Wake Technical Community College, Purdue University Global
November 15, 2021
Create and Go is excited to announce Cierra Smith as the winner of The 2021 Design Your Future Scholarship for $2,000. Cierra attends Wake Technical Community College, Purdue University Global , as an undergraduate student. Candidates had to craft and submit an essay detailing potential blog ideas.
Cierra’s Winning Essay
“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.” — Sundar Pichai. That quote, in a nutshell, sums up why I first started my blog Cultured Simplicity. Marketed as a one-stop “shop” for culturally inclusive businesswomen and “boss babes” of color, I’ve made it my mission with my blog to simplify life for minority businesswomen and culturally conscious individuals. Obstructing misconceptions, busting myths, encouraging intercultural communication, and living the definition of what it means to be “woke,” is my general mantra on my site. I write to help business-minded minorities figure out the best ways to be their own teacher and thrive both personally and commercially. I write to encourage traditionally disadvantaged people to leverage their “minority status” as the power statement it is. Through my articles I’m constantly pushing readers to look for ways to personalize their work and boss up their lifestyle. Everybody is brought up with expectations and stereotypes that shape who they are, what they do, and how they think to a certain extent. Minorities have to climb over social constructs and mental barriers to unlock their true potential– especially when it comes to business, because we’ve all been taught that it’s a “white man’s world”. The world is changing though; gradually but surely to a place of more diversified communication and leadership. Although industry shifts get lost behind the noise that is everyday hectic life, my articles “force” readers to acknowledge that their backgrounds, upbringing, culture, race, ethnicity, or gender are no longer an excuse. Cultural inclusion in the workplace is the general theme you’ll find on my blog, consisting of blog posts, services, and products designed to promote that mission.
Cultured Simplicity has been my online presence since 2019 when I first opened my Etsy shop. My shop was opened to share my hobby of crocheting jewelry with others. I then realized I wanted to be able to offer low price unique products that underrepresented communities could identify with. As a result, I have since expanded my passion into designing digital digital products that businesswomen, and more specifically business women of color can relate to. Intercultural art is an industry often overlooked so my goal was to create a modern, contemporary twist on traditional diverse talent. I soon after started my blog of the same name on WordPress.org and have since been consistently creating, designing, writing, and sharpening my niche. I’ll admit that I’m at a bit of an advantage being my own target audience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s made every piece of content that I produce a thousand times more educational and exciting. I’ve learned so much and have since become a major advocate for Black-owned, Latinx-owned, Asian-owned, and woman-owned businesses. One particularly interesting report on inclusive decision making by Cloverpop that I love to share with readers is that inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time. And decisions made and executed by diverse teams deliver 60% better results. Yes, these stats differ by company, but there are too many positive trends concerning cultural inclusion that even the biggest advocate for old friend bias over meritocracy couldn’t possibly discount them. Statistics encompassing the entire American workforce include the facts that diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee, 43% of companies with diverse boards notice higher profits, and racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to perform better. Not only are those statistics impossible to ignore, but they’re amazingly empowering. I like to think that everything I offer through my brand offers the kind of knowledge that empowers and inspires my readers.
One of the main tools that I’ve used to maximize my blog’s potential is wordpress.org. My very first blog that I started with my twin sister in early 2018 was established on wordpress.com, and I quickly learned the limits of hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms. I swore to stick with self-hosting from there on out, and WordPress.org has been an exceptionally resourceful alternative. Steep learning curve and all. Secondly, Green Geeks has been nothing but a charm in my self-hosting journey. I was able to get a 3 year plan for just over $120 and find comfort in knowing that I’m supporting the most eco-friendly green web hosting company in the world. My favorite tool in promoting my blog has undoubtedly been Pinterest. I never knew how powerful this creative, visual, blog-focused search engine was prior to implementing my own marketing plan on the platform. It hosts the largest community of bloggers without worrying about hashtags, short post lifespans, and overwhelmingly “spammy” content. Posts on Pinterest last for months and months on end. In comparison, LinkedIn posts show up for about 1 day, Instagram posts are displayed in feeds for roughly 21 hours, Facebook visibility is approximately 5 hours, and a tweet has a lifespan of around 18 minutes. Pinterest is filled with hard working creatives and content creators that frequently band together to provide high-quality niche content to consumers. Canva is a web-based design platform that has enabled me to quickly make cohesive, attractive promotional images that not only attract people to my blog, but ensure that my brand image is distinct and recognizable.
Designing one’s own future is essential to making sure every human being has a purpose and perceived control over their destiny. Entrepreneurship is one of the most fascinating ways to design one’s future. Entrepreneurship, at least to me, is allowing anyone with an actionable dream to operate daily with the objective of reaching a vision that’s been hand-built to better the world. It is self-expression at its finest, at its most profitable, and at its most impactful. However, designing one’s own future is entirely unique to each person. While entrepreneurship may be my journey, diplomacy, art, or volunteering may be someone else’s. And that’s the beautiful thing about self expression and intrinsic freedom. I once heard a yogi say that you have to learn how to create balance rather than just “find” it, and that concept applies to happiness as well. Happiness won’t come knocking on our door but we can go knocking on happiness’ door. As a matter of fact, we can build the door, the whole house, and whatever it is that’s inside. There is no greater power than the control we have over ourselves. We are all the architects of our future– not anyone else’s. I just wish that more people were able to see that.