Bryn Carden is a young entrepreneur and philanthropist with a passion for real estate and design. She is currently studying at Neeley School of Business, pursuing a major in Finance with a Real Estate Concentration. Besides working towards her degree, she has already begun her entrepreneurial journey as a co-founder of BF Hats and a creator of Styles for Smiles – a company selling bracelets to help fund cleft palate operations for children in developing countries.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
As I began to enter the Miss Universe pageant system, I was always inspired by the connection that the Miss Universe Organization has with volunteering with the Smile Train Organization. Miss Universe 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, certainly held the Smile Train Organization close to her heart, and I was always amazed, watching her give back with an international impact. With a mother who works in the medical center of Houston, I grew up surrounded by children with disabilities, which always stuck with me to never take my health for granted. I knew when I was older I wanted to give back when I was able to. Combining these factors, I was then inspired to independently create my own business, Bryn’s Styles for Smiles, in August of 2017.
How do you make money?
Most everything in my business is done through the power of Venmo. SFS is not the most profitable business adventure, but I did not set out for it to be. My main mission was giving back; that’s where the heart of Styles For Smiles lies.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It wasn’t until I sold roughly 100 bracelets that I received just a slight profit. Again, mirroring the above question, almost all of my profits that would be my revenue, go straight to the Smile Train.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time that you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle it?
I certainly knew that there was a possibility of my business model not having enough sales to cover the costs of bracelets. Considering this was also my first business adventure, I was not sure exactly how the logistics were to run smoothly. Experience is the best form of education, and honestly, I was learning a lot along the way, changing my price per bracelet, the form of donation, website, and bracelet manufacturing.
How did you get your first customer?
My parents and family. I cannot thank them enough fotheire support at the initial start of my business, and of course, through the present. After my family, the power of social media led me to spread the word. I also was Miss Kemah Teen USA at this time, so I was able to use my platform to spread knowledge of Styles For Smiles and Smile Train’s international impact.
What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works well to generate new business?
The marketing strategy of adding small cards in each packaging has been a great way to spread the word of business. I am old-fashioned and love paper advertising. Of course, social media works great, but having the ability for your customers to share the card with their network, complete with my website, Instagram handle, and a small “about” of my company.
What is the toughest decision that you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Funny, but I used to do all of my accounting by paper. Crossing out, highlighting, and calculating financials and delivery logistics by hand. I recently switched everything into Excel to better keep track of everything SFS. I am such a paper-oriented person that I love doing everything by hand, but Excel is so much more accurate and reliable.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Kind souls of others, simply. SFS would be nothing without the sweet support of my friends, family, community members, and more. It is a village; SFS’s impact would be impossible without others’ generosity.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The TCU Entrepreneurship Institute recently purchased 150 bracelets for the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee and Young Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. My bracelets were included in the showcase along with numerous other phenomenal students’ products of their business adventures. I then saw a few professors with bracelets on their wrists. I was simply in awe. Again, it takes a village, and kind souls are what back SFS.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future of SFS is only up from here. I really envision spreading the knowledge of SFS to wherever life takes me next. Considering I am now DFW located, I’d love to spread the word of Styles For Smiles to where my new home is now. Excitement comes with many things of the future, both related to SFS and just in general. I’d say my biggest joy is in the next donation. I always strive to donate a larger amount with the next donation. My goals are big for my business, all revolving around making the biggest international impact.
What business books have inspired you?
I am such a book nerd, always better than the movie.
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
How to Win Friends and Influence People (The title sounds funny, but open up the pages, and you will see how remarkable this book is.)
A few other books that aren’t technically business-related that I love are the following:
The Peace Project: A 30-Day Experiment Practicing Thankfulness, Kindness, and Mercy
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Do It for Yourself (Guided Journal): A Motivational Journal
What is a recent purchase that you have made that’s helped with your business?
The Wix Website paid plan is worth every feature. I use Wix for both BF Hats and Styles For Smiles. The website plan allows access to so many worthy business tools, from analytics and marketing showing you where your traffic is heaviest by location, product, etc., along with customer’s ability to purchase products and directly pay on the spot, enter their shipping information, all at ease.
Leave us with one point that few individuals know about your company.
The road to success is not a straight one. There is beauty in rising from the falls. From the outside, my business looks like a happy-go-lucky; every day is paradise… It is important to remember not to give up as I had numerous doubts and questions as I went through the process of creating a business.