In this month’s installment of About Her Business, we talk to entrepreneur and surface designer Tiana Denine Harris about her business, digitalKENTE.
TSU: Tell us about your business. What kind of products or services do you offer?
Hi Spinsters Union! digitalKENTE, LLC is a boutique design studio. We specialize in providing graphic design services that include: brand strategy, unique surface designs, web design, and package design consulting.
digitalKENTE, LLC also provides products. We remix the typical to bring innovative wearable art to fashion forward women around the world. Currently we’re selling all-over printed sweat-resistant super stretch spandex leggings that display our spring / summer pattern collection. Our bold digital tapestries are multi-dimensional, culturally aware, and unapologetically colorful.
TSU: What inspires your work?
We are inspired by the world! Each project takes us on a different inspirational journey. If we’re creating a concept for a brand strategy client, we immerse ourselves in the industry we’re working in. Part of the research is finding images that can inspire new shapes to form into the client’s unique image mark, which will clearly and simply communicate the essence of that company. If we’re sketching new pattern ideas for our one-of-kind surface designs, we choose a color/texture theme that is inspired by an indigenous culture from the most remote to the well-known places across the globe.
TSU: Walk us through your process. Where do you start when you’ve got an idea for a new design?
Whether it’s brand strategy, package design or surface design, a simple word web usually helps to bring forth more ideas, then we visualize those words or thoughts with correlating images. So the word web turns into a visual web. The visual web inspires our sketches.
TSU: What experiences have influenced how you approach your business today?
The digitalKENTE, LLC name and the technique we use to create our surface designs was inspired from my travels and love for my culture. I worked abroad for 2 years in Southeast Asia, living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Seeing all the beautiful colors of textile in the markets in Southeast Asia as well as having my eyes opened to the vast population of darker-skinned indigenous Asian cultures was the catalyst to create designs that celebrate these cultures instead of subjugate them.
TSU: What’s the most challenging aspect of running your own business? The most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect of running this business right now is having to split my time between the corporate job and my creative passion. The design team is me, myself, and I, then I partner with different suppliers, printers, and seamstresses to create the products. However the creative concepts, sketches, final iterations all come from me, as well as all the social media marketing. This is rewarding as well, to see what I have been dreaming of finally come into fruition. So the day digitalKENTE provides enough revenue for me to say “good bye” to the corporate 9-5 will be another dream come true.
TSU: What are your goals for your business in 2017?
Our first collabo project was March 11th with GrillzandGranola, a Black Woman-run fitness organization. We provided some leggings for this company to raffle off at their “Curly Girl Fit” event in NYC. For the summer, we are looking for a social media maven. So if you, or anyone you know, is interested in a fashion-focused social media internship, please hit up our inbox with your resume or creative bio at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are currently prepping for our first pop up shopping experience mid-May, which will take place in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Follow us on IG @digitalkente for more info. At the pop-up we hope to debut first rounds of our multi-functional scarf / hijab samples in a placidly pleasant pattern, perfect for spring!
TSU: Any advice for women looking to start their own ventures?
Oh, there’s soo much to say! If you know you are not satisfied with your current job, but do not know where to begin, think of the actions, services, or activities that make you happy. Begin a habit of doing those things by incorporating them into your schedule. The people you meet and new experiences you have could benefit you down the road to the creation of your brand.
If you already know what you want to do, then just BEGIN! Carve out the time, lose a little sleep. Spring into action, network, research and immerse yourself in the industry you want to work in. A little bit a day is fine. Rome was not built in a day, even God took 7 days to form the earth and its fullness. Every little step toward your goal is a building block to the final construction of your company. Remember that it is under construction, so enjoy the process!