Ready For Anything With Bimma Williams
For almost any creative, the dream is to be your own boss and turn your side-hustle into your career. It's shiny, there's freedom, more money if it's successful and so many other possible upsides. When Bimma Williams, sneaker professional turned expert conversationalist and host, left his stable career in the footwear industry to pursue his passion project Claima Stories full-time, these were the things he was after; and over time, he's been getting them, but not without some surprises along the way. Now with nearly fifteen years under his belt as an entrepreneur, five of which on Claima working with and interviewing some of the biggest names in the culture, Bimma has some stories of his own to tell and secrets to share with our community. Read the conversation below! Having left your 9-5 for a life as an entrepreneur and freelancer, what's something others thinking about doing the same should know? When most people consider freelance or starting a business, they often fail to realize what they are agreeing to take on. My creative expression is being a host, speaking, holding conversations, and now teaching as well. When I took that on, I'm not just taking that on. I'm also taking on, "how do I market and put myself out there?" Then you're in on finances. "How do I price myself?" Then you're taking on Operations because you need to figure out how to pay expenses and work on taxes and all of that stuff too. You're very involved in a lot of different things. You need to have the ability to harmonize all these different things. One thing to remember though is, yes, it is challenging but it's not impossible and there's also the opportunity for greater reward. You seem to be very humble with money and smart around spending on creativity. Are you thinking about that a lot? With any creative, when you get access to funds, the first thing you probably want to do is the biggest, shiniest thing possible. If you had all the resources in the world, you would leverage them but the interesting thing about that is, it's a mistake. We've seen it time and time again. When folks get too many resources, it actually diminishes their creativity. Some of the most creative projects and some of the best albums, did not have these glorious, gigantic budgets. They were just pure passion. When we did get that funding and that investment, we made some investments and some enhancements to production, but at the same time, we tried not to spend too much of that revenue. We would reach out to a brand and see if they would send us some microphones or some cameras or anything to keep the cost down. That money goes fast and you want to be super cognizant of how you can leverage it to get things to the next place over and over again. You've spoken about this concept of 'being ready' for opportunity. How does one do that? First of all, no one likes to hear this but you're never ready. It doesn't matter what the opportunity is because likely the opportunities are going to come from a place that you couldn't predict. Secondly, the opportunities are likely going to stretch you and so you have to make a decision on if you feel like you can rise to that occasion. One of the things that Will Smith spoke about in his book, that I love, is when you also are determining if you're ready or not, it also comes down to not being overly analytical and not overthinking the opportunity. When it's someone that you trust and they're bringing you an opportunity, to me, that opportunity is the one you need to say yes to and so sometimes being ready is purely just a mindset thing. You have to be ready in your heart. You need to be ready when it comes to how you want to put yourself in that situation. When you think about being ready, those are the things you need to think about. Once the opportunities and the audience come, it can feel tough to keep up with output demand. Have you every struggled with that feeling? All of these major media companies like Hypebeast or Complex, they all have huge content teams. This is why they can execute so much all of the time but as an individual, execute where you can execute. We've seen time and time again, so many different young creatives that may not have those systems, but they cut through with their thing. One of my favorites is Lynae Vanee. She puts out one video a week, and that thing cooks. She does her thing and she's not trying to compete with volume. She's competing with quality. I think when you have quality and you know your audience and you're hitting that sweet spot, people are always going to respond. They're always going to show up. When I came back, folks had missed me. It was clear. The response was there. So if I go away, it's not like I'm being forgotten in this sea of content or storytelling that's going out. So I think it's just important to remember that. Lastly, what do you think is the most important thing for any creative to understand, regardless of the industry? It's really important to develop a 'no bullshit mindset'. We can come up with a number of reasons why we won't do anything but I made an agreement with myself a long time ago was that there's nothing that's going to replace doing the work. That being said, I'm not going to feel 100% every day and it's okay if I decide, like, today I ain't got it. I'm going to take that break. If I can't put out something meaningful, what's the point? The world's not going to end and my audience isn't going to disappear because I needed to make sure I took care of myself. You can't do anything right if you haven't taken care of yourself first. Make sure to follow Bimma's Instagram for news on all of his upcoming projects and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations just like these!