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August 24, 2018

Two Interns, Two Journeys, One DāO Family 

They're young, they're creative, and they're passionate hard-workers - they're our Interns!

Summer is near an end and we’re feelin' the early withdrawals here. Our interns Brionna Coleman and Fatema Akhtar are heading back to continue their education at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. These are the two young women who have been connecting with you all at events and behind the scenes on social media. And as they wrap up their time here at headquarters, they would like to say a few words regarding their journey here at DāO.

Without further or do, we give you Brionna and Fatema. 

 

Brionna Coleman 

Title: Business Development Intern

With DāO being my first official secured internship, I was STOKED, to say the least. Being a beauty company offering hair care products on top of that, you can say that it simply made my excitement go overboard. Anything that dealt with hair care and me being a part of it has always been my passion since a little girl so I knew that this was going to be an amazing experience for me. DāO, an all natural beauty & wellness company, was a home run for me since I am a curly girl myself and I wanted to be more conscious of using the best products that would be best for my hair and my wellbeing.

The first experience that I had with DāO was being able to secure sponsorship with one of the fashion shows that I was a part of on campus this past winter. I created a segment in the show that gave the brand more recognition by setting up a raffle of Naturel bottles that audience members could walk away with. From that first experience, I have been a help with more brand promotion on our social media, teaming up for hair events and being the go-to behind the scenes in any aspect needed.

I can say that since being a part of the DāO family, I have watched the brand grow in these past 8 months more than I could have ever imagined. Being in the business school, I knew beforehand that it can take a lot of time and dedication to be able to scale and grow a business in this economy ESPECIALLY being astartupp. So, my expectations coming aboard did not set me up for all of the growth that was ahead of us. The sales and impact that DāO had simply off of the initial product, Naturel, was definitely going to be nothing compared to the full product launch.

One of the biggest projects I had which carried throughout this summer, may be one of the most challenging, was creating a social media influencer program. Me being passionate and in love with everything about hair care, I was obsessed with those videos that are all over social media where people give reviews to products for people like me to want to go out and try for myself. I was excited to be able to do this for DāO because I knew that it would help us grow in multiple aspects; more than it had already. Going in, of course, I didn't know much about recruiting influencers because this was my first time but, I didn't think there would be much of a challenge since it seemed like so many brands were doing this and effectively. I quickly realized that I was in for a big challenge. It was difficult for me to spend so much time looking into and reaching out to so many people to not get the responses I hoped for. It can be hard for new brands to acquire customers because they are afraid to try new things without any guidance or referrals for others. It was like a big loop of trying to reach more people but not being able to because we didn't have that reach to do so. Once responses did roll in, the biggest struggle was having the finances to compensate those who were interested and required compensation. It was like taking one step and ending up falling 2 steps behind. Luckily after more time and effort, we were able to capture several influencers who were able to give honest reviews and posts for us. Hopefully, in the future DāO will expand the range of influencers for the brand.

The most rewarding experience since being an intern I would say would be being able to assist at Hair Expos and Pop-up events. This allowed me to engage with customers face to face and be able to actually create that trust relationship right off of initial interaction. Being behind the scenes is fun and all but, actually being able to meet new customers in person outshines that because that real connection cannot be replaced. I think that customers loved the fact that they got to see and meet the people behind the brand because it made us seem much more honest, personable and trusting.

Through all of the success that DāO has had thus far, it has been difficult at times being able to juggle the many things that we have wanted to accomplish. As I mentioned, being a startup has had its pros & cons and often way more cons. Being on such a small team it’s been difficult trying to achieve a lot of goals in a 24 hour time period, enough to where it felt like we made some type of progress as a brand. In the beginning, when I was the only intern, I definitely got a taste of how hard Erin worked and the amount of effort that both she and Will have put in to put the brand in the position that it is in today. There would be so much we wanted to accomplish in a set time frame such as getting the product out, creating content for our #DāOFamily, seeking new opportunities to grow and being able to attend events that we really wanted to be a part of. It was hard for me because I wanted to do so much to contribute in a significant way but time was not always on my side. Being able to prioritize and determine what really was important for growth and opportunities really saved me from the struggles and time crunch that I faced. Looking back I would say that everything worked out how it should have all along and the success DāO has now can show for it.

I do not think that everyone will get an honest feel for how a business is operated from start to finish, therefore, I am forever grateful to have gone through an experience such as this. It is and will be hard in the beginning, but the reward, in the end, makes you forget all of the struggles it took to get there. I will always be a part of the DāO Family and everyone should be too!

 

 

Fatema Akhtar

Title: Digital Marketing Intern 


Dear DāO family,
Let me start off by saying thank you. For the last month and a half, I had the utmost privilege of interacting with you all throughout social media, emails, and blog posts. From the wonderful conversations that go from our table to your homepage and inboxes, to all the support we receive from you constantly truly inspires us to build and maintain a platform that is transparent and inclusive of everyone. Being a #DāOFamily member definitely provided me with a community emphasizing #MindBodyHair. It helped me discover what is truly important to me and how to constantly overcome barriers in order to achieve all we want so that we can #DefyAllOdds.

Walking into DāO as the Digital Marketing Intern, I immediately felt like I was part of a family. Erin and Will, our co-Founders, always made me feel welcome and provided me with a platform where I am encouraged to take creative control and pitch any ideas I have for our digital marketing strategy. With their continued guidance and blessings, I have become more confident and fearless in the way I think, plan, and execute our creative ideas. During our strategy meetings, we focus on content and captions that are getting engagement by our online community while we learn from those that aren’t. In addition to our reflections, we constantly collaborate and develop concrete ideas for our marketing strategy based on ongoing research about the fast-paced digital world. We are always excited to see the online presence of DāO expand with every interaction with our community members and the feedback from our DāO Team.

The DāO brand culture and beliefs fit mine like a pair of perfect shoes. We are grounded on the foundation of quite simply, simplifying beauty and wellness for all and inspiring the community to maintain the health of their #mindbodyhair and I couldn’t be more excited to contribute to the positive thinking and transparency that occurs both online and offline.

Growing up, while my friends were reading the latest Harry Potter novels, I gravitated towards the shelves which held magazines featuring the latest fashion trends and hair and makeup. I always dreamed of working with a trusted brand or company within the retail industry. When I was presented with the opportunity to intern for DāO (from the wonderful Brionna), I was immediately hooked. For me, the brand was built on the belief of loving, respecting, and helping yourself and your community. Furthermore, DāO was local and also a startup. I knew that with any startup there comes a lot of hard work, challenges, networking, attention to detail, teamwork and experimentation involved so it felt like I struck gold.

In a perfect world, I would sit here and tell you how perfect my day-to-day responsibilities are and how I perfectly managed to balance work and life. However, reality (although far from perfect) is a much clearer ground for me. The internal challenges I have faced throughout, I realize are inevitable in most careers. To be 100% real, sometimes I felt discouraged by the lack of engagement we were receiving on certain social media platforms relative to others. And other times, the ideas we put the most work and effort lacked the engagement we were hoping and praying for. There were days I struggled to manage my time and missed out on family events because I needed to make sure my posts for the day were completed and that I planned ahead for the next day in addition to spearheading digital projects alongside Erin. Subconsciously, I put a lot of pressure on myself to become “perfect” at implementing every project, and every post/interaction because there were days where I would make tiny errors. I, myself, forgot to practice what we were preaching. I forgot that as we implement ideas, we make mistakes, learn, and grow and It was Erin who really helped me see that. She has been doing this way longer than I have and has learned so much on her journey of entrepreneurship. Now looking back, I see how much growing I did in the last month and how I am able to multitask better (although not always efficient on my end), yes, going back and forth from project to project while maintaining our current content was overwhelming at times, but I knew it would be rewarding once completed and that Erin and Will are always understanding, supportive, patient, should I need to step back for a minute.

One Saturday morning around 1:36 AM, I was on our google doc editing, planning (for weeks ahead) our content layout for Instagram, facebook, and twitter. Little did I know that Erin was also on the document because we use the same account. She immediately messaged me as to why I was up so early (basically telling to close my laptop and get my zzz’s in), to which I answered I couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking about our layout for the upcoming weeks. That moment, right there I understood that we were really all in it together. She and I were both up trying to perfect our content because we are both passionate perfectionists who cared tremendously about our work. I then realized that yes, there are days you may get little to no sleep, miss a few birthday parties and bridal showers, but you aren’t in it alone. I think of all the hard work both Erin and Will put into building this brand and I often think about how I can keep helping because I need to give it my 110%. That’s what it means to be part of a family.

Throughout my experience with DāO, I continue to be fearless, fail, learn, grow, succeed, and gain inspiration and embrace the #growthmindset we incorporated into the work environment. I was able to fine tune my skills and I thank both Erin and Will for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to showcase my ideas, work ethic, and creativity to them and the world. I would also like to thank one of my best friends, Brionna Coleman, for thinking of me when the internship application opened.

As far as the brand/DāO lifestyle, I have seen tremendous growth and expansion within just the last month and a half and I am very excited to see where DāO is headed. DāO is going to #DefyAllOdds and be a powerful game changer in spreading light, positivity, and love and I am always here to support and lend a helping hand.

 

With peace and blessings, 

Brionna & Fatema 

 


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