HERE’S WHAT 5 BLACK SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS ARE REFLECTING ON THIS BLACK HISTORY MONTH


 

Aesha Ray
Aesha Ray

 

 

Envy Us Beauty Supply

 

 

 

 

 

How has your identity or culture shaped your business and brand as a Black small business owner?

My business is shaped around my identity and culture. I primarily serve Black women and stock a large variety of Black-owned products. The desire to start my business came from my struggle to find quality hair care products made for my natural hair after ditching harsh hair straightening chemicals in 2010.

 

Why did you start your business?

I founded my company to provide Black women with a safe space to shop for products specially made for their beauty needs and get their beauty questions answered by knowledgeable beauty advisors who are experienced in the beauty industry in a warm and welcoming environment. Too often, we are not provided safe, non-judgemental spaces to exist as our authentic selves; Envy Us Beauty Supply is that space.

 

What is the most important thing you want to do with your business?

I want to grow my business to reach more Black women and men. Our customers rave about the fantastic experience and product selection at Envy Us Beauty Supply. I want to bring that experience to more people with physical locations and a digital platform. I also want to use my platform to expand access to beauty products specifically made for Black beauty needs.

 

How does your business help the community?

We serve the community by hiring within our community and providing a wage that exceeds the state minimum. Additionally, we have partnered with organizations to provide beauty products to military personnel overseas, low-income children, and foster children. In 2022, we plan to expand our philanthropy by providing free beauty packages to our local community. Our goal for the future is to offer grants and scholarships.

 

What do you want to share this Black History Month?

I want people to know that Black history is still happening now. Many are first-generation college graduates, business owners, or salaried professionals. We are still breaking generational curses and creating opportunities unavailable to our parents. The hard work and sacrifice that is accomplished by most Black-owned businesses are fueled by our families, which do not have the economic stability of many of our non-Black counterparts. Being a Black business owner is bigger than running a business; this is a testament to hard work, sacrifice, and grit. Many of us are building these businesses while maintaining full-time jobs, raising children, and caring for loved ones. Our dedication to our businesses runs much deeper than profits alone; this is the dream of our ancestors personified.

 

What does your small business mean for your legacy and family?

My small business is my legacy of hard work, sacrifice, and love for my children. Leaving a mark on our community has a more profound impact and a lasting effect that my corporate career will NEVER fill. Having a parent as a business owner allows my children to dream bigger and realize limitless possibilities. My children can live without the limiting beliefs that I was given as a child. They believe they can do and be whoever they want in this world. That is the best gift I can give to my boys.

 

Symone Gates
Symone Gates

 

 

 

Sincerely, Bade

 

 

 

 

 

How has your identity or culture shaped your business and brand as a Black small business owner?

I’ve always been the independent rebel who looks at things differently and constantly strives to do better. I am a woman of color operating in an industry that caucasian women and men largely dominated until two years ago. I didn’t see my culture and voice represented within the wellness (industry), and I wanted to be part of the changing narrative of inclusivity.

 

Why did you start your business?

Our journey has been colorful. Years ago, I started playing around with formulas after being physically injured and mentally unwell. The process of making products by hand offered a very therapeutic experience for me, so it was always important to keep that as our foundation, products that are mindfully crafted. I jumped into launching the business because I couldn’t think of a reason not to; I was single, had no children, a flexible job, and thankfully no debt. While our mission has expanded since then, starting a business provided a challenging experience that I wanted to overcome.

 

What is the most important thing you want to do with your business?

We strive to elevate the body care industry through wellness education, transparency, and naturally effective products. Our “North Star” is to lift other women of color as we climb as a company. My primary purpose as a self-funded WOC entrepreneur is to showcase the beauty and wellness industries as viable careers for other young girls of color. Often, we shy away from career fields if we don’t see ourselves reflected, so I hope our company will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, I want young women to consider cosmetic chemistry, farming, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing as industries they can seriously impact while also showing the impact businesses can have on the community.

 

How does your business help the community?

We are a social business scaling through impact. We’re finalizing plans to incorporate entrepreneurship coursework into our production and fulfillment process. The goal is to convert unused space in West Harlem and create learning labs where local community members can learn the inner workings of a small business through hands-on employment and education. We hope to provide them with the skills and capital needed to launch their own community-based companies, continuing the cycle of hiring locally.

 

What do you want to share this Black History Month?

Throughout the year, Black entrepreneurs and creators achieve amazing things. The annual BHM celebration has become a beautiful tradition, but it only provides us with a powerful platform once a year. People of color face many obstacles when embarking on entrepreneurship, and I believe the most critical initiative to minimize those obstacles is authentic support. Shop with us year-round because our products and services are equal to those with more significant funding and publicity. In addition to building within our communities, supporting Black-owned businesses makes things a little easier for those that come after us.

 

What does your small business mean for your legacy and family?

I want to be another example of a woman who made it and brought others along with her. I want my daughters to know that they can accomplish their dreams regardless of obstacles posed by their skin color. “

 

Elizabeth Rene
Elizabeth Rene

 

 

 

PO’UP! Card Game

 

 

 

 

 

How has your identity or culture shaped your business and brand as a Black small business owner?

As a Black woman entrepreneur, first-generation college graduate, and daughter of immigrants, the intersections of my identities have shaped PO’ UP! Card Game. As a Black alumna of a college where less than eight percent of the student population identifies as Black, I understand the feeling of being unseen. That’s why PO’ UP! Card Game was created for Black alumni by Black alumni — to create a more inclusive narrative around the “Black collegiate” experience.

Twenty percent of Black college students and alumni graduate from Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). Eighty percent – including our founder – are Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) graduates.

PO’ UP! is more than a drinking card game –it is a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between students and alumni of HBCUs and PWIs. While there is beauty in our unique college experiences, we are connected by Black Excellence. It’s time that our collective experiences be highlighted, celebrated, and realized. PO’ UP! to Black Excellence.

 

Why did you start your business?

I created PO’ UP! Card Game in 2020 to celebrate Black excellence. Amid ongoing police violence against Black people, one motto prevailed that became a catalyst for the game’s launch, “Black joy is a form of resistance.” PO’ UP! Cards are more than a drinking card game –it is a unique outlet to center joy and celebrate Black Americans graduating college at unprecedented rates. As a Black alumna myself, it was extremely important that Black college students and fellow alumni center joy in a bold new way – a Black collegiate drinking card game.

 

What is the most important thing you want to do with your business?

The most important thing that I want to do with PO’ UP! Card Game is building generational wealth to reinvest in the community that has done so much for me. Our long-term goal is to partner with colleges and universities across the United States to develop special editions with respective students and alumni. I would love for the next edition to partner with DC-area schools, such as Howard University, University of the District of Columbia, and Georgetown, among others. With the creation of those special editions, I would like to donate a portion of the proceeds to scholarships fostering and celebrating the success of Black college students.

 

How does your business help the community?

PO’ UP! Card Game helps the Black community by providing a unique outlet to center joy as a form of resistance. After a challenging year with the coronavirus pandemic and social justice tragedies, the Black community has been taking much-needed time to restore community and repair harm. That means that opportunities to build trust and connection from the safety of our homes are important during unprecedented times. PO’ UP! Card Game is an opportunity to reminisce about our college days and reflect on the simplicity of our early adult years. It’s an opportunity to thrive in a community and prioritize good conversations over the hustle and bustle of social media and other forms of digital entertainment. It’s an opportunity to celebrate Black Excellence!

 

What do you want to share this Black History Month?

I want to share a reminder to support Black Businesses during Black History month and every month. Support looks different. It can mean engaging with our content across social media platforms, leaving a positive review, and spreading the word about our product in rooms we might not have access to. I also want to share that I believe in collaboration over competition. I look forward to growing alongside other Black businesses in the game industry because I think there is more than enough room for all of our games to be featured on the shelves of major retailers worldwide.

 

What does your small business mean for your legacy and family?

PO’ UP! Card Game is an opportunity to continue my family’s legacy of entrepreneurs and risk-takers. Since she was a teenager, my older sister has owned and operated her own hair salon. My grandparents took the risk of being the first in our family to immigrate to the United States. It is my turn to take a chance and create my legacy to create generational wealth and reinvest in my community. My small business symbolizes an opportunity for financial freedom. Furthermore, it also means that I have an opportunity to shift entrepreneurship from side hustle to a full-time job. I look forward to taking a risk to make my family proud.

 

Carvelle Estriplet
Carvelle Estriplet

 

 

 

Caravelle Bikes

 

 

 

 

 
How has your identity or culture shaped your business and brand as a Black small business owner?

I am an unapologetic proud Black Trans woman who loves bicycles. I am the owner of Carvelle Bikes, located in the vibrant city of Wilton Manors.

 

Why did you start your business?

I started my business after working 15 years in the cycling industry. Unfortunately, this industry has a subtle tone of racism, and I hit my glass ceiling, let alone being the only African-American and trans woman in the company service mechanic. I started my bike shop right before COVID-19, which was good because people rode their bikes more.

 

What is the most important thing you want to do with your business?

What my business means to me might sound cliche. However, I want people to know that anybody can do anything if you put your mind to it. I have overcome so many adversities, homelessness, encounters with law enforcement, and alienation from my family for some time in my journey.

 

What does your small business mean for your legacy and family?

My shop’s legacy has an origin story. My mother was an entrepreneur. Four years ago, we lost her in the second fight against pancreatic cancer. In the depths of my heart, I know I get my tenacity and determination to get things done from my mom.

 

How does your business help the community?

I’m an appointed member of the CAAB Community Affairs Advisory Board of Wilton Manors. We cultivate city events, including Artwalk and a classic automobile show.

I am also Deputy Director Florida Democratic LGBTQ+ Caucus. As active deputy directors, we focus on the protection and access to voting rights. I am also engaging and empowering young LGBTQ+ to be active and civic mindful.

 

Keisha Turner
Keisha Turner

 

 

Keisha Elise Cosmetics

 

 

 

 

 

How has your identity or culture shaped your business and brand as a Black small business owner?

As a minority-owned business owner, my mission has always been to bring more minority representation to the beauty industry. Representation matters, and getting more positive images of beauty will positively impact my community.

 

Why did you start your business?

I started my business because I wanted to create a positive space for mothers and daughters to shop together. If you go to any major retail store, the sections of women and girls are always separate. I wanted to bridge that gap and create a better bonding experience between moms and daughters. I have always been passionate about beauty and fashion, but it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do. I was a single parent for many years and chose to become an educator because it was a career that allowed me to be there for my daughter. As my daughter got older, I realized I wasn’t doing what I was passionate about. I decided to take a leap of faith and start my business.

 

What is the most important thing you want to do with your business?

I want my business to inspire other women to pursue their dreams regardless of their circumstances.

 

How does your business help the community?

We donate our products to positive causes that impact women and young girls.

 

What do you want to share this Black History Month?

I am very proud to be a Black woman and represent my community positively. Black History month is not just a celebration of being Black. It is also a time of reflection and gratitude to all who paved the way for us to be where we are today.

 

What does your small business mean for your legacy and family?

My small business is very important to my legacy. I am building generational wealth for my children and grandchildren to come.

 

**Editor’s Note**

The responses reflect the business owners’ perspective

 





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