Lakia Taylor was inspired from birth by family members to create her own business. The University of Mississippi junior marketing major with a minor in entrepreneurship said her grandfather has his own upholstery business, and her dad was the first lease owner of Dairy Queen in Mississippi.
“My mom always had us doing some type of craft,” she said, “and it just so happened to be making jewelry that I really got attached at the time.”
While working as a daycare volunteer, Taylor told a co-worker she had begun making jewelry. “She told me to bring it the daycare so she could see it,” Taylor said. “The next day, I brought my jewelry, and Ms. Johnson asked for a price. I had never even thought that far. She demanded that I display my jewelry at the daycare. Customers started to come in and buy. I was so shocked that people wanted to buy.”
Taylor’s mother encouraged her to create a website in middle school to sell Kia’s Jewels. “Kia’s Jewels went through a lot of name changes,” she said, “but eventually I realized I wanted my name to be in the brand and just to keep it simple.”
By high school, the Brandon native began selling her jewelry steadily online, using social media as a tool. Through social media, she obtained her LLC and tax ID to collaborate with other brands. She also caught the media’s attention.
She first was highlighted at girlconnect.net, then Apple News. These opportunities helped set a solid foundation for Kia’s Jewels. Her most memorable recognition was receiving the Sunny Sue Haik Award for Entrepreneurship Fund in 2018.
“People that are successful see me and the work I am doing,” she said. “It was truly humbling to realize I am well respected by others.”
Around the end of high school, Taylor said she wanted her own clothing line. Doubts and trials did not stop her.
“Getting into a new business can be difficult because of a generational gap,” said Taylor, who wanted to create a brand that would empower women. She began to connect with powerful women around the world.
Her boutique and women empowerment blog, FabuLuxe, debuted in September 2018. “FabuLuxe represents a lifestyle,” Taylor said. “It is not fast fashion. The clothes are luxurious and fabulous while maintaining a reasonable price and high quality.”
Her first pop-up shop was in February, and she continues to build her brand using social media strategies and nine brand ambassadors.
Ariel Jones, a UM criminal justice major with a minor in journalism, is one of Taylor’s brand ambassadors.
“As a brand ambassador for Fabuluxe Boutique, I help to promote this boutique’s eye-catching fashion trends through social media,” she said, “as well as volunteering by being a part of the pop-up shops and any other upcoming Fabuluxe events that will be taking place soon.”
Jones said she’s gained a better understanding of what it takes to own a business, along with the hardships and dedication that happens behind the scenes.
“Living in Oxford has been an amazing network opportunity,” she said. “There are people from every state, so the connections are endless. Also, I love the learning environment and the ability to think at the university freely.”
Taylor said it is easy to support one another Oxford. “Since Kia’s Jewels, I have grown so much,” she said. “I have matured as a businesswoman and learned from mistakes. I maintain respect and make sure people appreciate the prices of my work, no matter if that is custom jewelry or my clothes.”
Taylor said her money management and strategy skills have significantly improved. “Everything I do is a strategy, even my post,” she said. “I want to gain insight into my business constantly. I also want people to have the choice to invest in my business, and because of my social media engagement, I am attracting interest.”
Brittney Jackson, a UM integrated market communication major, is also one of Taylor’s brand ambassadors. “Taylor is a true businesswoman,” she said. “She understands what it means to be an entrepreneur in today’s world. I’m proud to know her and expect her to do great things in her future.
“As a black woman and a business owner, it is important to set your standards. Do not let anyone take advantage of you. Make people respect you. When I walk in a room of people who do not look like me, they listen because of what I say and my presence. I think that binding together makes it more likely that we as women are heard.”
Taylor said the black community is known to have to work two to three times harder, but once you set your standards and connections, you can build your foundation. Her grandfather has always told her “Money still green no matter who is buying.”
She stressed the importance of not selling yourself to only one audience, but expanding your business. “Your business will be sustainable as long as you treat people right,” she said.
Taylor’s career aspirations are to run both of her businesses full time and be entirely financially supported by them, to eventually teach others and guide them how to be economically successful through money management, and to travel to gain new experiences.
“FabuLuxe is a lifestyle,” she said. “For people, who travel, who love fashion, and are outgoing and want that one outfit that pops, my brand sells unique pieces that are tailored to your specific taste. Also, it is a safe space for women to read blogs from women around the world about different subjects, such as mental health.”
Jones said it’s about elevating others. “I have noticed that many women tend to lack self-esteem or haven’t come to terms with who they truly are,” she said, “and I think that if we as women come together to uplift one another, it could potentially help the next figure out where she wants to be in life. Lakia truly understands how to empower other women to feel comfortable in the skin they are in and to own it.”