Updated: Mar 1, 2021
UChicago OBS President shares her tips for a successful business.
There’s a new fashion boutique in town. Dinah Clottey started T’Kor Couture in the summer of 2020 and has grown her crocheting hobby into a small business with over 4,000 followers on Instagram. Clottey attributes much of her success to her support system and self-discipline. “There are many people who are consistent and put in the work,” Clottey remarks, “but I owe a lot of my growth to a lot of people sharing my work.” While Clottey doesn’t expect people to vouch for her, her support system has helped her to realize how crocheting is more than just a hobby: it’s one of her talents. Clottey hopes that through T’Kor Couture she can show someone who did not come from a lot of resources can use what they’re given to make their dreams a reality. “I want to do more than just sell clothes.”
Clottey first started crocheting in middle school to help her mother learn how to crochet. “My mother wanted to learn how to crochet, but my mother didn’t want to do it herself. So she made me learn, so I could teach her.” That was when Clottey began watching YouTube videos, teaching herself how to crochet over time. She also attributes her love of crochet to the Black crocheting community. “Being part of that community helped transform what I thought of crochet… I didn’t view it as an artform.” After Clottey joined a Facebook group, she started to view crochet as an art form and see herself as an artist.
Within the first month of starting T’Kor Couture, Clottey amassed 1,000 followers on Instagram. “I wasn’t necessarily expecting people to buy from me… Maybe we’ll have some friends, some family buy a thing or two.” Imagine Clottey’s surprise when she gained 1,000 Instagram followers in one month. Clottey attributes this massive success to her support system. This support system extends from her family assisting with delivery and packaging to strangers on the internet helping her with random acts of kindness. Clottey positively reminisces on the time that a random stranger on the internet reached out to her and offered to help her design her logo.
When asked about creating her support system, Clottey remarks that it was the first move she made. “I reached out to people individually.” This outreach helped Clottey establish a good initial base and reach 1,000 followers. Clottey’s present base stems from her family, her friends, and the UChicago community. “It’s people my age sharing to more people my age.”
Another thing Clottey attributes her success to is her self-discipline. “The one skill you really need to be an entrepreneur is self-discipline. There are a lot of [different artforms] that seldom turn into a successful business because of all the other aspects.” Clottey goes on to say that running a business also consists of working well with customers, being consistent on social media, and remaining as relevant as possible among other things.
Clottey has also used T’Kor Couture to spread awareness about meaningful issues, as she said, “I like to spread messages of awareness.” Clottey has items of clothing that are both BLM and LGBT+ inspired. She recently participated in a fundraiser with other crocheters for the crisis in Yemen. “Even now, [I plan] to tell more stories through my Instagram captions and designs.”
Looking to the future, Clottey plans to continue to bring BIPoC representation to the forefront of her business. “The stories and the messages of Black people and people of color aren’t shared enough,” she says. Accordingly, T’Kor Couture will have a special event for Black History Month where she shares one new outfit per week. Clottey has made it clear that her business is just one way she plans to spread that representation: she remarks, “I want [representation] to be something I continue to do.” Clottey has thus far established a strong streak in representing marginalized groups in her business; there is no doubt she will.
Explore Dinah Clottey’s work on T’Kor Couture.