Looking for your “why” in life? These wise words from black women entrepreneurs might help.
When we asked women entrepreneurs why they started up as part of our 1,000+ Stories project, many told us they aimed to fill gaps in the marketplace. The business owners we’re featuring now take that idea to the next level by both selling products and services people need and uplifting customers in the process.
The following quotes from these business owners show how their work seeks to enrich the lives of others — in particular, fellow black women — and how that fact motivates them to build stronger, longer-lasting ventures.
1. “I love being able to speak positivity into the lives of women.”
Ideally we would all find ways to make the world a better, more beautiful place. Takia Ross, a makeup artist who founded Accessmatized, makes that idea a literal reality, using expertly executed makeup and hair to make fellow women feel their best — often at significant moments in their lives. “Being able to be a voice of reason, or remind women that they are phenomenal, that they are enough in that moment, that they are beautiful and able to achieve all things? I can’t imagine anything better.”
2. “What I do is make better people.”
Brittany Rose of More Than Cheer looks to do good though ripple effects. Her venture offers classes, summer camps, after-school programs and opportunities to compete on cheerleading teams to hundreds of students. It’s a sport that, she says, puts girls in “a unique position to uplift their school and their community,” adding that empowered, confident girls grow up to be strong, nurturing women who influence everyone around them.
3. “Black women are not a monolith.”
The words of Kimberly Peeler-Allen of Higher Heights are both a fact and a mandate. The organization she co-founded is leading the charge to get more black women into office — and the voting booth. And that has always been the goal. Higher Heights was and is designed to meet a pressing need for “a space for us, by us,” Peeler-Allen says, one that gives black women an opportunity to learn, engage and get active in ways that empower them as individuals.
4. “Social businesses have to be real businesses in order to have an impact.”
Yve-Car Momperousse of beauty business Kreyol Essence succinctly reminds us here that a business’ viability is critical to its ability to effect positive change. And she’s able to do exactly that: as of our last chat, Kreyol Essence employed 70 people in New York City and Haiti — many of them, women — and has contracts with hundreds of Haitian farmers who grow the plants that provide her key ingredient, organic black castor oil.
5. “Failure is God trying to push you in another direction. If you quit, you’ll never get there.”
Funlayo Alabi nearly lost her business, Shea Radiance, when she tried to scale too quickly. By thinking on her feet and going back to basics, she was able to keep Shea Radiance afloat, and has since grown it from that near-breaking point into a thriving venture. She, too, helps fellow black women abroad by offering them economic opportunities — which she says she is able to do thanks to her perseverance. “Business is a marathon, not a sprint,” she says of the lesson she learned.