Name: Roushelle Reign
Business: Roushelle Reign Design Haus
Industry: Branding/Graphic Design
Tanya: Hi! I know the next 45 minutes are going to fly by because you are always so fun to chat with. Tell me about your path to entrepreneurship?
Roushelle: I knew from age 10 that I wanted to work for myself. Even from that young age, I was always thinking outside the box and wanting to blaze my own trail. When I got to college, I wanted to go the entrepreneurship route, while most of my classmates wanted to land a job for an agency. A lot of my teachers tried to discourage me, but I’m glad I stuck to the vision.
Tanya: The importance of good teachers and advisors cannot be understated. You’re very young. (But then again, everyone is young to me) has that been something that has been attempted to be used against you in terms of your age?
Roushelle: Yes. Yes, definitely. I have had to step away from a massive client because of it. As it was a team, some of the staff were great. But some of the staff was very condescending. And the fact that I was able to do double what they were doing based on my experience and my knowledge, and they’ve been in the business for like 20, 30 years, they felt very threatened.
It was a lot of underestimation in regards to my age, in regards to someone of my size, because girl, I looked like 10.
Tanya: I mean Yes. Yes, you do!
Roushelle: The age thing doesn’t bother me anymore. Before, it did, but now it doesn’t. It bothers other people. It just boils down to their own insecurities.
Tanya: So how do you work through that? I mean, at the end of the day, their problem with you is not your problem, but when it affects your coins and or your mental health, how do you get past it? You can’t change your size. I mean, you can, but not really. You can’t change your age. How do you deal with it? Other than walking away, I should say.
Roushelle: I used to hold all that tension inside of me like, “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe that.” But now, I really don’t give a sh*t.
Tanya: Nice. I don’t know if I can swear in these things. We’ll see. I might just put some asterisks. LOL. Can you speak to how either the global health or racial pandemics have affected your business?
Roushelle: Definitely. Last year was my best on record because I finally raised my prices. But this year it really affected me, because I had to raise my prices yet again, however it worries me that I may not be as affordable, but I can’t also think on that part, right? And then secondly, it affected me in how I did my work last year. I needed to do a lot more handholding. I needed to really be my client’s backbone. It was more of a relationship-building last year and consulting on how to pivot their business, instead of just having brand strategy and design. They were stuck in, “I can’t perform these services, what am I going to do?” And I had to turn it into something digital for them to continuously make an income.
Tanya: Do you have some women, Black or otherwise, that you would consider as supportive to your growth?
Roushelle: My mama. Of course, Kike-Lola Odusanya, rest in peace.
Roushelle: A few people online that I’ve really taken an interest in, based on what they do, how they do it, and who they are. Like Bozoma Saint John, I think she was just a faraway distant mentor. And I definitely have to say one or two of my clients as well, because of what they do. They have really poured into me as I poured into them. Aisha Francis, Keisha Pinto, and I call Denae Pier my manager.
Tanya: It takes a village to raise an entrepreneur too! What is one of your biggest business struggles right now?
Roushelle: People who haggle over prices. Them not seeing the worth and the value in what I do for the price I do it at. It’s still a given that I am one of the lowest for my level of skill and expertise.
Tanya: What do you wish people would know about being a Black entrepreneur?
Roushelle: We don’t always need to be labeled. We are also just entrepreneurs. And just like how you support the others, you should support us as well because we’re just as talented, if even more. And we’re not all trying to do the same thing. And I think they forget that.
Tanya: What do you mean by that?
Roushelle: I can point out five different Black brand strategists/ designers and we don’t all want to do the same thing. One I know is dropping all designing and focusing on teaching, others want to just do the art piece.
I just want to focus on a certain niche and a certain level. I want to get really close to my clients. I want to be the concierge for them in the branding department. Not because we share skills or talents and skin color, mean we are the same thing. I have the eye. I have the vision. We all vary in very different ways, so it’s not fair to treat us the same. And I think everybody should honor a respected brilliance.
Tanya: That’s an amazing answer. How can clients and companies support black women at this time?
Roushelle: Reach out to them when you see them. Send a note, tell them they’re dope. And if they would like to work together. And see if they really align. Don’t exploit but see if they really align with what your company does, how your company does things because that’s where a true relationship begins. That’s where true partnership begins. And I think you should go beyond the Instagram numbers or the Instagram fame or the social media rave. Go beyond that and see what they really do on a day-to-day basis in their business, what they really produce. The results bring everything.
Tanya: You’re very much a visionary. Where do you see yourself, let’s say five years because 10 seems like a really long time away?
Roushelle: At first, I didn’t think of expanding. But expansion is definitely in the works. So, within the next five years, I’m looking at maybe three to six employees, a solid team. Completely international, like completely. Sitting on the balcony of my Mediterranean villa, overlooking the ocean, consulting on what you need to be doing for your brand.
That is my goal for the next five years. And that goal speaks to both my personal and my professional life. Because personally, that’s where I want to be physically and mentally. And professionally, that’s where I need to be financially and successfully. I need to grab a couple more awards and awards in the sense of really pushing myself and my work forward to level up and elevate the procedure of my company and the reach for more results.
Tanya: That’s a good point too, about going beyond the socials and the numbers. Okay, so you have a whiteboard in front of you and you’re planning out your business, who is your dream client that you want to be invoicing?
Roushelle: You know, I talked about this the other day. Entertainment-wise, I would say Alkaline, the dancehall artist. I am invoicing Miss Universe. I’m invoicing Alex Perry, a fashion designer. Oh and a villa. Not a big hotel chain, just a coastal villa to round out a lifestyle client.
Tanya: I also love how this call and interview is turned into full of manifestations and vibrations. How do you find a balance between your personal and professional life?
Roushelle: How do I find the balance? I actually didn’t have a good balance to be very honest. I’m an overachiever. I overworked myself to the point of exhaustion too. I haven’t worked since the year started. So, five months in, I’m just getting back and I’m just trying to find that balance, to be very honest. I had started putting everything over joy and it showed in my body. I felt it in my body, I should say. And then it started to just show on my face and everything. And now I’m trying to pull myself back together. Or maybe say pull me apart so that I can reform a better me. And that’s the reason why I took my sabbatical. So, I ain’t got no balance at all. I’m just trying to figure it out and create it right now. And I am applying. When I started that sabbatical, real sabbatical journey, I found something called slow living after I dreamt about it.
Tanya: What’s that?
Roushelle: I am on the hunt for a place in the specific countries I want to live in that has that slow living environment. And right now, in Bali, it has that. It will make you not want to do anything. But you have to, and that’s where the real balance comes in. Because then you have to find a way to make sure you’re focused on your goals. So, yeah, I’m still trying to find that whole balance.
Tanya: I know you will find it.
Bold & Black is a monthly interview series conducted by entrepreneur and Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence Honouree Tanya Hayles. Tanya is the founder of Black Moms Connection, an online global village of almost 20,000 and a non-profit providing programs and financial tools through grant programs generously supported by BMO.