We are excited to share another installment of our OW Spotlight, this edition featuring Chantel Calloway, the fierce, fashionable and fabulous founder of OBCG (Official Bad Girls Clothing), a “Girl Power” t-shirt brand with a philanthropic edge. Each purchase of any OBGC collection t-shirt benefits various deserving non-profit organizations.
Q: How did you come to choose a name and image for your brand?
Chantel: The term “bad” in the company's name is used euphemistically to represent the beautiful, sophisticated, strong-willed and ambitious, with an occasional sassy human nature. OBGC represents women who are not satisfied with life defined within a box. We are continuous trailblazers, trendsetters and dreamchasers. More importantly, we are consciously aware of our power. These are quality traits branded.
Q: How did you come to decide to leave your job and take the risk of starting your own company?
Chantel: I feel we are in an era where woman are taking notice of their innate power. Entrepreneurship is always a difficult decision because success is not immediate and dependable like a 9-5 job. I became very passionate about what i wanted to do and failure is not an option. You have to have courage and direct focus on your goal. When success is the focus, success is the outcome!
Q: What were the biggest challenges you faced when first getting off the ground?
Chantel: Self-doubt was the biggest challenge. As a designer, I am an artist and you never know how your target customer will respond to your artistry. However the response has been amazing and I'm preparing to launch my 2nd collection.
Q: Is yours a male-dominated industry/business?
Q: What obstacles have you encountered as a female business owner? Chantel: I believe most industries are male-dominated. It may come as a surprise that most designers of female fashion brands are males. However when you can find a niche and offer something people want, you then have a huge advantage. Your product or service will dominate and you wont have to worry about your gender.
Chantel: Sometimes I have to apply a little "bitchness" to my business ethic. As women, we are naturally built to be nice and a bit passive. In a male-dominated industry, when you are considered beautiful, men don't take you seriously until you are stern and lucid about what you want. I've been called a "pitbull in a skirt" but if i were a male I would be hailed as a "serious businessman".
Q: When did you start and how much have you grown?
Chantel: In January of 2011 I began to establish the OBGC brand. One thing I will stress to entrepreneurs is that success doesn't happen overnight. I tend to have a need for instant gratification. You will make a lot of mistakes and lose a lot of money if you don't take your time and think things out. People who think they know everything actually have so much more to learn. I grow into a better businesswoman everyday. I read a lot and keep myself current in my industry. I believe you can only grow through learning.
Q: What is unique about being a two-woman team? Is the rest of your team female also?
Chantel: Two heads is always better than one. Success is always achieved as a team. You have to be humble and know what you're not good at and find a partner that complements those areas.
Q: Are there any female role models or leaders in the industry that have inspired or mentored you as a young business owner?
Chantel: My mother is one of my biggest role models. She has taught me that work ethic is everything. She also has been very supportive of every idea I come up with. When I doubted my artwork she told me that women would love it. It's so important to have people around you that support you and make you believe in yourself. In addition, I found a mentor that became my business partner. This was a blessing because I'm learning every day and my business is being supported all at the same time.
Q: Where would you like to see your business in five years?
Chantel: In five years I would like to see my brand in well- known department stores. More importantly, I want to achieve a level of success where I have been able to make significant contributions to various non-profits in efforts to change lives.
Q: What advice would you give to a woman of any age looking to run with a business idea?
Chantel: Have a clear business plan that has feasibility in the industry you are going to penetrate. Do your diligent research, find mentors, be open to constructive criticism, stay focused and don't give up. There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.
Q: Who are your female role models?
Chantel: Oprah, Kimora Lee and Angelina Jolie are my role models.
Q: What would you like to see change for the role of women in our world? For the future?
Chantel: Its very important that strong female role models remain in the media. Today I'm very concerned with the way beautiful smart women are portrayed in reality TV shows. I have supported many petitions that challenge media companies on the garbage reality TV shows that they air. Shows such as "Basketball Wives", "Mob Wives" and "Love & Hip Hop" are terrible to watch for a young girl trying to become a woman. Woman should be classy, smart, poised and successful due to their own merit.
OBGC's "Moxie" T-Shirt benefitting Boston GLOW. Buy yours here.
Boston GLOW's Leah Moschella and Emily Copeman with OBCG Founder Chantel Calloway (center) at IGNITEtheNITE 2013.