Breanna Reeves |
India McWhorter married her husband in 2009. She planned and put on the wedding by herself. She was only 20 years old.
Planning and executing her wedding inspired India to start her own business doing something she loved. She immediately created a plan that would allow her to launch it.
“I got a ‘9 to 5’and my goal was, I would start saving up so that I could purchase the inventory that I need. So, long story short, the goal was a three year plan: get what I needed, start buying products and then I would leave,” India explained. “I ended up staying at my job for seven years and the short-term goal went out the window.”
India officially left her position in the Human Resources Department at the Los Angeles County Metro Transit Authority in March 2018.
“I would say the push for leaving my job was kind of life. Life happened. And, it forced me to reevaluate where I was and was I doing what I wanted to do in life,” India said. “And I decided ‘no.’ I wasn’t happy with my decision and I reminded myself that I started the job to start a business.”
After talking with her husband and creating a game plan, India got her license, her business name published and filed the proper paperwork to officially register her business.
Twelve years later, India Camille Events is a growing event planning business based out of Jurupa Valley, but operating throughout southern California.
Utilizing Social Media for Business Growth
“I made some connections through Instagram, reached out to another event planner who had been kind of inspiring me to get my feet out there and just try things,” India said. “So, that’s credit to Cairo’s Customs. She’s an event planner in Los Angeles. A lot of her clients are celebrity clients and she allowed me to shadow her on some events.”
India and her husband began their event planning business with a photo booth that they purchased in 2018. They were hired by the owner of Cairo’s Custom’s, Jocelyn Crawford, to run their photo booth at events. India was able to build a client list, build inventory and learn from her mentor.
Although the pandemic forced a lot of businesses to stop operations, business for India really picked up toward the end of 2020.
“In the midst of a pandemic, my event planning business really started to get viewed and seen by doing intimate parties for 10,” India said. Initial Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines restricted gatherings to 10 people. “And so I started doing intimate birthday parties for groups of 10. And then people really liked that idea and it just really caught on and it took off this year for me in 2021.”
India credits the growth of her business to social media platforms, Instagram and Facebook, where she promotes and showcases her services and setups. During the pandemic, India got creative and started showcasing her work on Instagram by creating mock setups for events in her backyard. Last October India showcased a mock event called “Trap or Treat” for a Halloween theme and reached out to local vendor, Happiest Ours, a mobile bartending service, to come out.
“Social media has been a free platform for advertising. And it’s been so helpful for me at this point. My clients come from social media. I don’t even know my clients anymore,” India said. “It used to be, of course, people you know, your small circle, the people around you, family members kind of advocating for you to let people know I know somebody. But at this point, I will say the consistency from my social media has been what’s carried me.”
Pew Research Center surveyed Americans’ use of social media in 2021 and found that Instagram has a strong following among young adults between the ages of 18 to 29, with 71 percent of them reporting that they use the application. The report also noted that, “73 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Instagram users say they visit the site every day, with roughly half (53 percent) reporting they do so several times per day.”
“I’m constantly on my stories, keeping that ring going, allowing people to see me (be) present,” India explained. “Then on my feed, I would get on groups like BRC, Black Riverside County, that’s a group on Facebook that people that know me just constantly post on there.”
India has increased her Instagram following by 700 followers between 2020 and 2021. Her advice to entrepreneurs and those growing their business is consistency, networking with people in the industry and building a community.
“I would say reach out to other people. And I mean, everybody’s not going to give you the same response, but it takes no’s before you get a yes,” India advised. “Thank God (my mentor) was a yes before no, but reach out to people because you can’t do a business alone. And just allow yourself to build a community.”
Breanna Reeves is a reporter in Riverside, California, and uses data-driven reporting to cover issues that affect the lives of Black Californians. Breanna joins Black Voice News as a Report for America Corps member. Previously, Breanna reported on activism and social inequality in San Francisco and Los Angeles, her hometown. Breanna graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Print & Online Journalism. She received her master’s degree in Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics. Contact Breanna with tips, comments or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @_breereeves.