Women's History Month: 42 Of The Best Pieces Of Advice From Black and Brown Women Entrepreneurs.
Updated: Mar 6
Women are the cornerstone of our society. Women are the original creators, builders, and changers of our world. Since the beginning of time, women have been instrumental in shaping the world we live in. Women's History Month is an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and contributions. This post highlights 42 of the best pieces of advice from Black and Brown women entrepreneurs from the BGV alumni. Each piece of advice or personal journey shared in this article will give you a greater appreciation for the extraordinary things women are doing in our country.
1. Shana Vieira, Founder of INVY
"Relationships are key. And also, character is key. Your word, your ability to do, and bring forth what you say you're going to do, whether peers, investors, or advisors, really establish respect for you. So, when you do bring your product forward, they'll help you to succeed. They'll help you to bring it into the rooms and the markets where it needs to be."
2. Sasha-Loriene McClain, Black Girls Who Paint
"You can't take everybody with you, you can't, you're never going to please everyone, or satisfy everyone, there'll always be someone who wants more," says Sasha-Loriene. She recommends setting boundaries sooner than later and not be afraid to do so. Not everyone is taught how to set boundaries. She finds that people have a hard time saying no, even when saying yes is detrimental to their emotional health.
3. Ehime Eigbe, Founder of SweetKiwi
Expenses were a harsh lesson for Ehi. "It's the little expenses that can sink a whole ship. It's that whole where you're losing money, and you need to plug that," she said. The money leaks in your business are what can turn your whole ship upside down. Ehi always reviews the expenses and continues to be strategic and finding creative ways to increase her profit margins. She suggests that you negotiate and find more affordable suppliers every quarter you review your expenses, which will continue to keep your costs as low as possible. "Keep an eye on your numbers because you can do $3 million in revenue but have expenses of $2.5 million. You're wasting your time," she said.
4. Judith Dumorney McDaniel, Founder of A Man's Cave
Judith shared, "You need to learn from your failures. You need to know that you're not going to succeed all the time. You need to know that you're not going to make all this money that you think you're gonna make when you open up your business." Judith used her own money to invest in her business and didn't see an immediate return.
She said, "I had to bet on myself. I mean, that's the reality. I literally had to bet on myself, and every single time I said, 'You're gonna bet on yourself. You're going to take some big L's before you take some wins. So you need to be okay with that, and you need to be prepared... I'm somewhat in a different space than some of my other colleagues because I work full-time. I use my job to fund my dreams."
Judith said she decided to invest in herself and uses every dollar that she makes betting on herself. And despite experiencing many losses, everything is coming full circle for her, and all the hard work is materializing. She didn't see an immediate return. Judith said, "I invested so much of my own money. I didn't see a return on my investment. I had to bet on myself. That's the reality."
5. Kendra Woolridge, Founder of Janet & Jo
"Removing your emotions because I'm a strong believer that your business is something that you should be passionate about. But passion has emotions in it. So, being mindful to remove your emotion from something that's the manifestation of your passion is so difficult, so advisors are key, a mentor or a trusted friend." Kendra recommends having someone in your circle or team that can provide you with reliable business advice without the emotion. The bottom line of a business is the financials. As an owner, the decisions that you make are not always financial decisions but rather emotional. Learn also to remove your personal preferences and listen to your customers.
6. Portia Mathis, Founder of BarBella Co.
She learned that being an entrepreneur requires being organized and lots of planning. When you're rolling out campaigns, planning months in advance will save you time. "When something abrupt comes up, you already have a plan. You just have to pivot, more so than making a whole entire plan." Planning allows you to play out different scenarios and will enable you to adjust your business if need be.
7. Alon Otis, Founder of The Beet Box
"I've learned that I can't say yes to everything. Like a lot of people will ask me to do their pop-ups, and they'll think of me to do their markets. When I first started, I would say yes, yes, yes because I wanted to exposure." But after a while, she realized that some of these pop-ups weren't appropriate for her brand. She didn't evaluate the businesses, and she didn't do her due diligence, so she found herself at events that were deeply misaligned. She didn't get an accurate depiction of the customer profile for the event. As a new entrepreneur, you become excited when opportunities come your way, but it's crucial to evaluate whether that opportunity is right. Now she vets every opportunity.
8. Kayla Castañeda, Co-founder of Agua Bonita
Kayla said, "I would say lean into your network. There are more people that want to help you than you realize. You need to leverage those relationships if they're available to you. Because you cannot do everything on your own, you'll never be able to figure out things by yourself, but if there are people willing to help you along the way, then take that in stride." Not all advice is created equal, but people do want to help. There are moments when you might disagree. Find the space within yourself to understand why you disagree and be a bit more objective. Then work through that resistance.
9. Chantee Butler, Founder of Nayko Naturals
Chantee said, "I would definitely say you never know it all. Not to think that I did, but even things that I learned in school, just running this business, I'm like wow, I never learned that in school." She referenced the amount of technology to help run your business; shipping fulfillment to marketing was a learning process. Being part of Tech For Black Founders gave her exposure to different tools and resources for marketing that she's still figuring out how to use. There's a massive learning curve that you experience when you start a business. She further added, "I think it's important to keep that appetite there, that appetite to learn, because it's a journey."
10. Peach Brown, Founder of Sledge Scarves
"Stay consistent. If you're not consistent, you're not going go anywhere," shared Peach. Starting a business and working on it a few times here and there didn't help her grow. When you're not working on your business consistently, you might even forget the things you were doing previously because there's no routine. The other lesson that Peach learned was social media and marketing. Peach said, "You have to be in everybody's face constantly, every single day. You have to do these things daily. Otherwise, people forget about you." When you remain consistent, she further adds, you educate yourself, and you grasp what you're learning to bring those skills right back into your business.
11. Vernee Hines, Co-founder of UpBrainery
"Preparation is truly, truly your greatest friend. And that goes into everything in your operational planning and your financial planning. Preparation is truly going to get you through some of the toughest times as a founder. Preparation and being flexible."
12. Christa Clarke, Founder of Cubicles to Cocktails
The biggest lesson Christa has learned is to build a team sooner than later. Hiring out has helped her to work more strategically because of freed uptime. Next, she said to budget in the beginning to get the support you need to scale your business. Christa shared, "So that as you get to the areas where you're ready to scale them, where you're ready to pick up momentum, you're not losing any of that steam because you have to pause to now bring on and recruit and teach new processes to these new team members." For solo entrepreneurs, she recommends having a strong team of contractors to support you.
13. ShantaQuilette Carter Williams, Founder of Girl B. Natural
Many entrepreneurs (and people in general) struggle with perfection. ShantaQuilette said, "That you can't be perfect that nothing's going ever to be perfect. You might get close to perfect. But perfection is the devil in business because it causes procrastination. And so if you're trying to tailor something to get it right continuously, you will forever be stuck on that one thing." She encourages entrepreneurs to let go and let things flow by allowing everything to come together. Another piece of advice is to build a successful team. She believes that you need experts on your team to help your business grow.
14. Kim Roxie, Founder of Lamik
Kim finds ways to keep herself level-headed in her business. You lose focus when you're at one end of the spectrum and not finding the middle ground. She shared, "One thing I've learned is, business, a lot of times it's never as bad as you feel it is, and it's never as good as it looks. And so, sometimes, when things are not going quite the way, it's not as bad as it feels. And then sometimes, you look over on the other side of the fence, and it's not as good as it looks over there."
15. Priscilla Wesson, Founder of Cozy N Cute Kids
The biggest lesson that Priscilla continues to walk away with is that you are going to make mistakes. The sooner you can accept failure as part of the journey, the further you will be. She said, "You're going to screw up. I think that's the biggest thing about accepting failure. But it's learning every time you fail; anytime you screw something up, you're just gonna learn from it. So just accept the fact that you're not going to be perfect." When you hold on to your mistakes for far too long, it holds you back. The beautiful aspect of entrepreneurship is that you can always pivot from mistakes and change things on the fly, especially when you're a solo founder without board members to answer to.
16. Jazmin Alvarez, Founder of Pretty Well Beauty
Jazmin learned that it's okay to ask for help. She realized that you couldn't do everything on your own. Burnout happens when you begin to do everything yourself without taking a break. She recommends taking breaks and understanding that your business will not burn to the ground if you take some time off.
17.Benewaa Owusu, Founder of Obaa Beauty
Benewaa finds learning about marketing and product launches to be difficult. Influencers in the competitive landscape who launch products and sell out in minutes give you the impression that you can do the same. Marketing is more granular with many elements. Benewaa learned that social media isn't the only option. There are multiple avenues, from PR firms to print and even TV.
She said, "So that's something that I didn't know in the beginning. And when I found out I couldn't afford it—I can't afford paying a PR from $5-$10,000 a month. And then, on top of that, paying for my online advertising because I'm bootstrapping. So I have to be very diligent with my finances. So, when I'm launching a product, I make sure that I put into place a marketing plan or hire a marketing personnel to drive the business."
18. Domonique Townsend, Founder of We Optimize Work (WOW)
The biggest lesson Domonique has learned is being more intentional about her actions, how she approaches her business, and where she seeks to progress. She has absorbed a lot of information without being clear about the intention of the information. Domonique doesn't make any more decisions without ensuring it aligns with all areas of her life. She develops standards and expectations for herself, whether it's how people treat her or how she takes care of herself and defines success.
She said, "Your intention of going about this way or setting this day like this, be really sure about it. So you compare yourself less. You don't feel like you have to be like someone else or do a certain thing that fits other people's check box to determine whether or not you're successful in life."
19. Tracey Kennedy, Founder Of California Country Organics
Tracey stumbled upon people willing to sell her a dream throughout her journey because they could sense her loneliness and despair. She believed in herself and surrounded herself with people who also believed in her. She said, "I drill it into my kids to believe in yourself, to support yourself, and encourage them to build that independence. I want them to have firm confidence in themselves, no matter how big or small the task. I want them to say, 'I can do it."
Rachel Topping, Founder Of Nappy Head Club
Rachel thanks the Duplessy Foundation for helping her along her entrepreneurial journey. This is an organization that provides sales coaching for minority women entrepreneurs. She learned from that experience how being hyper-focused on one thing narrowed her mindset.
She said, "I was really hyper-focused on online sales and the website and just like getting traffic to the website. But they showed me that there are always five different ways to get to an end goal. Having just the creativity not to be so linear-minded has helped me grow the business because I've been pushed to be way more creative and think outside the box. Where are five new streams that I can bring money into and five new ways that we can reach customers that we're not currently doing."
Rachel suggests if you have one idea, find two more and do them all. Instead of doing one thing at a time and waiting to see what happens, she says to do three or four of them, and if one fails, that's okay. That means one of those ideas will be great.
20. Camille Heard, Founder of FELOH
Camille learned she had to be willing to surrender to the entrepreneurship journey. She described it as a dance that you must be willing to learn. Focusing on a specific outcome could make you miss out on opportunities as an entrepreneur. Be focused on your big vision and not so much on how every little step will get you there. Create space between yourself and your attachment to the outcome.
She said, "You have to have your eye on the prize, but you also have to surrender to certain flows and cycles that have to pass for you to learn whatever you need to learn to propel you forward. You have to be. You know, eyes on the prize, but be willing to submit when the signs tell you to pivot or change."
21. Tonya Fairley, Founder of Strandz Unlimited
Tonya has learned to take entrepreneurship one day at a time. There might be days that you weren't selected to be in a pitch competition, or you might be ready to release the following product, but you don't have the funds. She's learned not to become discouraged. Tonya finds herself waiting to have the resources before moving forward with another business idea.
She said, "It's just understanding that everything does happen for a reason. And don't try to rush the process along, and take every step one day at a time has really been critical for me. Because I want to enter into everything, I want to be at this show. I want to be this vendor. I want to do this. I want to do that.
And I'm like, okay, if I do that and I sell a hundred, I don't have a hundred in the backup to resupply. So then do you want to be—it's about keeping your name as your name is everything. So I don't want to be known as, oh, don't fool with that company, they never have the product. So again, one day at a time, making sure that what I'm putting out there, the things I'm getting involved in, I'm able to maintain that without feeling like I'm drowning."
22. Rozalynn & Gabby, Founders of GaBBy Bows
Rozalynn said, "The most critical lesson that I've learned in business is don't quit. You gotta keep going." Her husband pointed out that most people on the entrepreneurial journey want this type of investment or support at the beginning of their business. When they don't get it, they quit.
Rozalynn believes that her business might encourage others not to quit because it took GaBBy Bows 7-8 years to gain traction and receive the recognition and funding they've recently received.
23. Symphony Lyricist, Founder of Lotus Flower Om
Symphony encourages small business owners to build networks and not depend on family and friends as their biggest supporters. She said, "If you don't come from a network, it's going to be very challenging to create a network and a community that believes in what it is that you do. So for a lot of us who don't have the family and friends to support us, we don't have the network."
Some friends or family members may have skills to offer you, but Symphony has found that they might not follow through to completion. Over time, she realized that not everyone would be as committed to your vision as you are.
24. Sherronda Daye, Founder of Defense Tea
Sherronda always learned to be ready to pivot. She said, "Keep the pumps on and always be ready to pivot. You just never know when, and I think that that speaks to the strength and tenacity of the Black woman." Most importantly, she learned to be less rigid. This helped her see opportunities that she would otherwise have missed.
25. April Shannon, Founder of 2Score Fitness
The most critical lesson that April has learned is excelling in customer service. She said, "So I believe in treating people well and listening—my name and reputation when it comes down to how I treat my clients and customers is important to me.
And so, I have learned from being in business and watching others that it matters. It always matters what your customer thinks, always, you know, good, bad, or indifferent. It matters what your customers think. And so, what are they coming for? Are they getting it? Do they feel good about what you're giving them, and what will they tell others about it? How do they feel? Confidence is important. Body positivity is important. It's important that while they're with me, I'm letting them know how sexy they are and how proud I am of them for getting through this song." If April receives any negative comments, she will reevaluate her business to see how she can serve better.
26. Candy Calderon, Founder of Glow Wellness Tour
Candy learned early on that being passionate about your business isn't enough. She said, "You need to make sure that you also know how to run a business or surround yourself with people who know how to run a business." Candy believes that most Black and Brown businesses don't make it because they lack business acumen. She said, "Communities like Black Girl Ventures and the incubators are so important because they also give us the tools that maybe we don't know, from social media, bookkeeping, and accounting, all those things that are part of this. And we only think about the pretty shiny things. This is part of the business too."
27. Natacha Metayer, Founder of JNCY Jewelers
Natacha said, "Business is hard, but it's easy. Having a plan and knowing what to do is critical. Even if it's for the week and you want to plan out what you're going to do on social media, have a plan and then take little steps. So you can have a big overarching theme that you want for the year but have the steps that's going to take you there—also delegating. If you can get a virtual assistant in the Philippines or India, get someone who can help you take the load off of you.
Because when I first started, I wanted to do everything. I wanted to be a part of everything. And I think that in the beginning, it is good to know all parts of your business, so when you delegate, you can be confident in what the person is doing, and if they're doing it wrong, you can say, hey, I know you're supposed to do it this way.
But allow somebody else to help you because many people want help. They want to see a business succeed. And if you do get help, embrace that person into your business because the more the person loves your business, the more they will be willing to do what it takes.
Educate yourself. Education is the biggest thing. And then there's also a lot of resources out there that we don't think are there, like with the SBA, with our local university, um, with different incubators, um, just on social media. So what I learned in business is educating myself, delegating, and looking for resources because it's out there."
Natacha believes that not everything is monetary initially, but what you learn can become monetary later in your business. She said, "Sometimes I rather have the free things, like somebody teaching me about marketing, than the money, because the money can go like, okay, I paid the rent, I got my equipment, but then after that, what else is coming with that? I like the resources that come with being a business owner."
28. Angelica London, Founder of the Lit Kit Art Box
Angelica's mother was an entrepreneur while she was growing up. She learned a lot of lessons by watching her be a small business owner. She said, "One of the things that I learned from my mom is. Entrepreneurship is 24/7. Like my mom, she got dressed like she was going to work every day. There's never a working day in your pajamas like you still have to act like you are going into a job because this is your job. Some days that's cool, but other days, like it's a mindset thing. Even the smallest things can make a difference."
29. Shureice Kornegay, Founder of Fleeky Friday
Shureice believes you need to keep going. She said, "I've seen people who were, you know, less talented than other people, less by any metric. They have less of whatever that is, but they're consistent. And that consistency speaks for itself. You can be average at what you're doing, but you will get somewhere if you show up every day.
Show up every day. If you're a musician, you're an entrepreneur; I don't care what you're doing—showing up every day. People see that you're serious. They take you more seriously.
They become fans like this person is so consistent. Well, I can trust that, you know, this person is going to come through. Being consistent, but I can't speak to that enough, honestly. Show up every day to that job that you want to do. Show up every day. I don't care in what forum. If you don't want to do your makeup that day, you don't want to make music that day, tell people how hard it is for you. Tell people about your struggles, tell your story but make sure you show up every day, and that's what I've learned."
30. Tameka Norris, Founder of Capable Clothing
Tameka believes every entrepreneur needs to know their numbers. Because an opportunity may come up, and you don't know who you'll meet. Investors are always about the bottom line and how a business will make them money, so knowing your projections is important.
31. Nikisha Bailey, Founder of Win Win Coffee Bar
Nikisha has learned that you don't have to know everything as an entrepreneur. If entrepreneurs are willing to listen to different perspectives, then make a judgment on your own or be willing to take the risk without outside insights.
She said, "You might not know a clear answer, but I feel like it's this, and if it's not this, go back and learn another lesson. I think a lot of times, as Black women, we always want to be right. We always feel like we have to be the experts, or else people will judge us. But that's not how real life works. Like a lot of executives, they don't know everything. They have big teams behind them that support them and guide them to the right answers."
She later says to ensure you have a core group of people within your circle where you trust their perspectives so you can use them as a sounding board.
32. Danella Williams, Founder of Cleaven
Danella immediately said, "Pick up a book! If you don't know the next step, then pick up a book." At one point on her journey, she was at a standstill. She didn't know what to focus on when she found a co-founder. Danella said, "So I went to the local library and saw all these different business books, like The Startup Company Bible. I picked up nine books and lugged them back home. I went through them one by one. I got so many ideas and more clarity as to what my responsibilities were."
She remembers looking through millions of books and crying in the aisle because she didn't know what she was doing or how to start. Danella said, "I've already started the business and was already working on it. Are you really an entrepreneur if you're not crying? But I had to get somewhere because I was at a standstill. I had to make certain choices because I didn't have the tools to get to the next step. So I had to find the tools to get there. And books led me in the direction of finding my mentors."
33. TaMeka Bland, Founder of Limitless
After running several businesses, TaMeka believes all entrepreneurs need to adopt patience. She said, "You can't expect anything to come overnight. And sometimes, we tend to try to rush our success, whether it be a milestone or a small goal that we're trying to reach. So I've learned that throughout it all, each lesson is a blessing, and you have to be patient with whatever's to come because it's not going to come overnight. It's all a work in process."
There were moments when TaMeka had to push back the launch of Limitless. Even after spending money on marketing, she thought of several ways she could have spent that money. Not everything TaMeka did on her journey worked out as planned in her mind. But that didn't stop her from moving forward. The outcome doesn't always reveal itself at the moment.
34. Assunta Wilson, Founder of B. Renewed
Assunta expanded her business from being a stylist to creating the Instabun to niching down and becoming a trichologist.