Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Black Girl Ventures (BGV) was founded with the mission to provide Black/brown woman-identifying founders with access to a community, capital, and capacity building to meet business milestones that lead to economic advancement through entrepreneurship. BGV delivers on this goal in a real way with their annual pitch events across the nation. “BGV Pitch is the largest pitch competition for Black and brown women founders,” BGV founder Shelly Bell explains. The events combine the premise of Kickstarter and Shark Tank to allow the audience to be a part of an entrepreneur’s journey, and the founder with the most audience donations wins.
While there was no live audience due to health and safety concerns, interested parties can witness the D.C. Virtual Pitch Competition, access the pitches, share feedback, and donate to the businesses using BGV’s specialty online platform, SheRaise. Judging each pitch was Selvi Clark, principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, and Penny Lee, head of public affairs at Invariant. Clark and Lee listened to each founder talk about their business and plans for growth. Read about the seven business founders below and vote with your dollars and spread the word about these Black-owned businesses!
1. Tanishia Jones | Sweet Teas Skin Care For Your 7th Day promotes self-care and relaxation. “90 percent of illnesses and diseases are actually stimulated out of stress,” Jones’ explained, “Your skin is a window of what is going on internally.” Sweet Teas products address these stress manifestations by treating your skin and providing a way to take a mental break. Jones offers a novel, competitive edge compared to other natural and organic products, since “Tea actually penetrates deeper than most of the topical solutions that we have.” Jones targets those on a wellness journey who wants to address their whole being, mind, body, soul, and skin.
The Ask: $40,000 to grow in partnerships and staff size. Assist in obtaining a brick and mortar location for customers to come and create their concoctions.
2. Chichi Okunji | Reproductive Justice & M(E)D, brings reproductive justice to the forefront of medicine. “Black women are disproportionately affected by gynecological diseases, such as infertility, fibroids, and HIV,” Okunji explains, adding that, “Black women in the United States are dying from cervical cancer at twice the rate of white women.” Providing accessible education and “bridging connection between physicians and the patient so patients can make informed decisions when it comes to surgery, medications or other concerns” is the solution that Reproductive Justice & M(E)D provides for this dire issue. Their digital health curriculum, paired with advocacy and partnerships with healthcare industry leaders, will address the stigma around sexual and reproductive health.
The Ask: $100,000 to develop a mobile app, consult physicians for patient referral programs, and improve preventative screening mechanisms.
3. Ehime Eigbe | SweetKiwi, “Is the future leader in healthy sweets,” Eigbe explains, describing it as the “Best tasting, low calorie whipped greek yogurt using real milk sourced locally.” Eigbe created this dessert following a fibroid diagnosis, causing her to alter her diet entirely, “I was averse to all the other medical options, and at the time it was really difficult for me to give up ice cream,” she said. Sweetkiwi was the alternative that worked. Each pint is “Under 320 calories and packed with proteins and probiotics” and can be found in several Northeast grocers, including Whole Foods, Union Kitchen Market, Yes! Organics and Streets Market & Cafe, to name a few. Sweetkiwi is also planning to expand its offerings to include popsicles and granola.
The Ask: $1 million to expand the product line, grow the team, and digital marketing.
4. Kendra Woolridge | Janet & Jo. offers luxury nail lacquers named after Woolridge’s two grandmothers. “I learned through research that nail polishes contain toxic ingredients linked to cancer, reproductive health issues, and congenital disabilities,” Woolridge admitted. As a polish enthusiast herself, she set out to make a clean product and promote this awareness through her platform. “As the daughter of a 3x breast cancer survivor and losing my Grandma Jo. to breast cancer, you can understand why my commitment to clean beauty runs deep,” her website states. Janet & Jo is a long-lasting, clean brand focused on educating consumers and providing diverse color offerings. You can purchase online and in some local retailers.
The Ask: $50,000 to improve marketing, business operations, and streamline fulfillment process.
5. Fallon Keplinger | Rose Glow Tea Room offers carefully blended, CBD infused tea. “People who experience stress at higher rates tend to be ethnic minorities, women, single parents, and people responsible for their family’s healthcare decisions,” Keplinger explained. She struggled with stress, anxiety, and sleep problems herself, and these are the reasons she started this business. “The amino acid found in tea improves mental functions, and paired with CBD; it is the perfect match.” Currently, there are three tea blends sold in local boutiques with plans to expand.
The Ask: $20,000 to scale production and increase brand awareness.
6. Nicole Breland Aandahl | Healthy Nail Project Co. helps nail biters understand and break this annoying habit. “Nail-biting affects all ages, races, and stations in life,” Aandahl explained. “It is one of the most common habits shared worldwide.” As a nail-biter herself, Aandahl committed to finding the solution. The Healthy Nail Project helps people see this habit differently, “Our clients learn to see the beauty in their hands and are taught new self-care habits to cancel out the bad ones.” It is a four-week long, self-guided program online, based on proven methods of habit change and positive psychology.
The Ask: $30,000 to improve marketing, advertising, and the customer’s online experience.
7. Sasha-Loriene McClain | Black Girls Who Paint is a safe space dedicated to Black women and girl painters. Their mission is to increase visibility so that young Black girls can not only see themselves in the art world but also pursue and maintain a sustainable art profession. “There’s a lack of a connecting tool or resources that connects Black women artists with each other as well as resources needed for sustainable art careers,” McClain explained. She launched the business as she got deeper into her art journey. “When people see themselves, they believe in themselves and empower others to do the same.” The online, membership-based business provides a global directory of Black women artists to promote their work, partner with arts institutions, and awards funds to creators monthly.
The Ask: $50,000 to grow the team, refresh the website, and expand membership services.
Genesha is an evolving freelancer based in D.C. with a background in journalism and fundraising. She supports mission-driven organizations and entrepreneurs with communication needs, covering areas from education to technology. She also publishes content on self-help and sustainability. Connect on LinkedIn and follow her on Instagram @geneshamichelle to learn more.