Redefining Black Entrepreneurship: 5 Businesswomen Share Their Stories

June 18, 2015  |  

It is often said that there aren’t many Black-owned businesses in the beauty and fashion industry. However, a few black women are making their way into an industry once monopolized by high-stakes moguls and foreign entities. Their ventures into the beauty and fashion industry are helping to redefine Black entrepreneurship, as well as the westernized construct of beauty, which has traditionally had white women at the forefront. These young Black businesswomen have marshaled companies, and their successes know no bounds. Get to know more about them and their journey.

Ajahmure Clovis of Her Nails Rock

Ajahmure Clovis, 30, is a traveling nail artist. Her company, Her Nails Rock, provides affordable and quality nail care services for both women and men. Clovis started Her Nails Rock in the hopes that she could pass the business down to her children.

“At the time I started Her Nails Rock I had two daughters. I now have a son as well, and I wanted a company that they could one day take over. I’ve seen people start a business from nothing, and it becomes a multi-million dollar company that generations eat off of. That’s what I want for my family.”

However, as she groomed her business, Clovis found that even though she was working hard for her children, her time with them had to be sacrificed.

“In the beginning when I was building and branding Her Nails Rock there were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of time away from my family. I moved to New York, and my daughters stayed in D.C. where I’m from with my mother. And my son was in Boston with my grandparents and aunt. It was a very hard decision but one that was necessary in order for me to really give my all and build my brand. I don’t know if Her Nails Rock would be what it is without my mother Cyndy Clovis, grandparents George and Tina Saxon, and my aunt, Keeana. Because of them I was really able to focus on my business and take it to places I’ve dreamed of.”

With Her Nails Rock, Clovis has traveled across the United States. She built a clientele of both everyday women and celebrities. She has painted the nails of Erica Campbell, Adrienne Bailon, J.R. Smith, Elle Varner, and Angela Simmons. She was even seen on an episode of Tamar & Vince doing Tamar Braxton’s nails for her spread in PYNK magazine.

“My proudest moment would have to be seeing my hard work and sacrifices finally paying off and for me to be able to really provide for my children. There’s nothing better than seeing the fruits of your labor.”

As a Black woman in the beauty industry, facing discrimination and biases are seemingly inevitable. However, Clovis has faced a different type of discrimination.

“It’s hurtful because the discrimination I’ve experienced has been from other Black female entrepreneurs. I don’t know when it became a problem for women of color to support one another, but it happens to me all the time. Some women just aren’t as inviting. Some want you to be at the same level or lower than they are. If you’re at a higher level with your business or they see the potential for your business to grow then they won’t be as willing to provide support. My experience has been that some Black women think of me as competition rather than a peer. We could learn from one another and build our brands together. There’s no need to compete. It is really sad and heartbreaking.”

But nothing is going to stop Clovis from reaching her goals with Her Nails Rock. In 10 years, she hopes to have her own nail product line and two nail salons. What’s most important to her, however, is to support young Black female entrepreneurs.

“You have to see yourself where you want yourself and your business to be. Do your research and then double back and do it again. Nothing is being given to us as women or as minorities, so we have to work four times as hard because we’ve got two strikes against us. Find a good mentor and build your network. If you need anything, you can call me. I know the struggle!”

Visit Her Nails Rock at www.facebook.com/HerNailsRock

Follow Her Nails Rock on Instagram @hernailsrock

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