Bakari Finley

Bakari Finley

“I wanted to go into a space I was interested in, and with my retail experience, I wanted to make a product that would be perfect for fathers, a symbol to celebrate fathers and father figures. I like backpacks, so I got together with my team and we started researching.”

“After looking at countless backpacks, I decided to build a custom bag. I had never designed a backpack before, but my team and I know project management. I just learned everything I could about manufacturing: the process, outsourcing, pricing and anything you could think of.”

“I had multiple backpacks I liked, and I combined them into one big backpack, but it needed to appeal to men and women. We market it as a gift for fathers and working men, so it must appeal to their wives or significant others who are buying it.”

“When I made the prototype for the Baba Backpack, I tested it for two months. I went everywhere. People would stop to ask where it was from. We got the price point through partnering with Amazon fulfillment. We used their data for internal testing, to figure out the most people would pay.”

“I wanted to set the price below the highest price people would pay to grow the brand. I lowered the price to $160. And then I created a limited edition for $200.”

“The biggest thing I would ask lawmakers to change is the way they set up incubators for small businesses. They need more funding. Many incubators use a subscription model, but to me they’re expensive, especially for small startups that don’t have a product ready yet.”

“Instead of charging entrepreneurs to buy in, I think it should be more like a grant where you must prove what your business can do in stages. Maybe you have six months to show a product or one year to hit a certain goal.”

“Lots of angel investors from incubators will only invest in things they understand, and many don’t have experience in the Black beauty business, so they invest in what they can relate to.”

“Whatever the business is, lawmakers need to start more incubators to help entrepreneurs and get away from the financial hurdles that don’t allow you to pursue an idea.”

“Resources for small businesses need to be spread out into the South Side and other areas, not just downtown, almost like a neighborhood YMCA for entrepreneurs.”

“Even if it’s downtown, it doesn’t have to be in the biggest building. We have so much dead commercial space downtown and throughout the city. We can use that. Give a business six months to work there and see what they can do.”

“Amazon has a fulfillment program for Black businesses, 3,000 people apply every day. It’s a grant and the program has services to help you start and grow your business. If the city or state invested more in similar resources for small businesses, it would help out a lot.”

Bakari Finley
CEO, Baba Backpacks
Glenwood, Illinois

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