Former First Lady Michelle Obama writes at the end of her memoir, “Becoming,” “There is power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, to own your unique story, to use your authentic voice. And there is grace in wanting to know and hear others. This is, for me, how we become.
Mercedes Jaime, Commercial Director of BBWA, asks, “What would you do if you knew you can’t fail? “
Jaime posted the rhetorical question during the third program in a series of Conversations with Al McFarlane live Facebook webcasts, which air at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays through the end of January.
The program features business owners who collaborate under the BBWA umbrella to present the 2nd annual BEE Marketplace, a virtual cultural marketplace showcasing the talents, products and services of black women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. A revolutionary visionary and innovative business strategy, the BBWA initiative aims to empower black women to pursue their entrepreneurial genius by supporting them with the expertise needed to develop their business, products and market position.
Jaime said that for Kenya McKnight-Ahad, Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Black Women’s Wealth Alliance (BBWA), it was a “leap of faith”. The building where the BBWA paid rent for three years now belongs to the former tenant.
For Stacy Abrams, candidate for governor of Georgia, it is about growing the movement led by women to mobilize black communities, to vote.
As Vice-President Kamala Harris recently said, the stakes are too high.
Dr Irma McClaurin, Editor-in-Chief of Insight Culture and Education, encourages black women to tell their own stories and ‘archive’ them so they can be preserved and inspire generations to come. McClaurin set up Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, leading by example.
Psychologist Dr. Bravada Garrett-Akinsanya, leader of the African American Child Wellness Institute, insists that black Americans and other people of color have a right to well-being and just to “be.”
Kenya McKnight-Ahad and her BBWA team inspire black women entrepreneurs to make their dreams come true.
In each of these leaders there is a deep physical and spiritual radiance, power, and beauty on all levels, and the historic ability to hold onto the faith that sustains meaning, success, and joy. Each demonstrates the power to remain grateful despite roadblocks or heartaches, and to be a blessing in categorically stating the truth of their experiences as black women. Standing in their brilliance, their wisdom, their confidence, their passionate vocation and their responsibility, they are doing their individual and collective part to make the world a better place.
LaToya Burrell is boldly working on change even though she didn’t look for entrepreneurship in the beginning. She describes herself as a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. Above all, she says, she is a child of God. She has been and still is a university dean, professor, lawyer and mentor. As an author and speaker, Burrell contributes to the change she wants to see in the world. After George Floyd’s televised performance, Burrell knew she had to do something daring. Like many of us, the pain of witnessing this excruciating crime was beyond imaginable. What happened to mankind? What happened to civilization?
Burrell decided to write a book called Be Bold: How to Prepare Your Heart and Mind for Racial Reconciliation. This book has taken her to broaden her engagements as a speaker, speaker, and facilitator of bold conversations about how to prepare for racial reconciliation. The book is available on Amazon.com and other booksellers.
DeTeyonce Graves, owner and creative hairstylist of DeStyle Hair Care, said: “After graduating from high school I first graduated in fashion, but decided after I had my first child that I needed a career with the potential to be more consistent and even more affordable. me the flexibility I needed to be the woman I was meant to be and the best mother I could be.
“I watched my mom work in the cosmetology profession for almost 40 years. It wasn’t easy, but she was good and she loved her customers. I decided to try and create my own niche in the hair care industry, ”she said.
DeStyle Hair Care’s value proposition is not only to make women more beautiful, but also to elevate the hair experience for women, even beyond the salon. Graves strives to provide its clients with knowledge on how to care for their hair as it promotes the longevity of healthy hair. In order to grow her business, she created a website featuring the hair care products that she most often sold to her customers. In the face of the pandemic, she has created additional hair care and beauty products, including one of her daughter’s lip gloss products which has its own tab on her salon website. Graves says she hopes to start blogging in the near future, as hair care products and techniques are constantly changing. “If you want to be good, it’s imperative that you do your research, study the markets, go to hair salons, and keep investing in yourself. Virtual learning is accessible to all those who wish to progress in their particular niche. It is important to know what is out there, ”she said. DeStyle is located at 2130 E. Lake St. #D, Minneapolis, MN 55407. Call (612) 807-4615 for more information.
Britany Carter worked with the school district on a daily basis, but aimed at the accessories market and creative and unique gifts. When students were sent home due to the pandemic, Carter and other staff members chose to reinvent themselves by exploiting alternatives that could eventually open the door to better opportunities. “Besti B Crafts” was a side concert for Carter. The company creates personalized shirts, mugs, treats and more.
“I started out by doing different things just for my family members. There weren’t many creative artisans in my line, but there were certainly great cooks. When I started posting some of my products on Facebook, like my wine and strawberry boxes, T-shirts, and advertisements for my popular dessert tables, my customer base started to increase. Thanks to a grant from BBWA, I was able to buy equipment to make my products and have an inventory. I had conquered my fear of using the Cricut machine for printing and was able to purchase equipment for computerized printing and sublimation which made the process easier.
Cricut cutting plotters are computerized cutting machines designed for home craftsmen. Sublimation is a faster process. Dye underprinting is a computer printing technique that uses heat to transfer the dye to materials such as plastic, cardstock, paper, or fabric. These printers are often used for photographic prints, ID cards, clothing, etc.
“I started my business, High Heel Shoe Fetish, when I was a kid,” Shaneka Greer said. “My mom loved shoes and fashion, but I just fell in love with the shoes. I always thought they made a woman so beautiful. Finding unique shoe designs became a hobby, one day I started researching how I could turn my hobby into a business. I posted a few samples of shoes that I liked on Facebook, it became a full time job during the pandemic. Women always wanted to look good and feel good. I started working and selling shoes again, but the hard work, besides being a mother first, made me a stronger person. I love being a woman and I am so grateful to meet all of these beautiful women who have shown faith. I don’t have a lot of family, so just coming together and supporting each other means more than just owning a business. It’s personal connection, service added to delivering a high quality, affordable product.
The time between pandemic shutdowns gave Greer the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship and find proven ways to start a business. “McKnight-Ahad kindled a fire in me. She fights for all of us and convinces us that our cause is worth it. It also shows our children how people can work together. I am learning. I grow up. I need people while supporting others. It’s personal to me. (go to Go to Instagram her.shoe.fetish)
“It’s interesting, but not surprising, that we are discussing Kwanza’s Fourth Principle which is ‘the cooperative economy’ at the same time that BEE Marketplace is taking place,” Burrell said. The celebration which takes place from December 26 to January 1 each year was created by Prof. Maulana Ron Karenga based on African Harvest Festival traditions from various parts of Africa. “This is the raison d’être of the BBWA. Pollination of prosperity and how we as women can raise and support other women by building and maintaining our own stores, boutiques and other businesses and profit from them together.
“I want our world to be a reflection of our Creator. I want to see heaven on earth, ”Burrell says. She translates this vision into existence through her willingness to listen, learn, lead, dare to dream and do something daring.