Aaja Corinne, a Chicago-native, is a graduate of Joseph Business School and Columbia College Chicago, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in fashion studies. She has been featured in EBONY Magazine and Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine, as well as on WVON 1690AM and BlackDoctor.org. She was also featured on Sprite P.O.U.R. (Purveyors of Urban Reality) Reports, where she was dubbed “the ultimate fashion and branding guru in Chicago.” Read our interview with the lovely Aaja below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I like to move at my own pace. I only want to do what interests me. I realized early on that I didn’t have to settle for only the options presented to me and that it was possible to create my own opportunities.
Tell us about your business.
I am an Image & Personal Branding Strategist helping high-potential leaders to create game-changing, personal brands by teaching them how to package and platform their purpose. I believe that the individuals I work with are purposed to impact culture by planting seeds of change. My goal is to help them amplify their message, increase their influence, and present their brand in a relevant and effective way.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
I am not running any promos at this time; however, I am launching something special during the holiday season. It will be offered to my email subscribers first, so be sure to join my Game Changer community here.
Where is your business based?
My business is based in the Midwest – Chicago, Illinois.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
One of the first things I did was find a mentor. I believe that you’ll never reach your destination without a vision of where you’re going. You need to get connected with someone that has been where you want to go, and in doing so, be willing to serve along the way.
Another step that I took was to perfect my craft through traditional education, self-study, and on-the-job training. It’s important to identify what type of learner you are and to always remain a student of your craft.
Lastly, I tested my concept in the marketplace. This is imperative because the key to success in business is meeting the needs of your target audience. It’s easy to create what you want, but creating what sells is another thing. Each time you are able to service a client, you have a fresh opportunity to refine your offerings, sharpen your pitch, build your credibility, and ultimately, make yourself more valuable.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
By far, word-of-mouth. I first began building my brand as a fashion stylist and special events coordinator in college. Though my work has evolved significantly since then, my network has stayed with me. As I grew, my audience did too. This taught me about the importance of core values in building a brand. Even though I changed lanes, there remains a point of connection between me and those I serve.
Social media has also been instrumental in raising awareness about my brand. My consistent presence over the years has allowed me to build a lot of credibility, which in turn, has led to referrals and opportunities.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
My greatest challenge early on was the absence of my authentic voice. I am a Christian, and that’s a major part of my brand story these days; however, I was apprehensive to share, at first, for fear of it being a hindrance in attracting clients. It came to a point though where I had to share my faith as it has been the source of my transformation and success. Little did I know that the thing that I was afraid of would become the “it” factor that would draw others to me.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I overcame this fear through personal development and the realization that I was doing my “true” audience a disservice by not being totally authentic. I learned that with anything you will draw who you will draw and send who you will send. In light of this, it’s always best to be exclusive, so as to be more inclusive to those you are meant to serve.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I keep motivated in the midst of challenges by studying the Word of God, praying, and resting on His promises. I know that the work I do is God-ordained; therefore, I keep pressing forward understanding that if I’m doing it for Him, all things will work out for my good in the end.
How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I distinguish myself from competitors by staying true to my message and leveraging my strengths. In the personal branding space, everyone comes from a different background. Mine is fashion, so I talk a lot from the angle of image and perception.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Find purpose, and align yourself with it. It’s the key to building a successful brand, the “it” factor that you’ve been searching for, and the thing that will keep you forward looking and moving when the going gets tough.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
The Bible and prayer. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, New Living Translation)
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
One of my favorite books is “7 Laws You Must Honor To Have Uncommon Success” by Dr. Mike Murdock. It’s a game changer. Check it out here.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I’m currently researching sales techniques and marketing strategies. I want to become more intentional in these areas.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My immediate goals are to launch my lifestyle blog, enhance my offerings, and secure more speaking engagements. Daily, I pick a task to complete that will lead me closer to achieving these goals.