This year one of my main goals is to interview more people I don’t originally know. Sticking to my goal, I came across Brittiny Terry’s personal Instagram account during a deep dive of my followers. I noticed that she had a business in her bio and as soon as I clicked on the Effortless Composition Instagram page I knew I had to interview her.
Based in Los Angeles, Brittiny runs the super funky and eclectic home decor site Effortless Composition. Championing black artists, we discussed how she tapped into her passion, what’s been her toughest lessons as a black business owner and what the company’s future holds.
Saturday School: To start, how long has your brand been in business? And what made you want to start Effortless Composition?
Brittiny Terry: I’ve been in business for one year. My career background is in finance, and while I absolutely love the path that I chose, I often struggled with connecting my passions to my profession. Throughout the years I have noticed I am the best version of myself when I am tapping into those passions, which are serving my people/community and utilizing my creative ‘eye’. So, upon moving back home to Los Angeles I was searching for an idea and one of my best friends told me to start a home decor store. I didn’t ask any questions, I immediately said ‘ok’ and knew that was it. Like Pastor Toure says ‘I felt God one that one’ . After researching the market I saw there was a lot of opportunity to tap into my desire to serve and bring in a fresh perspective. For example, it was difficult to find people of color represented as founders, decor makers, or decor business owners. Additionally, many brands were really focused on sourcing and empowering impoverished communities outside of the US. These two factors really fueled my desire to move forward with the idea, lack of representation shouldn’t be the norm in any market.
SS: That’s awesome! How do you find artisans to partner with? And do you only partner with black artisans?
BT: I find the artisans we partner with through word of mouth, social media searches, business directories, and feet on the ground efforts. Once I identify someone that would be good for the shop I reach out and tell them about Effortless Composition then see if they’re interested. It's probably the most difficult part of the business but it is definitely the most rewarding. Right now all of the artisans in the shop are black, but I am happy to work with other artisans of color. One of the main goals of this company is to tell the stories within our inner city communities by working with the local makers/businesses that are there. In south central LA that includes a large population of both black and latino.
SS: I’m starting to see more people getting involved in the home decor space, what has set your business apart from all of the others?
BT: The home decor space is a high margin sector, given that I think the boom we are seeing is only the beginning. What sets Effortless Composition apart from all of the other companies is our focus on partnering with makers of color. I this is the most important because it allows our company to be built on more than just the idea of a high margin but rather community and empowerment. In the end, I want to do more than sell home decor, I want to inspire the people who look like the artisans we partner with by showing up in a market that is typically void of diversity and by supporting them.
SS: I think giving people of color a space where they can sell their work is an awesome and necessary initiative. Starting out, did you have investors who helped you purchase the goods or did you start from scratch?
BT: I started from scratch and made a ton of mistakes in the beginning. I used funds I had saved from my future home to get up and running. Now I currently run on credit cards and paying them off as I go.
SS: What has been one of the biggest struggles as a small business owner?
BT: You have to do everything, and it is a lot. I do the social media, website, emails, accounting, photography, and shipping. Having a strict schedule was a whole new world for me. I am not a morning person and I procrastinate so learning how to be on a schedule was a challenge and still is.
SS: Scheduling for your side projects are so hard! Thank goodness I have an amazing PM because I would still be all over the place [laughs]. I read that you are currently balancing your full-time in finance as well as running Effortless Composition, what is the hardest part of the balance?
BT: The hardest part of the balance is not having enough time to visit shops and artists. This makes the process a lot longer than it should be sometimes because I only have saturday and sunday to get out there and meet people.
SS: Is the end goal to eventually solely run Effortless Composition?
BT: Yes, I would like to eventually run Effortless Composition full time and scale it to a much larger operation.
SS: I believe that starting a side hustle is therapeutic, what has been the most rewarding part for you since starting yours?
BT: All of the connections I have made. I have met some really dope people on this journey that have helped me learn more about myself and for that I am so grateful. Also, I am obsessed with all of the beautiful decor I get to create and buy, my shopping addiction switch from clothes to fabrics and decor.
SS: Speaking of, what are some of your favorite home decor Instagram accounts?
BT: @sgardnerstyle, @nubiinteriors, @purecoliving, @designaddictmom, @tmoorehome, @jyoungdesignhouse, @forbesmasters, @bellybaila.
SS: What are some of your favorite black owned business within the home decor space?
BT: I really love Black Market Vintage, I really love the historic items that they have in their store. I would also say,the Jungalow, Justina is one of my biggest inspirations and is killing it with her creativity.
SS: A lot of your pieces seem to go seamlessly together, how did you choose your look and feel for your brand?
BT: I think at its core the brand is eclectic in nature so I try to stick to this theme while picking items that are timeless enough to be transitioned throughout your home. I think having a foundational look really helps me pick what to bring in the store. Also, I always have function in mind so I tend to lean towards goods that can be used in multiple ways as well.
SS: In my apartment, my favorite room is my bedroom, what decorating tips would you give to someone trying to make a space feel like a home?
Buy a plant or something green, I think a little green accent instantly makes a room more inviting.
Think about what makes you happy, what feels like love, and then fill your rooms with that. A lot of times people refer to their home as ‘just a place to sleep’ but I think this is something we should walk away from. Your home is literally your sanctuary so everything in there should speak to you a bit. Don’t follow trends or pull things in your home just because, pull in what you like.
Hang up art. Blank walls are nice but personal art adds a more intimate touch that you will interact with day after day. It's an opportunity to smile at something when you wake up or walk down your hallway.
Make it cozy! If that includes investing in a duvet cover, down pillows, or nice throws I would say do it. A cozy house is all you need to have a good weekend sometimes.
SS: In your home, what’s your favorite room?
BT: My office. It’s where I store some of the goods and take a lot of the photos. I can be in there for hours and not even notice. Typically my mind is totally free and I am being authentically creative which makes me feel really good.
SS: I’m a huge proponent of “buying black” what advice would you give someone who wants to start their own business?
BT: Believe in yourself at all times. The road isn’t easy and there will be a lot of moments when you may feel like you want to give up or quit but don’t. Believe in yourself enough to know that you can achieve what you set out to do and you have more than what it takes. Also, never get hung up on someone else doing what you may want to do, it literally does not matter.
SS: Many people believe that you have to solely network with people in higher places than you but I believe that it’s important to network with your peers as well, who are some of your peers that have helped you along this journey?
BT: My friends have been very helpful in building Effortless Composition, I have literally leaned on them from everything to social media ideation to PR. I don't think I would have gotten as far as I have without them.
SS: If you could, what advice would you give high school you?
BT: SAVE ALL YOUR SNEAKERS! I was a huge sneakerhead in high school [laughs]! So random I know, but I literally would spend all my lunch money on Melrose to buy limited edition Nikes and then sell them at Crossroads once I was tired of them. Now, all those shoes are popular again and I can’t help but think how cool it would be if I had them.
On a more serious note, don’t be so shy, you are an amazing young lady and have ideas/thoughts that should be shared. Most of the time people want to hear from you.