We had the good fortune of connecting with Victoria Iworah Stokes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Victoria, every day, we know about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
One day during the pandemic, I had seen things going on in the news and realized that life is short and why not do what makes me happy. My happy place is truly creativity, crafts and planning. Then I thought it is time for me to start my business. I always loved event planning, but didn’t necessarily want to be an event planner. I also wanted an ecommerce business and wanted to find a way to join the two. I remembered back when planning my wedding it was soo fun getting the gift boxes together and I had done things like that in the past. Well then it hit me, an online curated gifting company. I am a Black Female and I personally love finding brands that I can patronize within this group. So, I figured why not create a brand that focuses on highlighting business owned by People of Color and Women.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Sugarberry Gifting Co is set apart from others because of the mission behind the gifts. We are truly here to increase exposure of BIPOC and Women owned brands. I think we are here to do our small part in making sure these brands are considered not only when you gift with us, but at any other time when you need the product. Though we are based in Cleveland, OH, we are able to partner with brands all over the country. I am most proud of how many people now are just so interested in what we do and how we can help them get their product out there. That is really exciting and means that people will be happy to work with us consistently going forward.
I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, although self-doubt and the opinions of others delayed me in getting here. I do believe that I am here as a result of my passion and the education I have received, also from learning as I go. I attended small business webinars to get the next steps on where I needed to go when involves how I wanted to set up my business and if I wanted to be fully online or have a store front.
It has not been easy as there will always be challenges, but I think being flexible and nimble make the difference in overcoming those challenges. I am still learning as I continue to build Sugarberry to where I know it can go. It is just going to take a little bit more elbow grease and more getting out of my comfort zone as it pertains to social media and reaching my audience.
One very important lesson I have learned, which I actually heard from an episode of the Side Hustle Pro podcast, the Founder of Range Beauty said “think professional not perfect” you can always make changes as you go. I was like wow! You see I was stuck on these minute details, but the key is to just get it out there. See the response, revise and relaunch later down the line. That is the approach that I am taking and I am still learning a lot, but it is making me a better business woman as time progresses.
I want the world to know that their are not many African Americans or even African American woman in the gifting space. I wanted to be one that brought something different to the table. That something different is in the products that we include in our gifts and a lot of diligence goes into understanding the brand, the quality and availability to our customers. I also want to get to a point were we bring an edge into the gifting space that truly allows our customers to never miss a gift giving moment. I know that will come in the next couple of years as a part of our innovation strategy down the line, Sugarberry is truly about combining the creativity gained from my event planning experience and analytical experience, but at the same time, keeping it fun.
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?
This makes me think of my best friend that just visited. We would go to Cedar Point(Amusement Park) for a day of fun and coasters, because that is what we do in the Stokes family household. We would grab drinks at one of the local breweries, Saucy Works has a great selection of beer and great pizza. Grab some good eats from Barrio(street tacos) and Townhall or Bourbon Street Barrel for brunch. You wouldn’t know it, but Cleveland has some of the best food here. Definitely see the Cleveland Street art(which is walkable), the Rock and Roll Hall of fame and hang out on 4th street and Edgewater or Lakewood Parks. To wrap it all up, we can go the Cleveland History Museum where I got married. Its full of the coolest looking cars from all different eras, and a Grand carousel for some fun pictures to take. I know people like to sleep on Cleveland but that is a big mistake. There are so many fun things to do here.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There is not just one person, group, book or organization that I can dedicate my shoutout to. This shoutout is dedicated to the chance I took doing my first event, my love of crafts, the formal education I received at Howard and Villanova, all of the articles I read and the webinars and podcasts that have encapsulated my ears. They all have helped me get here. I also want to dedicate this to my friends and family that have supported me when I launched my business and are helping Sugarberry grow. I remember having inspirational conversations with my husband and father-in-law during the planning phase. I also have a great friend that went above and beyond when I launched ordering many boxes. This shoutout is a dedication not only to the journey to get here, but also to the journey ahead. Lastly, I couldn’t have gotten here without prayer and faith. Many thanks to everyone for their continued support.