Black women have always known that they are the total package, wrapping paper and the ribbon on top. They not only cast the deciding vote to win elections (You’re welcome, America) but also are responsible in part for our booming economy by being the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. These queens are dominating markets, breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings all the while unapologetically coming for everything that has been denied to them. Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty has the entire cosmetic industry shook with its groundbreaking sales; unbiased and plentiful selection of shades and superior quality of products and is one of the 2017 breakout stars amongst entrepreneurial ventures. Venus Williams, who earned an impressive seven Grand Slam titles, five Wimbledon singles titles, and four Olympic gold medals, is an entrepreneur who is transforming into a business tycoon right before our eyes. She owns V-Starr Interiors, a commercial and residential interior design firm in Florida, and relaunched EleVen, an athletic apparel line designed to empower women.
After carefully examining five black, powerhouse, female entrepreneurs: Naledi Nyahuma, owner of NINE, Lisa Beasley, co-founder of The Nova Collective, Helena Fils-Akinruli, ceo of Fils and Co. Management, Erika McCall, founder of the Go For Yours Foundation and Jaia Thomas, owner of Jaia Thomas Law, I believe I have discovered a sliver of evidence that can give the world a glimpse into what Black Girl Magic entrepreneurship is all about. Hundreds of ‘no’s’, pay inequality, and a misogynistic work environments are just a few issues women have to deal with in the workplace and once you multiply that by ten, you will have a better idea of what it’s like to be a black women in the workplace. Owning and running a business are two of the most stressful yet rewarding careers in the world. To do this, one must have some foundational qualities, or traits as I call them, which set them apart from the rest. There are three traits that these women, whose emerging empires span across the country, all have in common that make them a world treasure that must be protected at all costs.
From my research, the first trait is their maternal relationships. Each entrepreneur has an incredibly unique relationship with her mother that goes beyond the mother/daughter bond. That relationship informs how they interact with and support other female entrepreneurs and colleagues of color. Resources, support and opportunities are abundant in their circles and they are thrilled to offer their fellow sisters-of-success a helping hand. The ‘crab in the barrel’ mentality does not exist among them. As my southern grandmother would often say, “Iron sharpens iron.” The second trait is their above average intellect. Once again, this is not surprising after the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced that black women are now the most educated group in the United States. Having bachelor degrees from Spelman College, LeMoyne-Owen College, Simmons College, Illinois State University and Colgate University, the fierce five all share a love of education and sites their education as the launching pad for their current success. Their love of education does not stop at being an advocate for education but informs their mentoring, speaking and involvement at not only their respective alma maters but other institutions in the cities they reside in. ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste’, coined by the UNCF, seems to be a very fitting tagline for these ladies. The third and final trait that seals the deal for the fierce five is their keen awareness and sense of self. I have never observed women who are so unapologetically themselves without waver in my life. Excuses are never made for who they are, what they like, their beliefs and how much they love themselves and everything that comes along with that. These women know what they want, how to get it and what they will do when they have it.
Black Girl Magic is not just a catchy phrase or popular hashtag but a lifestyle. This lifestyle sets the stage for melanated queens to create, run and pass down empires. The business realm, originally thought to only be a man’s world, would not be the same without them and I, for one, would not like to see it otherwise. My bet is on black women every time. To close, I’d like to quote ReBecca Theodore-Vachon, “Support Black women. Stand up for Black women. Hire Black women. Vote for Black women.”
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