Even as a child Domonique Brown was irritated at the lack of Black representation in things like party decorations and greetings cards. So, when she had the opportunity as an adult she decided to create art pieces that reflect her ethnicity and culture — and she turned it into a business in 2020.
It all started one day when she decided to draw Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in crayon and that video of her coloring and shading went viral. Bleacher Report saw her work and asked her to render University of North Carolina’s coach Hubert Davis, and that’s all it took to jump-start her career.
In over two years, she says her self-funded DomoINK has brought in over a quarter million dollars, making deals with major companies like Target, Disney, Airbnb, Urban Outfitters, Homegoods, Lowes, Bath & Body Works, and the L.A. Lakers.
Brown, 28, turned DomoINK into a brand created to champion people of color in the home décor and apparel space. Her funky art renditions fill a market deficit, providing consumers options to buy Black faces to wear on their bodies through apparel offerings or decorate their living rooms, offices, dens, etc.
The Side-Hustle Success of DomoINK
According to CNBC, Brown earned $267,000 hustling her made-to-order designs on the side. After she ends her remote marketing manager job (where she earns $87,000 and bonuses), she works on DomoINK, saying she has been aware of the need for Black art since she was a child.
“It was definitely tough for me to find things that represented me,” she said in an interview, describing her life growing up in Pomona, California.
Now, with her creations on the market, kids coming up won’t have the same issue of lack of representation. She is also putting to use a skill set she loved since a child–creating art– but was unsure how to capitalize on it.
“If 20-year-old me saw what I was doing she would be absolutely shocked,” she said. “She didn’t think there was a pathway in art. She felt art was a game of luck like you had to know someone.”
Adding, “It wasn’t a space where you can make your own way in.”
Her images have been printed on everything from socks to laptop cases, The U.S. Sun reports. She said, “I want to create a big brand to where I’m just bringing color into everyone’s home.”
Made To Order
A benefit of her business model is that she focuses on made-to-order offerings, although she does have some products produces in small batches. For Brown, made-to-order takes away the headache of a large inventory or having to have a warehouse. For customers, they get a custom product. And they pay Brown upfront before the project is made; this a financial plus for the business.
“It was never money out first, it was always money in so that allowed me to keep growing my business,” she said.
According to the Corporate Finance Institute, there is a competitive advantage make-to-order or build-to-order brands have over their competition, saying it helps companies reduce wastage and offers a greater variety of customized goods.
Brown draws using markers, then her designs are uploaded and accented by computer software to help add more color and print in ink.
She has a huge range of offerings ranging in price points from $18 for a pair of socks to $3,500 for a painting. While customers can pick up some of her already-made art online at Target or in select Homegoods, she also sells from her own website, where she notes, “every time on this shop was curated and designed with the idea of giving love to the underrepresented.”
She also uses Etsy, saying, “I sell my artwork through multiple dotcoms and online retailers.”
Brown is excited about what the future will bring, noting she has a goal to earn as much as $500,000 a year, working towards that by increasing the companies she collaborates with.