Creator of Flat Out Heels & PopCom on Fashion, Tech & Financial Literacy in the Black Community

We caught up with the creator of Flat Out Heels & PopComDawn Dickson about being Black in Tech and her goal of empowering and building generational wealth in the Black community. 

If you have not heard about Flat Out Heels or PopCom, let us introduce you. Serial entrepreneur, Dawn Dickson’s interest and journey is one of inspiration and discovery.

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Founder & CEO, Dawn Dickson created Flat Out of Heels rollable flats out of necessity. In February 2011, Dawn was attending an event in South Beach, Miami dressed to the nines in six-inch heels. After standing for hours her feet were on fire and she desperately searched for a place to purchase some affordable flats for relief… to no luck. It was at the moment that Dawn set out to create a fashionable, durable and must-have rollable flat that is chic and durable enough for everyday use and dispensable out of vending machines, enter PopCom Kiosk, to make purchasing convenient.

FN:  Given the success of Flat Out Heels, are there any plans to expand into sustainability using recycled textiles and materials?

DD: We have discussed creating eco-friendly Flat Outs made from recycled and sustainable materials, it is definitely a possibility. With the right partnership or influencer, this would make a great addition to our collection.

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FN: You were quoted in a recent interview saying, “When they don’t give us a seat at the table, we bring our own.” Can you talk to us about being Black in Tech and your goal of bringing financial literacy and teaching generational wealth to the Black community?

DD: Black tech entrepreneurs often face difficulty raising money to launch and grow our companies. With the historical wealth of Black families being nominally low compared to our counterparts and pattern matching often leaving Black founders out, the venture funding landscape has continuously been an obstacle. Black founders do not have a strong network of people with significant capital to invest in their friends and family round, which is supposed to be the first launching pad for funding opportunities. I was able to raise some early capital for my company from friends and family but I am aware that not many Black people have friends and family that can drop checks for $40k to $50k, $100k, or a million dollars, so why not extend the opportunity to the greater community.

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Crowdfunding is the way to do that. The way to create wealth is through investing, traditionally Black communities have been left out of investment opportunities due to lack of network and being accredited investor. Now, due to the JOBS Act, passed by the Obama Administration in 2012, anyone can invest in early-stage companies through equity crowdfunding. My goal is to bring some of the funding and wealth back to the community using crowdfunding. In 2019, I became the first female founder globally to raise over $1M through equity crowdfunding. I raised another $1.03M in 2020 through crowdfunding and created a new investor pipeline and opened many doors for Black founders.

FN: PopCom is changing the way analytical data is used in a newly designed traditional space like intelligent vending machines. With the use of AI and facial recognition, do you see fashion vending as a wave of the future?

DD: PopCom develops software technology to allow vending machines and kiosks to collect customer data and analytics. Automated retail is the future, that continues to be demonstrated when we see kiosks everywhere for self-checkout and self-service. I see vending being the new distribution channel not just for fashion, but for everything we need to buy and sell. 

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FN: Since you started Flat Out Heels can you tell us about any challenges and triumphs you have experienced?

DD: There have been many along the way. The challenge that I first faced was learning out to source products from China and import them into the U.S. A triumph that comes to mind was when I partnered with Loren Ridinger to design a custom collection for her and Shop.com.

FN: Over the past few years, we have seen S.T.E.M. become a focus in education, especially when speaking on the disparities in the tech industry currently, when it comes to Black people and POC. Can you speak on the importance of representation in these industries?

DD: Black people have been on the forefront of S.T.E.M. since the beginning of human history, however, we were often written out and left to be ‘hidden figures’ – so the importance of visibility of those in the industry as well as cultivating the future generations to be a part of the industry is why representation is important. We have always been here, we have always been inventors and innovators, but we refuse to be written out of history books again.

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FN: In light of the recent Black Lives Matter movement and the push to #BuyBlack, can you speak on how your invention Flat Out Heels is empowering the Black community and generating investment opportunities?

DD: Flat Out of Heels is not empowering the community in this way. PopCom, through crowdfunding, has given the community an opportunity to invest in an early-stage tech company and be a part of something as it grows. Many people never had this opportunity, many of my investors had never invested in anything prior. That makes me feel good that I can help close that barrier to entry.

Enjoyed our interview with entrepreneur Dawn Dickson? Follow her on all socials to keep up with this tech guru and her new endeavors.

All around cool girl obsessed with everything fashion, viral, social media & PR.

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