Hustler of the Month Patricia Keller, Owner of Global Couture

July 2015

Ethnicity: African American
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Instagram @globalcouture
Facebook: globalcouture
Twitter: @globalcouture1

Since her days as a college student, Patricia had fostered dreams of starting her own t-shirt company. But as the years rolled by, she spent her time being overworked and underpaid as a tenured college counselor unhappy with the direction of her life. It wasn’t until she went natural that the leader of this growing cultural movement found the courage to launch her own line of clothing and accessories, Global Couture.

Now with a booming clientele and plenty of dope (and empowering) threads to nourish them, Patricia is steadily ascending the ladder of happiness and success. And as both a woman bent on cultural upliftment and a life coach who’s authored two entrepreneurial guides, she’s taking as many of her followers as she can along for the climb.

Read on to learn about Patricia’s remarkable journey of self-discovery and passion, and how she transformed her love for creating into the job of her dreams.

CM: So you have this successful t-shirt and jewelry line that you’ve been operating for the past two years, but what were you doing before you launched Global Couture

Patricia: When I decided to start my business, Global Couture, I was working full-time as a tenured professor, on top of being a full-time graduate student. So I was extremely busy. I was also depressed. I was dealing with a very hostile work environment, working far too many hours for too little pay, and was just plain ol’ unhappy with where my life was. I wanted change! Shoot, I NEEDED it! I just didn’t know exactly what form that change should take. So I dealt with my situation for far longer than I should have. All I knew was that I wanted to be the queen of my own domain.

So what was the push that inspired you to start your own business?

‘Going back to my roots’ during my natural hair journey turned out to be the spark of inspiration that I needed. This journey has truly been self-affirming. Through this journey, I fell in love with the freedom, self-expression, and renewed confidence that has been fostered. All from a simple hairdo change. I found quickly that it was more than just a hairstyle change. It became a lifestyle change. I began to take more risks. I stepped outside of the expected boundaries and mainstream forms of beauty, hairstyle, clothing and accessories. I believed that this ‘mini transformation,’ paired with my world travels (I visited South America, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean) added to my appreciation for various forms of beauty, personal expression and cultural expression. 

Thus, Global Couture was born. It is an expression of my love for travel, self-exploration, cultural expression and creativity. I design hair accessories, jewelry and apparel for the bold, chic, and culturally curious. Global Couture is all about trying to spread the word about embracing your natural hair and its reflection of our history. ‘Loving your hair represents loving yourself.’ Love your curls, if they are wavy, curly, kinky or coily.


One of Patricia’s t-shirt designs 

I love that message. I think it’s important that Black women truly embrace it. But how did you transition from your regular 9 to 5 to your operating your own business with such a powerful message?

When I finally took that leap and started my business–I literally woke up one day and decided to take the plunge– I knew that it was everything that I had been wanting. Nothing made me happier than getting home to see what orders had come through and fulfilling the orders for my customers. I finally felt as though I were fulfilling my purpose and doing something that brought me unadulterated joy. 

The first months of having my business, I sacrificed all of my free time to get it off the ground. Every second that I was not at work or at school, I was using to work on my passion. To be honest, at work I was doing the minimum that was needed to get by and focusing most of my mental energy on developing my business. I lived for the clock to strike four so that I could leave. I was that excited about my business!

On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you with your decision to start your own business?

Eleven! You have to really be able to multi-task. I stay extremely busy. The idea of the weekend has been redefined. I absolutely never have a day off, but this is the kind of thing that I like to do. Although I’m extremely busy, it just worked. It doesn’t feel laborsome. I just make a schedule to do everything and I love it!
kiss my curls tee
 “Kiss My Kurls” tee

Tell me more about the Global Couture Foundation and ‘I Am Global’ campaign, and what made you decide to dedicate a portion of your business to raising money for charity?

The foundation was always a goal of the business structure. I launched the foundation in 2013. The Global Couture Foundation is dedicated to positively influencing lives and by extension society. We acknowledge that the change we want to see in our world must start with every individual who believes there is hope for a better tomorrow. Global Couture is committed to serving and enhancing philanthropic efforts worldwide through innovative and creative thinking with our goal in mind; improving the lives of individuals who benefit from the charities we support.

The foundation believes in fostering good relationships with our global neighbors because what we do in our individual societies ultimately affects all. This supports unity and a unified world is the solution to many of our international problems. Are objective [is] to give back to international charities and add to the resources of philanthropic arms worldwide. Global Couture created the ‘I am Global’ tee as a fundraising campaign. All profits (100%) from the sale of these tees will be donated to UNICEF.

You also wrote a guide on how to start a successful business, as well as a guide on how to build your Instagram audience. Why was it important for you to divulge this information to aspiring entrepreneurs?

 I LOVE being an entrepreneur! I mean really love it! I was extremely unhappy at my job and after leaving I felt it important to help the women that support me and my brand. Many have similar aspirations so I felt obliged to offer my simple ‘do it now’ method to creating a happier life for themselves.
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