This editorial is sponsored by Visa.
If there’s one thing that’s undeniable, it’s Meena Osei-Kuffour’s remarkable eye for “creating your personal style”, which is a tagline she stands by professionally. With an innate ability to understand people’s sense of self-expression, she embarked on a journey that started as a mere passion project that ultimately led her to create and grow a thriving business. Meena’s small business, Vintage Royalty, has become a marketplace for unique discoveries, ranging from one of a kind jewelry and earrings to exquisite homegoods and accessories – and with the help of She’s Next in Fashion, Empowered by Visa, this women-owned small business is soaring to new heights.
She’s Next in Fashion, Empowered by Visa is a campaign supporting an emerging group of 50 women-owned small businesses through cash grants and digital and social content to help them thrive!
Small Business Beginnings
The story behind Vintage Royalty is rooted in discovery, because after almost failing out of her fashion program, Meena quickly needed to change her major in order to graduate. She didn’t let that setback deter her from her dreams of working in the fashion industry. Meena had something to prove to herself, which prompted her to move to New York, where she went on to land internships at some of the world’s top fashion houses.
And while Meena recalls her internship time as very difficult and a physically taxing experience, she shares that “getting that [first] internship was really eye-opening for me in regard to the determination you need to break through that field. There weren’t a lot of people that looked like me in the fashion world in the early 2000s. It wasn’t really a thing to see that many Black girls, especially full-figured Black girls, in the industry. But I was able to get in there and learn a bunch of things.” It was an eye-opening experience for the young entrepreneur-in-the-making of how large fashion companies operate.
As she continued to gain more experience in the industry working fashion shows and other events, the inclusivity of accessories is what really intrigued Meena. “I fell in love with the fact that anyone could wear them,” Meena said. “You don’t have to be a certain size or height in order to be in this fashion group.” That discovery was the catalyst to how Vintage Royalty was created. “I feel like I have something for everyone,” Meena expressed, “whether it’s an intro piece for someone who wants to try it out or someone who has 100 pairs of earrings and wants another one.”
Connecting with Community
Through her small business, Meena has managed to decipher the essence of timeless fashion, blending it with contemporary trends– even as she moved from NYC to Chicago. This seamless fusion struck a chord with fashion enthusiasts and helped make Vintage Royalty a go-to destination for those seeking authentic, yet modern pieces. How authentic? In addition to Meena’s own handmade earrings and necklaces, there’s also the option to purchase DIY kits to design your own jewelry at home. And just how modern and contemporary? Vintage Royalty has consistently provided on-trend pieces with carefully curated collections that pay homage to pop culture.
The brand’s notoriety was further established because of Meena’s dedication to connecting with her consumers in a very real way. Through a number of vendor markets, local events, and genuine interactions, Meena built a loyal following around Vintage Royalty. “Because people see me a lot, they see me as more approachable – They see that there’s a person behind the brand, and I think that is what has made me successful in Chicago,” she explained.
The Path to Innovation
What really sets Vintage Royalty apart from other small businesses is its commitment to adapting to the changing retail landscape and consumer habits. You’ve seen different subscription services for perfume, makeup, and even clothing, but Vintage Royalty has created one specifically for accessories. The VR Member Club subscription service elevates the shopping experience for clientele by allowing members to receive one exclusive pair of earrings each month. This means subscribers receive a product with a unique touch that only VR Members have access to. This offering has helped Meena forge deeper connections with her customers, understand their preferences, and serve them in the most personalized manner possible.
Through her dedication and hard work, Meena is carving a path in the fashion world that many can only dream of. Thanks to She’s Next in Fashion, Empowered by Visa, she has been able to expand her business in many different ways. In addition to amplifying women-owned small businesses in fashion and beauty, the program arms them with resources–including grant funding– enabling the entrepreneurs to enhance their businesses in whatever ways work for them. “I was able to redesign my website, which was in dire need of a refresh,” Meena said. Along with the website refresh, Meena used a portion of funds to participate in a three-day pop-up shop where she was able to gain brand exposure and expand to an audience outside of Chicago.
Learn more about Vintage Royalty and She’s Next in Fashion, Empowered by Visa here!