Collaboration Over Competition

Collaboration over competition is my motto for 2024. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do as a creative is to collaborate with other creatives.  Last year I decided that I wanted to make brand collaborations a priority for 2024.  And as luck would have it, last Summer at the BeyGood Black Parade Small Business Impact Luncheon  (click here to read all about that experience), I met Mikaela Pabon, the colorful creative behind the clothing brand Dressed In Joy.

There’s always something special about meeting online friends in IRL.  Especially those you admire from afar.  I admit it, I had a fan girl moment.  Mikaela’s colorful outfit, warm personality and modesty matched the aloha vibe of her brand.  We hit it off immediately and had a brief chat about doing some sort of collaboration.

These e-commerce streets are no joke. Ask anyone in the e-commerce world and they’ll tell you that 2023 was a tough year. I’ve been watching other brands navigate and collaboration over competition seems to be a viable pathway. However, what I noticed is that very few Black owned brands were collaborating together in the same way. My goal is to change that and pave the way for meaningful collaborations and partnerships amongst Black women owned brands.

Mikaela Pabon and I at Beyoncé Black Parade Small Business Impact Luncheon in Brooklyn, New York – July 2023.

The Effie’s Paper x Dressed In Joy Collaboration

A few weeks after meeting, we had an “exploratory” call to chat about our respective businesses and the possibility of working together. It felt like a notebook was the right medium for us to choose – one of our signature products combined with one of her signature designs. Mikaela’s bold designs are fun and pretty; I knew they would look great on one of our notebooks.

As with any new “relationship”, it took us a minute to figure out how to work together to make our collective vision come to life. It took a few designs, iterations and layouts for us to both feel good about the final product. But, the final layout made my heart leap and I was confident we were on to something.

When the notebooks arrived in November, I knew we had a best seller! Yes, we’ve been sitting on these for three months. Our original plan was to launch the EP x DIJ notebooks during the holiday season in time for Christmas. It seemed like a good idea back in September when were working on the design, but the holidays are always a little crazy for e-commerce brands. So, we decided to wait until the top of 2024.

Kalyn and Mikaela at Hibiscus Brew where the photo shoot for the collaboration launch took place.

Waiting until the beginning of the new year gave us both time to get through the holidays and to think about a marketing strategy.

The Photo Shoot

Dre, Mikaela’s husband, was our photographer for the photo shoot.

The photo shoot took place about a week before the notebooks launched. Mikaela’s husband, Dre, shoots a lot of her content and agreed to be the photog for our collaboration (yes, he’s the ultimate Insta-Husband!). In the spirit of collaboration over competition, we both wanted to have the photo shoot in a black-owned location. So, I reached out to my friend Allison Dunn, and fellow Goldman Sachs 10ksb alum, who owns a pretty in pink wellness cafe called Hibiscus Brew in Brooklyn. Allison was kind enough to let us invade her cafe and take photos to our hearts’ content.

To see the video that came about as a result of our photo shoot, click here.

The Notebook – Limited Quantities

We decided to do a small run initially to test the waters. Suffice it to say, the notebook has been well-received and has been flying off the shelves since it dropped on February 2nd. If this notebook is calling your name, order yours NOW because quantities are limited. And if you like this one, stay tuned because I’m pretty sure we’re going to drop another design sooner rather than later.


Kalyn, Allison (owner of Hibiscus Brew) and Mikaela.

When we come together good things happen. Collaboration over competition is a win-win for all involved. This experience has shown me that sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can be beneficial for more than just you. And yes, in case you were wondering, I’m currently in conversation with Allison of Hibiscus Brew about a little somethin’ somethin’. Stay tuned!

Stylishly yours,

Kalyn signature

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