Bossing up isn’t new for Christina M. Rice. She launched a successful Nashville-based boutique straight outta undergraduate school. A little over a decade later she kicked off LuxeLife Media, a public relations firm in New York City. By 35, the Tennessee State alum had spent the better part of her professional career as an entrepreneur, and there was just one problem: she was exhausted. Despite having a decent work/life balance, Rice felt severely unmotivated (or at least under-motivated), and she quickly realized it wasn’t the kind of fatigue that could be remedied by a nap. She eventually turned to yoga. The workout, which includes mindfulness practices, did something that kickboxing and dance classes couldn’t— it centered her.
Yoga became life for Rice. As she grew in her personal practice, she began to work towards becoming an instructor, and that’s when her next idea big hit. “I was the only Black woman in my classes. I felt isolated and lonely. I knew I couldn’t be the only woman of color who felt this way,” she tells CASSIUS. “I started teaching classes, and I realized more and more Black women were seeking out my class. I realized there would be something special about creating spaces for women of color.” And that’s how OMNoire, a wellness social community for women of color that hosts events and retreats, was born.
Rice talked to CASSIUS about running a biz, monetizing the travel trend and why you (or your girl) needs a little OMNoire in your life. Check out the exchange below.
CASSIUS: You’ve launched three successful companies. What should folks know about starting a business from scratch?
Christina M. Rice: After you’ve fine-tuned the idea you really have to focus on the technical aspects of running a company. There are four main things I suggest folks focus on. First, you have to determine which business structure— LLC, S. Corp, etc.— is best before you start generating revenue, so you don’t get hit with unexpectedly high tax bills. Next, you want to understand your profit structure and revenue model. What are the different verticals that will help your business scale, like merchandise or brand partnerships? Another big miss is not considering the customer experience. You have to go on the other side of the business and think of yourself as your customer, what would they expect? What does that buyer need to feel and see to spend dollars with your brand? Everything from your website to your purchase process should have the customer in mind. Last, you need good pre-problem solving skills. You can never predict exactly what will happen, but you have to think ahead and protect yourself from plausible issues. For example, if you have a storefront, you should think ahead about insurance to cover unfortunate but common emergencies such as robberies or floods. If your product is seasonal think about the sales highs and lows and how you can plan around them. Watch and learn from other brands’ successes and challenges.
C.: Part of OMNoire’s business model taps into the huge Black travel movement. What made you consider incorporating retreats into the brand?
C.R.: We had our first retreat in March 2017, and it was in Grenada—it was sold out. After I started teaching classes, a colleague approached me about collaborating to create the retreat, and we realized it was a great opportunity. As a PR exec, I was a good organizer, and I already loved to plan smaller group travel.
C.: There are a lot of people who see the growth in businesses that service group travel for people of color and think, “I can do it too.” What are some things that interested entrepreneurs should consider?
CR: It’s definitely not simple. When you’re in the business of hosting group travel every little detail has to be covered. You have to think of yourself as a producer for an event. You must consider everything from payment structure with the hotel and vendors to pacing the experience and creating an itinerary. You also have to be prepared to take care of all of your guests’ unexpected needs. For example, what if one of your customers becomes ill and needs to go the hospital, or it rains the day of an outdoor event or excursion? You have to be ready for everything.
C.: Entrepreneurship is a big leap, and many people are scared to jump. What do you suggest to folks who are teetering on the edge?
CR: Don’t be afraid of failure. So many people are scared of the unknown, and it hinders their ability to move forward. You don’t have to put everything on the line at once. Tap into your skill sets to create multiple streams of income first because it’s a great way to make money while you’re employed and also allows you to start seeing which one of your passions has the potential to generate a significant cash flow.
C.: What can folks expect from an OMNoire retreat?
C.R.: A luxe experience. A sense of community. A space to relax and center yourself. And fun… lots of it.