Tierra Forte is one of three women who founded Mightly, an affordable kids clothing brand in business since 2019. After 20 plus years in the apparel industry, Tierra and her colleagues wanted to make kids clothes in a different way. Mightly uses specialized supply chains to ensure its fabrics are certified organic and adhere to fair trade standards. In addition, as a mother, it is essential that all of the dyes the company uses are non-toxic. It’s all part of making a positive difference in the lives of the cotton farmers and factory workers that make the fabric and clothes, and ensuring that these impacts are measurable and verifiable.
TheWMarketplace caught up with Tierra recently and asked about her growing business, funding inventory and how much it has changed in the past three years. Read about Tierra and then shop this 100 percent women-owned company for boys and girls clothing for ages 2-12 on TheWMarketplace.
Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?
My partners and I founded Mightly to make the kind of clothes we want for our own kids: clothes that can handle any kind of adventure, that are ethically made and don’t cost a fortune.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started Mightly?
How much our customers would connect with us as moms and women entrepreneurs. If I had known how meaningful this was to our customers, I would have brought them along on our journey from day one. I look back now and wish we had captured more of our start up experience in photos, video or blogs to share with our customers.
Why did you decide to join TheWMarketplace?
It's the perfect fit for our business since a large percentage of our customers are women, but it also fits with one of our core values, which is to use our business to support other women entrepreneurs, and we believe that contributing to the success of TheWMarketplace is one way to do that.
What has been the most challenging thing about getting your business up and running?
Financing inventory. One of our biggest expenses is inventory and we have to make the investments many months before we see any sales revenue.
What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of owning Mightly?
Engaging with our customer community. I've worked for many apparel companies over the years, but I've never felt the outpouring of enthusiasm from customers that we get at Mightly. Our customers not only love the clothes, but they also feel a real connection to our brand.
Can you identify a moment in your business that was pivotal in your success?
When we realized how many innovative ways there are to fund businesses now. It used to be that you had to be self-funded (and if you weren't very wealthy, that usually meant mortgaging your house) or you got venture capital. Now there are other options, like revenue based loans and equity crowdfunding. It's still very hard to finance a products-based businesses, but there are more options now than ever before.
How long have you been in business and has your business changed since you started it?
We launched our first products in June of 2019. The biggest change has been at the beginning the three founders did almost everything ourselves, and now we have a fleet of consultants and agencies to support us. Finding the right resources to fill in any gaps in our expertise and free up our time for the most important work has been game changing.
What communities have been important for you as you grew/developed your business?
The Fair Trade community has been important to me personally for many years. I used to work at Fair Trade USA, the certification non-profit. There I was a part of the team that developed and launched the Fair Trade Factory program that Mightly participates in. This community is important from a business perspective, because it helps to ensure that we have a stable and resilient supply chain. It's also important from a communication perspective. Green and Fair-washing have become a huge issue in the apparel industry and having third party verification that the workers who make Mightly clothing have safe and healthy working conditions, and earn direct financial benefits from our business, is critical to us and to our customers.
Do you have items, photos or mementos on your desk that inspire you each day? What are they?
Yes! I had my older daughter when I was nineteen and I have one of my favorite baby picture of her on my desk. At that time it was taken I was single, going to community college during the day and working in a clinic filing medial records at night. It's a reminder of how far I've come, but also that there are even more important things in my life than my business.
Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?
Don't be afraid to ask! For money, for advice, for help, for whatever you need. Most people are happy to do it. One day you'll be the one people are asking for help and you'll have the chance to pay it forward.
* * *
Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.