How This Self-Taught Designer Found Freedom, Herself and a Unique Niche in the Hard-Knocks World of Fashion

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Flowers art

After years of owning and operating a men’s clothing store, Latonja Bailey-Flowers decided to do something that offered her more freedom. She combined her knowledge of fashion and her creative talents to launch SahGOL Jewelry. “Sahgol,” she said, means purple in Hebrew, a color that is traditionally worn by royalty.

“I got burned out being a store owner and I wanted a business that would allow me to be more free and transient, one that I could do no matter where I lived, or if I traveled abroad,” said Bailey-Flowers, a St. Louis, Mo. resident. “So I self taught myself the basics of jewelry design. Being a designer has always been something I wanted to do. I decided to launch this business when I realized I was good at creating pieces others loved to wear.”

She creates more than 25 items per month using raw materials such as wood, leather and stones. Bailey-Flowers said creating jewelry and T-shirts allows her to express her creative side, but it’s still a business and she has to also balance the dollars-and-sense side of the enterprise.

Latonja Bailey-Flowers (Stephanie S. Cordle/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Latonja Bailey-Flowers (Stephanie S. Cordle/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“When I was younger I did some research in my family history and was told that my family’s gifts were math and science,” said Bailey-Flowers. “Hearing that, I was a bit disheartened because I’m a creative and couldn’t see how that related to me. I had to learn how to balance my creative with the business side. I can see how those gifts have blessed and influenced many in my family from a business perspective.”

Being a one-person operation, Bailey-Flowers handles all of SahGOL Jewelry’s marketing and branding efforts. This required her to learn how to do self promotion. She also uses social media and email to market her products.

“Like many creatives, I’m a true introvert and so I had to develop my personality to be more outgoing,” Bailey-Flowers said. “I’m still working on that. Also with limited funds, knowing the best strategies for marketing and increasing my ROI [return on investment].”

She said being a one-person operation requires a lot of sacrifice.

“I’m usually up until about 2 a.m., completing orders or creating new designs,” Bailey-Flowers said.

SahGOL Jewelry has attracted the attention of celebrities. Some of her jewelry was worn and endorsed by Cynthia Bailey (no relation), a cast member of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

“I created a handbag line that compliments the jewelry and tees,” said Bailey-Flowers. “I received celebrity purchases and endorsement. My brand is becoming a known name in the city where I reside.”

sahgol“My accessories help carve out one’s individual style. We use only the finest materials to make quality heirloom accessories,” she said. “We offer bespoke pieces for customers who prefer one of a kind designs. “

As she carves out her niche in the fashion world, Bailey-Flowers has learned an important lesson that she shares with other Black entrepreneurs.

“Perfect what you’re doing by reading and becoming well versed on your industry, establish your brand, build a fun or unique story around your brand, make it personal. Then invest in marketing to keep your brand in the forefront,” she said.

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