A podcast for retail workers is calling out the ‘soul-defeating’ industry for harsh management, abusive customers, and poverty wages

Man screaming into a megaphone while sitting in a shopping cart on a light blue background.

At the returns desk of a home decór store, a woman brought in flower pot writhing with gray maggots in its base. She was furious when an employee said the store would be unable to process the return, given the larvae-infested state of the product.

Steve Rowland, a manager, watched back footage of the exchange like game tape, wondering where the employee went wrong. The customer, who eventually called up the corporate office, hadn’t followed the simple instructions to drill drainage holes in the pot. Still, Rowland was told by a district manager to reprimand the employee for the interaction, despite the fact he’d followed the company’s guidelines. The customer eventually received a full refund and an additional $50 store credit.

For Rowland and his staff, it was just another morale-deadening example of management siding against employees who were just following company rules.

After 33 years in retail, Rowland was laid off from his job due to COVID-19. So in February 2021, he did what many others have done: He started a podcast. “Retail Warzone” is hosted by Rowland and Alex Rowland (no relation). The podcast showcases workers’ “horror stories” each week and advocates for pro-worker changes within the sector.

“Retail in general is very soul-defeating,” Rowland told Insider. “It breaks your spirit after a certain amount of time.”

And the state of retail jobs affects a large swath of the labor force. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 there were about 4 million retail sales jobs, 3.4 million cashier gigs, and 4.4 million food server posts in the United States.

“That’s a lot of people getting stomped on,” Rowland said.

The pandemic has shone a light on the plight of many service workers. Retail workers have contended with workplace violence, often at the hands of enraged shoppers convinced that “the customer is always right.” Rage-quitting and ghosting have become common practices, as a result of these conditions. Many work for low pay, as the federal minimum wage hasn’t risen from $7.25 since 2009 and has failed to keep up with housing costs and productivity. Outsiders levy criticisms about retail workers being lazy, due to the labor shortage.

When he started out in retail in 1988, Rowland said customers would still cross a store to put back items that they decided against purchasing. Over the years, he felt himself watching “the wheels come off the wagon” as “society basically devolved in real time.” Rowland said he blames retailers valuing “profits over people” and rewarding bad behavior from shoppers.

“Customers have become more entitled, more emboldened to treat retail employees, hospitality employees, and grocery employees like servants,” he said. “You’re not paid enough to be a punching bag for the customer. But corporations are willing to sacrifice the mental health and safety of an employee for avoiding getting a bad review on Facebook or Amazon.”

According to Rowland, the result for workers is burnout and depression, on top of issues like low pay, poor benefits, and a lack of professional stability. The podcast host said that, thanks to the hiring crunch, “the workforce has more power right now than they ever have in the history of the retail industry.” Still, he’s upset by the lack of appreciation that frontline workers have received during the pandemic, even after being declared “essential.”

“Retail workers got a little bit of a break in 2020 from the abuse,” Rowland said. “But as soon as we turned the corner into 2021, everybody forgot that and the treatment got worse.”

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3 millennial cofounders created a job platform that looks like TikTok and works with Panda Express, H&M, and Everlane

Three men sit in a grocery store looking at the camera smiling
(L-R) Tristian Petit, Adrien Dewulf and Cyriac Lefort

  • Heroes is a social networking job platform that targets Gen Zers looking for retail and hospitality work.
  • The platform resembles TikTok and allows individuals to submit video job applications.
  • This is part of Insider’s entrepreneur series Star, Rising which highlights early entrepreneurs and businesses.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Name: Cyriac Lefort, Tristan Petit, Adrien Dewulf

Age: 28, 28, 27

Location: New York City, New York, and Los Angeles, California

Business: A social networking job platform that targets Gen Zers looking for retail and hospitality work.

Backstory: Lefort and Petit were childhood friends in France and met Dewulf, who grew up in Belgium, in 2016 while the trio was studying in London.

As Lefort, Petit, and Dewulf perused employment sites like LinkedIn and Indeed, they felt the platforms didn’t target younger jobseekers like themselves. When they launched Heroes in 2019, they kept those customers in mind-the platform resembles TikTok, allows individuals to submit video job applications, and lets employers share day-in-the-life videos of workers.

Additionally, job seekers on Heroes can add context and clarity to their resumes, including situations like employment gaps, Lefort said. “The job application was broken for people our age,” he told Insider.

Gen Z represents about 30% of the global population and is estimated to become about 27% of the workforce by 2025, according to research company McCrindle.

Screegrab of the profile of someone using the Heroes app
Screegrab of the profile of someone using the Heroes app.

Growth: Heroes closed a $6 million seed round in 2020, led by Greg McAdoo of venture capital firm Bolt. McAdoo was the first investor of Airbnb. Additionally, Heroes raised a $1.5 million pre-seed round in 2019. Panda Express, Wendy’s, Everlane, and Abercrombie and Fitch are clients and, this summer, Heroes began working with retail giant H&M.

“These accomplishments in a year are exciting for the future – it shows Gen Zers are really grasping what we build,” Lefort said.

Before Heroes: Petit and Lefort earned their masters’ degrees from the London School of Economics in 2015 and 2016, respectively, before launching a non-profit called W Project which studied global entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, Dewulf, who graduated from the University of Warwick in 2016, ran a lightning company called Victor between 2016 to 2018. They all left their jobs in 2018 to move to the US and launch Heroes.

Challenges: During the pandemic, Heroes saw retail and restaurant close, negating their needs for talent. Meanwhile, the company balanced the growing need for virtual interviews from the employers who remained open.

Business advice: “Focus on hiring to build a better company – you have to hire people who know things you don’t know,” Lefort said. “What they’re doing can bring real value.”

Business mentor: The trio counts McAdoo as a mentor, who has advised them how to enter the US marketplace. Additionally, Nicole Johnson at VC firm Forerunner Venture helped them build a marketing strategy and connect with strategic partners.

A screengrab showing the behind the scenes of what its like to work at Panda Express
Heroes just launched a feed that allows users to scroll through an explore tab and see what its like to work at the companies which interest them

Why now is the best time to start a business: Out of crisis often comes innovation, such as Airbnb’s birth during the 2008 recession, Petit said. Heroes come as The Great Resignation continues to take hold in the US, where both hiring practices and workplace environments are under fire.

“A lot of companies have to challenge their recruitment process and rethink how they interact with younger generations,” Petit said. “There’s a huge opportunity here to figure out how to help these companies.”

On hiring: There are currently 25 people on the team and they are actively looking to expand, especially to help build out more of the social tech elements of the platform, Petit said.

Managing burnout: The trio makes sure to take screen breaks and go outside for sports and jogging. They also make sure to read books and spend time with friends.

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The millennial founder of a software company on track to net seven figures this year is fostering Africa’s rising tech stars

Oladosu Teyibo stands wearing a black shirt in the middle of the street smiling
Oladosu Teyibo

Name: Oladosu Teyibo

Age: 29

Location: Washington, D.C

Business: An outsourcing tech company focused on hiring underrepresented communities.

Backstory: Africa’s tech landscape is experiencing a boom but with investment into the continent, it’s just as imperative to invest in the African talent living there.

Founded by Oladosu Teyibo in 2018, Analog Team connects talent from underrepresented backgrounds with tech companies looking to build digital products. Aside from working in the US, Analog Team focuses on connecting African engineers with startups based in the states. His company is betting on the idea that others will begin sourcing talent from Africa, the way outsourcing is currently done to India, Teyibo said.

“There is not a pipeline issue or a knowledge gap,” he told Insider. “It’s just about providing opportunities and looking for the gems that are in the rough.”

Growth: Analog Team now operates in six African countries, including Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria. It has worked with top cell phone providers, social media, and gaming apps and is projected to net more than seven figures this year.

Next, it’s sourcing talent to build a new social media app, a database for user experience (UX) design, and new data transformation tools. Last month, with plans to further expand nationally, the company partnered with the city of Montgomery, Alabama to create an innovation lab that will help foster local tech talent.

“We’re also in conversation with HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] and local universities to create robotics programs that focus on drone technology,” Teyibo said.

Oladosu Teyibo stands wearing a black shirt in the middle of the street smiling
Oladosu Teyibo

Before Analog Team: Teyibo studied information technology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and worked at the Cyber Innovation Center where he oversaw mergers and acquisitions. He left the company in 2016 to start Analog Team.

Challenges: Many tech companies have bad experiences working with outsourcing companies, so Analog Team built a business model to ensure it would be different from the rest. “We integrate and become part of the company,” Teyibo said. “We get so close you actually feel like we’re a part of your team.”

Advice: “The most important thing about building a business is to be the last one standing,” Teyibo said. “The right way to do that is to constantly innovate.”

Mentor: Teyibo counts his mother as a mentor who told him “when you leave somewhere, leave the place better than you met it.”

Why now is the best time to start a business: The world is on the “precipice of innovation and change,” and positioning oneself as a business leader early can pay off in the long run, Teyibo said. “In the next 10 or 20 years you can actually have a say in where we go as a global community,” he added.

Six Black people stand wearing black and white clothing looking at the camera smiling
Analog Team’s Nigerian-based tech team

On hiring: Right now, Analog Team consists of 30 people and aims to hire 1,000 people across software development, recruiting, and customer service by 2025. Interest in the company has increased as word of it continues to spread. “It’s now just about finding enough opportunities to hire everyone that we see across the world,” Teyibo said.

Managing burnout: Teyibo prays to help recenter his focus, and encourages his employees to take breaks when needed so when it’s time to deliver, everyone is at their best.

“It’s absolutely necessary to take breaks when you need them,” he continued. “But it’s important to remember a break isn’t a vacation – every moment you’re not focused on your goals, the competition is outworking you.”

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Sherwin-Williams declared a soft green as its color of the year, to encourage ‘rebirth’ and ‘re-emergence’

sherwin williams evergreen fog
A sample swatch card for Evergreen Fog.

  • Sherwin-Williams has selected Evergreen Fog as its official color of the year for 2022.
  • The paint manufacturer’s latest pick is a soft gray-green mid-tone.
  • Sherwin-Williams’ director Sue Wadden told Insider the shade is all about “positivity.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sherwin-Williams has selected Evergreen Fog – a gentle gray-green hue – as its Color of the Year for 2022. Each year, the paint manufacturer’s global color and design team handpicks a specific shade to convey themes meant to resonate with consumers. For the year 2022, that means resurrection and renewal.

“We wanted to talk about positivity,” Sherwin-Williams’ director of color marketing, Sue Wadden, told Insider. “What was the color that symbolized this idea of rebirth and re-emergence? That’s really where green comes into play. Green is the color of nature and rebirth and all those positive associations with nature and growth.”

Sherwin-Williams evergreen fog
A room painted with Evergreen Fog.

Choosing a specific green would pose more of a challenge for Sherwin-Williams’ team. Along with selecting a color of the year, this team is also tasked publishing an annual color forecast. The group mulled over an avocado shade and a dark, deep hue until they “fell in love with” the soft mid-tone Evergreen Fog.

Evergreen Fog marks a change-up for Sherwin-Williams. For the past two years, darker colors – deep blue Naval and gray-brown Urbane Bronze – took the top spots. Wadden said that Evergreen Fog pairs with natural textiles, and metals like gold and brass.

When arranging photo shoots for Evergreen Fog, Wadden and her team sought to capture an organic modern “vibe,” a style trend that focuses on sustainable materials, plants, and natural light. But Wadden stressed that the gray-green paint could compliment a range of styles, including rustic, cottage-core, and granny-chic.

“From interiors to exteriors, it’s a really usable color,” she said. “If you talk about modern vintage – retro interiors – it’s great there too, because it’s a nostalgic color in different applications.”

Vintage styles have had a moment during the pandemic, as millennials and Gen Z have opted for retro looks to decorate their new homes: Repurposed and recycled decor has been touted as both sustainable and fashionable.

evergreen fog sherwin-williams
A room painted with Evergreen Fog.

The Sherwin-Williams team recommended Evergreen Fog for both the home and commercial spaces. Wadden said it’s a “versatile color,” fit for bedrooms and kitchens, and even cabinetry and trim. The one space where the director of color marketing cautioned consumers about using it was on the walls of a bathroom.

“Sometimes, green doesn’t work out in a bathroom because you’ll see a green cast on your face in the mirror when you’re putting on makeup,” she said. “You can look a little jaundiced if you don’t have natural light in your bathroom.”

That being said, Wadden is thinking about incorporating Evergreen Fog in her own bathroom.

“I am considering painting my bathroom vanity this color, because I think it’s great,” she said.

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The 24-year old jewelry designer, whose rings have been spotted on Serena Williams and Meghan Markle, uses half her profits to fund female entrepreneurs

Shilpa Yarlagadda looks at the camera wearing a white coat
Shilpa Yarlagadda

This article was originally published on November 4th, 2020. On September 14th, 2021 Meghan Markle wore Shiffon jewelry on the cover of Times’ 100 Most Influential List. This article has been updated to reflect that.

When Shilpa Yarlagadda was in between her freshman and sophomore years at Harvard, she had an idea.

At the time, she was a computer science major with no experience in jewelry. She did, however, have the desire to make a change. In Indian culture, jewelry holds great sentimental value and is something that is typically passed down for generations, said Yarlagadda. And as a Silicon Valley native, Yarlagadda grew up close to one of the US’ venture capital hotspots. Her idea was a jewelry business that would also “give women access to venture capital and opportunities beyond the capital,” she told Insider in a 2020 interview.

She took $5,000 in savings and $20,000 she won from a grant in high school to launch fine jewelry company Shiffon in 2017. Half of Shiffon’s profits are given to the company’s nonprofit organization, the Startup Girl Foundation, which focuses on funding female-owned businesses.

The Startup Girl Foundation takes equity in each company it invests in and all returns go back to the foundation so it can invest in more businesses. “Twenty-five thousand sounded like a lot of money, but now growing and seeing what other founders are able to do, I’m realizing it actually wasn’t,” she said. “We had to be really resourceful in what we did.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the cover of Times' 100 most influential. On her left pink ring,  Markle wears a white suit while Harry is dressed in all Black.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the cover of Times’ 100 most influential. On her left finger, Markle wears a Shiffon pinky ring.

Now 24 years old, Yarlagadda’s business is thriving – along with the companies she invested in – and her jewelry has been spotted on Emma Watson, Kate Moss, Serena Williams, Amanda Gorman, and Shailene Woodley. Recently, Meghan Markle wore a Shiffon ring on the cover of Times’ 2021 100 ‘most influential’ people issue, which she shared with husband Prince Harry.

Last November, Shiffon partnered with When We All Vote – co-chaired by Michelle Obama – to create a line of jewelry encouraging people to vote.

“In the boardrooms, women are still not given a fair and equal say,” Yarlagadda said. “We wanted to inspire and remind women how hard they work to get these rights and that their voice matters.”

Shiffon rings have a symbolic meaning

Shiffon’s most famous product is the Pinky Ring, a version of which the Duchess of Sussex sported on her Times cover.

It’s a pinky ring to represent the pinky promise that women will pay it forward to other women and is adjustable so it can fit everyone, Yarlagadda said.

Priced between $155 and $780, the ring’s spiral designs represent how the company aims to help women spiral upward. Those who buy the rings unlock a secret menu that gives them access to more Shiffon products.

This year the company also expanded into creating hoop earrings in which 19.65% of profits will be invested back into female businesses through the Startup Girl Foundation. The year 1965 was the year the Voting Rights Act passed, which protected voting rights for all women – especially those of color.

Shiffon

To date, profits from Shiffon have gone to support 11 startups, including the bra company Pepper and the espadrille brand Sea Star Beachwear, Yarlagadda said. This kind of investment is sorely needed: Last year, just 2.3% of VC funding went to startups led by women, down from 2.8% the year prior. That number is even more dismal for women of color.

“If we can create exponential growth and a chain reaction, it’s going to help us reach equality in the venture capital and business ecosystem sooner,” Yarlagadda said.

Shilpa Yarlagadda stands against a wall wearing a Harvard sweater
Shilpa Yarlagadda

Providing mentorship opportunities is also key for female entrepreneurs

Shiffon has a mentorship board including stylist Sarah Slutsky, Obama’s stylist Meredith Koop, photographers Inez & Vinoodh, and former Elle Editor-in-Chief Robbie Myers, who also advise the founders that Startup Girl Foundation invests in.

Mentorship has played a big part in Yarlagadda’s career, and it’s almost as important for young entrepreneurs to receive mentorship as it is to receive capital, she said.

“Having key advice from people who’ve been there before and people that you look up to can just really make a huge difference,” Yarlagadda added.

Her own mentorship journey began in the early days of her business when she started contacting people she looked up to, including Slutsky, who is best known for working with celebrities like Emma Watson and Tory Burch.

A post shared by SHIFFON (@shiffonco)

It was Slutsky who, in addition to providing mentorship, taught Yarlagadda about the Kimberley Process – a certification scheme that requires participants to source conflict-free diamonds – and helped her find diamonds.

Yarlagadda has also been a mentor to the female founders who are part of her foundation, including Trisha Goyal, founder of tennis company Break The Love.

Founded in 2019, the company seeks to make tennis more accessible and has worked with Burch, sports equipment company Wilson, and received capital from Adidas’ venture fund. Goyal told Insider the foundation has given her resources on how to stand out in the male-dominated sports industry, and that Yarlagadda has reminded her that each small win is an important win for every person who comes after her.

“We jumped through so many hoops to get here and there are so many more hoops to come,” Yarlagadda said. “We’re going to have to continue advocating for women more, and I just like to remind women to use their voices, and that their voices matter.”

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Instant coffee is a billion-dollar market with a bad reputation. A startup backed by Meghan Markle is on a quest to usher in a new era.

Hannah Mendoza CLEVR Blends
Hannah Mendoza

When Hannah Mendoza was nine years old, she had an idea: a smoothie bar for kids.

She set up shop in her home economics class and organized a group of classmates to help sell her creations. It was something she loved, Mendoza told Insider. She didn’t know it would foreshadow the business she would one day run.

Today, Mendoza, 29, is CEO and cofounder of two-year-old Clevr Blends, a company that sells instant, “SuperLattes,” infused with “superfoods” like mushrooms and probiotics, which help with digestion. Priced at $28 a bag (each bag makes around 14 lattes), the company told Insider it saw a substantial increase in sales last year and is expecting the trajectory to continue throughout 2021.

On Tuesday, it launched its latest product, a Rose Cacao mix, infused with calming herbs.

Instant coffee has a bad reputation, Mendoza said. However, in her view, it works for next-gen consumers who are always on the go. By marketing her instant coffee as a healthy form of self-care, Mendoza is attempting to tap into the intersection of the billion-dollar coffee market and the trillion-dollar wellness industry. It seems to be working: Meghan Markle – who, alongside Prince Harry, made Times’ 2021’s 100 ‘most influential’ people list – invested an undisclosed amount last year. Oprah also posted about the brand on Instagram. Overall, packaged coffee sales rose during the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

In an interview with Insider, Mendoza reveals the steps her company is taking to remake instant coffee’s reputation and connect with young consumers, including making sure the brand’s actions match its ethos of empowerment and investing in a sustainable supply chain.

Spotting an intersection of two thriving markets

The global instant coffee market hit $12.1 billion last year, while the global wellness market was estimated at over $4.4 trillion in 2019. Mendoza saw the chance to tap into both by making a coffee and tea alternative that has less sugar and uses an organic mushroom-infused latte mix instead of just coffee beans.

“I would love to be in a position where I can squeeze my own nut milk and blend up an elaborate drink, but that’s not the case and I know that’s not the case for a lot of people,” she continued.

Hannah Mendoza CLEVR Blends
The goal of Clevr Blends is simply to make people feel good, Mendoza said.

It took one year and “thousands” of iterations for Mendoza to settle on a recipe, she said. The result is now five different instant latte mixes, each infused with ingredients such as lion’s mane, a mushroom that helps improve memory, and ashwagandha, a root that helps reduce stress.

Young consumers, especially, seek to support brands that match their eco-conscious and social values, and Mendoza says it’s important for her brand to “put the money where its mouth is.”

That’s why the company strives to be transparent about its supply chain, touts its mostly female and non-binary team, and donates 1% of its revenue to charity.

“If there are 20 different types of matcha, we ask, ‘which one tastes the best, which one has the best transparent supply chain?” she said, adding, for example, the company sources matcha from Japan and buys turmeric from Diaspora Co., a company specializing in equitable spice trading, located in Oakland.

Clevr Blends also sources cocoa from a regenerative farm in the Ecuadorian rainforests, where farmers manage their lands to make the soil richly bio-diverse. This helps contribute to natural carbon mitigation, and the practice has been a growing trend as brands pivot toward becoming more environmentally friendly.

Knowing your customers intimately is key

In its early days, the Clevr Blends team took the time to meet with customers to garner feedback on how the products made them feel.

Daisy Pyo, a graphic designer based in Brooklyn, discovered the brand on Instagram, where its photos feature soothing pinks, yellows, and greens, waves crashing at the beach, and selfies of people sipping their instant lattes. Pyo told Insider she loves that the powders already contain adaptogens and probiotics so she can skip taking additional supplements in the morning.

Hannah Mendoza CLEVR Blends

“I really enjoy the ritualistic aspect of starting my day with making matcha in the mornings,” Pyo said. “It’s also just really tasty, so I see it as my little ‘pick-me-up.’ I feel good about incorporating it into my daily routine because I know it’s good for me.”

One high-profile customer turned out to be Markle, as Fortune reported, who found the brand after trying one of its instant lattes and became attracted to its ethical ingredients, community-focused business model, as well as the fact the company is female-led. Fortune reported that after news of the investment spread, the company had a month-long waitlist.

Hannah Mendoza CLEVR Blends
Hannah Mendoza

Working at a start-up was useful training for running her own

Mendoza always wanted to open her own business.

Growing up outside of London, she decided to move to California, without knowing a soul, after seeing an article about Emma Watson applying to school in the US.

Mendoza figured she’d give it a try, and went on to attend the University of California, Santa Barbra, where she studied applied psychology, global studies, and entrepreneurship.

Her first job was at food startup Imlak’esh Organics, where she learned the importance of organic farming, fostering healthy company culture, and how to be comfortable with the unknown.

It doesn’t hurt to take chances, either.

For instance, Clevr Blends is primarily e-commerce but is sold in one store – Erewhon Market in Los Angeles. A friend of Mendoza’s had a meeting set up with Erewhon buyers for his own product but believed in Clevr Blends so much, he snuck Mendoza and her cofounder into his own buyers’ meeting.

The buyers were skeptical at first but eventually fell in love with Clevr Blends. The same way Markle did, and Oprah, and all those kids at Mendoza’s elementary school. “It was an incredibly rough year for everyone,” Mendoza said. “But if what we’ve created made people’s mornings even ten percent easier – I’m really grateful for that.”

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Hogoè Kpessou worked as an Uber Eats driver before she launched her handbag brand last year. Now she’s on track to make seven figures.

photo of Hogoè Kpessou
Hogoè Kpessou

Name: Hogoè Kpessou

Age: 22

Location: Jacksonville, Florida

Business: A luxury brand known for backpacks emblazoned with bumblebees.

Backstory: Black entrepreneurs continue to stand out in the luxury industry, which is estimated to be worth 297 billion by 2026, according to research firm Global Industry Analysts. Continuing that trend is Hogoè Kpessou, founder of the eponymous brand that sells handbags and accessories.

Kpessou was born in Togo and immigrated to the US when she was six, where her peers ridiculed her name and heritage. When she launched her brand last October, she named it after herself to wash away the negative association she harbored toward her name. Now, it’s an emblem of luxury.

“I have people asking me how to say my name properly and asking how to spell it,” she told Insider. “That was a good choice on my part.”

Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by a model
Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by a model

Growth: Kpessou used $10,000 from her mom to start the business and expects to hit seven figures in revenue by the beginning of next year.

Since its launch, the company’s made nearly $500,000 in sales, seeing a 3,900% transaction increase, according to documents seen by Insider. Meanwhile, social traffic has grown 31,000% and direct site traffic climbed 50,000%. Additionally, she released a collection of bags adorned with fireflies and expanded the color selection of her bumblebee backpacks this year. Now, she’s prepping to show at New York Fashion week before jetting to Paris and Milan for their respective fashion weeks.

Next, she plans to enter wholesale, create apparel, and catch the eye of Beyoncé, whose nickname is Queen Bee. “That would just be perfect,” Kpessou said.

Before the brand: She sold candles and poetry books online while working as a sales representative at the insurance company Florida Blue. She also held weekend shifts at a local restaurant and delivered food for Uber Eats.

Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by models
Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by models

Challenges: Kpessou’s challenges are learning to separate her brand’s identity from her personal one and establishing boundaries between herself as a person and as a founder.

“I’ve always been a yes-ma’am, no-sir type of person,” she said. “But I can’t rely on people who don’t necessarily know the challenges of starting something from the ground up telling me how to proceed.”

Business Advice: “Keep the vision of what you want your business to be at the forefront.” she said.

Business mentor: Tavia Kelly, a business planner, taught Kpessou the importance of branding, while consultant Reka Naomi Szabo taught her the ins and outs of the fashion industry.

Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by a model
Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by a model

Why is now the best time to start a business: Kpessou points to a few facts: First, there has been a rise in the number of Black-owned businesses launched since July 2020, while self-employment continues to increase, and customers continue spending money at companies they support. “We’re entering a renaissance,” she continued. “I think it’s a beautiful thing.”

On hiring: She runs the company alone and is looking to hire at least five more people in the next two months to help with customer service and packaging.

Managing burnout: Kpessou writes and sees her therapist often. She also enjoys learning new languages and taught herself Korean. Next, she’s trying to get back into exercising. “I need to find out how to make the gym my comfort zone again,” she said.

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Walmart is set to hire 20,000 permanent supply chain workers to ramp up for the holiday season

walmart distribution center
  • Walmart is slated to hire 20,000 new workers across its supply chain.
  • The company has tied the hiring spree to the 2021 holiday season.
  • Walmart has also made an ongoing effort to expand its supply chain and e-commerce capabilities.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Walmart is hiring 20,000 new workers to bolster its supply chain going into the 2021 holiday season. Those thousands of new hires will fill full-time and part-time roles and are meant to be permanent jobs, not only seasonal gigs.

In a statement from Walmart US Executive Vice President of Supply Chain Operations Joe Metzger and Senior Vice President for Supply Chain and People Karisa Sprague, the executives announced the hiring push. The retail giant is looking to fill positions in a variety of supply chain roles, including “order fillers, freight handlers, lift drivers, technicians and management positions.”

These new roles will be spread “across more than 250 Walmart and Sam’s Club distribution centers (DCs), fulfillment centers (FCs) and transportation offices.” Walmart estimated that its average hourly wage for supply chain workers is $20.37.

“We know that offering competitive pay is essential in order to build a network for the future,” Metzger and Sprague wrote.

On September 8 and September 9, Walmart will also host “special hiring events” for prospective candidates. The company anticipates that the new hires will assist with its holiday 2021 season, as well as its long-term goal of building out stronger e-commerce fulfillment capabilities.

“There’s opportunity here to learn from the ground up and add to the culture by putting your own special twist on being a part of a team,” Angie Baecke, the general management of a fulfillment center in Plainfield, Indiana, said in a statement sent to Insider.

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3 Gen Zers created a competition to connect young creatives with cash and careers amid the pandemic. Now, luxury giant Kering is getting involved.

(L-R) Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan
(L-R) Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan

Name: Alexandre Daillance, Harry Beard, Adam Flanagan

Age: 24, 21, 20

Location: Paris, France; Bedford, England; Edinburgh, Scotland

Business: A Gen-Z target competition that helps creatives find jobs and funding.

Backstory: The creative sector was hit hard during the pandemic, as art shows closed and fashion runways went dark. As a result, Gen Zers saw their prospects for economic and professional mobility hindered.

Margherita Missoni as judge for the Kering Prospect 100 competition
Margherita Missoni as judge for the Kering Prospect 100 competition

This gave Alexandre Daillance, Harry Beard, Adam Flanagan two ideas. The first was a free virtual competition called Prospect 100, which connects young creatives working in film, design, innovation, and music with career opportunities and cash prizes from powerhouses such as ViacomCBS, Vogue, and most recently, the luxury conglomerate Kering.

The second idea was for FutureLabs, a consulting firm seeking to help established brands connect with next-generation audiences. The firm serves as the parent company to Prospect 100, which allows the competition to be free for participants.

Growth: Prospect 100 has held six competitions since last May, seeing over 15,000 participants from 82 countries, Daillance said. Additionally, it has at least four more contests planned throughout the next two years, expecting to attract nearly 30,000 participants.

Past judges included Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and Yeezy design director Steven Smith. It’s partnered with Nickelodeon to offer winners masterclasses with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, and next is working with Kering on a competition promoting sustainable fashion. Retail heiress and creative director Margherita Missoni and Vogue fashion editor Rawdah Mohamed are set to judge.

Meanwhile, FutureLabs works with 12 clients and netted more than six figures from last September to today, according to documents verified by Insider.

Alexandre Daillance sitting with his computer
Alexandre Daillance is the founder of fashion label Millinsky Edition and streetwear brand NASEASONS, the latter of which has worked with The Rolling Stones, Lil’ Wayne, and Guns N Roses.

Before Prospect 100: Daillance created fashion label Millinsky Edition and streetwear brand NASEASONS, which is sold in over 70 retailers throughout the world.

Beard previously ran a social media management company called OPEN while Flanagan interned at McKinsey and worked as an investment analyst at financial firm Creators Fund.

Challenges: Initially they wanted the competition to be in-person, but the pandemic forced it online, making the trio rethinking their business strategy.

They also had to find ways to make it inclusive because not everyone has access to the same technology. “It was so important an artist from Bhutan feels they have as much a chance of winning this competition as a graffiti artist from LA,” Beard said.

Business Advice: Daillance said shoot for the stars to hit the moon, while Flanagan said never be afraid to pivot the business if needed. Beard added, “you truly need to have fun to be able to go all the way.”

Business mentor: They count Carmen Greco, former managing director at Goldman Sachs and current founder of the Gen Z -targeted production company Thred Media, as a mentor. They also go to Miles Young, head of New College, Oxford, and former CEO of Ogilvy & Mather.

Posters for the competition Prospect 100

Why is now the best time to start a business: It’s especially a good time to connect with others throughout the world and find cofounders in which to help build and expand, said Daillance.

On hiring: Prospect 100 is a team of five and receives about 30 resumes a month, Daillance said. The company seeks to gain more traction in the US, where many companies are still struggling to hire talent amid labor shortages.

Managing burnout: Each clock in outdoor time. Flanagan is learning how to skateboard, while Daillance likes watching Formula 1 races. Beard, meanwhile, likes to play squash.

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Walmart is launching GoLocal, a new service that will offer local delivery for national brands and small business operators

walmart go local
  • Walmart is launching a new delivery service called Walmart Go Local.
  • The service will cater to local outfits and national businesses alike.
  • “Our strengths lie in our local footprint and our digital connections,” US CEO John Furner said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Walmart is offering a new platform that allows businesses to arrange local deliveries with the retail giant. The announcement came as the company continues to attempt to leverage its logistical capabilities and expand into e-commerce-related revenue streams.

The new commercialized delivery platform will be called Walmart GoLocal.

Walmart first launched its delivery and express delivery services in 2018, and the offering is now available for 160,000 products at over 3,000. The retailer estimates that its delivery program covers nearly 70% of the US population. According to Walmart executives, Walmart GoLocal is a move that can help local businesses capitalize on those delivery capabilities.

Executives also tied the new service to other commercial offerings from the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company, including its ad business Walmart Connect and its rival to Amazon’s e-commerce enterprise, Walmart Fulfillment Services.

Walmart also recently announced that it would partner with Adobe to release technology products for small businesses.

Speaking during a press call on Monday, Walmart US CEO John Furner and SVP of last mile Tom Ward said that the new service, which debuts Tuesday, would be a “white-label” provider, meaning that the client’s branding will take precedence, as well as an alternative revenue stream and profit pool for Walmart.

Ward also said that the platform will be available in suburban and rural areas where “other delivery providers” struggle. “Through Walmart GoLocal, any merchant from national retailers to small town shops can use Walmart’s growing delivery platform to power their local delivery efforts,” Ward said. “The service is white-label, in that our clients brands are front and center.”

Ward explained how the service would work, noting that Walmart will get a “ping” whenever a customer places an order with a business using Walmart GoLocal. The service will dispatch a driver to deliver the item, and Walmart will “capture any delivery experience feedback.”

Walmart GoLocal has been contracted with several retail clients, although Ward and Furner did not expand on which businesses have signed on so far.

“Our strengths lie in our local footprint and our digital connections,” Furner said.

This business is an important part of the company’s overall strategy, which includes diversifying its revenue streams and profit pools with initiatives like Walmart Connect and Walmart Fulfillment Services. Its launch comes weeks after the retailer announced plans to begin offering technologies and capabilities to help other businesses navigate their own digital transformation.

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