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Jolie Noire sisters
Owners and sisters, Kim Lockett and Keyondra Lockett
  • “Print-on-demand services have helped our business tremendously. We were looking for something when we first launched our business to help us with fulfillment because we have no experience in printing.”
  • “While our printing partner was great to stay open (during COVID), production times were slower and many popular items were out of stock, so we really tried hard to manage expectations.”
  • Monetize an audience you have built. Print-on-demand is a great option if you are an artist who wants to spend your time creating instead of fulfilling orders.

Only two percent of businesses in the U.S. are black-owned, but sisters Keyondra and Kim Lockett have made it their mission to be an important voice among that group. After noticing there was not a lot of diversity in the apparel market with not only models, but also with sizing, the duo opened up their own retail store called Jolie Noire to help raise black women’s voices and images, while also ensuring they offered a greater variety of sizes to fit all body types. 

Helping to Deliver Exceptional Experiences

By utilizing print-on-demand services with Printful, the sisters have created unique and representative designs that can meet their customers’ size needs. It also landed them a one-month national partnership with Target for Black History Month this past February, and the brand has continued to boom since. 

“Print-on-demand services have helped our business tremendously. We are both busy with our own individual careers — I do wardrobe design, and Keyondra is a gospel singer, so we were looking for something when we first launched our business to help us with fulfillment because we have no experience in printing and did not even have a desire for that,” Kim Lockett, Co-Founder of Jolie Noire, said.

Dealing with Pandemic-Induced Challenges

Print-on-demand services can also help your brand deal with an influx of orders. In the summer of 2020, right at the height of the pandemic, Jolie Noire experienced a huge increase in sales and followers on Instagram. As exciting as it was to be one of the businesses that were thriving during COVID-19, Kim and Keyondra encountered challenges with their inventory and dealing with shipping out more orders. 

“While our printing partner was great to stay open, production times were slower and many popular items were out of stock, so we really tried hard to manage expectations,” Keyondra, Co-Founder of Jolie Noire, said. “We did that by having a very open dialogue with them by email and a website page explaining the fulfillment timeframes and possibilities of delays. We also went to social media and shared this information through live videos, and we over communicated to some degree, but we believe that it is better to over communicate because it makes your customers trust you better.” 

Here are some other ways that print-on-demand services can help grow your business: 

  • Test a business idea or new product line for an existing brand without the risks that come with buying inventory. It also makes for a great side hustle.
  • Monetize an audience you have built. Print-on-demand is a great option if you are an artist who wants to spend your time creating instead of fulfilling orders.
  • Create original products for a niche of customers. For example, t-shirts for shoppers who are super passionate about long distance running. 
  • Print one-off or small batches of t-shirts, books, shoes, bags, wall art, phone cases, clocks, laptop skins, mugs, and other merchandise. 
  • Create products quickly. Once you have the design, you can create the item and put it up for sale in minutes.
  • Shipping orders are taken care of. Shipping and fulfillment is out of your hands and into your supplier’s. After the sale, you are just responsible for customer service. 
  • Low investment, lower risk. Since you are not physically holding any inventory, it is easier to add or remove products, test ideas, or pivot your approach. 

The success of Jolie Noire is very important to both Kim and Keyondra for representing black business women in the industry. With print-on-demand services, they have been able to grow their brand while still keeping their personal lives in check. 

“There is some young girl out there looking at you, and hopefully you are inspiring them to do something great with their life. In people’s eyes, I want them to look at me and say ‘She is a great girl and I want to do whatever it is she is doing,’ and hopefully I am promoting something like that. For a lot of black businesses, it creates a sense of legacy and allows other people to realize they can have the same sense of security and can start building their own story,” Kim said.

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