Last year as Nantale Muwonge watched the Pandemic unfold before her eyes, she saw how COVID-19 ripped through Black communities with particular force; the mental and emotional consequences, as well as the economic consequences, as Black businesses were especially hard hit. Muwonge decided she had to do something to help and realized she could use her experience in online content creation and PR to help Black-owned businesses increase their online sales – and so, Black Girl PR was born. Today the Phoenix, Arizona-based entrepreneur is learning how to unlearn corporate hustle culture, to continue to build a mission-based business with integrity and enjoying all the successes her client’s achieve with her help.
Muwonge’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
I founded Black Girl PR during the pandemic when I learnt that Black entrepreneurs aren’t supported the way other entrepreneurs are. After we went into lockdown I watched as small businesses that I loved started closing down. As I dug into this, I discovered the disparities that they face when it comes to funding and support. It bothered me. At the same time, the Black community was being hit hard by COVID-19 because of systematic racism, police violence against Black people was totally out of control, and everything was uncertain because we didn’t know how long the pandemic was going to last. There was a lot going on and I definitely struggled with it initially. But when I focused on how I could meet the moment and step into one of the many gaps I had observed, it occurred to me that I could help Black-owned businesses reach customers online. Helping legacy-builders who are investing back into their communities and affecting change felt like a real way to have a meaningful impact, so I went with it. That’s how Black Girl PR was born.
How do you define success?
To me success is living a life that feeds my spirit. Getting to spend my time with people and on projects that are energizing, having the freedom to use my time as I chose, and being able to opt out of environments that are not in alignment with my values. I also define success as living a life that contributes to my community in a meaningful way because I live by the African principle Ubuntu. Ubuntu basically means, “I am, because we are.” Or put another way, we experience the true depth of our humanity through our connection to others, so nurturing those connections by offering support as we too are supported means that pouring into your community is essentially pouring into yourself.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
My biggest success to date is coaching a client through a multi-platform launch that resulted in a 60% increase in website traffic and sales. She’s an incredible artist with many ideas, and after spending some time outlining her plans and goals, I developed a digital strategy that she was happy with. The key was developing a strategy that took into account her process and timelines, something that she felt comfortable implementing with me as an accountability partner and cheerleader. She did all the heavy lifting and is a huge testament to what you can achieve if you have the drive and ambition.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My top challenge is blending work and life in a healthy way. I made the conscious decision to step out of grind culture when I left corporate America because my body couldn’t tolerate that pace anymore. So I’ve been unlearning the toxic practices that I picked up working in fast-paced environments and adopting healthy practices like humane scheduling. I’m enjoying building practices that allow space for flexibility and intuitive decision-making. It’s so much more supportive.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Health challenges lead me to the concept of adaptive living, which has in turn affected the way I work. I came out of corporate America with work habits that led to burn out from grind culture, but now my work practices and the strategies that I develop for my clients are humane, which makes them easier to adopt and successfully implement. It’s been transformational.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Find mentors and like-minded people who are also invested in growth and success. Having people who are further along in the journey than you, who are willing to share knowledge and offer guidance is invaluable. And when they give you plays, don’t sleep on them! Implement. I was lucky to find a Business Bae early on and I’m so grateful for her.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I go inwards. I give myself space to feel what I need to, I self-nurture, and I shift my mind to all that I have to be grateful for.
Who is your most important role model?
My mother, she’s such a formidable woman. I’ve always admired her, but as an adult striving for balance with much less responsibility than she had at my age, I’m seeing how incredible she really is. She is unapologetically herself, brilliant, confident, pragmatic, glamorous, nurturing, charitable, hilarious – the list goes on. She’s climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and her carrot cake is not to be messed with! She is everything society told me I could never be, and more. I’m so grateful to have been raised by her otherwise I might have been believed the lies.