Type 4 Naturals is highlighting founder of Chayil Candles, ccBlaQ & Co. and db Collection. Designer, stylist, personal shopper, interior designer, event planner, speaker and candle maker, the former Executive Assistant to the editor-in-chief at ESSENCE© Magazine, Nina Burke brings her fabulosity and spirit of excellence to everything she does. Her innovative, intuitive gifts make her a success.
Tell us about your business. What product or service do you provide?
The Burke Group umbrellas a host of different specialties from fragrances for your home to fashion stylist to interior designer. The Burke Home Collection has second lightly used interior pieces and this summer I launch my clothing line: the db Collection. However, candles and fragrances will always be my base. The fabulous thing about my products and services is that I can tailor my services to meet the individual’s needs.
What would you say makes your business different from the competition in your field?
That’s simple: ME. In fashion, I don’t follow the trends – I create them. If you want what everyone else is wearing or you want to look crazy, I’m not your stylist. If you’re looking for cheap, my products are not for you. I have a painstaking attention to detail. I travel to get the highest quality oils, butters, and packaging for my products. When you purchase my products, you’re guaranteed the best possible ingredients. I am a luxury brand.
Why did you become an entrepreneur? What does owning your own business mean to you?
I’ve been in the fashion industry in some form or fashion since my late teens. As far as my candle companies are concerned, that started 10 years ago this August after my eldest sister passed away. She loved candles and it was a difficult time as you can imagine. It started as a distraction and grew into this. Being the boss lady means flexibility and freedom…and working 24/7 – oh and not sleeping. There’s nothing like the receptive process of the creative mind. From me, my juices get going when I’m supposed to be sleeping or truth be told when I’m in church. Most people got to church with a pad to take sermon notes. My pad is because God gives me the best ideas when I’m in church.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
I’m from the Biggie and Puffy stage of life. Misa Hylton was my first taste of styling and Sean in running a business…and although, I keep my left eye on a few names in the industry I’ve navigated this sea on my own. When I need inspiration I look at my counterparts: Uncle Rush; Kimora Lee; Sean Combs; Misa Hylton, June Ambrose…the list is endless. However, as far as practices and policies, I look to Jesus. The things that most ppl do or will do, I will not. My integrity is my brand and cannot be compromised. Navigating a Christian business through a sin filled sea is not easy but it can be done.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Many years ago when I first started out in the styling business, I landed a well-known award-winning novelist and swoon-worthy R&B crooner for an awards ceremony. They trusted me when they really didn’t know me from a whole in the wall…and because of my professionalism and confidentiality clause, they still seek me out every now and again for my advice. As for Chayil/BlaQ: Chayil on Essence magazine website more than once and BlaQ with customers like Vanessa Williams or Anika Noni Rose or Gbenga Akinnagbe (I can mention their names because they have posted it already on social media). BlaQ has Olympians, NFL athletes, and actors as clients. It’s a proud moment when ppl appreciate your work.
Tell us about a time when things did not go the way you expected it to. What do you learn from the experience?
I’m a planner. I plan things out 6 months in advance to avoid problems and so if they do happen, there’s time to rectify the situation. I’m also a perfectionist and I don’t really trust ppl to do what I do. I’m not good with advertising, though. I thought when I started Chayil, the products would sell themselves. Not so. That was a rude awakening. Also back to that awards show, I had a FT job at the time. I had to take care of my boss for that awards show, my 2 clients, and I was taking my mom to the show. Let’s just say I was running around like a chicken without a head! I learned not to bit off more than I can chew. One client at a time.
Do you have any new projects coming up? If so, let’s talk about it.
Yes, I’m launching the db Collection this summer. My clothing line will start slow and be a very limited number of quality pieces. Classic, classy garments. These pieces will be coming from all over the world. The first pieces will be coming from Romania. I’m specifically only getting small quantities because I hate ev’rybody walking around in the same thing.
What is a goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
To get Chayil/BlaQ in some spas or food coops. The biggest though would be the opening of our store in the west coast. It’s always been a dream to open a physical location and I’m looking at the west coast.
What would be the best advice you have received and still follow?
“Don’t look at other ppl’s grass. Your grass may not look as green or lush as theirs but you have no idea if their grass is fake or if they just bought it at Home Depot. Work your garden!”
What’s the worst business advice you received? How did the advice impact your business?
Take out a loan. I didn’t take it. I started this business with a lick and a promise as my mother would say. I took my income tax return one year and started Chayil…and I’m glad I didn’t listen to the person. My business is seasonal and had I listened I would have been struggling to pay back a loan with interest.
Do you have non-work habits to help you with work-life balance?
Yes, my OCD tendencies have me overly organized. When you have as many balls as I do in the air, you have to be organized.
Any last minute thoughts for our readers?
Yes, the same corny thing everyone else says, find your passion. When you identify it, run it down. Your passion will never feel like work. I love every aspect of the Burke Group. That why I do it all. Can it be frustrating and stressful? YES! Will that stop me? Heck no.
Ms. Nina Burke hails from Panamá and has more than 18 yrs of fashion industry experience under her belt. She is well respected in the industry and sought after for her creative abilities. If you’re interested in learning more about the brands under Nina’s umbrella follow her on the social media networks: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter.