It’s one week before Dan and I and our four-month old take a trip to NYC for a high-end fashion trade show. To attend Capsule Show, you have to apply and prove you’re representing an actual business with a link to your company’s website, an explanation of your business, and present your business card upon registration. This is a one-woman business here and I still feel like I’m playing make-believe-entrepreneur, but my business cards are coming on Tuesday and they already admitted me based on my website and synopsis of The Black Layer: Simple Luxury for awkward beauties. A high-end women’s retail shop specializing in luxury apparel. In Black.

I need to tie up some loose ends on the website and branding materials for The Black Layer before I make this important trip to meet the designers I want to carry on the website. I want to present The Black Layer in alignment with my vision, so there’s a lot to do. Below is a list of my actions items before the trade show next Saturday.

To give a little background, The Black Layer is a one-woman gig so far and it’s the culmination of 9 years of teaching myself web design and development – for the purpose of eventually building my own ecommerce website! Since 2011, I’ve run a web design and online advertising company, Akron Roots Advertising in order to progress my web development skills and make money to eventually, actually start The Black Layer. As I built websites for other people, I slowly and steadily closed the gap between my high design standards and my skill level.

Throughout these past 9 years, my husband and I have done a few trials of different trade shows in different parts of the country to practice for the this moment – the moment I’m actually at a point to purchase inventory for a website and brand I’ve designed well enough to meet my high design and functionality vision – and I couldn’t have done this a moment sooner. The prior “practice” versions of the ecommerce websites I designed and built over the years just weren’t up to my standards and I knew it. I needed time to develop everything, including myself. Now: I don’t drink alcohol (because my goals are too precious and my life is too beautiful and I don’t have any time to waste being hungover or even on a slight headache, which is a side effect of even a glass of wine since turning 29), I’m married, and I am incredibly lucky to now have the sweetest baby boy in the entire world, Flynn. I’m pretty happy with how I’m inventing my life and my confidence is coming back stronger and more authentic than ever, especially after becoming a mother and being awake and full of natural energy again.

I’m designing and building the ecommerce website myself with the open-source ecommerce software, Magento and I’m designing all the branding material in Illustrator and Photoshop. I take and edit the photography and select and purchase all inventory. I’m doing all of this with very little money. The only reason I’m able to actually purchase for the website now is because, when Flynn was 3 months old, I did a freelance design project and made $600. Money is tight with a new baby and one consistent income from my husband, but this is the only point in 9 years that I’ve felt this is EXACTLY the right time to launch this business, to turn this dream into a reality. $600 is basically nothing to purchase high-end luxury clothing in wholesale, but I’m going to this tradeshow and I’m going to make it work, even if I’m only able to buy three things… I’m going to make it happen.

Action Items to finish before Capsule Show in NYC next Saturday:

  • Book cheap, cheap hotel for us to stay. We have a free night in a Wyndham hotel from a bad experience, so we will use that at a Days Inn. (Dan is researching and booking our travel plans)
  • Pump and store enough milk for Dan to feed Flynn while I’m at the tradeshow
  • Buy and practice using a hand breast pump for the day of the show
  • Book our dog into his kennel at the vet (Dan)
  • Make website secure (I’ve asked Dan to help with this)
  • Move test website from bethanyconroy.com to final URL at theblacklayer.com
  • Design Homepage images and interior page header images
  • Create Navigation (Currently it’s just a test navigation I’m using as I develop the website)
  • Hook website up to authorize.net to process credit card payments
  • Create mock products with practice product photography I took a few years ago
  • Create mock categories
  • Create “The Black Layer” stamp
  • Create and print The Black Layer business cards at Jak Prints in Cleveland
  • Create and send design for printing of The Black Layer-branded clothing tags from Cranky Pressman in Ohio
  • Buy odor-blocking tissue paper for wrapping the clothing in for shipping
  • Create “About” page
  • Create “Contact” Page
  • Create “Shipping Information” Page
  • Develop shipping cost structure on website
  • Optimize “check-out” process
  • Choose designers to meet at the show, create spreadsheet
  • Start using The Black Layer instagram handle
  • Follow all designers on instagram
  • Follow their followers on instagram
  • Make email subscribe button and contact form working with mailchimp
  • Design “subscribe” email to automatically send when someone subscribe through the website
  • Create customer service phone number on Google Voice and forward to cell phone

Here are some screenshots of the homepage in its current state:

The Black Layer homepage design and development progress

The Black Layer homepage design and development progress

The Black Layer homepage design and development progress

The Black Layer homepage design and development progress

The Black Layer homepage design and development progress

The Black Layer homepage design and development progress

The Black Layer homepage design and development progress

The Black Layer homepage design and development progress

Okay, it’s 4:00 pm on Saturday and Flynn is about to wake up from his afternoon nap. I better get going to smooch his little cheeks and do a little tummy time 😛