Fearlessly in Bloom is a curated arts + retail store where Black Joy blooms, fearlessly and relentlessly.
The story begins in Los Angeles, with a curly-haired artist peering over an elegant collection of half-dried flowers. In the lazy heat of mid-June, the rainbow-colored petals boasted a jubilant array of purple, orange, yellow, green, blue, and red.
It was the end of Pride season in California, over 3000 miles from my home in Washington, DC. In June 2017, I soaked in the artistic inspiration of Los Angeles, exploring streets alive with the vibrancy of hope and new possibilities. With support from a summer fellowship, I produced and filmed interviews with creative entrepreneurs that centered community-focused arts spaces and the power of collective action. As a documentary storyteller, my summer was dedicated to relentless observation: capturing photographs and videos of community-centered arts spaces, planning and documenting interviews with creatives, and producing a filmmaker’s magic with the support of a modest fellowship stipend. As I weaved through these community spaces and collaborated with artists to document their stories, I observed how artists healed within their communities by harnessing the power of art as community care.
Between these long excursions into the city, I spent time by the bedside of my sick uncle, exchanging jokes and stories. Weekly, my cousin would purchase a fresh vase of flowers from the local grocery, and replace the wilting bouquet at the bedside. Before she could toss away the still-bright flowers, I would ask her to leave the rainbow-colored bouquet on the counter for me. With the expertise of a person who had harvested many times, I systematically removed the bright floral heads from their stems, spread them out in the cool shade, and allowed the flowers to dry naturally in the
When I traveled back home, I carried
with me an expansive collection of gardener’s
tools: many varieties of plant seeds, several
zines about gardening, and a bag of dried
flowers that reminded me that care can be as
simple as a bouquet.
Those flowers later inspired me to
create my first line of earth-based jewelry,
which later became symbolic of Fearlessly in Bloom: unique bottle necklaces with dried floral petals that remind the wearer that we all hold our own special forms of magic. By the end of the Summer 2017, I had thoughtfully created my own small line of plant medicine and earth-based jewelry. Within a year, my small arts brand expanded to include artwork and prints. By the time Fearlessly in Bloom moved to Shopify for our Earth Day launch on 4/22/2022, our new store included a vast catalog of art mugs, wall art and home decor, fashion apparel, intricate jewelry options, and artistic tote bags. Yet despite our vast offerings, the mission of Fearlessly in Bloom holds close to the inspiration that stoked my curiosity: centering the power of community care, inspiring our communities to uplift local artists, and creating modern fashion that is inclusive of all bodies and sizes.
Fearlessly in Bloom is a curated arts + retail store where Black Joy blooms, fearlessly and relentlessly. As a vibrantly curated Black-owned business, our goal was to create a safe space where Black culture could be celebrated and uplifted, where sustainably-sourced African black soap could be found alongside vibrant Black art, and where Black joy could bloom without fear or camouflage. Our online catalog now includes hair and body care by locally-sourced Black-owned beauty brands like Oyin Handmade (based in Baltimore, MD).
As a developing arts business, one of our
biggest challenges was choosing to
expand our products to be available for
global wholesale distribution. Five years
after the beginning of my business, I
faced the new challenge of shifting the
focus of my arts business from being a
local, DC-based brand to creating a
business model to support the sale of our
catalog to international retailers. As we
launched our new thought-led apparel
line, Onyx Quotes, our expansion to
global retailers meant that I also had to
consider wholesale pricing and
distribution. The benefit to this shift in
mindset is that it allowed me to plan
more intentionally around how
Fearlessly in Bloom could uplift global entrepreneurship by partnering with new retail brands that match our mission and values.
Since launching my brand in Summer 2017, I have been inspired to start multiple creative businesses and community-focused initiatives to support my journey as an arts-based business owner, and to use my platform to host fundraisers that align with my brand’s deep commitment to community care. As a business founder, I use my business platform to uplift and support causes that are close to my heart, while reminding our audience of the power that we all hold to create positive change.
To new entrepreneurs, I would give the following advice:
1. Find your mission and values early in your business journey, and keep these values at the front of your mind as you scale up your business. Each time that I scaled up my business, I found it important to remember the reason why I chose to be a business owner, why I believed my brand had the capacity to change the world, and the unique perspective that I bring to my work. At times when I felt discouraged or worried about any part of my business, it made a difference to remember the customers that my business has already impacted in a positive way.
2. Start with a strong, but simple, idea. Throughout my life, I have started dozens of creative projects, many of which later became businesses, but all of which had an impact on my creative process as an entrepreneur. The stronger the idea, the easier it will be to find your personal why and implement your idea with ease. But when we choose ideas that are inspiring, impactful, and also simple, the journey to creating our vision is more fulfilling. When we start simple, it also leaves much more room and personal capacity to expand later on.
3. Find your story. As an entrepreneur, I have found that the most impactful branding is clear on the story of the business founder and the story of the brand. To create a business with a strong impact, be true to your personal story, and cultivate a story for your business that aligns with your mission and values.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As a new business owner, one of the biggest challenges that any entrepreneur will face is learning how (and when) to ask for help. Find people that you can trust to delegate responsibilities to, in your business. Find friends and mentors who will support you when you have questions (and if necessary, find a knowledgeable business coach or reputable consultant who can help you when you hit a wall in your process).
5. As a business owner, learn to adapt to all circumstances. At the start of 2020, my arts business had finally settled at a local retail location after nearly 2 years of being an online-only arts brand. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to
change our world, our brand’s biggest challenges were in learning how to pivot to meet our new business needs, shifting our brand to connect to a larger online audience, and continuing to promote our community values even as the business expanded its focus. Without adaptability, my business would have faltered and failed when the pandemic affected our long-term plans.
In the present, Fearlessly in Bloom faces the new opportunity to continue expanding our brand on a global scale. After 5 years serving our community in Washington, DC, our goal is to continue connecting to new stores who are interested in purchasing our products wholesale and distributing with us as retail
partners. Our expanded wholesale catalog now
includes mugs, notebooks, eco-friendly tote bags,
plant-based jewelry, our fashion apparel line, and
vibrant home decor. Through Faire, our arts brand
now ships our wholesale catalog to stores based in
Canada, Europe, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
As an ethical business owner, my goal was to create
beautiful and functional products that were not
only beautiful and high-quality, but had the
capacity to spread joy and positivity through
everyday use. As an artist, my creative process is
both transformational and deeply personal,
centering deep themes of grief, joy, introspection,
and personal power. As a multi-skilled artist and curator, I use my artwork to invigorate storytelling as a creative form to empower individuals and strengthen communities.
Since relaunching our business on Shopify, one of our brand’s newest goals is to promote eco-conscious materials into every layer of our business practice. As a business owner, it was deeply important to me that my business promotes respect for the earth and consideration for environmental impact. As we continue to expand our scope from a local business to a global brand, it is my hope that Fearlessly in Bloom continues to inspire our audience to be true to their stories, and true to themselves. As an artist, my artwork is rooted in the power of our individual stories to make a powerful impact on the world around us. As Fearlessly in Bloom expands to serve our culture as a global brand, our goal is to continue to uplift the transformative power of storytelling as we inspire creative voices around the world.
About Dorian Blue
Dorian Blue (they/them) is a multidisciplinary creator, visionary storyteller, creative entrepreneur, and published poet from Washington, DC. As a multi-skilled artist and curator, Dorian Blue holds storytelling as a sacred vehicle for joyful expression, connection, and personal liberation. Dorian Blue uses their creative voice as a Africam-American creative entrepreneur to uplift marginalized voices, promote radical inclusivity, and inspire others to abandon the status quo.