Nicole Faith went to NYU with stars in her eyes hoping to get a crack at the fashion industry, but after four internships and one graduation later, she realized that she had no clue what she wanted to do. She decided to work for a startup where she ended up honing her tech and design skills by empowering entrepreneurs to build their online business.
She became physically and emotionally ill from the stress of her 9 to 5 job, so she took a solo trip to LA for two weeks to recharge. Once she got there, she didn’t want to go home because she loved solo traveling so much.
She started out just freelancing but quickly became frustrated by crappy clients who disrespected her expertise. She was tired of negotiating rates and being taken advantage of. There are many coaches and lifestyle entrepreneurs selling the “dream” of lounging in a hammock on the beach, but nobody actually makes it happen for you. She knew she could do that, so she re-branded her entire business to align with her ideal clients (sophisticated solopreneurs).
As a pioneer in the location independent movement, she is thrilled to continue to demonstrate how to choose a life of freedom on your terms.
We caught up with Nicole Faith to talk more about her business and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
10 Carat Creations is where five-star businesses are built. I build your online service business in just one week so you can work with clients as you travel the world. I grew up obsessed with fashion and had every intention of becoming a fashion journalist.
After graduating NYU, where I completed four internships in the fashion industry, I was completely lost. It was too much like The Devil Wears Prada for me, so I sought out another path. I landed a position at a tech startup where for three years I learned the ins and outs of website design and entrepreneurship as I helped entrepreneurs start an online business. I got my first job when I was 12, so there came the point when I knew I needed to transition out of being an employee and into something that offered more freedom.
I thought freelancing was the answer because so many people do it, but boy was I wrong! As a freelancer, I was just as stressed and unhappy. I kept having to chase clients and justify my rates. I felt utterly disrespected because I knew I had deep expertise I wasn’t being paid or recognized for. I not only excelled at design but had the ability to craft a business concept from start to finish in a short period of time.
I was also appalled at how unprofessional, so many so-called professionals were. I felt like the odd-woman out because I was obsessed with professionalism and attention to detail.
I had a website which is not the same as a business. After stumbling around, I re-branded my entire business to 10 Carat Creations based on my own values and not the marketplace. I packaged my services which changed everything.
I was tired of copying what other freelancers do. Chasing clients. Pitching clients. Negotiating with clients. It just felt wrong to me. If you’re an expert, I believe you deserve to command respect and premium prices. There are services, and then there are services. So few people seemed to be preaching this, so I decided to carve out my stake in the industry.
Soon after that, I founded the Digital Nomad Business Directory as the first and only online directory of location independent solopreneurs. Because if I’m going to help people craft a high-caliber business, I want to show them off!
Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?
Success is quite the illusion! You have to act successfully to become successful. I put in a lot of unpaid hours. Thousands of unpaid hours! I had the self-awareness to know I could make a living from my ideas and I took it one day at a time. I started freelancing part-time while working my full-time job. Eventually, I had more time when freelancing was my focus. Each day I did something very small, like discover a new tactic, design new graphics or write a blog post. All of my teeny tiny actions added up to something that looks impressive from the outside but is really being held up by the smallest of building blocks. I had diligently saved a lot of money that gave me the cushion to work on my business. I doubted myself several times and went looking for a job thinking maybe I wasn’t ready to be a full-time entrepreneur. I couldn’t get hired anywhere and came to the conclusion I had outgrown being an employee. I considered this the universe’s sign I needed to double down and work on my own empire.
What is your main source of income?
Freelancers who want a custom and/or original pre-made online service business. I craft their concept, hone their niche, package their services, design their website, write their copy and set up the backend tech.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
I’m consistently looking for press opportunities because my goal is to make 10 Carat Creations a household name for people looking to escape the nine-five and freelance grind once and for all. I also have a few projects under wraps that will make crafting a five-star business more accessible than ever. Lack of money shouldn’t prevent you from making more money. At the end of the day, money can’t buy class.
How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?
There are SO MANY brands that glorify being a “digital nomad,” but mine is the only one that meets you in reality. Most quit-your-job advice is vague like “freelance on Upwork”, “get gigs” or “start a blog” but the truth is to make a decent living doing any of those things is really hard. I believe people who have an expertise should capitalize on it in a way that attracts the right kinds of clients who will pay premium prices. People who respect themselves also respect other people’s expertise, which means if you can provide a service online there’s a market for it. 10 Carat Creations isn’t for the average person who’s interested in traveling the world- it’s for sophisticated solopreneurs with the motivation to build a business that supports their dream. Not the other way around.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
I founded the Digital Nomad Business Directory as the first and only online directory of location independent solopreneurs. Its brand was bright, colorful and punchy- the opposite of 10 Carat Creations. When I realized the two businesses didn’t match up and were confusing, I had to re-brand the directory, so it more closely aligned with 10 Carat Creations. I’ve learned change is great and usually necessary, so I’m not ashamed to say something didn’t quite work out the first time. There have been many times when I put a lot of work into a concept- only for it to be re-done shortly after that. I have to swallow my pride and just get it done because it’s more important that the branding be right than for me to be right.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
When you start a business, there are so many paid tools that seem like necessities. Things like software and apps might take up a lot of time because you want to find the “perfect” tool. I almost made this mistake and am glad I didn’t.
I would recommend paying for something as a last resort because it keeps you creative and forces you to evaluate what’s essential and what’s just nice to have. You can spend thousands on nice-to-haves. Any tools you buy should fit into your workflow seamlessly and shouldn’t detract from your actual work.
What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?
Sometimes, even when you have no money, you need to spend money on you. Take a spa day. Get your nails done. Buy the bag. Because you need to reward yourself for how far you’ve come. People who are rich, literally and figuratively, don’t run on fumes. I spent too much time beating myself up over how slowly things seemed to be going when I should have given myself a hug. It took me several months to figure out my perfect brand. It took me three months to get my first press mention. It took me five months to get 50 newsletter subscribers. And it’s all great! Nothing happens quickly, despite what you may think. It’s a very slow burn.
What new business would you love to start?
So many! That’s what inspired Business With A Bow™- the original pre-made service businesses I sell. Every idea I have for a business that I love I create and let someone with the skills and time to make it their own. I’ve wanted to do everything from spy-like consumer research to explainer videos to infographic marketing. I’ll leave my crazy ideas to the experts!
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would have chosen a niche and packaged my services. Being a generic “freelance web designer” or “freelance copywriter” doesn’t do anything to get you, clients. I would also have focused on the benefits and not the services. No one cares that you can write a resume but if they can “Get more dream interviews” then that’s a good hook. It took me a long time to comprehend this and an even longer time to make it happen. Practice makes perfect, and I definitely had a lot of practice.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?
Be ruthless in cutting wasteful people and activities from your daily life.
Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is life-changing because it really helped me organize my life and business. The TL;dr version is “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
I never asked for advice because I don’t like people telling me what to do. My favorite unofficial advice is from Dr. Seuss- “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
I built my business based on values I thought were missing from my industry. I was disgusted at how unprofessional everyone was. Their casual attitude towards clients and business, in general, turned me off, so I thought if I felt this way other people must as well. I recommend doing the same thing. What’s missing, and why? What do you dislike, and why? Ultimately, you can read words of advice all day, but eventually, you have to do something. Do it now.