It’s a Thursday evening around 6:00 pm when Aysia Hilliard and I connect via Zoom.
We’re meeting to chat about her business—Trapstix—an online trap-inspired lip balm brand she started when she was in high school. She’s a senior at Howard University now.
What’s particularly interesting about Aysia’s story is how posting one video on TikTok took her business from humble beginnings down a path to accelerated growth in which she has now moved more than 50,000 units to date.
And she almost didn’t post the video!
“I didn’t really wanna put myself out there,” she tells me…
The Story of Trapstix
In a car with two friends on the way to see a movie, ‘cause there’s not a lot of things to do in the south as a 17-year-old’, was when the idea for Trapstix first came to Aysia.
She was chatting with her friends about trying different Chapstick flavors, when she got tongue-tied, accidentally combining ‘tr-y’ and ‘ch-apstic’, and ended up blurting out Trapstix.
Aysia, says she apologized to her friends for the error but then she thought the idea was actually kind of interesting.
She explains to me that Trap music originated in Atlanta, where she’s from so it’s a big part of her culture and something that she loves.
“I remember at the time, a Gucci Mane song was playing and I was like, if there was a trap-inspired lip bomb company, what would it be like? What would the flavors be? And since Gucci Mane was playing, I started trying to figure out, okay, what’s a flavor that can go with that? And that’s how I came up with the first flavor—Gucci mango.”
When Aysia returned home from the movies that evening, she told her family about the idea and they immediately encouraged her to pursue it.
“My parents are very productive,” she says.
That night Aysia’s parents pushed her to put action behind her business idea, they came up with more names, had her look to see if anyone had already come up with this product, had her create her logo, and looked up places to buy labels.
“We did everything in that one night,” she says. “If I had known that [was going to happen], I may have waited till the next day to tell them, but I didn’t. So, they had me working the night of doing a bunch of research.”
When I ask Aysia about her biggest challenge in building Trapstix she tells me — marketing, promoting her business, and advertising.
“I had no background in that. I did fine selling to my friends and family; my school was really supportive, and a lot of people from my school bought, but I just couldn’t get past my city. People were buying all of my flavors, but once you have 13 flavors, you don’t really need some for a while. So, I just couldn’t figure out how to really grow my customer base outside of Kennesaw, Georgia.”
When Aysia moved away for college she found herself running into the same challenge, she couldn’t grow her business beyond her immediate surroundings. But things soon changed when a Tiktok influencer offered to promote her product for her.
“It was like a whole domino effect,” Aysia says.
While her product was on the way to the influencer, Aysia’s dad encouraged her to create a TikTok account and start posting so that when the company was tagged in the promotion there would be something for people to see if they clicked on the tag.
Aysia was reluctant. She says at the time she was a bit insecure. She never planned to be the face of the brand but for the sake of the business, she made and posted a short introductory video.
“I hate that he is so right all the time because when I posted my first video, it went viral and it got half a million views.”
Aysia says she got 500 orders that day and things only grew from there.
Creating a successful brand on TikTok
“I get a lot of questions about how to go viral. Like, how did I get from zero followers and zero views to half a million? And I always tell [people], I did a lot of stuff before that.”
Aysia says part of what made her successful was that her product was already developed, and her branding, infrastructure systems, and website were all in place.
“Everything was ready so that when I actually went on TikTok and I made the video introducing my business, it was kind of like I caught the impulse buying of people. If people couldn’t make an order or it just kind of looked raggedy, people would not have bought it.”
Outside of having your foundation ready, Aysia said being a consumer of TikTok is important if you want to grow your brand on the channel.
“You can’t understand how TikTok works if you don’t use TikTok. You can’t know what’s trending or what’s cool and not if you’re not using it.”
Aysia says scrolling TikTok is like doing research. “That’s how I posted videos that appeal to people. [I think to myself] if it wasn’t me and it was someone else posting this, would I watch this? would I like this? If the answer is no, then I won’t post it. That’s my process.”
And when you start posting, be consistent and post a lot. “[Become] a familiar face,” Aysia says.
Aysia’s story reminds me of a quote by Tim Ferriss—“Sometimes, what we fear the most is what we most need to do.”
If you’re struggling to grow your business to the next level, consider posting on TikTok even if it feels intimidating.
Aysia leaves us with this: “Whether you’re starting young like me or at an older age, know you can really develop a business with hard work. Not everyone will have the support as I had with my parents, but there are people who can mentor you. I mentor people. I’d be more than willing for you to email me.”