This year came with its own brand of business challenges, no doubt, but it has also highlighted cultural hurdles that have long been present. Like many creative agency owners, the pandemic prompted Iman Hasan to pivot her offerings to digital-first services. Her successful shift also evoked a realization: what about the small business owners that were without the network, tools and know-how to stay afloat, let alone flourish? The answer is We Are Renn a powerful platform that we got all the intel on, straight from Iman herself.
What is We Are Renn?
We Are Renn is an incubator that provides marketing services, mentorship and mindset training to female minority owned start-up businesses in the beauty, health and wellness industries.
We will offer a 12-month program to two businesses within the beauty, health and wellness industries composed of a variety of services including digital marketing, PR and brand partnerships, all with the objective of driving awareness, engagement and sales growth as well as setting the entrepreneurs up with the tools, knowledge and skills they need for continued expansion and success upon completion of the program. The program will begin with one brand and once that brand hits the six month mark, we will incubate the second brand. We thought that it was important to focus all of our energy, effort and network to one brand at a time to effectively get it off the ground.
What factors led to your starting this new organization, in addition to your existing company, IHC?
When COVID-19 hit, my company, Iman Hasan Creative, like most businesses, was heavily impacted. Fortunately, my years of experience and expertise in innovative marketing strategies enabled me to pivot my clients to fully digital strategies and ultimately bounce back. However, this difficult experience also shed light on the small business owners who have not been as fortunate and do not have the tools and support to adjust and survive these uncertain times. This realization got me thinking about ways that I could give back and sparked the passion behind We Are Renn. I decided that the most impactful way for me to help was to offer my time know-how to the guidance and growth of these entrepreneurs.
As a minority woman who moved to the US only six years ago, I understand the struggles of starting out a business and career with no contacts or network in the US. As difficult as it was, these obstacles ultimately shaped me into the person I am today and led to the desire to relieve other women from these struggles through We Are Renn. I am driven to change the narrative of the beauty, health and wellness space and bring diversity and inclusivity to the forefront of the conversation by opening doors for female-minority businesses owners to get funding opportunities and marketing services that they could not otherwise afford.
We Are Renn
You have some impressive names in your sphere. How did you assemble your advisory board?
When putting together our advisory board, we went through weeks and weeks of research before reaching out to the potential advisors. We wanted to make sure that every person joining We Are Renn had not only a unique skill set and insight to share, but also an inspiring background and a genuine desire to bring minorities and their undiscovered ventures to the forefront of the conversation. Ultimately, our advisory board is made up of individuals who have worked hard to get to where they are and are excited to use their experiences to help our incubatees navigate their path towards success.
Our advisory board includes Fashion Features Director at Harper’s Bazaar, Kerry Pieri; founder of Year of Ours, Eleanor Haycock; founder of The Sequence Collection, Ariela Suster; Editor in Chief of L’Officiel, Peter Davis; Oscar-winning filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy; life and business coach, Dylan Grace Essertier; Forbes contributor, Rebecca Suhrawardi; founder of Mrs.Mandolin, Anastasia Koutsiokis; Founder of Mademoiselle Provence, Chloé Mortaud; Managing editor at Well+Good, Samantha Leal; Founder of BLK+GRN, Kristian Edwards; CEO and Co-founder of BaseButter, She’Neil Johnson; and Co-founder and VP of Product at BaseButter, Nicolette Graves.
How can brands get involved?
We are looking to incubate young, purpose-driven companies who align with and advance our mission to recreate the beauty and wellness industries by representing inclusivity, intersectionality, accessibility and diversity.
The team at We Are Renn are experts in the beauty, health and wellness industries, so we constantly have our eyes and ears to the ground discovering new brands through Instagram, reading relevant publications and learning of brands through our incredible network of contacts. Our early research produced over 100+ brands that we had identified to meet the initial criteria for the incubator, and we are currently in the process of vetting each and every brand. It is hugely important to us that their mission, product, ingredients, branding, packaging and teams are in line with our purpose and mission and that they have the grit and determination to be the next innovator in the industry.
The brands we incubate must be minority-owned, early stage with proof of sales, mission-based, legally established, professionally structured, socially & environmentally conscious, innovative and unique, and passionate & knowledgeable about their product and services.
In order to apply, brands must email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with an introduction to their brand, brand deck and investor deck.
What’s your ultimate mission with We Are Renn?
Our mission is to create a platform for women, but more specifically passionate, minority women who do not have the network, foundation or platform to help take their beauty, health and wellness businesses off the ground and grow into globally recognized names.
Statistically, 90% of new women-owned businesses are started by women of color, but only 10% grow into real successes and roughly only 2% of female businesses secure investment from VC funds, We Are Renn aims to change this. In a world where women of color are constantly told what to do, feel, think and be, we thought: no more. We want to open doors for these women and shatter these so-called “glass ceilings.”
On social, your first and foremost priority should be your audience – responding to customer feedback, engaging with fans and answering questions. In between the demand for help and answers, nurturing your follower relationships and adding value to their lives will help increase loyalty and, ultimately, sales. Ilona Selina, founder of Route Marketing, breaks down how to make sure your social content is contributing to your cause.
The easiest way to do this is to change your mindset entirely about social media. Stop thinking: How am I going to promote my brand? How am I going to sell this product? Instead, start considering: How can I share my knowledge with my audience? How can I educate? How can I inspire or offer something unique to my followers?
Once you have caught your audience’s attention and engaged them through interesting, value-adding content – instead of just another pretty picture – they will want to follow you, look forward to your content, engage with and trust your brand. Here are five easy ways to start adding value to your social media channels.
1. Get to know your audience
The key is to encourage interaction within your posts in a way where you can figure out what your audience likes, dislike and values. Ask them questions, put up some polls and even look at their stories and posts. The more you learn your audience, the better you can tailor your content to create something they genuinely want to see on their feed. Do the filtering so that they don’t have to.
2. Keep the conversation going
Remember: it’s a two way conversation. Listen to your audience’s comments, opinions, ideas and respond. Take the time to thoughtfully reply to questions to show you’re human and you care about them! Simply liking and responding to a comment with a heart or smiley face emoji can go a long way, too.
3. Make your content easily digestible
Big chunks of text and complicated charts are a no-go. Keep your content meaningful yet simple to read at the same time. Can what you’re saying be broken down into a list? A how-to guide? An infographic? Or even be visually narrated through images? When you are efficient with how you organize your content, your followers are more likely to pause, read and even share.
4. Show your personality
Humor and inspiration is what most people need right now, especially to contrast negativity that still lurks on social media. So go ahead, post that meme or cute animal pic. Share your favorite quote or wellness tips. Show your followers that it’s not always about sales, but sometimes just cracking a smile or having a little giggle.
The benefits of thanking your Instagram followers are almost endless. Try to make your audience feel as appreciated as possible and give them incentives that will encourage them to nurture your online relationship. Whether this be through a giveaway, offering them exclusive sales or just a kind note on your story. Leave little reminders here and there that show you are sincerely grateful.
As we are a generation that increasingly spends more time online, gift your followers an experience that is worthwhile, almost as a form of escapism. Rule of thumb: remember your audience’s worth and always make it about them.