Shydiyah Gardner is a young, black entrepreneur and designer and the owner of ShyDiva Co. Having fallen in love with accessorizing at a young age, Gardner has always had the dream and drive to own her own business. Gardner founded her company, ShyDiva Co. in 2015, and specializes in handbags and is geared towards women who enjoy accessorizing and making fashion statements.
ShyDiva Co. offers a variety of styles and colors while also making them completely functional for everyday use. Not only are the handbags affordable, but they are also sustainable, made with great quality to be eco-friendly. Gardner is not afraid to explore with color, textures, and patterns and prefers to be bold with her ideas and designs.
Gardner received her Bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, having graduated in 2017 and becoming dedicated to her brand full-time since 2019. Gardner’s commitment to her brand has landed ShyDiva Co. a spot on the roster in both Marshall’s and Tj Maxx, selling over 16,000 pieces of her signature TRACEE satchel within a year. With her dedication and enthusiasm for fashion, Gardner foresees the future of her brand to be a household name all around the world, being sold in big-name brand stores such as Nordstrom and Saks. She also has the plan of expanding her brand from handbags to creating luxury travel bags, tech bags, and various other accessories.
One of Gardner’s ultimate goals is to become and thrive as a serial entrepreneur, wanting to nourish her other talents and desires outside of the fashion industry. She eventually plans on launching The Diva Initiative, a blueprint that elevates her business further while simultaneously making a positive impact within her community.
What inspired the start of Shydiva Co.?
I was inspired to start Shydiva Co by the people around me, who loved me. As a young girl, I would always receive compliments on the way I styled and accessorized my looks. The inspiration to start this business came from wanting to give people something that they already loved so much but that they could incorporate into their own personal style and feel just as fabulous as they made me feel.
What has been the biggest challenge of running a brand like Shydiva Co.?
My biggest challenge has been building my team. Over the past year, I realized that I cannot do all of the things alone. I receive help from family when we have a bunch of merchandise coming in and/or a bunch of orders going out, however, all of the other things that I do on a daily basis like creating content, email/SMS marketing, and inventory management just to name a few are starting to become more than I can handle by myself. I am struggling with getting clear on what exactly needs to be outsourced, defining a budget to execute, and actually finding quality, passionate and hard-working candidates. Hopefully, by the end of 2022, I have a solid little team.
How does Shydiva Co. impact the community?
To be very honest, I don’t know how to answer this question because I could be a lot better at doing this. Social impact and building community is something that I plan on working to strengthen this year actually. One of our biggest values is customer experience. Outside of the shopping experience though, I plan on curating spaces on and offline for our customers to really feel like they are a part of our family.
You plan to launch The Diva Initiative, can you tell us about the work you plan to do through this blueprint?
Yes, I do plan on relaunching the Diva Initiative hopefully sometime this year. When we initially launched back in 2019 our mission was to provide feminine necessities to women and mothers in need stuffed inside a handbag. In the future, I plan to change it up a bit and make it more of a scholarship fund catered to young girls, particularly black girls, to use to further their education whether it be college or entrepreneurship. Once this is back up and running a percentage of each purchase will be donated to fund this initiative amongst other fundraisers.
Where do you hope to see your brand in the next 3-5 years?
In 3-5 years I hope to see Shydiva Co as one of the top well-known & sought-after black-owned handbag brands. I would love for the brand to do an exclusive collection collaboration with another big department store. I would really love to see our handbags and accessories being used and worn by influencers, public figures, and celebrities in their everyday lives. This isn’t everything but lastly, I would really love for Shydiva Co to be a multimillion-dollar brand in 5 years. God’s plan
What advice do you have for the next generation of entrepreneurs?
You do not have to be great to start but you do have to start to be great.
*You NEVER know everything. Always be a student to the game and continuously study your craft and industry.
*It’s going to be hard but remain patient and remember why you started.
*Do not give up. Success and results happen when preparation and opportunity meet. Everyone will get their day just make sure you are prepared for it.
What does being “Pretty and Black Owned” mean to you?
To me being pretty & black-owned means being proud to be a black entrepreneur in this world while exuding a high and lovable self-esteem and personality.
Connect with Shy Diva Co. Online