10 Things You Should Know Fashion Haitian American

[Interview] Haitian Entrepreneur Liz & Her Simply U.B.U Shoes


Haitian-American businesses are on the rise and I’m proud I can continue introducing you to the young talented owners behind the brands. If you are a shoe lover like me, you’ll be happy to know you can purchase cute affordable shoes which goes up to size 12 from one of our own, Newark, New Jersey’s Liz Paul.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

My name is Liz Paul, my mother is from Port-au-Prince and my father is from St Louis du nord, Haiti. I was born in Newark, NJ and the only girl on my mother’s side of the family. I have two little brothers and an 11-year-old going on 30 lol. I am the proud owner of  Simply U.B.U which means U being U.

What ignited the spark in you to your business?
I grew up around businesses, both my parents owned businesses, it’s all I know. My mother owned a successful dry cleaners and does a lot of export and import through Haiti. My biological father is a successful musician and tailor. My dad, the man who raised me, also owned a very successful export and import business through Haiti. Starting a business was second nature.

I started this particular business because I found an opportunity to cater to women that wear sizes 9-12. At those sizes, it’s hard to find stylish shoes at affordable prices. The average shoe size is 8.5/9, so I saw that there was a need for this in the market and decided to capitalize on it. I’ve traveled to China and visited with my manufactures to make sure I successfully fulfill this need. People today tend to mirror what’s on social media and what we see on TV; so we run into a lot of young ladies that will spend their last penny, their light bill, to purchase shoes or clothing or whatever it may be.
UBU is all about you (U) being (U) you, so if you like 6 inch stilettos, if you want to wear polka dots and stripes, that’s (U) you being (U) you, I want to be able to give these women a place where they can be themselves at affordable pricing.

To what do you attribute your success?

Consistency and listening to the customers. Listening to what they want, listening to what makes them, you (U) being (U) you. On my company’s social media, I allow the customers to pick and choose which shoes they bring into our inventory. I also allow them to name the shoes. We’ve had phenomenal names like snake bite, black widow, and others, but that’s what the customer chooses to wear. The consistent aspect as well has made me successful, giving the customers what they ask for.

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What would you consider your biggest challenge as a small business owner?

Supply and demand, not having enough inventory.  When you’re a small business owner, you often times take your own income and invest it into the business and you keep reinvesting into the business. So when people gravitate to your business, you need to have enough inventory and the problem I’ve had in the past is not forecasting for it.

What motivates you and who has been your greatest inspiration?

I would say the smile on my daughter’s face, the laughter of my 2 boys [brothers] and the thought of knowing that I am making my dad that passed away the happiest man in heaven. I don’t know how to fail or start something and not finish it. So I don’t need a particular item or thing to motivate me, just those things right there. My dad would always  say at dinner  ‘mange, mange, mange’ which means eat, eat, eat, and I think about that often. That’s all I know how to do, eat, not literally, but eat everything alive, understand everything, research things and make it happen.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Helping people. Being an entrepreneur you have your good days and your bad, there are weeks where you’re working 600 hours a week, and there’s weeks were you’re working 20 hours a week. I have people who I’m able to pay it forward, people who I’ve never met. For instance, there was a person that I donated 100 dollars to, I remember looking at someones social media profile and seeing that he was recently diagnosed with leukemia, and I remember telling myself when I get a couple of dollars I’m going to give him something, but realistically when do you ever get a couple of dollars, so I just gave him what I could right then and there. But it’s about being able to help people and being able to embrace and love what I do.

Your instagram alone have over 62,00 followers, how do you deal with such a large client base?

We listen. We reject the status quo. Our culture across the board and we live by it. We pay attention to little minute details. Listening is the biggest key. Listening to the customers concern. Sometimes there will be certain situations where hiccups may occur, lets say shipping is delayed due to weather, listening to the customers concerns and assuring them that we will correct and fix it, most customers truly just want reassurance, they want someone to reply and know they’re listening, that we will address it and take care of it. So my biggest thing is listening and rejecting the status quo.

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most and why?

I remember about 5 or 6 years ago a company called GoJane. I remember buying shoes from them and they had excellent customer service. I always liked their boldness and their bold and chicness of their site. Not gravitating towards one culture or industry or demographic, but more of a wide demographic. They’re about 11 years older than me, and I would like to be where they are within the next 2 years, so I would say GoJane.com

What advice would you give to an upcoming business owner?

Be consistent, don’t quit. Find that one niche, that one thing that you love that you’re interested in, that no matter what happens you’ll stick it out with that niche and get it done. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Even if you have $50, put that into you logo, when you get another $50 put that into your business cards, when you get another $50 put that into getting your email domain, you get another $50 put that into flyers. Don’t put it off, don’t wait, just continue to do it. Shoot for exactly what you want to do. People typically think when you start a business, you’re going to become rich within a year, you’re actually broke your first few years.

You’re broke because you’re reinvesting back into the business. You don’t start making money and truly seeing a profit until year 2 or 3, so stick it out. You might be that lucky company that may start seeing a profit within the first 3 months, but if you want to grow your business just make sure that you’re reinvesting back into your business.

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  • Congratulations ! Wish you and all your endeavors lots of successes. This is the best motivational story for our young and not so young people that I have heard. I’m praying that we all reflect on it and follow. Thanks for sharing and caring.

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Ray Banlye Broward (BCR) Disid
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