READING IS THE NEW BLACK: VOLUME TWENTY BY DIAMONDE WILSON + ADRIENNE COLMAN
Living in such a social media driven world now, people tend to forget about the simple things in life. With so many distractions and demands, it can be quite overwhelming to find the balance of your passion and purpose in life. However, this new digital age does allow for new opportunities and concepts... And two female millennials took advantage of this journey and decided to take a less conventional approach to interacting through social media. Meet Diamonde Williamson and Adrienne Colman — the Founders of Volume Twenty.
Volume Twenty is an online bookstore with a book club, known as The Circle of Genius, that has a mission to challenge everyone to read at least one book a month. I got the chance to meet up with these two at the coolest coffee shop in Atlanta (for now) to learn how they're bringing reading as a hobby back into style with their business, and what sparked their inspiration for their whole concept.
Adrienne: Diamonde came home one day yelling at me and said, 'Adrienne we need a million dollar idea, something to make some extra money!' I was just at work thinking, why don't we create a book box and send books to somebody each month?... And how about we sell books on the website too? So we turned the whole book box idea into the book club and we just sell books on the side as well.
Diamonde: We were reading a lot. We didn't have cable and still don't. We already had a ton of books and we're not going to read them again, so why not just sell them when we're done.
As an entrepreneur, once you get a concept in your head, you immediately want to share that with the world. Your brand concept is so important because it will literally do the talking for you. You want that name to shake a few tables and turn even more heads... Make them think.
Adrienne: We were like... What do books have? They have volumes, they have chapters, editions, paragraphs, etc.
Diamonde: All those different words associated with pages and sentences. We literally sat down and came up with volume and liked it... And the number twenty because we cater to the millennials. Then Circle of Genius. We read so much, so we get a lot of stuff from what we read. I saw circle of genius [while reading], but it was in a long sentence. 'Heres how you can empower your circle of genius'. I sent it to her so that's how we came up with that.
With us being so technologically connected as a generation, it's especially important for businesses in the digital world to remember that engaging with their audience is key to keeping their customers interested. We love our SnapChats, Twitter convos, Instagram sharing, etc., so much that these interactions have developed into our everyday habits.
Despite what negative assumptions older generations and those who aren't down with social media may make about our networking style, it can be a really healthy and progressive thing for those of us who do it. Continuously interacting with others allows us to learn more about them and even grow and improve with our personal communication skills.
We often see a movie or listen to a new album, then turn to our Twitter followers to exchange opinions on them... But what about books? Our moms were hip to the fact that reading the same book and then discussing it in a group was both intellectually and socially satisfying... And this can also be a great way for us to get inside each other's head and get those intellectual thoughts flowing as well. Adrienne and Diamonde's idea to start Volume Twenty's book club, The Circle of Genius was, well.... Genius. And here's how it works:
Adrienne: It's a limited number of slots that we have for each package. We have a month-to-month, a three-month, and a six-month. There's a limited number and we don't tell people that number. We give you a set time and you just have to sign up. If you miss out, we'll put you on the wait list and you can get on for the next month. That's why we encourage people to do the three-month or the six-month because you're automatically on it.
Diamonde: What we do is you sign up and we package it with some little gifts that we have for you and we send it out each month. We attach worksheets so you can stay engaged and keep people interactive.
Adrienne: It's all online so we don't want you to get lost. Most of the books in the beginning we've read them. It's hard to keep up now that we're getting more and more books, but for sure the book club book we've read. It's a surprise every month, but we've read it. We've read it and analyzed it, broke it down and everything so we can interact with everybody.
A book club is a great way to read things that you normally wouldn't have given a second thought. Some may be hesitant to step outside of their comfort zone, but life is all about broadening our horizons.
Diamonde: Sometimes we'll find books based on another book, so if they like this one, they'll like the next one. A series of books and books having the same author too. Based on what we see and what we like... We read a lot of articles.
Adrienne: I think most of the the time it's based on what we like and what we think other people would like as well since we are catering to our age group. Our reading preferences are so different. She loves a self-help and spiritual book. I love a fiction book.
Every thing Volume Twenty does is bold and in your face, even down to their signature lime green color scheme. It's obvious the brand is heavily influenced by fashion which is a genius idea when marketing to their audience, but still connecting with them in a familiar way. A great idea to break the misconception to convey how bookworms come equipped with style too... Especially bookworms with creative styles like Adrienne and Diamonde.
Adrienne: [My style] is very minimalistic. I like black, white, gray. I don't like prints. A minimal chic.
Diamonde: I think when I dyed my hair I was like, I can not be wearing pink and leopard, that just doesn't look classy. So, I just toned it down a little bit. I like simple like J Crew. That's my style.
Before we can walk and run in life, we must first learn to crawl... So when starting a brand new business or venture, you're bound to make a million mistakes before you find success. Often times, though, those very mistakes and challenges can be our biggest motivators to find solutions.
Diamonde: What's hard is being in the business and trying to market it. We're so in it and thinking how can we actually get others involved. We're so on to the next thing. We're already in April and May.
Adrienne: I think it's appealing to people. We don't know what this person likes. I always think for myself and if I don't like it that, I don't think somebody else will. But she might not like that, but somebody else will. I think that's the hardest thing trying to find, 'what do the majority of people like and how can we cater to that?' is the biggest challenge that we have.
It's only natural to dream of the "grand finale" as a new business owner. Our visions of the future are what gives us our drive because that's what we wake up everyday building on. Volume Twenty has a vision of where they want to take their brand, and it's a huge one....
Adrienne: It's a zillion dollar company.
Diamonde: We want to be the first zillionaires. We really want to disrupt Amazon and Starbucks. Our ultimate goal is to have places that have a cool vibe.
We have the opportunity to turn anything we're passionate about into a business. That one thing we enjoy doing day in and day out is what we could possibly transform into the career of our dreams. No matter how different our idea may seem to others, create fearlessly and don't second guess yourself.
Just do it, but you have to love it. If you don't love it, it's not going to be successful. We really love to read. When our books come in we're so excited. We really do get excited. Even down to our website. We just got a new website and get excited about doing things like that. We just get excited about the entire business.
When Adrienne and Diamonde aren't brainstorming on more ways to enhance their brand, they are each individually accomplishing goals of their own. Diamonde has just published her first book entitled, You Deserve More Miracles: 60 Ways To Create More Miracles In Your Life and Adrienne will be going back to school for her Doctorates in Physical Therapy. In every aspect, these two are continuing to thrive and better their career lives.
Given the opportunity to reflect and relax on Sundays, they chose to give their racing minds a rest by enjoying good old fashion sleep and binging on Netflix — my personal favorite two concoctions.