Brown City Shakers: Malikah Planas, Founder & Owner of VITAL XII
In today's world of Instagram models & people looking for a quick dollar, it's rare to see a woman who is on her grind and going after what she wants.
This week, I wanted to spotlight a woman who hustles in her city and is making things happen. Malikah Planas, owner of online handbag store VITAL XII, is a resident of Atlanta and is making strides in the fashion industry. Her drive and work ethic inspired me and she's definitely a #GirlBoss to watch out for in 2016.
First off, let me just say that I LOVE your bags! They are all dope and your price points are bomb.
Thank you so much! I try to find the bags that are the trendiest yet affordable so women can be fashionable while keeping some money in their pockets.
With all of these Instagram boutiques and online stores popping up, what do you think makes VITAL XII different?
Well, VITAL XII focuses primarily on handbags...so being able to just focus on one item makes it better to find the dopest pieces in that area. Also, all VITAL XII handbags are vegan friendly, so that is a major plus to the vegans and animal lovers out there.
Oh, wow! That's amazing that your products are all vegan. Can you tell me a little background on VITAL XII? Where did the name come from?
VITAL XII is a name that I put together with VITAL meaning a necessity because of course handbags are a necessity to a woman's everyday look and XII is the roman numeral for 12, which is the day I was born. So, it's just a name I combined together but I think that it's catchy and different.
What inspired you to open up an online handbag store?
I was actually selling my old handbags on an app called Poshmark for some extra cash when I was going through a financial crisis and I saw how quickly women were buying the handbags. From that point, I knew this could get big. My uncle, who is a big speaker on e-commerce, took me to a handbag wholesale outlet and I fell in love. The quality and prices of the handbags caught me, so I had high hopes after that.
What advice do you have for young women who aspire to be entrepreneurs one day?
Keep going. Never stop because people aren't supporting you or because you aren't making millions in the first month. Running a business takes time and nothing worth having comes easy. I actually created a blog called Diaries of an Epreneur (www.diariesofanepreneur.com) which shares my journey of becoming an entrepreneur so other women, who may be starting a business, can have some guidance and be inspired in the process.
What obstacles do you face now, that you didn't expect in the beginning?
Keeping items in stock. I have one bag named the "Kelsey Rocker Fringe" and I did not know that it would sell like crazy. Trying to make sure my supplier keeps it in stock is a challenge because if they don't have it in stock, then I can't restock and my customers start questioning when I will get more in.
Tell me about what being Brown In The City means to you?
Being Brown In The City to me means being that outcast person who does the unexpected in a society where everyone wants you to be the same. It means going out of your comfort zone to show others you are not the typical person.
Who or what inspires you?
The feeling of not having to ask anyone for anything is what inspires me. I want to build a brand so big that I no longer need to wonder where the next check is coming from or if I can afford to eat out for lunch. I want to be able to provide for my family and give them back everything that they gave to me.
What is your favorite fashion trend right now?
I am so in love with the fur bag charms! When I started to see them, I knew that I had to add them to my store because it is a perfect accessory for handbags and surprisingly, they are one of my top sellers!
What handbag trends do you foreshadow for the Spring/Summer season?
I think the unique shaped bags are whats going to be dope in the Spring/Summer. I am seeing a lot of the triangular shaped bags in the magazines, so whatever it is, I am going to make sure VITAL XII has the dope pieces in stock!
VITAL XII's bags are super dope and I am excited to see what Malikah and her team will release next!
If you're looking for a bomb bag, head over to www.shopvitalxii.com and check out their bags!
Also, follow VITAL XII on Instagram @shopvitalxii