We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea Warren and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chelsea, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
It all started with a random conversation! I remember talking to my mom and explaining to her how I wanted to design this 80s/90s collection! At that time, I was using the “gym” as an outlet to release my frustrations, anger and any emotional feeling, on the other hand, I was striving to become fit. Sometimes, it would be hard for me to actually get in the gym. and I figured if I dressed up it would give me that boost I needed to go! The thought of a cute neon bodysuit with the matching leggings and headband was promising, and I remember sketching it in a notebook… a notebook that I didn’t open until two years later!
When I first started my brand, I wanted to provide clothing for ladies who wanted to look fashionable and comfortable at the same time. One thing I noticed about looking good is that it builds confidence. When you know you are rocking your outfit, you feel better about yourself. I wanted my clothing to boost confidence within women, for them to know that they are beautiful! I had no idea, that a simple design was going to turn into a brand. Uptimum Bodied became a part of me, and motivated me to never settle, and strive to not only be a better person physically, but mentally and spiritually; hence the motto, “It’s Only Up from Here.” I wanted others’ to be a part of my journey and be inspired to keep going.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In 2017 I graduated from Oakwood University with my Accountant degree, then in 2020 I graduated with my MBA degree from Alabama A&M University. Last year I had the privilege of working as a Senior Accountant. My journey has been very unique! I have the background of business and a vision for fashion. I stepped out on faith and pursued my passion last year! Although the journey has been very tough, I am truly blessed.
Being a designer is very refreshing! You have the power to tell a story, create or change a mood, or bring awareness. It holds an extensive amount of power. My journey started off without knowing the capacity of ownership I would have. I used the designing process as an outlet for me to release emotion.
When it comes to my athleisure brand; the monochromatic style is one of the features that makes my brand stand out. The colors are fun, vibrant, and captivating! We introduced the monochromatic half and half style, that blew customers away. Although a simple design, it had an elaborate affect.
Customer satisfaction is also very important to my brand. We take pride in knowing that we treat our customers with upmost respect. Our goal is to make every shopping experience exceptional, from the click on our website to the package being delivered to their doorstep.
I am super excited about every new piece I launch. Watching my sketch be brought to life is very exciting, It’s also symbolic of me finishing the race. . The entire manufacturing process is challenging; not every sample comes out the way its supposed to. Being that I never went to fashion school or any knowledge of sewing, it has been extremely challenging. However, if there’s anything I am unsure of I research until I find the answers.
When I am asked about the road being smooth, I chuckle! Nothing worth having comes easy. I’ve dedicated my blood, sweat and tears to this brand.This road has been more like a bumpy one with holes, and glass, and some dead ends… but it’s always about loving what you do and trusting the process!
My biggest struggle is, securing a manufacture that contains all the qualities I need to run my business successfully. I will be going on my sixth manufacture! The fact that I lack sewing skills or pattern making skills put me behind tremendously! The hardest part for me is the financial burden of manufacturing, and how discouraging it gets when you secure one and start paying (after researching for months) and they don’t meet up to your expectations or the things they promised!
Another issue I faced, was having my unique designs stolen and manufactured wholesale. I had to fight mentally to keep going and not let that effect my grind and brand. There will ALWAYS be downfalls, or issues you have to face; never giving up is KEY! There’s such a greater reward in taking “l’s” , the lessons are so valuable! If everything was smooth, I wouldn’t be this far as a businesswoman, or a CEO.
With this journey, I tell people all the time whatever business you start, love it, protect it, nurture it; because when things get tough you wouldn’t have the urge to give up easily! There are going to be times when you find yourself pouring into your business but not seeing anything coming out, no results, but it turns back to trusting your vision and trusting God with it!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am an island girl; born and raised in the beautiful island of Bermuda. From the crystal clear water, to the pink sand, Bermuda is definitely the place to vacation. The minute my guest arrive, a cup of Rum Swizzle will be served, as they are greeted by our taxi driver. I would take them to grab our famous local fish sandwiches’ from Sea Side Grill.
They would reside at the best airbnb; Blue Diamond studios (my mom owns), with the best hostess, Wendie Warren.
Throughout the week I would take them to Horseshoe Bay beach, on a Jet Ski tour ride in Somerset, Crystal Caves, and to Royal Naval Dockyard. Lunch and dinner would be very tasteful as many of our restaurants offer Catch of the Day which come directly from our ocean. We would definitely enjoy another fish dinner from another popular spot; Woodys. They would enjoy a boat ride around our island, and turn up to reggae and dancehall music.
If Harbour Nights is on, we would head there and enjoy a lively summer street party on Front Street. There, local. businesses sell goods, local artist or dancers perform, and creatives display their art.
We would have a blast at happy hour at Birdcage in Hamilton City; during the week they feature Bermudian artists for their live music nights and old school jam vinyl nights. On Sunday, I would take them to Hamilton Princess for a lovely brunch and then finish it off with a fun outing at Fun Zone!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have definitely been blessed to have a great support system and mentors that have written pages in my success story.
My mom, Wendie Warren has played a pivotal role in the success of Uptimum. There was a point in time I wanted to really give up, but she was there encouraging me to keep going! She’s been there since day one, ready to lend a listening ear and sound advice; whether it’s been with graphic work, apparel designs, or budgeting. My boyfriend, Marcus Thomas has also been extremely supportive. Behind the scenes he is the main person packaging all of the orders and dealing with operations! He goes above and beyond for Uptimum, and we wouldn’t be this far if it wasn’t for his helping hand.
My uncle as well, believed in my brand since day one, and helped jumpstart the beginning of my story!
I have.a large pool of supportive friends that go above and beyond for my brand! It is super noticeable because they would be quick to tell you all about Uptimum and the new arrivals or launches that we have. Jahkeya, Fendi, Donnae, Zianna, Tia, and Kia, have been around since day one and have wiped my tears when things were extremely tough; any Uptimum styles, have gone through them first. I literally would have them assist with new color options, and they have always been more than willing to give their opinion. I have so many other friends (list too long to name), who mirror the exact actions; repost my brand, tell their friends about Uptimum, purchase items, and really go above and beyond for me!
My brother Marco, has been an important part of my journey; he created such a meaningful logo for my brand. I have been blessed to have him as our own graphic designer,
When it comes to mentors I am thankful to have these ladies in my corner; Tomiko (Strut Boutique CEO)
, Stormi Steele (Canvas Beauty CEO) , Jennifer Le ( IamJenniferLe CEO). These women are extremely humble but have a fierce hustle! It is evident that they put in the time and dedication into their businesses! Whenever I need advice, motivation or words of encouragement, I can go to these women, who I know will keep it real with me.
Then I have a few friends in the entrepreneurial world, who have been besides me and have grown with me (Tiarra, Telesia, Shec, Terrel, Calechie, ) I am able to call them to vent, and know that they will understand my plight. Not only will I be able to inform them of my problems, but we will come up with solutions. They motivate me to get back on track, and put me on any opportunity that is available.
It has never just been me, alone on this journey. I am blessed and thankful for that. Since the beginning I had the best support! I have customers who ALWAYS come back, I have customers who when things go wrong, send me motivation, I have customers who are always there cheering me on!
Pictures were taken by Stephonx , DCSynper.