, I wish I had done it, because then once I quit, it just I felt like things sped up so much faster, I have more time to focus on the business. So now I feel like I have all these ideas and things that I wanted to do that I just couldn't do. Because I didn't have the time, because I was kind of doing work in corporate doing this at night. And so, now that I'm more, I have all these ideas and things I want to do. And I'm sourcing samples and like I feel like that all these I'm like, “Oh, I want to do this and this and this” analysis, funding all those fun ideas and products and things that I want to do. And there's so many things that parents and aunts and grandmas and uncles are looking for and [not clear] 37:28 representation, I think it's 2020 reputation is always important, but in 2020 really came to the forefront and now went to show representation of our multicultural society, some more authentic voices and others. But I think it's I think it's, as far as what I bring to the space as a person of color and person raising small children, I think it's important to see this representation. So, there's these things in products that I want for my kids to see. And to connect with and recognize their beauty and their skin tone and their hair color, or even their hair texture. So, I think that's really what makes helps with our innovation and our products and what I think makes us unique from others that are in this space. And so, there's so many things that I want to do and you're working on that I'm excited about [inaudible] 38:26
Speaker: Orion Brown 38:28
Dream big girl, dream Big. You touched on like hair texture, one of the things I didn't realize was how little our hair textures are reflected just in the world outside of like the hair I'll use the stuff on boxes and things like that. But in the world, and one of the things that Cuba trip that I mentioned, we were in Trinidad, the city, not the country, were in Trinidad, and there was a whole row of like artists, I don't want to say booth. So, it was like full galleries or whatever, small galleries. And I went into one just because I saw the hair on the aunt. So, she had beautiful black female bodies. And the hair had texture, like texture on the actual and I just couldn't… I just stood there I brought one home I brought one home. And it was it's absolutely gorgeous. But I was like I was moved just by seeing our hair in an authentic way. And it caught me off guard, before that I wouldn't be the person like “Yeah, we need more pictures of hair” like that. I'm like, Yeah, we do. I know we do. Intellectually I know that. But seeing it reflected in art and especially with that lens of beauty because art speaks to you right and I'm like, you're celebrating this form and you're celebrating, more than the form the curls, oh my god, the curls and the kinks. I still get goosebumps like so that's amazing that you're bringing that to sort of the everyday space within, was it textiles paper or paper stock? Tell us what the scope of this is because I should probably know this.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 40:17
So, it was a gift wrap and paper. So that's probably where you say, but we're also doing products we're doing, so a textile. So, apparel. So, there's just a lot of different ways that we're playing in that space. But yeah, I think it's super important. Like you said, I had my neighbor she told me like, I'm just like my little girl asked for flat yellow hair. And she was like, she said it pained me because she was like she had no love from her own hair texture her own hair, and she was just like. That's because a lot of what she sees, kids see television shows. And if all the books that you see in the TV shows you watch have like yellow hair, and you don't see anything that looks like yours, then you think there's something wrong with yours. And so, you want flat yellow hair, because that's when all the books happening. So, I think it’s important, if you connected with art, you're an adult. So, if a kid sees here that looks like a young age, and it's like, oh, this is that looks like me, that's beautiful. That's important self-reflection, instills that sense of self pride. And that's why I think it's just super important. So that's kind of part of the little mission I'm on.
Speaker: Orion Brown 41:25
I love that. And that's one of the things that, this bump in interest from 2020. Whether it's genuine or not, it's sort of neither here nor there. Because it's a way in, it's a way to start having these conversations more openly. One of the things that I've done with black travel box is focused on number one, it's so funny, because when I came up with the name, it was meant to be like a triple entendre almost. So, the first thing that came to mind was, and I'm kind of old, so I was like, little black book. It has all the names and all the things that you want. And then the little black dress, they're always little, but I was like, black travel box is this mailer that encompasses all the little things that you need when you travel. And oh, Tiana.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 42:15
Yeah. I love Tiana but you are right. I was having a discussion the other day, and we watched prince in the vlog? a lot, we were talking about that. And I was like “Men, why can’t Tianna… wouldn’t it be great?” That’s why I love Mawana, don't give me… a whole new topic for another day. But I love Mawana because she is an after a man. She's like, “woman hear me roar” and she’s saving her village. And I love that.
Speaker: Orion Brown 42:42
And she has thick curves too. I just want to see a girl with some normal girl legs. She has some thick curves and some ankles on it.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 42:48
She has real legs. Mawana is my favorite. It was Tiana. And as Mawana came out. Oh, no, it's Mawana then Tianna. Just from the story. Back to the box. Sorry.
Speaker: Orion Brown 42:58
Yes, yes. I love that. And I love that y'all are chatting with us. So, the chat for those of you who don't know the chats usually, like a few seconds behind. So, like, we have to catch back up to it. But, yeah, that's one of the things I do a black chocolate box. So oftentimes people ask me, like, “Why is black in the name and is it just written?” It's like, no, no, we need to normalize that there are people of different hues in different hair textures in the world, and that there is no such thing as normal, right? let's not let's take normal off bottles of lotion and bottles of hair, you can't say the shampoo is for normal hair, and then not work for somebody. So, nothing's going to work for everybody. But when you have a large chunk of the earth population that can't use something like, that's the opposite of selling. And so that's something that I’m kind of doing in my lane in terms of beauty. Yes, we want to see more representation of beauty. But also, let's stop caveating it with “Well, this is for everyone” like let's start talking about and bringing forward faces that aren't necessarily served and saying, “You can come along if you want to.” And I always say this, you can come along with us if you want to try our products, because by the way, herring unbook, protein, keratin and water. The shape of it is what changes like how we do with it, but like we're not made of different things. We're made of the exact same elements. And so, to me, I'm like, if you see a black woman on a package, you should go well, let me see if this might have some ingredients that work for me, you shouldn't stop and go “Oh, that's not for me” and keep moving. Because ultimately, that's not the experience that we have. We go into the island we're like, “Alright, so this person is on there. I got to do some digging to figure out if this will work.” And so, I love that you guys are doing that work in in celebratory moments, which is like a place unless you see like those little precious moments dolls, with the creepy little eyes, and every now and again, you find a little chocolate chip when it's like, oh, everybody's black grandma has like 15-year-old chocolate chip ones don't know where she's getting them Tuesday morning or wherever.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 45:11
Tuesday morning is probably right.
Speaker: Orion Brown 45:14
Tuesday morning. I love Tuesday. But I love that you guys are bringing that. It's making ubiquitous the black experience and not even in a political way just saying like, “We're here we show up.” And we never seen Santa Claus so we all know he not black. I just want to say that.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 45:41
[Inaudible] Growing up, my mother is obsessed with every holiday, she is the reason I celebrate every holiday at our house. We painted angels, nativities, there’s a nativity that's in her house, 365 and never comes down. Yeah. white male, on her mantle in Hillsborough. So that’s just all, it was always important for us to have things that look like us, for every holiday and every moment. He was coloring in cards, painting, angels, ornaments, everything has to have some representation. So, when I had my son, I wanted that same thing for him. So, she is a large portion of the reasons why I think it's important.
Speaker: Orion Brown 46:30
And this beautiful, because there's something to be said for, as you pointed out with kids being surrounded by, I would say a diversity of things. Unfortunately, we have a bullwhip effect. Because culture has shifted so far over to one end that we try to go to the other to balance it out. But my hope is, at some point, we get to I don't want to say necessarily a middle ground, but a place where kids are surrounded by true diversity.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 47:00
It is not just important for just black and brown kids, it's important for other children to see diversity because, if they don't see it, and they get a classroom, they've never been around in a number of people celebrations, their faith is so important. You don't then you get to college. You're like, “Oh, y'all do what from what? I've never heard of this thing.”
Speaker: Orion Brown 47:17
That was me in college, I went to a, what do you call it a PWI? And which at the time we weren't even call them PWIs or just regular, university or whatever it was. I went to school, but it was so funny. I got around people even like just being around people of wealth in certain spaces that I have preconceived notions that were just like, you watch too much TV in the 80s. This is why you think people are like that. They're completely normal people. And some of these broke people act like folks get you thinking, it’s, you cannot judge a book. I remember going to my dorm, my freshman year of college and seeing a goth woman who was super tall, super pale, black hair smudged, eyes, black, black, black all the time. And I never sat with her. I never kicked it with her and everybody had their groups. And by the way, I went to a nerdy school. So, there was a lot of odd people in general. But I remember sitting with her and talking to her one day at lunch randomly. And it's like, “Oh, she's a biochemist.” And I'm talking to her. She's doing like a triple major. And she's just like, “This is how I like to dress.” But she was like a Brazilian biochemist. So, it didn't even occur to me that like there was goth culture in other countries because I have lived in Midwest, South Side of Chicago, most of my life, I didn't know where anything was. And so just even getting exposure that way. And I will say, I will give, although this lady touched my hair the other day, and I was really not happy with it. But I didn't know her. I was at a store. I'm checking out, I'm getting my coffee. I had braids, and I took them down. I think part of the reason I took them down was because she did that. But it was also time for them. They were starting to run into the back of my head. y'all got to warn me when y'all see me out here and they run away from my head. But I get to the register and I'm paying for my coffee and the lady behind me. I hear “Oh, your braids are so beautiful.” And then her like I felt the wind of her arm swing to like, and I was like, “Oh no.” That said when I was in college, I was never around Jewish people until I went to college and I had a Jewish friend. When I tell you, this boy had the cutest long curly fro and I used to oink his curls. I used to be like oink, oink. 49:42
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 49:44
That's cultural, that’s cultural. You went to a PWI, I went to HBCU and there's still for me there were cultural things where I just met people from different… I remember the girls in my hallway from Orleans and they like to season in packs for cafeteria because they thought the food was bland. I was just like, “Really?”. But yeah, even at HBCU, even from all over, right, then you just like you're exposed. I think that's part of college or you're exposed to all these people and you're learning and your mind is open, hopefully. [inaudible] 50:16 But for me, it was a lot of cultural shock. I'm from a small town and went to a majority, white High School, and it was very rule. So, coming to Atlanta. It was a hell of a thing for me. So, I totally I can understand that for sure. But that's important. It's more talking to children young about different people, where they're from, head coverings why people walk, what they wear, what they do. That way you know your kids aren't embarrassing you in the grocery store asking you like, “Mummy, why does she have that?” That part.
Speaker: Orion Brown 50:53
Well, but what's part of it is I don't mind the why it's when they say it with disgust, because you know what that says it's been instilled in them that things that are different aren't good. I had kids; I've interacted with kids who've asked me questions. I had my hair dyed blonde, and I had it purple. So, he had to go blonde and get the purple. And they're like, “Why is your hair like that?” But they don't mean it like, “why is your hair like?” that's what I really want. I want you to be able to have those discussions openly. And say it because they want to educate themselves. Like, “Ooh, I want to learn about this. I haven't seen this yet.” And that is so important.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 51:37
It is so important. There's a really great tool book called lovely I think it is and it just shows like it's animated different people like all young, wrinkly, tight skin, thin noses, wide noses, tattoos, ear piercings, head coverings, just all kinds of different things. And the book talks about how everyone's lovely and different. And it's just one of my favorite books, because this just shows all different shapes and sizes, people with skin tone. It is a great book.
Speaker: Orion Brown 52:05
I feel like I need to read that book as an adult because [not clear]. It’s for everybody to learn.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 52:13
And to bringing it back to travel is also great for traveling with kids because I think when you travel with children, they get to see and are exposed to different people and how other people live and cultures and it can open their eyes. I don't quite travel with my children yet. I look forward to it. They are not ready yet. They not for me to take them
Speaker: Orion Brown 52:30
Mama not ready yet, mama not ready.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 52:34
People that travel with two-year-olds, God bless you. It's not my ministry. But my six-year-old, he's almost ready to go for some long trips. We do like US trips. He's almost ready to go to some international trips for sure. Kids get out of the USA, see how other children live, they're exposed to different foods, how people's houses, how school systems, is important travel further though, you can travel and come back and be like, “Wow, I am appreciative that when I call this light switch, there are lights in here.”
Speaker: Orion Brown 53:10
When I call on this light switch, the light switch says yes.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 53:16
This water, I can drink, you travel different places and you meet different people or you get great food and good conversation and other places.
Speaker: Orion Brown 53:26
And all those things that like all that sensory input that tells you the world is bigger than the problems you have every day and the people that you talk to and who don't like who and all of those things. There are beautiful places to go and animals to pit and beaches to lay on and all of that. I love it. I love it. Well, I thank you for taking… we've brought it back around to travel and before we go cut off like, ooh almost hour girl. We made it. We've been kicking it, tell everybody where they can find your products and find you online because I know holidays are coming and people going to want to stock up real quick. I suggest people stock up now because once we get like a month before you're not going to be able to get stuff so it's going to be out.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 54:13
From no to December like 15th, I haven't looked at the hard date, but that's fine. That's pretty much kind of like the second week of December. I can't promise you after that. Queen you got the post office at that point, I can't help you.
Speaker: Orion Brown 54:28
Right. That's when people start getting gift wrapping. They're like oh, I just tried to be eco ecological. And they wrapped it in like brown paper. Oh no, I just get some twine to go on it. It's just me being… you not that happy. You wear fur coats, you not that happy, stop it. You just didn't order in time.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 54:47
So, you can shop at www.greentopgifts.com. We're on all social media at Green top gifts. And our products ship all over all over the US, international and we have Christmas products we all have a birthday, some new stuff is coming out soon. You can check our website and shop it please share with friends and then buy that paper and then wrap your black travel box in it and gift it to somebody
Speaker: Orion Brown 55:16
That part. That part. That part. And you know your black travel box comes in the black box already. So honestly you just take that mailer, for holidays, I usually start we usually start in like September, October, putting those boxes in a mailer pack so that you can reuse it because people are like, what I want to get the box I want to peel off the we got you. We got you. But yeah, I love it. Thank you so much Jackie for kicking it with me. We had a mini long-distance Kiki. It was so much fun. Cheers to you. And thanks, everybody.
Speaker: Jacqueline Rogers 55:58
I got last little sip. Cheers to that.
Speaker: Orion Brown 56:05
We friends had ketchup. Cheers. Exactly. And thank you all who joined us. We had tons of people in the conversation. Rico, I see you thought them it was good. I am so grateful to have you guys this week. I'm so grateful to have this time. I'm so grateful that Jackie joined us I had a great time meeting you and chatting with you. We definitely have to do this again. And this is what all wind down is about like we talked a little business stuff we mention a little bit really, it's about connecting. It's about having a good conversation and having some connections that many of us don't necessarily get to get during the week. We all need zoom calls for work or whatever things and getting that moment to be like, “You know travel is dope, and I love people and the world is amazing.” And so, I thank you all for joining us. It's been so much fun. Thank you, Miss Jackie. I will catch you very very soon. Bye guys.
Ellee is in the building - and this week she's showing us what it means to be a globe trotting Travel Crush. This native New Yorker has climbed the pyramids of Egypt, took her whole life in her hands on the swings in Bali, and she's still pumped for more challenging, new adventures. Read on for her tips on having magical experiences without breaking the bank, her favorite hack for buying cheap flights, and how she stays in villas without the hefty price tag.
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