Black Business Spotlight: Mel's Dapper Designs

If you are ever looking to add some style to your outfit, a unique gift for your mom/dad, or even want to bring some more flare to your wedding, Mel’s Dapper Designs is where it’s at!!!

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Mel's Dapper Designs is an online accessories store that specializes in unique handmade lapel flowers for both men and women (and the babies too). The store has been open since May 2015 and is owned and operated by Melodi Green and Jasmin Mitchell.

Recently, I sat down with Mel to ask her a few questions about her online store and being a young entrepreneur.

1. How did Mel’s Dapper Designs come about?

Mel: I would like to say I knew exactly what I was doing when I started the business, but that would be an alternative fact.  I always loved fashion and I got into wearing lapel pins. I noticed that there weren’t a lot of designs to pick from that offered quality and style. So I said “Hey! Why not make my own? I can do this! “And so it began. I started purchasing fabric as well as researching the supplies and tools I needed to make them. After trial and error, the ball started rolling and I had no intentions of stopping it.

2. What are some of the popular items that Mel’s Dapper Designs has to offer?

 Mel: Our best seller and customer favorite is our Kente Lapel Flower and Kente Lapel Button. We offer the popular petaled lapel flower in an array of colors and prints. That particular style is commonly sold and worn for weddings or formal events. Our Lapel Buttons (my personal new favorite) are our newest designs and they’ve been selling like hot cakes!

3. What has been some successful moments for Mel’s Dapper Designs so far?

Mel: Thanks to the power of Google, we were contacted by a representative of the Indiana Pacers. We designed custom lapel flowers for the ushers of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The flowers were worn for home games for the Pacers, Indiana Fever, and many other events. We’ve also had the honor to have our designs in many weddings and company events.

4. How has social media or any other website(s) played a part in the success of Mel’s Dapper Designs?

Mel: Etsy is a huge marketplace for curators like myself. It gives us the ability to gain new customers as well as a safe and easy way to sell our items. Instagram is one of our favorites! Being able to use hashtags to connect with others in business and reach our target market, has truly made getting our brand out there easy.

5. As an entrepreneur, what are some challenges and benefits of having your own business?

 Mel: As someone who is completely new to owning a business, a challenge has been knowing where and how to start. Understanding the market and how to advertise to our target audience took some time to figure out and I’m STILL learning. Being able to get the supplies you need can sometimes be difficult. Often time we’ve had to wait for suppliers from overseas to send the materials we need because they’re not easily available in the U.S. Business management in general is a bit challenging, as I don’t have any experience in this field. Every day you learn something new but it’s all been worth it. The biggest benefit is knowing that something is yours. This is my baby! It definitely keeps me busy, because you know as they say “Idle hands are the devils playground.” And most definitely having another stream of income is very beneficial! Can I get an Amen?

6. What advice would you have for someone who is creative and looking to start their own business?

 Mel: This is my favorite question. Honestly, JUST DO IT! You never know where you will go if you don’t take that one step. Whatever it is that you’re creating, it may not be for everyone, but I guarantee there are people who will be interested and would love your work. So don’t get discouraged, believe in yourself and don’t give up! Surround yourself with positive like-minded individuals who will encourage and help you grow along the way.

Now I have to add in a shameless plug about one of the owners. Mel is my soon-to-be sister in love and she will be designing lapel pins for my wedding in the fall. Since meeting her, I stopped buying lapel pins from stores and have had the ability to weigh in on what I like for a custom pin that was tailored to my own style. You can't get that off of a shelf!!

So make sure you go check out the store's page on Etsy and their Facebook and Instagram pages for more dope pieces that Mel's Dapper Designs has to offer!!!