Building a Community

Hosted By Lauren Conaway

InnovateHER KC

See All Episodes With Lauren Conaway

La'Nesha Frazier

Today's Guest: La'Nesha Frazier

Co-Founder - Bliss Books & Wine

Kansas City, MO

Ep. #1196 - Building a Community

This Startup Hustle episode features Lauren Conaway and La’Nesha Frazier, Co-founder of Bliss Books and Wine, discussing community building. Listen to Lauren and La’Nesha discuss the challenges and benefits of building an inclusive community. They also share their thoughts on getting the community involved in your business and providing a place of diversity.

Covered In This Episode

Research suggests a rise in the habit of reading. A Pew Research report indicates that a quarter (26 percent) read books to learn, gain knowledge, and discover information. Bliss Books and Wine takes that further by building a community around a bit of wine.

Listen to Lauren and La’Nesha schmooze about why she started Bliss Books and Wine with her sister. La’Nesha describes her move from physical therapist to entrepreneur and the tactical challenges. They discuss the dynamics of working with family and the importance of family support.

Get Started with Full Scale

The conversation turns to building a community through an inclusive lens and getting them involved in finding your tribe. La’Nesha tells Lauren about her plans for herself and Bliss Books and Wine.

Take a load off and enjoy the conversation between good friends in this Startup Hustle episode. You might learn something new.


  • How La’Nesha created Bliss Books and Wine (1:03)
  • From physical therapist to becoming an entrepreneur (3:36)
  • The dynamics of working with the family and the importance of family support (6:22)
  • Building a community (9:46)
  • Getting over the tactical challenges (14:37)
  • Getting the community involved (19:02)
  • Building a community through an inclusive lens (21:22)
  • Find your tribe that will advocate for you (29:17)
  • The importance of highlighting diverse books (32:41)
  • What’s next for La’Nesha and Bliss Books? (37:47)
  • What kind of Bliss customer is La’Nesha? (39:20)
Learn How to Build and Scale Your Business

Key Quotes

There’s this saying it’s nothing about us without us. And so I love the fact that it seems to be kind of one of your operational values. If we’re going to change the neighborhood, then we need to talk to the neighborhood. We need to involve the schools. We need to involve the businesses nearby. What do you want to see out of this community bookstore? At every point in the process, you have done an amazing job of involving the people who will be impacted.

– Lauren Conaway

It doesn’t feel good to be excluded from anything. Right? I don’t like it. You know, I want to be at the table. I want to be included. I wanted my opinions to be heard and valued. So, I also want people around me to feel the same exact way.

– La’Nesha Frazier

When you build an inclusive community, particularly communities that have been excluded, there’s a lot of power in that. When it’s time to make the ask, raise the money, and do the thing. You have the buy-in that you need. It’s not why you do the work. But it’s definitely a huge added benefit of building that inclusive community. You find the support that you need to accomplish your big goals.

– Lauren Conaway

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Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Lauren Conaway  0:00

And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHer KC. And today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by Hiring software developers is difficult and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team. Visit or check down below for the show notes to learn more. All right, friends, today, we have a guest that I am very, very excited about. Somebody that I have a storied history with and that I am very, very lucky to call a friend, as well as an amazing, phenomenal founder and innovator. We have with us La’Nesha Frazier, co-founder of Bliss Books and Wine. La’Nesha, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.


La’Nesha Frazier  0:52

Thank you for having me. I really, really appreciate it. It’s an honor.


Lauren Conaway  0:56

Well, of course. Well, let’s go ahead and crack right into it. So tell us a little bit about your journey. Lonely shell, let’s hear it.


Speaker 2  1:04

Oh, man. So this journey started back. Maybe like 10 to 15 years ago, it’s been a dream baby of mine for a while. I’ve always just wanted a place where I can call my own and just have a glass of wine or read a book and relax. And it’s just been on my heart for a while. So it came to fruition after many years of me griping about it to my sister and my husband, saying how I wanted to open up this spider, my dream that I wanted to provide for myself and other people like myself. And so after many, many years, and they were tired of me talking about it, they were just, I just do it already. And so I took the leap and took a couple of business classes and tried to get all of these big ideas down on paper and to figure out what it would look like, and thus Bliss Books and Wine was created.


Lauren Conaway  1:58

Well, I love it. And just to kind of highlight an interesting, well, a part of your story that I find particularly interesting. So you’re a physical therapist by trade. Do you have to go? Okay. All right, Tex, we’re gonna pause it for just a second. So let me show one of the things that I find most interesting about your particular story is you’re actually you’re a physical therapist by trade, are you not?


Speaker 2  2:25

Yes, yes. So that is what I say, as my day job, but I mean, this is my day job as well. So that is what I was schooled for. So I have a doctorate in physical therapy. So I was a full-time physical therapist while we were starting Bliss Books and Wine. I have now gone down to PRN, and I do that on occasion. So I still do it throughout the week, but just not as a full-time gig.


Lauren Conaway  2:50

So, so Bliss is your focus now, but talk to us a little bit about the journey. I mean, you told us you know, people were kind of motivating you and saying hey, like fine, just just do the damn thing. You’ve been talking about it long enough. But internally, what did that process look like? Like I’m about to leave this industry, or maybe not leave keep a toe in. But you know, I’m about to change my industry focus. I’m going to become an entrepreneur, which I’m going to be honest, I love physical therapists give me all the stemness in the world. But I don’t necessarily think of physical therapists as entrepreneurs, maybe I should. But talk to us a little bit about what that internal voice felt like when you were trying to decide to make this huge change in your life.


Speaker 2  3:36

It was scary. It was an internal battle out, outward bound, it was just a battle all around. So here I am full time physical therapist. I have been wanting to be a physical therapist since I was a sophomore in high school. So I knew from then that that is what my career was going to be. So but this just kept nagging at me. I just kept feeling the need to move towards being an entrepreneur. And you know, I kept pushing it off. I have a full time job, I have benefits. I have a career, I got kids and a husband. Like, I got all of these responsibilities. I’m not going to just you know, risked it all on this type of thing. And it just, and it was it was very spiritual. To be honest, it was a spiritual journey journey because I was just like, oh, no, go ahead and do it. And I’m like, No, God, I mean, I know you gotta know, but I will stay in my lane. You know, this is this is stable, this is safe. And so he was like, I’m going to make your life so unbearable until you have no choice, but to listen to what I’m saying. Yeah, good man. God, look, God is a man of his word. So, life was so unbearable. And it was just I became so unhappy with being a physical therapist. Everything was just bothering me. The world just seemed to be closing in on me and I will go into the bathroom and cry in between patients. Yeah, that’s how unhappy I was. And my husband, Ralph was just like, listen, enough, he was we, we can do this. He was like, I got it, I’ll put it on my back. I can do it. I want you to chase after your dream. And I fought him for like another six months or so.


Lauren Conaway  5:21

And oh, yeah, no, I’m fine. You know, everybody could do it. I can do it, I can do this.


Speaker 2  5:30

And so, you know, he was in one day, he just looked at me and said, Stop. I got you. Go. And so we did it. I mean, so I dropped down. I mean, I was scary. I was shaking. You know, going from salary of stability to the unknown is, is, is a lot for me. I’m not a risk taker. Again, I’ve known that this is the track I was supposed to be on since I was in the 10th grade. So I am not a risk taker, I am a planner, I am type A. Right? And so jumping into the unknown was so scary for me. And so and I did it, and I mean, I, we never look back. And it’s just great. So I am really, really thankful to my husband, and


Lauren Conaway  6:22

There’s a whole community out there that is very, very thankful for you deciding to not just make that decision, but then to act on it. And I know that it was a long and arduous process. But the first thing that I want to talk about with you because this is yet another piece that I love of the Bliss journey is it’s kind of a family affair. So your co-founder is your sister and Renee who full disclosure folks, and Renee is actually one of our IHKC board members. And then like I’ve met your dad, you know, putting together shelves in the, you know, for Bliss, when you were trying to get up and running. And so, you know, Ralph, your husband, encouraging you to do this thing. Like, this is really a family enterprise. Like it took the whole family it took everybody coming together to make it happen. Now, my question is, what is that like? Because I gotta tell you, like, I love my husband a lot. But I don’t think we could work together every day. I don’t have a sister that I would work with, you know, on a day to day so like, that’s my comparison point. But after like what is it like to work day in day out with that, that family involvement?


Speaker 2  7:31

So it’s it’s a family involvement, but it’s we have space as well. So I love my support system. Without the support system, Bliss would not be in existence. Wow. So my dad, we call him the maintenance man, he does it all. Whatever we need him to do. He’s going to do it, whether it’s coming to take out trash, recycle wine bottles, put up a shelf, you know, things along that nature, as long as he doesn’t really have to interact, like the most he has to do is like give tours and that you know, type of thing. But yeah, he’s great. My mom and my aunt, they’re they’re so working with my sister. Oh, well, she lives in Virginia. Yeah. So I don’t have to see her and work with her on a day to day basis as one would think.


Lauren Conaway  8:18

And I gotta tell you the fact that she lives in Virginia, like, again, full disclosure, I bitched at Renee about that every single time I’m like, you need to move back to KC, come back. And she’s like, No, that’s not happening. Yeah, continue.


Speaker 2  8:30

Yeah, so it works. So you know, she’s there. I’m here. She does all the background stuff that we need with the social media and the marketing and the orders and things along that nature, all the tech stuff that I am not great at and you know, she is really, really good at. So that dynamic works for us. And then we kind of fall into that big sister, little sister thing anyway. So, she’s been bossing me around my entire life. So why not do it in business, right? And so it still works. My mom here, she’s the techy person here. So whatever I can’t figure out or if I can’t get in contact with Renee. I’m calling my mom and she’s just figuring it out YouTube in you know, messing with the square and things along that nature. So my mom and my auntie really big support system. Our general manager is my sister-in-law, so Ralph sister, Amanda Harrison.


La’Nesha Frazier  8:30

I don’t think I knew that.


Speaker 2  8:57

So, she helps run the store with me like when I’m not here at these law, that nature she’s also over the events side of Bliss. It’s so it when you say it’s a family affair really is a family affair. So she’s here and then, of course, my husband is here and pumping us up every step of the way. And whatever we need him to do, he’s there. So yeah, yeah.


Lauren Conaway  9:46

Well, I love that and I think it speaks to the kind of foundation of Bliss Books and Wine and so I remember right around the time that you were getting started. You got you kind of got to started in the pandemic, you know, you started off as a virtual bookstore. But then you started to have like, you know, reading club book clubs. I’m like, what is the word, you started to have book clubs. And you started, you started to draw in that community first with the long range vision always being that brick and mortar location that you wanted to open. But you started by building community. And it began with a base of your family that was like, that was a piece of community coming together to get this thing done. And then you started to bring in the outer community and engage and involve them, whether it was like I said, those book clubs or whether it was asking people to sign petitions so that you could get that brick and mortar in place. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit more later. But you, you have always had a really, really strong lens, and a strong focus on the community acts, the community aspects of bookselling and books and reading. And I personally think that books like they’re a great unifier, you know, music, food, these cultural touchstones that we all love and have opinions on. These are things that we can all express and talk about. So. So talk to us about that community piece, like how did you begin drawing folks and helping them to understand your mission, getting their buy in, so that you could move forward.


Speaker 2  11:21

So one of the founding reasons why Bliss was created was, I wanted a gathering spot for my friends. I have a group of friends that are so talented that I wanted a space for them to just shine and showcase their talent. I remember sitting at a table talking to my friend, Steph, and it was just like, man, I really want Bliss to be this place where you can come and do your stand up comedy. I remember talking to my fresh real, I really want a place for bliss to be this place where you can come and do your poetry and doing your live music. Like things of that nature. I have a group of friends that are so talented, that I just wanted to create a safe space for them that they can just shine. Yeah, I just wanted them to just shine. And so that was kind of like the foundation behind it. And I was like, well, I also want a gathering spot for people that are like me, who want to just go somewhere and sit down and read a book, and not be bothered by anything else, you know. I don’t want to be at a sports bar or a cigar lounge or anything like that. I want to just go to space, and I want to read a book, and I want to drink. So that was the foundation of Bliss. And so when we we were kind of hashing all of these things out, I was like, Well, you know, this is more adults, only adults-friendly type of thing. So I also want to do some outreach to the kiddos because I love them, but I don’t want them all up in the space where we’re adults. And I still want to do some outreach and reach out to the community and help them with books and literacy. So how can we then do that. So that’s how we partner with Reach Out & Read KC. So we can reach the kid community. So it is always been a foundation for for Bliss to be a community gathering space for like minded individuals to just come and just breathe in whatever their bliss is for them to find it in this space. And so how we started off was that vision and then we went to like pop ups. And we started doing events like that to kind of gather people and seeing who liked it, who didn’t like it, what their feel was and then we did the online when the pandemic happened. And we were just like, alright, well, we’re all shut in. So let’s talk about books together. Right? So they just grew from there. So when people started showing up to the book club, it was like, oh, people want to talk about books. That’s great. Let’s bring in wine tasting, oh, people want to drink wine while talking about books. Amazing. You know, so we just kind of started building all that in, in growing our community. And so one thing I want to say about the pandemic was yes, it was horrible pandemic was horrible. However, for Bliss as a whole, it allowed us to reach outside of Kansas City. You know, not only was our community based in here in Kansas City, but then we started to reach in other states and other places where people can also feel like Bliss was a part of their community where they can come and gather online. So we’re really big into community.


Lauren Conaway  14:37

Yeah. Well, you know, back then you sure were and you still are. It’s it’s definitely reflected in your messaging and your marketing like that, that Bliss is intended to be this very communal space. It does not belong to us. It belongs to the community. And I love that that’s the way that you steward that that community that community sense. So what I want to know, really quick, I want to talk about some of the more tactical challenges that you came up with because I got rare insight into a few of them. And I just I find them to be so, so interesting. And so friends, I’m going to I’m going to share something with you. And you know, when she should tell it tell us more about this. But I remember sitting in an alcohol for I can’t remember what it’s called, like a board meeting regulated industries regulate, yeah, whatever, whatever it’s called. And you were trying to get your liquor license, and you were trying to get it within a densely populated boozy area. And it was just really interesting, like watching you go through this process. But one of the things that really struck me I remember sitting in this in this meeting, and I couldn’t even tell you who said it, but you had circulated a petition to to allow you to operate within this neighborhood, you had to get your neighborhood buy in. And I remember one of the guys at this meeting where we were reviewing this petition and talking about it. This guy was like Never have we had an alcohol bearing institution get not just one but two vouches from schools. Usually schools are not like, Hey, bring more you know, alcohol based businesses into our community. But you you had their buy in. You got them, you got the schools on board through your work. So I want to talk to you a little bit about that kind of take us through some of the challenge those very, very tactical operational challenges that you came up against, as you were trying to maintain and then achieve the long-term Bliss vision.


La’Nesha Frazier  16:42

So we knew that that could have been a hindrance, getting a liquor license within being so close to two schools, kind of free. So how I went about that, and we just went to the schools first, to say, hey, we’re trying to open up in this space over here. So before you get this petition, or this voting, coming into your your in your mailbox, I want to let you know about bliss. This is what we stand for. We’re here for community, we’re here for outreach, we’re here for books and literacy. And I think what really sold them is it was like it will give teachers a discount


Lauren Conaway  17:23

Got to do what you got to do man like no, they were they were all. Teachers deserve all the discounts in the world should be free.


La’Nesha Frazier  17:33

So but I was telling you know that we are independent bookstore, and I was kind of just telling them our story and how we kind of come came about and the direction that we want to go towards, in spotlight low a spotlight locals and things along that nature. And they were just like, this sounds amazing. Why would we block this? And and so I think the thing was, if you just see like a little insert of a paragraph of somebody wanting to get a liquor license, you don’t get the backstory, right. You just see that at places here. And they’re going to throw parties themselves reserve liquor. Yeah. So I wanted to make sure that they had a backstory. So we did that to their, to both of the schools, we attended some board meetings, and they kind of talked about it. And I was able to speak to them a little bit more in detail about who we were. And they were just like, yeah, this is great. And they, you know, sent over a letter of support, and we went into regulated industries, but you know, beforehand, because we knew that they were going to decline us because it is a heavily dense population with already have maybe like 11 tavern licenses in this in this area. So we were trying to just kind of be proactive. Yeah, it is saying, Yeah, I know that you’re going to deny us but here’s what we already have. These people are already supporting this, our community is already behind us. So we went into there knowing that they were going to deny us and why and we had in our pocket why they shouldn’t.


Lauren Conaway  19:02

Yeah, well, I love that proactive approach. And I just I think I remember even thinking at the time, like kind of what, because I got to see a lot of this process is is like this, this third party observer, I got to see the 10,000 foot view from the outside and like I don’t even I am positive that I don’t even know everything that you had to do to bring your brick and mortar to fruition. But I do know that one of the things that has been integral to that whole process, but really all of Bliss processes is there’s this saying in the EIB circles, and I’m sure you’ve probably heard it, but it’s nothing about us, without us. And so I love the fact that seems to be kind of one of your operational values. Like if we’re going to go into this neighborhood and we’re going to change the neighborhood then we need to talk to the neighborhood. We need to involve the schools. We need to involve the businesses nearby. You know if we’re going to be operating during a pandemic, we need to ask our members and the folks who follow us like what kind of books do you want to read? What do you want to see out of a out of this community bookstore, like at every point, in the process, you have done an amazing job of involving the people who will be impacted. And I have to say, that’s, that’s unique, that’s rare, you don’t always see that, like, more often than not, you see, businesses come in, and they’re like, this is our goal, we’re going to do it and hang all the rest. But you’ve done just an incredible job of asking the community to sit at your table, and to talk about these things, and to make sure that you are innovating and that you’re driving change without exploiting people in the community around you. So I just want to commend you for that.


La’Nesha Frazier  20:11

It’s their table too, right? I mean, what’s the point of having a bookstore with books that nobody wants to read? No, I want this to be your bookstores, I want you to tell me what kind of books that you have. I’m working next door to mother’s coffee. So hey, books and coffee also go together. So you finish your coffee over here and drink your coffee while you’re here reading a book like I wanted to be a partnership. So the focus is I don’t want to come in here and dictate to the community. I want the community to feel like it’s theirs. And I’m just here managing it.


Lauren Conaway  21:22

Yeah, well, and I mean, honestly, like, I think that you and I have that in common. That’s kind of how I view InnovateHer KC, it’s like, this is not my thing. This is a resource. But this belongs to all of us, I just happened to be the one who asked to like stamp the papers and dot the i’s and cross the T’s. So I, that piece of your journey speaks to me just the fact that you are you’re so in it with the community around you. Now, I will tell you, if you’re looking for people who are in it with you, friends, finding expert software developers, it doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers testers and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit to learn more. Friends, we are here today with La’Nesha Frazier, co-founder of Bliss Books and Wine and we’re talking about a journey. We’re talking about leashes journey, but we’re really talking about the communities journey. And so the next kind of direction that I want to go, I want to talk to you about the tactical piece of building community, we’ve kind of talked around it a little bit, you know, just making sure that you’re involving people in the process. But talk to us a little bit more about how you approach community building, since that’s such a huge part of what you do. And one of the things that you’ve done well, and I haven’t mentioned this yet is Bliss has become known for building a diverse and inclusive community. And I just think that that is so key. So talk to us a little bit about your methodologies there. How are you getting people’s support their buy in around what you’re trying to build? Are there tactical pieces of advice that you can give to our listeners?


La’Nesha Frazier  23:07

You know, I don’t, I don’t know if it’s more like a strategy that I’m you know, that I’m implementing. Moreso, just I’m just being open hearted and kind and humbled


Lauren Conaway  23:21

about who you are.


La’Nesha Frazier  23:24

And so I want everybody to feel included, this is an inclusive space is like minded individuals, but it’s inclusive is for for everybody. So I don’t want anybody to feel left out it was it was a time where I had a couple women in wheelchairs in here for the first time, so my eyes got really big. And I am like paying attention to them through the entire time that they’re in the store and make sure that I had everything in place to where they were able to access it easily. Now, it’s like okay, does that need to be moved? Does this need to be lower?


Lauren Conaway  24:01

How wide are the aisles between books? Yeah. Cut a corner coming around that turn, you know.


La’Nesha Frazier  24:07

Yep. So I was just making sure like, oh, when they come up to the checkout counter, is, you know, I know that I had it at the right height because I took measurements and I looked at the requirements online, but I want to make sure that it actually fortunately worked, you know, things along that nature. So it’s just, you know, it’s just going off of personalities of who you are and who you want to be included because it doesn’t feel good to be excluded from anything. Right? I don’t like it. You know, I want to be at the table. I want to be included. I wanted my opinions to be heard and valued. So I also want people around me to feel the same exact way.


Lauren Conaway  24:48

Yeah, so Well, I you know, I just I adore that. I don’t know how helpful it is to our listeners. So basically La’Nesha just says if you want to have an inclusive community lens, just to be that person,


La’Nesha Frazier  25:02

You have to ask, ask you, you ask the people that are close to you. You ask the people that are in your circle you as InnovateHer, Hey, am I missing something? You know? So I don’t go into the situation thinking I know it all, because I don’t. So you’re going


Lauren Conaway  25:19

Assume that you don’t like, more so than just like, you have to completely change your paradigm and realize that I actually know nothing.


La’Nesha Frazier  25:27

I know nothing. So I’m going to surround myself with people who know things and know people who know things. Yeah. And I can ask the question, Hey, what is that? What does that even mean? Oh, I don’t know. Let me look this up. Hey, do you know what that means? You know, it’s just, it’s it’s basically like constantly giving surveys, constantly filling people out and saying, Oh, well, that’s a good idea. And then when they come in, and I go, Well, what do you what do you like to see? Yeah, how did that work for you? Or I’m open to suggestions. Let me know what what goes what works best. And we can always, you know, reworded and rerouted in and make it work for everybody, you know.


Lauren Conaway  26:06

Well, and I want to I’m going to draw a through line here, because I think it’s really, really important that we do this. So we talk about the inclusive lens, we talk about the community lens, and it’s something that you and I both share. And I’m just I love that like we talk about these things a lot when we go out for like coffee, or happy hour or something like that, like, this is the shit that we talk about guys. We talk about, like, how do you build inclusive communities, sometimes we talk about shoes and stuff, but most of the time we’re talking about, like the big ideas out there, and why we do the work. So I’m getting but now I want to draw through line to the benefit. Because when you build inclusive community, particularly communities that see and acknowledge folks who have been excluded, there’s a lot of power in that. And so I’m going to point to your fundraiser, when you were finally ready to open up your brick and mortar Bliss Books and Wine wanted to raise was it $40,000, in order to open that open their brick and mortar. And I have to tell you, I have I know that it was a slog on your end, but like, on the just on the outside looking in, it was incredible to watch the entire community come behind and behind Bliss Books and Wine and be like, take my money, we’re gonna share this thing. Like, it was like the whole community that you had very intentionally and inclusively built. They were so invested because of the messaging and because of what you were trying to build because it was going to be their space to that when it came time to make the ask, to raise the money, to actually do the thing, to make it happen. You have the buy in that you needed. You had the people behind you, you already have the people and the relationships in place that we’re going to bring you to your goal. And so for me like, that’s, it’s not why you do the work. But it’s definitely a huge added benefit by building that inclusive community. You find the support that you need to accomplish your big goals, right? Is that kind of how you view it, like how you saw things happen?


La’Nesha Frazier  28:15

Yeah, I cried every day. Every time somebody donated, whether it was $5, or $1,000, I cried every day. But yes, I think that was that was how we approached it. We, we gathered the community first and we took their ideas, and we and we implemented our own. And then they were able to buy into it and say, well, we want that. That sounds amazing. Let’s do it. We were part of it. And I think that’s what it was everybody wanted a part of it. Everybody wanted to be a part of the community. And I think our community takes pride in to saying I helped them open, you know, I


Lauren Conaway  28:59

I’m gonna be real honest with you and Isha. I totally do that too. I’m like, Look, they did all the work, but like I was there and I helped you know,


La’Nesha Frazier  29:07

Like that did is great. I love it when they come in and go, Hey, I donated when and I’m like, Oh my God. And I love and I was like well look at your store look at and how did it turn out you know type of thing. And they’re just like, we love it. I’m like, great.


Lauren Conaway  29:17

And of course they love it. Because at every point along the journey, you got their feedback, and you got there by it. And you built this really strong foundation of advocates and brand fans and champions and people who like La’Nesha and Renee have created the kind of the kind of organization that kind of startup that whatever you want to call it, the kind of company that people really, really get behind and they they galvanize around it because to your point they feel that sense of ownership. You have asked them for their way in you implemented their ideas, you asked for their help. And then they they delivered because they felt like they were a part of it. And I just think it’s so key and so crucial. For all of us founders out there, like, find your people. And it could be three people around you, it could also be 30,000 people around you, whatever that looks like for you. Find your people, they’re gonna make your job that much easier, because they’re gonna then advocate to others and do the things that you have to do in your day to day and so running a business is hard. But if you put the right people who understand and believe the mission and live the mission, your job is going to be much easier in the long run. Is that Is that what you found? That’s what I found, how about you?


La’Nesha Frazier  29:34

Absolutely. Hands down. This is when when you find your like, when I can’t remember the exact moment when it happened. But I remember we were just like me and Renee, like, and we found our tribe, like it was yeah, these are big, they get it, they understand the why. And they get it it was just like, oh, this is great. We found out people these are people they love to read they like to drink wine. AND and or either or you don’t even have to do both. Yeah, I think the beauty of Bliss was that we have a little bit of something for everybody. It’s like, however, you can find your bliss, we want you to find it here. So if it’s sitting on the couch being quiet and reading your book, come on in. If it’s sitting at the bar talking to your girlfriends, or boyfriends Come on, even if it’s sitting in the podcast room, or if it’s in the tranquillity room, meditating and journaling and yoga, like it’s just so many different avenues where you can find your bliss. That’s what makes it inclusive. And so we have many people. Yeah, so you know, we have different pockets of people. And I just and I love that.


Lauren Conaway  31:56

Yeah, well, I love that too. And, and I want to explore just a little bit kind of, again, tactically what your day to day looks like, like, I know that bliss enjoys a very, very diverse customer base. I’ve seen it like I walk into the store, and I look around and I’m just like, this community is reflective of the outer community. And that makes me very happy. Yeah. But then I’m really curious to hear about the day to day like so. So thus far on the journey, we’ve talked about the idea, we’ve talked about some of the things that it took to get there some of the challenges that you experienced, but now in the day to day, what do you see as the founder, what do you think has come to fruition as far as what Bliss is, is doing currently?


La’Nesha Frazier  32:41

Um, what I see with when I have like, customers walk in, and I get, I get a couple of different questions, but what I see is joy. When a customer walks in, and they see the types of books that we have, and they see certain books being spotlighted. And they’re seeing faces that look like them is the major thing. So, you know, you can go over to the fiction section, and you see all kinds of fiction, but you also see black urban fiction. Yeah. And that doesn’t get spotlighted in a lot of places. And so when I found out that they were more than just, you know, Harry Potter, or you know, type of things, but books that looked like me. It was just like, oh, yeah, we need to we need to spotlight that we need for the community to see these types of books here. And don’t get me wrong. We have a great mixture of books because I read all kinds of well,


Lauren Conaway  33:45

You have an amazing selection, but I will say that diverse authors are very, very evident. And full disclosure friends. Let me show you right now is wearing a Hogwarts t shirt as we’re talking about Harry Potter. I just wanted to note it like just to note that like, I know y’all can’t see her but I’m like dying laughing as she’s talking about Harry Potter because I’m like, you’re wearing the shirt.


La’Nesha Frazier  34:05

I love Harry Potter. Yes. Yes. Um, so we tried to choose a diet a diverse selection. So we want we want your ear your you know, everyday that you see, you know, white analysts say that but you know, you see your white authors, you also see your Hispanic authors. And now we see our LGBTQ authors, we see our black authors, we see all of these. I read my first Native American fiction. Yeah, Ryan was blown. Well, guess what? That’s coming into the store. Like, I just, I want that diversity in here. Because again, it’s called inclusion, right? I want everybody to be able to read everything. And if we don’t have it, dang it out, I’ll order it.


Lauren Conaway  34:52

You will get it. Yeah, you know, never, never, never ever forget that. And incidentally, your librarians and your booksellers friends they can be your Best Friends, if you were late, they are the smartest people you are ever going to meet. And don’t be afraid. But don’t be afraid to ask like, if you’re looking for something can’t find it, I have never met a more supportive, like a more supportive team than Renee and La’Nesha when I’m looking for something. So just don’t be afraid to ask.


La’Nesha Frazier  35:18

But what we do that all purpose. So we it is I guess that is a strict strategy. I guess I wouldn’t ever have called it that. But we want you to come in and have a taste of everything. Yeah, we want you to have a sample of everything. And so we strategically make sure that things are being presented and represented correctly. And if we don’t have somebody say, Hey, do you know this author and this, and this is talking about this? And like, I sure don’t, but I’m gonna get it in here. Thank you. Yeah, you know, type of thing. So


Lauren Conaway  35:46

Well, I love that. And I think to kind of operationalize it a little bit for me because like, not everybody is going to be able to go out and start their own bookstore. Not everybody wants to do that. That’s not their journey. But the point is that if you are looking to build an inclusive team, if you are looking like not just diverse, but truly inclusive, you have to make sure that the people you are asking to join your team, and to do the mental and emotional labor, the lifting of being an other is part of a larger team. You have to make sure that those individuals are reflected in your team and in in your market. So like one of the things that IHKC does, I have tech founders call me all the time, and I’m like, why don’t women apply? And I’m like, the first thing that I always look at is their website. And I’m just like, look at, look at your graphics, look at your pictures, all we see are dominant majority faces. We don’t see women, we don’t see people of color. If I were to look at this, I would not think that this is a place where I would be welcomed because you’re not showing me that this is a place where people who look, think and act like me are already welcomed. And you’re doing, you’re doing that with Bliss, like hey, not only are you going to be able to come in to this environment and have a good time, like we’re going to, we’re going to be hospitable toward you. But you’re going to come in and you’re going to find authors and books written by people who are reflective of who I am, are reflected of the values that I hold. And that’s a really exciting thing and particularly when you belong to a demographic group that that doesn’t happen for a very often, you know.


La’Nesha Frazier  37:18

Shout out to Renee on that she shout very good with the marketing and the website and things of that nature to make sure that is very reflective of what we want to see in here. And we want to bring in we don’t just try to focus on women. I know a lot of times that that is that is what is portrayed as well. But we also do like we’re doing a stogie in in spirit night for the guys with cigar is in spirits and things like so. Because guys ready to go. So we have a whole section over there.


Lauren Conaway  37:47

For that, read gently. Yeah, let’s let’s do book clubs. Let’s talk together about ideas and books. Let’s do it. Yeah. Well, I love that. And I all the congratulations to the in the world to you. I mean, I think you know how much I adore both you and Renee. And I love the Bliss mission you’ve done. You’ve just done such a fantastic job with it so far. What what’s next? You know, as you get more comfortable in this, this business world and these things that you’re doing. You know, talk to us a little bit about the next steps.


La’Nesha Frazier  38:23

I mean, that is like,


Lauren Conaway  38:26

Really like, I don’t know, is totally a valid answer.


La’Nesha Frazier  38:31

That is so loaded. I mean, what’s next, I think we’re just going to continue to try to grow our Bliss events. Where we can bring in the community, and it kind of rally around. So like we do like Teacher Appreciation Week and or mixers for teachers, or, like I said, we’re going to introduce this stogies and spirits for the guys. And hopefully we can introduce like a male book club. Like we have guys that attend our book club. But you know, for the most part is a lot, it’s predominantly women. So maybe they don’t feel safe that way. So let’s create a male book club, you know, so trying to implement a little bit more of the events that Will is holding and hosting. And then I don’t know from there. We’ll see how it goes.


Lauren Conaway  39:20

Well, I’m going to be crossing my fingers for you. And if there’s any way that innovator can support, of course, let me know. We have come to the time in our program, ladies and gentlemen when it’s time for the human question. And I have a bit of a like I’ve been thinking about this question like kind of all throughout, and I think I know what I want to ask. I don’t know exactly how I want to ask it, so I’m just gonna give it a shot. But one of the things that I loved it for a period of time, was you were doing book and wine pairings. You were like, Oh, this Chardonnay would be really nice with this like really light kind of summery summer read, and then we have this deep full-bodied read that’s gonna go with like Nabokov or something, thinking like I like Crime and Punishment or something like that, like, little heavier and I thought that was so funny. And you’ve talked about the different kinds of experiences that people can have in your space, like the solo, you know, a reader who just wants to read a book and drink a glass of wine and lay everybody leaves me alone, or the people who come in for the book. So what I want to know is tell us about your perfect Bliss experience. Like what does La’Nesha like to experience as bliss? What do you want to do? Are you like a solo reader? Like, is there a particular wine and cheese pairing that you love with a specific book? Like, talk to us a little bit about that.


La’Nesha Frazier  40:42

I am a mixture. So let’s say that I was a customer here at Bliss. If I was meeting a group of friends here, right? Let’s say I’m meeting a group of friends here at seven. I’m going to come at 5:30. So I can sit in the corner and read by myself.


Lauren Conaway  40:59

I slapped my forehead because that’s alright, go go, go, go. Got it.


La’Nesha Frazier  41:03

I’m gonna sit in the corner at 5:30 and read a book by myself, have a glass of wine, relax, and mentally prepare myself for the shenanigans that are about to occur with my friends. So I am, if I’m reading by myself, I’m probably going to have like a full-body red, and I’m just going to be deep in thought and in fantasy or whatever. And just internalizing and relaxing. And then the night will progress from there to be fun, bubbly, and excited.


Lauren Conaway  41:35

Well, I love that the night progresses after the first glass of wine because that’s when you start to see like the really fun part. Wow, I love that. And I gotta tell you, La’Nesha, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. It’s always a delight to talk to you, my friend.


La’Nesha Frazier  41:52

Thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure. It’s an honor. It’s all of the above. I really, really appreciate it.  Thank you.


Lauren Conaway  41:59

Wow, I love your face. And I love your heart. And I also love Full Scale. If you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, Full Scale can help. They have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit, all you need to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit And friends, I’m gonna, once again I’m gonna put out the call to action. So I am speaking on behalf of all of the Startup Hustle hosts out there in the world. But we, we want to hear from you. We do this work for you. We don’t do it for us. It’s certainly fun for us. But we do it because we want to help founders tell the real stories of entrepreneurship, the challenges, the triumphs, all of these day-to-day things that we struggle with. We hope that you can learn from our mistakes. And so I’m gonna ask you to tell us what you want to hear about. Reach out to us. There’s a Startup Hustle chat group on Facebook. You can suggest guests at or check the show notes for more information. But tell us the stories that you want to hear. Tell us about the founders and the journeys that you want to hear, and we will deliver because this is what we’re doing it all for. So, I invite you to reach out to us. Let us know what you’re thinking, feeling, and what you need to hear, and I certainly invite you to keep on coming back. We love that you listen to us week after week, and we will catch you next time.