Alicia Boateng has always loved creative pursuits, but it wasn’t until she left her career as a wedding planner that she started to think about turning her own designs into a full time gig. It was her morning cup of coffee that turned out to be the inspiration she needed and her line of handcrafted mugs started to come to life. Today she runs her business Alicia Boateng Designs alongside her husband, churning out festive mugs that come in a range of different styles; from her Afro-Glam collection, to her seasonal cups to her collection highlighting different cultures from around the world. The Coral Springs, Florida-based mompreneur counts celebrities like Tiffany Haddish and Octavia Spencer as fans of her designs and is determined to, “Get my cups into the hands of as many women as I can.”
Boateng’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been very creative (I will happily give credit to my grandmother for teaching me some tricks). In my previous career, I was a wedding planner for twenty years. That career allowed my creativity to flow endlessly however, it is a very tiresome and rigorous job. You are on your feet a lot and you work very long hours. When my husband and I decided to open up Alicia Boateng Designs I knew I wanted to put my talent to work, I just did not know where to start. One morning as I was drinking my coffee and reciting my daily affirmations, I looked at my coffee cup and thought it needed a little pizazz. I thought to myself, “If I loved my cup as much as I love my coffee, this would make my experience much more pleasant.” I started drawing out some designs on paper and then transferred them onto a cup. That is when I designed my first Afro GlamCup named Felicia. When I showed the cup to my friends, they were absolutely enamored with her. They began making special requests and that is how the Afro Glam Collection was born! Once I had a complete collection that included various silhouettes, colors, and different stones, I knew my goal would always remain the same; to get my cups into the hands of as many women as I can.
How do you define success?
Our definition of success is knowing that we are sending out a top notch product that we put your heart and soul into. When our clients receive their purchase, it will immediately bring a smile to their face.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
Our biggest success to date has been celebrities acknowledging our passion and talent. In 2020, Tiffany Haddish posted one of our cups on her social media and stated that she loved our cup (Priscilla) and that she will be bringing it to every business meeting she has. Also in 2020, Octavia Spencer highlighted our small business on her social media and stated that she loved our work. Kim Fields has also highlighted our cups on several Instagram Lives she has hosted.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
I would have to say that balancing work and life is my most difficult challenge. I am a true workaholic. My mind is constantly turning wheels. As much as I try to balance my personal life and work, I am constantly thinking of what I can do to continue creating a buzz in my business. I am constantly thinking of what I can do to continue helping women in their business and strategize their growth. I am constantly thinking of how to give back to my community in ways that will help women owned businesses grow to their maximum capacity.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
In 2017, we lost our son, Kameron Boateng. He was still born ten days before my scheduled c-section. This was devastating for us as a family and as and a couple. We had to make decisions that would keep us moving forward financially. Our bodies were present but our minds were all over the place. We decided to pour ourselves into our businesses and our faith and that is what got us through our tragic and devastating time.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
This sounds so cliche but it is so incredibly true…Stay focused and keep going at it. It may seem like no one is noticing your hard work at times, but believe me, they are noticing. Stay consistent and trust the process. Building your brand and getting your business off the ground doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of tears, stress, blood and sweat to get it to where you’d like for it to be. Keep going and on the days you fell like quitting go even harder.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I look back to where we started and where we are now. We have come such a long way. We have had to make so many decisions and thankfully they have been the right decisions. I often manifest and that helps me out a lot too.
Who is your most important role model?
My husband is my most important role model. He is tough and demanding! He is demanding on me, the kids, himself. His standards are higher than anyone I have ever met before. He works hard, sets a great example for our children and within all of his hard work, he makes it look so easy (even though it is not). He gives his family, our businesses, our community and his fraternity one hundred and fifty percent.