By Jarrid L. Smith
Baylee Micco believes that when you buy something, you’re not making a choice, you’re making a statement about yourself and the future, and this way of thinking pushed her to create her own business. Her business serves as a statement to the world that she’s not going to accept what’s handed to her. Her business is a statement that she cares about how her products are made. Her business is a statement of perseverance, proof that she is growing into a woman who shapes the world around her, and not the other way around.
How did Baylee come to this point in her young life, and what does she see in herself that makes her a businesswomen to be watched? Read on to find out.
While growing up Baylee’s mom did not allow her to wear makeup. Baylee is a respectful daughter, and despite her growing interest in makeup she did as her mom asked. When Baylee graduated high school and moved out of her mom’s house, it didn’t take long for her interest in makeup to be noticed by others. It started with her friends, who recognized her talent and encouraged her to create makeup tutorials online. The notion of posting online made her nervous but she took small steps forward. First, she opened an Instagram account just for makeup, and then later she would create her own YouTube channel with how-to’s and makeup looks. In the beginning Baylee had mixed feelings about the YouTube channel, she was nervous about how it would be received.
It turns out her feelings were misplaced, as the number of views started increasing. Baylee used this positive feedback as fuel to push forward to create more videos. Her mom was contacted by a friend and asked if Baylee would do makeup for a wedding. As any bride knows, you don’t ask just anyone to do your makeup on your wedding day. Baylee saw this as a great opportunity and she agreed. This would lead to several more weddings as well as opportunities to do makeup for photo shoots. Baylee was starting to make a name for herself, and she was making plans in 2019 to make even more videos, but then something happened that helped push her toward her current path.
Baylee seemed at this moment in her life to be on a flow towards a life centered around makeup, but in life there are ebbs and flows. Baylee didn’t know it yet, but she was headed to an ebb. For several years she had been in a relationship, and it was during this time that Baylee and her longtime boyfriend decided to split up. At around this same time a friend moved into the room she planned to use to makeup videos. These circumstances combined to create an ebb in her life.
The pause Baylee experienced was natural, the kind people experience when their world seems to shift under their feet. It’s the time needed to gather oneself and to find stable footing. This was a time of reflection for Baylee, and during this time she decided she wanted to know more about the world around her. She started meeting new people and making new friends, exploring new places, and gaining confidence in her voice. In her moment of pause, the roots of what would become her business today took hold. But how does a budding YouTuber who specializes in make-up go on to creating her own line of clothing? Like many things in the year 2020, COVID-19 had a hand in the answer.
As Baylee was growing into who she is today, she continued making plans to produce more YouTube videos. But by then COVID was spreading across the country, and a thought entered her mind. Nurtured by her recent experiences, she began to question herself. These weren’t questions of doubt, but rather questions of possibility. She wondered if she wanted to be known only for makeup. She wondered if she want people to think of her only for their school dances and weddings. She wondered what else she could be good at. The answer to these questions came unexpectedly one night while she was scrolling through Instagram and saw a sponsored post promoting clothing. She started down an Instagram rabbit hole and really liked the clothes she saw.
Baylee liked the style of clothes, which she described as western and Native American inspired, and she was ready to make a purchase, but as she continued looking she noticed something else. It started with the clothing models. Baylee felt that their appearance wasn’t authentic, that the clothing brand wasn’t just trying to convey being Native inspired, but also being Native owned. As she saw this she started to wonder who exactly the owner of the brand was, she thought it could be a Native American. She would go on to find that the owners weren’t Native American and this frustrated her. She was upset at the company’s attempt to appropriate the appearance of Native Americans, and that it was trying to profit off of something it was not a part of.
Making a Statement
Baylee faced a choice. She could choose to dismiss the feeling that had come up and buy the clothes, or she could do something about it. She could make a statement, and she was at a point in her life that she was ready to do it. Baylee decided that she could do what she was seeing online, and that she was an authentic representation of the products she was selling.
The first thing Baylee did was to reach out to her family. She sent a text to a cousin and her aunt, and they gave support to her idea. Then she created her own t-shirt design and sent it in a family group text for feedback. She was nervous about what her family would say, but the feedback was again positive. With that, she started researching clothing suppliers. She found a company that produced environmentally sustainable t-shirts, and with her design and clothing in hand, she got to work registering her business and creating her website.
Her business was approved by the state of Florida at the end of August, and she launched her website at the beginning of September. Through word of mouth on Instagram, potential buyers were waiting and they quickly bought out her in-stock supply. She sold out in two days, and she couldn’t believe it. She quickly ordered more from her supplier.
Baylee is still in the first month of officially selling her products, and she already knows she’s in it for the long haul. She believes there is still much more to come from her. She sees a gap and a need for an indigenous owned business that provides quality and stylish clothing. Through the first month of her business Baylee has reached unexpected people, which has given her opportunities to connect and inform them about indigenous issues.
For Baylee, there are many goals and ideas she has in mind. She’s learned a lot in the few months since she decided to open her own business. The first thing is practical, which is to understand the market and have enough supply to meet the demand of buyers. She’s already working on designing a sweater, which will be just in time for the winter season. The next thing is emotional, which is to build confidence off of her successes and to talk down the doubts that creep up. Here too she’s gaining strength, and it’s reinforced by her relationships that have developed because of her business.
Choices are statements. Baylee has made her choice and her statement is clear. Now it’s your turn. Choose to support Baylee and her business, you can count on her. Choose to support a business that is Native American owned, and provides Native American inspired and environmentally friendly clothing.