Before launching Soi Official, an online boutique empowering women through fashion, Kidisha Joseph spent five years connecting fashion designers, photographers and models with industry professionals.
At the time, she was a Media and Communication Studies student at Brock University and at the helm of Brock Fashion HQ, a club that held annual fashion shows in St. Catharines, Ontario. Kidisha really enjoyed giving fresh talent a platform to showcase their work, introducing people to new brands and seeing those interactions translate into clients and sales.
While she was helping others achieve their dreams, she was also dreaming of launching her own business.
“The idea of starting a boutique always popped up,” she said. “But then I kept pushing the idea to the side.”
After graduating from Brock in 2017, Kidisha started working in the health care sector in a communications capacity and branched out to the financial sector. She’s also a certified cycle instructor. Driven, self-motivated and passionate, Kidisha asked herself a pivotal question that set her business idea in motion.
Why not me?
“I was doing jobs that made everybody else happy,” she said. “Then I started to ask myself, why don’t I do something that I finally want to do? I never gave myself enough of a chance to really do research into starting a business and at the time, I didn’t have the confidence to start.”
Kidisha’s journey is reflected in Soi Official, her company’s name. Soi, in French, means self. Your official self. Making the decision to start a business was a turning point for Kidisha. She knew she could do it and instead of pushing her business idea to the side, she could quiet her internal fears and keep going.
“I didn’t have to wait for someone to tell me I could do something,” she said. “Soi Official is about accepting yourself and your circumstances. Choosing to do differently through your own self-validation, your own assertiveness and confidence. Those concepts are behind Soi Official’s brand and the community that I’m developing.”
Kidisha bounced her business idea off family and friends and discovered they weren’t surprised to learn that she had entrepreneurial aspirations.
She had always been fashion-forward and business-minded.
“They gave me support and advice when I needed it most,” she said. “They would send notes of encouragement when I hit a block or offer business tips.”
Making it official
Kidisha took the leap and registered Soi Official in 2019. With the first major step taken, there was still a lot of work to do. She started sourcing vendors, receiving samples, assessing her finances and figuring out how she was going to pay for a website and handle all of the marketing.
One day, while on Instagram, she noticed that Black Owned Toronto was giving away 10 GoDaddy websites to 10 businesses.
“The opportunity was there, it’s a great community of people and a website was exactly what I needed to get Soi Official going,” she said.
“When I learned that I won, I was so happy. It was no longer just an idea in the back of my head. I was doing this. There was no turning back.”
With GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing platform, Kidisha had unlimited possibilities at her fingertips. She could:
- Customize the website to match her authentic brand
- Connect everything to her social media channels
- Build a robust eCommerce platform to handle ever part of her online business
Most importantly, she had access to GoDaddy’s 24/7 support system to overcome any hurdles.
The benefits of 24/7 help
“Building a website can be very stressful and that’s one of the reasons I paused before getting the business up and running,” she said.
“There were times when I had so many questions and I was afraid to press any buttons. Even though the website builder is easy to use, I didn’t want to make a mistake.
“I was very appreciative of GoDaddy taking the time to walk me through processes because I was in that space of being patient and understanding with myself, accepting that I can do something.”
Then the unexpected happened
Just when Kidisha had found her momentum, the COVID-19 pandemic happened and her plans to launch Soi Official’s website in August 2020 were postponed. The beautiful clothing, which she hand-selected for her boutique, was trapped in the supply chain and experiencing shipment delays.
“I’m a first-time business owner,” she said. “Most of the decisions I made during that difficult time were based off of research, intuition and tapping into my own self and knowing that I can only control what I can control.”
In November 2020, Soi Official went live.
After years of hard work and determination, Kidisha had a beautiful website from which to sell clothing and elevate Soi Official’s message of continuous self-discovery. In fact, Kidisha selects each piece based on how she views herself. They fit life’s transitional moments. From new relationships to good times with friends (even if it’s a splash of sophistication for a Zoom call) or family celebrations to new employment opportunities, there are pieces for every moment.
“You want to feel good about what you’re wearing and you want the quality to match,” she said. “During my own process of self-validation, I saw the importance of feeling good and looking good.”
With hope in her heart
Looking to the future, Kidisha wants to grow Soi Official nationally, building a supportive community of women who stand together through all of life’s challenges.
“I want women to be able to relate, not just through fashion but in life,” she said “We’re going through this transition together just as we’re all going through COVID-19 together. As women, we go through a lot of things.”
Kidisha’s hope is to develop a mentorship program in the near future that teaches young women how to start a business.
“I also want to teach them about what womanhood is like, what they can expect, and help them discover how they want to be represented,” she said. “I don’t have all of the answers, but it’s important to create a community of women who can support one another.”
Image by: Soi Official