Check out our interview with Stacey Smith of Soapbox Tees, one of the vendors appearing at Second Sunday on Main in July!
Want to join our fantastic vendors at the July 8th Second Sunday event? There’s still time to register! http://secondsundayonmain.org/vendors/
Stacey Smith is the owner of Soapbox Tees, a socially responsible clothing company committed to supporting national and global causes. Soapbox’s designs, meant to both defy stereotypes and break ethnic boundaries, draw inspiration from her experience as an activist, writer, and volunteer. In addition, Soapbox Tees are made from recycled and organic cotton as part of their effort to use sustainable resources.
When did you start your company and where is it based?
Soapbox Tees was founded in 2007 and fully operational in July 2009. We are home based in downtown Cincinnati and in the process of expanding to our own storefront location. We are a creative, urban and socially conscious lifestyle clothing company that represents a variety of influences from our environment.
What inspires you?
Life inspires me. We all experience life from different vantage points and to have creative outlets to convey that is a blessing. For others to understand and relate to our art lets us know that they see what we see as well. My mother is a huge inspiration for me because I’m living her dreams. She never had the opportunity to explore her artistic endeavors and sacrificed many of her dreams to raise 4 children on her own. I get a lot of talent and vision from her…and I give all my thanks to Jehovah for this opportunity.
What is your favorite part about Second Sunday?
Watching this event grow! I’ve been a resident of the downtown area now for seven years and I remember the first Second Sunday’s event. Many of the artisans are from all walks of life and that in itself is inspiring. We at times barter with each other, network, and enjoy our time. We all put a lot of hard work into preparing for street markets and it’s gratifying to know that we have this outlet to show off our work. Many of us small businesses aren’t ready or can’t afford our own retail stores so events like Second Sunday are important for our success and visibility.
The best part about my city/neighborhood is…
There is always an adventure around the corner…literally. The artistic diversity in the downtown area is important for us artists as a collective. Downtown is in the middle of a major facelift and it’s good to know that this artistic element hasn’t been sacrificed in the process.
What are your favorite local spots to shop, eat, or visit?
I love Pho Lang [Thang] (Findlay Market); their Tofu soup is delicious. You have to get a burrito from Mama Lo Hizo (Findlay Market). I aloso frequent Mr. Pitifuls (Main St, OTR), Coffee Emporium (OTR), Atomic Number Ten (Main St, OTR), Mixx [Ultra Lounge] (Main St, OTR), Streetvibes Newspaper (OTR), Cincinnati Main Library, Elementz, Media Bridges, The Blue Wisp, and I love the pizza shops at Venice on Vine and Lucy Blue. These are just a few of many places I visit often downtown.
What do you want people to take away from Soapbox Tees?
Our intent is to inspire you to think outside your box. There’s many angles to view social and national issues our environment. Our shirts are a representation of that and work hard to convey that message in our designs from a grassroots perspective. We are fashionable, not trendy. Conscious and relevant. We do a lot of custom work in the downtown area and throughout many parts of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, New York, and Chicago. We love working with small businesses and express to them the importance of self promotion and how t-shirts are effective and affordable expenses for their businesses to grow.
What advice would you offer to aspiring indie business owners?
If you want to go into business for yourself, do it! As a woman and entrepreneur, I find that it can be challenging for people to take us seriously. Listen to that little voice inside of you and stick to your intuition. 90% of our business is word of mouth and 90% of my decisions involve strategic intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, trust it. Pace yourself and seek out the best opportunities for your business. Don’t give up and look for opportunities to improve your craft. Be honest with yourself and your customers and the universe will reward you. Lastly, failures are always opportunities to learn. Never allow them to make you quit.