Entrepreneur and Detroit native Ebony Swank have always been in love with general business, interacting with people, and implementing diligence, faith, and unmatched customer service her entire life. Descended from a long line of entrepreneurs, Ebony saw the power of being “your boss” from a young age.
The desire to sell products that women would love and also have a timeless use for led to Ebony opening the flagship location of her clothing store, Swank A Posh Boutique, in August 2009 at the Twelve Oaks Mall’s Nordstrom Wing in Novi, Michigan. Swank A Posh’s items are an expression of Ebony’s stylish and fun personality.
She opened Swank so that women could feel as if they were getting dressed/shopping with their best friends. Her store displays real bodies all of the time—tall girls, thick girls, skinny girls, short girls, literally every type of girl. She does not want women to feel like they have to get plastic surgery to be a Swank girl. Her goal is that customers will be able to shop in a store where they know they’ll be accepted as they are—where they’ll look good in their clothes because they are made for them.
Additionally, Swank’s Instagram/Facebook Live show features a conversation that is always relevant to what customers deal with in their everyday life. In essence, Swank is the definition of doing it for the culture.
Ebony Swank is passionate about uplifting women through business and financial literacy and giving them the motivation to keep going.
“Whether you are a beautician or work in corporate America or the drive-thru at McDonald’s, you have the skills to create the life that you desire,” Ebony said.
Ebony has already been featured on Fox 2 News, Rolling Out Magazine, and Black Enterprise.
However, her story has not always been easy. When the first Swank failed, Ebony learned many important lessons. In 2009, she didn’t know how to reach her target audience or who they were. She just knew that she loved fashion and could style anyone. She thought that opening a store in a mall in a high-income community would bring in high-paying customers. However, that was not the case. She completely lost her $70,000 investment, and it was back to the drawing board. She realized that she needed to learn from her customers, so she studied them inside and out. She learned their habits, favorite TV shows, favorite food, tax bracket, and everything else. She used Facebook to reach them, calling them personally when there were new arrivals. She made all of her sales associates top sellers by offering them a commission.
In 2012, Ebony decided to go online and expand her customer base—which happened slowly until she mastered Instagram. She taught herself everything about algorithms with articles, case studies, and books. Ebony was then able to gain hundreds of thousands of followers organically. Not only did learning the ever-changing algorithm help, but being able to stay true to her customer also made the difference.
These strategies helped Swank become the go-to store in the city for events—concerts, parties, homecoming dances, birthdays, and more. Ebony was able to open two locations in the Metro Detroit area, and Swank is now one of the longest-running boutiques in Detroit.
The Swank brand started when Ebony realized that everyone struggled to find a good pair of jeans. Her company has been able to create jeans that are stretchy and long enough for everyone.
“Women are afraid—they have convinced themselves that jeans aren’t always flattering,” she said. “Maybe they think they’re too curvy or not curvy enough. Swank has jeans for everybody—we pick, make, and manufacture jeans with the regular woman in mind. Our famous SuperGa jeans are magical—they are stretchy and fit each customer like a glove. We encourage women not to be ashamed of who they are and wear clothes that make them happy—not what society tells them is right. You’re more likely to look good if you are confident.”
Ebony is committed to showing real girls with real bodies and talking about topics that affect our community. She promises that customers will hear about everything on the Swank page from how to put your shirt on after you do your makeup to the presidential election.
Most impressively, Swank is 100 percent self-funded. Ebony even received offers from investors to buy her company, but she refused. Soon after, Swank grew tremendously. Ebony knew she made the right decision to keep the company that she started and will continue to grow.
“Originally, I didn’t know my customer; now my brand is based on my customer and what they like,” she said. “My business has grown tremendously over a short period of time, and the way I used to run my small business has changed. The processes for buying inventory and even the staff that I have has changed. Everything that I do is self-taught, and I am constantly adapting to the new changes that growth brings.”
Ebony urges everyone with a dream to stay consistent at whatever they are doing and know their numbers (analytics, finances, data, etc.).
“Keep creating content and understand your ‘why—I have many, but my main ‘why’ is my daughters,” she said. “I wanted to give them a great education, better than the one I had. You can do it, don’t be afraid to put out there what people may not like.”
To learn more, visit shopswankaposh.com.