I met Yui, Tiffany, and Mimi during a No Kings DC event at Lab 1270 at Union Market in Washington, DC. This dynamic trio agreed to sit down for an interview with me as we discussed their unlimited energy, seamless efficiency and collaborative leadership style . Check out the ladies behind Urban Orphans, our latest Femme Founders.
To begin, tell me about yourselves
The three of us all come from very different backgrounds and walks of life. Mimi is an interior designer, Yui works in orthodontics, and Tiffany has a background in fashion. We were initially brought together through mutual friends and connected immediately over our love of all things crafting and creating. This all stemmed from a craft day that has evolved to what is now Urban Orphans.
Who inspires you?
At the risk of sounding cliché, we are constantly amazed by entrepreneurs who invest their blood, sweat and tears into building their empire from the ground up. Also, our peers that respect the hustle and are constantly pushing the envelope to incorporate innovative ideas to influence the public. We are also inspired by the hard working super moms who 100% give it their all juggling their careers, and still make time to put their families first.
What does leadership look like within Urban Orphans? I was super impressed by the seamless teamwork I saw during the No Kings DC event.
Leadership is a very loose word within our company. You hear all the time that it’s very difficult to work professionally with your friends, but we have not found that to be a hindrance in the slightest bit. Every month or so we pow wow and brainstorm new ideas for products we’ve dreamt up. We try to assign tasks based on different strengths and encourage one another on our creative visions. The three of us empower each other and hold one another accountable for different responsibilities. Because we three have such different styles it’s actually beneficial perspective wise because we can all represent a broader demographic of today’s women.
Tell me about the meaning behind the name Urban Orphans
The name Urban Orphans originates from holidays spent by transplants living in the city whom are unable to visit their families back home, but Urban Orphans represents all of us. We are the children of the city. In addition to that, we three have a philanthropic spirit and giving back is at our core, which is why a portion of our proceeds are donated to the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project here in DC. They provide opportunities for children to learn and heal through play, and empowering them to make choices, express themselves, relate to others, and find support. They also provide field trips so children and youth can experience the rich culture of DC and take a break from weekends in the shelter.
What are some challenges you’ve experienced starting your brand?
This is all so very new to us. Because we’re more in tuned to the creative aspect of our business, it has been a bit of a challenge dealing with all of the minutia that comes along with it. Particularly, all of the legal mumbo jumbo. Paperwork has never been any of our strong suits, so researching forms of businesses, licensing, etc. has certainly not been something we’re excited about.
Tell me about some of the brands you have collaborated with
We were grateful and fortunate enough to be introduced to the public by No Kings Collective at their pop-up art show at Lab 1270. Urban Orphans was the featured vendor throughout their two month exhibit for Beasts of England and Hustle 2.0. From the pop-up, we’ve gained incredible networking opportunities that we are super excited about and we have a few things in our pipeline that we can’t quite reveal yet so stay tuned!
What is the most exciting part about being an entrepreneur?
We’ve always dreamed of quitting our big girl jobs and becoming our own #girlbosses… so fingers crossed, we hope it happens soon. More than anything we’re excited about working towards our passion and bringing our vision to fruition. There is a quote by Reyna Biddy that really resonates with us; “Trust in your craft enough to admire it, study it, perfect it, breath it. Never stop getting better at whatever it is that you love to do.” Boom.
What advice would you give to someone launching a new brand?
Google is your friend. Research your ass off. Make as many connections as possible. Network, network network. Resilience is key. Social media should never be undervalued. Be patient, and trust that it’ll all come together.
How can we support your business?
Opportunities just like this are the core of community support. We are extremely thankful for the chance to have Femme Founders introduce us to their readers. To learn more about us and where we are headed, please visit our website at www.theurbanorphans.com. Also you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date.
Blair Imani is a Black American Muslim activist living in Brooklyn, NY. Blair is the founder and Executive Director of Equality for HER.