Soie is a Black and Islander owned apparel business created by Cordae Mcafee & Nolan Musga. Their products are a mixture of streetwear fashion and a hair care product. Their materials are based on the most luxurious brands in the streetwear culture. The products are lined with silk in the head area of their staple garments in order to protect hair and the products in it. The hoodies are usually made of cotton material that can damage your hair.
“We have new sweaters available for the winter time, so feel free to check that out and get to know us a little more in our podcast episode with ‘untapped potential’ , a local podcast highlighting PNW visionaries and entrepreneurs,” Mcafee said.
The official online store opened the first week of February in 2022.
How Soie began
“The reason why we started it was because I like to style my hair with products,” Mcafee said. “I like to keep my hair wavy, and to do that I use a silk du-rag. Once I put my hoodies, beanies or hats on, it would frizz up my hair and take it out of its style. So I thought, why not make the garments silk where it touches the head part and it will act as a stylish du-rag/bonnet?”
Musga, co-owner, loves to dye his hair and wear hats and beanies. Unfortunately the cotton material of the beanie would cause the dye to rub out of his hair. A celebrity hairstylist, a friend of theirs, recommended using silk bedding to prevent it from rubbing out of his hair in his sleep.
“We knew we were onto something there,” Mcafee said.
The name Soie came to them when they were looking up the word silk in other languages. Soie happened to be the word silk in French.
“I knew I wanted to be a small business owner since around the age of 16,” Mcafee said. “I was very involved in sports my whole life and was very good, so my dream was to be a professional athlete. As I got older, I realized the reality of that and started focusing on solutions I could solve to create a business around. My senior year at Thomas Jefferson High School, I had a project in my AVID class to come up with a business idea. Crazy enough, I ended up actually making it come true years later.”
Mcafee had a number of inspirations responsible for starting this business. Mcafee's friend Nick Price had their own successful online apparel business. Price showed Mcafee that starting a business was possible. The second inspiration that made Soie come alive were from content creators. One content creator was Gary Vaynerchuck, whose books Mcafee had read about to learn the ins and outs of ecommerce. These inspirations gave Mcafee and Musga the confidence needed to jump into the entrepreneur game.
Challenges, ideas, and opportunities for growth
One of the barriers that arose when starting Soie was getting starting capital and then capital to scale. Cordae was forced to get a line of credit for their first inventory purchase. Now they are in the process of getting a loan to scale the business.
“This hurts because being a small business, money is limited and samples are expensive. If it does not meet our needs, we still have to pay for a new sample,” Mcafee said. “Overtime, we will build that relationship and minimize those problems.”
The future plans for Soie is to scale their product line with silk bed sets, silk-lined bucket hats, children’s’ sizes, and many more designs and sweater variations. Soie will be taking a streetwear approach to marketing by getting content from entertainers and posting that onto blogs.
“My advice to anyone can be summed up in a couple sentences," Mcafee said. "Do not be discouraged from competing companies. Instead, look at their business as a blueprint and make yourself different. Once you have started this journey, take every failure as a lesson and keep going. The only people who are successful are the ones who just did not give up!”
Business Impact NW has connected Soie to business plan advisors and lenders who have helped with the scaling process. Business Impact NW has also given them a platform to communicate to their audience and local community.