All Articles Tagged "african-american business"
By Marc W. Polite
One of the most difficult things about starting a business is figuring out what type of business to start. While many focus on startups based around technology or fulfilling a need in the community, others choose to transform their life’s passion into an entrepreneurial endeavor. The Atlanta Post tapped Nadege Fleurimond, an entrepreneur who managed to do just that. She shares with us her journey in starting up Fleurimond Catering and shares the steps one can take to begin a business venture.
What motivated you to start Fleurimond Catering?
It’s funny, I was being groomed by dad, who was a single father, to go out there, get an education, and become a doctor, lawyer or some corporate tycoon of some sort. But at the same time, I also grew up watching this very man, always making his way, and doing things his way. He was a cab driver, which is pretty much self employment, and he always had one venture or another happening. All this to say, I think it was in my blood. Growing up, there was never any conscious effort on my part to be an entrepreneur, but now, that I look back, the path seemed so natural. Not seamless, but very natural. Fleurimond Catering came about because I loved cooking for friends and a crowd. I loved doing it and I kept doing it. And the more I did it, the more I wanted to even more. I read somewhere that find the thing you loved to do, and find a way to make a living out of it, and you will never have to work a day in your life. That’s total lie! That thing you love to do, you will work and work and work at it. The difference is, that work wont be a burden to you. Yes, it will tire you, and drain you at times, but it will never be a burden. When I realized I loved cooking (more so cooking for people), slowly but surely, I realized people liked my cooking enough that they wanted to pay for it. I was very honored. No better motivation to start a business when you have people asking you, rather than you offering. In my small Columbia University circle, I was the food maven. And that made it easier for me to keep pushing the limits.
What are some of the challenges of having a catering business in an economy where people are dining out less?
When I first started catering, the word of mouth marketing worked so well for me that I hardly had to think of ways of marketing my services. I had a strong corporate clientele and that meant repeat business. However, as the economy dipped, so did people’s entertaining budget. Business started feeling less secure, so they spent less. In fact, many indeed had less to spend. On my social and individual client side, people did not want to do big events as much. They feared they may lose their jobs at any moment, so they scaled down the house warmings, the weddings got smaller, and events were few and far between.
But I think this economic downturn has helped me and my team in other ways. It has made me explore an aspect of my business that I never knew existed. My weekly cooking parties and monthly socials are things that I never gave much thought to. But true entrepreneurs are resilient. We don’t just let things be. We explore, and create and innovate. We create new ways of doing things, and reformat, restructure.
(Afro) — A grant designed to assist newly-introduced retail shops on H Street while offering no relief for longtime minority-owned businesses sparked a heated debate on Sept. 21 with city officials. Officials with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), and the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), laid out the criteria, application and deadline process for local businesses to apply for the newly-introduced H Street Retail Priority Project Grant (RPAG). The grant awards a total of $1.25 million in $85,000 allotments to eligible merchants. As DMPED Chief Of Staff Brian Kenner and the other officials described how the RPAG came to supplant an earlier, ineffectual, tax increment financing (TIF) funds initiative for H Street business improvement, meeting attendees aggressively pressed forward, demanding to know why barber shops and beauty salons had been excluded from consideration for RPAGs.
Kimora Lee Simmons has brought her love of the color pink and “fabulosity” to Manhattan Beach-based online accessories retailer JustFab.com. Simmons joined the online business as its new President and Creative Director. Late last week, it was also announced that the fashion-forward site secured $33 million in funding led by Matrix Partners with a co-investment from Technology Crossover Ventures.
Simmons, who also participated in the funding of the website is looking forward to the online retail move. With a Twitter following that she acquired through her work at Baby Phat and her TV show “Life in the Fab Lane,” she is no stranger when it comes to working the media to her benefit. To Simmons, this is venture is more about evolution; “I want to bring the fashion lifestyle aspect to everyone. … I’m on a journey with all these other women. We’re not teeny-boppers in the club anymore. This is the next element, and it’s more evolved.”
One look at the site and you understand exactly what she means. Now, there are several images of Simmons modeling off various shoes that can be purchased on the site. However, that is not the only trick she has up her designer sleeves. Recently, Simmons held a shoe-launch party for the fashion site. The bash was held in West Hollywood, where guests sipped on signature cocktails, while viewing the newest shoe and jewelry collections. For Simmons, this is just the beginning. “Photo shoots and runway shows—that will probably go on to be the same,” she told the LA Times. While, her current business operates solely in a digital environment, she plans to still be involved in all aspects of the sites production.
“Just because you’re viral, that doesn’t have to go away. I love to pick the models and be involved in the production, that’s part of my fashion brand and fashion legacy. I was the first person to broadcast [a fashion show] in Times Square,” she commented.
Justfab.com, is a members-only website that began in March 2010 and quickly racked up over 2.5 million members. The site offers its participants an accessory a month for $39.95. While the price would make any bargain hunter smile with excitement, the same could be said for any fashionista that stumbled upon the site. The shoes range from classic to eccentric, while the handbags seem to take inspiration from current trends. Along with that, Simmons is also adding a jewelry line that she designed herself, which is set to debut October 1st.
Members are matched to accessories by filling out an online personality quiz, which is then curated by a team of style experts led by celebrity stylist Jessica Paster. Another addition to the site is the ability for customers to skip months or buy additional items with their main purchase. However, what they offer in personalization and care is unmatched. Not only do customers receive a customized shoes and handbag boutique, they receive styling and outfit recommendations to complete their look from head to toe.
At under $40 and with Simmons at the helm, Just Fabulous just may be a force to be reckoned with.
Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.
As the CEO of ReCapturing the Vision International, Dr. Jacqueline Del Rosario leveraged her expertise in psychology, education and organizational leadership to launch a non-profit program targeting young people and their families and help them ” overcome the negative trends that lead to generational cycles of failure and dependency.” Her programs have received over $20 million in federal, state, and county funding. Known as “America’s Marriage Doctor, her work with relationships and family health has certainly caught the attention of policymakers and leaders. We caught up with Dr. Del Rosario to ask her about the secrets to her success.
What’s helped me most in building my career is the strategic network of partnerships and relationships that I’ve established along the way. Never underestimate the power of a relationship. As Jim Rohn so famously stated, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with,” so choose wisely. Surround yourself with people that embody the qualities that you admire and that are already where you want to be in life.
My greatest personal strength is my unmovable belief that anything is possible with a great God empowering a little me, along with my compassion for others. It’s what spawned my companies. It’s what has made me successful. It’s what makes me wake up and do what I do everyday.
The best piece of advice I ever got was from my mother who said, “No one is better than you. You can do whatever you want to do in life. PERIOD.” As the child of poor migrant workers growing up in the south, this statement was sometimes hard to believe. I was in the first class to be desegregated at my elementary school. There was so much racism, inequality and negativity. Even as a six-year-old, I remember the angry rioters, barricades and picket lines. I can still see the guards trying to keep to the peace as glass bottles sailed through the air as they were hurled at us in anger. It was a hostile time full of adversity. My parents gave me a sense of identity. They reminded me of who I was, but made sure to also show me where I could go in life. Eventually, my mother’s words rang true.
The best piece of advice I could give to other entrepreneurs would be to do it for the love, not for the money. For years, I worked full-time while being a wife and a mother to two young children while trying to get my company off the ground. Young companies usually don’t break even until about the third year, so trust me, there was no money. My husband and I dumped our savings into the companies, and times were tough. No more nannies, pedicures or hair appointments.
Inspiration comes from what moves your spirit. For some, it’s the majestic outdoors or music. For me, I get so much inspiration from the element of water – being around it, seeing it, hearing it.
I look up to people that stand up for what is right. I always say that it’s easy to do what’s wrong; doing what’s right is the hardest. It costs something when you speak out, or when you don’t cheat to get to the front of the line. Those tried-and-true leaders who exude integrity especially in the face of adversity are the people that I truly look up to.
I define success as found in the authenticity of every man and woman who become the people that they really are. Being authentic takes a deliberate decision. It requires courage to be unique. I also define success as being a sound, productive person that actively contributes to society with the aim of improving the status quo.
I wake up at 6 a.m. every morning. No alarm clocks necessary. Early starts help me to make the most of everyday.
If I could do it over again I would’ve chosen to be more comfortable with the growth that comes with adversity. We often fear change and upheavals, but I have learned that the resistance and struggle that we experience during those times are what truly shapes us and develops us into great leaders. So, if I could do it all over again, I can think of a few growing pains that I would have allowed to happen instead of fighting against the flow.
The first thing I really splurged on was my car. I used to drive around this old beat-up minivan while I was pregnant with my second child. I always chuckle to myself every time I think back to how much I disliked that van. After years of hard work and a few paychecks, I finally treated myself to the car that I’ve always wanted.
(Houston Chronicle) — The Obama administration has proposed, as a formality, eliminating a federal contracting program benefiting ethnic minority-owned businesses after courts ruled that the program was unconstitutional. If the Federal Acquisition Regulation program is eliminated later this year, as expected, it will close the door on a successful reverse-discrimination lawsuit filed by a San Antonio company that two years ago effectively halted a program conducted by the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration and NASA to award 5 percent of contracts to minority-owned companies.
The lack of support networks has been identified as a critical aspect to involving more African Americans in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). While I agree that this is very important, I do not agree that African Americans lack technology support groups. I assert that the problem is that the African American community at large is not aware of the networks that do exist.
There are three that I have worked with over the years. I am sure there are others and I am even more certain that most of our people, particularly our young people are not aware of these groups. I know this because I do quite a bit of public speaking around the country. When I ask students if they are familiar with The Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA), BiTWiSE, or Blacks In Technology the answer is invariably no.
In all fairness, BiTWiSE and Blacks in Technology are recent developments. But BDPA has been around since 1975. I have been a professional software developer since 1986 and I only recently became aware of BDPA. We must do a better job of making our folks aware of these organizations.
This is not an indictment against BDPA as I personally know that they make every effort to ensure that our people know about their good work. The charge is ours. Any time I speak to a young person who has demonstrated an interest in technology, the first question I ask is ‘where do you live’ and if BDPA has a chapter in that city, I direct him or her to contact the chapter in their area.
The abundance of knowledge, experiences and social capital that exists within BDPA must be leveraged if our community is to become a player in the global technology game. As a speaker and blogger I am constantly receiving questions related to technology and how to get involved in the technology arena.
I am happy to answer these questions but how much better would it be for the learner to not only pose the question to a larger group but possibly someone who has experienced the same circumstance. This is a common occurrence on the web community, Blacks In Technology (BIT). BIT is a wonderful online community of Black technologists who are ready to share their stories, knowledge, wisdom and encouragement not only to those who are looking for others like themselves who are already involved in technology careers but also technology aspirants.
Without these kinds of support groups, African Americans in technology may began to deal with feelings of isolation. I can attest to this circumstance personally. Since I graduated from college with my undergraduate degree in computer science in 1986 I have rarely had the pleasure of working in an IT department with another African American.
This issue of isolation occurs in high school, the workplace as well as on college campuses. It is also one of the main reasons that African Americans do not persist in STEM careers.
Many scholars studying this issue from S. Craig Watkins in his book The Young and the Digital as well as Jane Margolis in the book Stuck in the Shallow End have reported on the importance of support groups or networks to combat the issue of isolation.
I would have loved being a part of either of these groups when I first became a software engineer. Why? Because it is great to be able to speak with someone who can relate to your circumstance. Someone who can understand what you may be going through.
I can remember having to explain to members of my family and friends what exactly it was that I did as a computer programmer. The people in my community simply did not understand that I was CREATING software, not using it! I also never had anyone to talk shop with for the early years of my career.
This is why I am so excited about this third group, BiTWiSE, which is a networking group dedicated to the African American software engineer and is sponsored by Microsoft. You can find BiTWiSE on LinkedIn under LinkedIn Groups. You can simply search Groups and enter ‘BiTWiSE’.
Technology support groups do indeed exist in the African American community. However they become less effective if they are unknown to the people who can benefit from them the most. We must do a better job of promoting the efforts of these groups in order to remove yet another obstacle to the inclusion of African-Americans participation in the digital society.
Kai Dupé is a doctoral student at Pepperdine University where he is conducting research on Why African American Males Are Underrepresented in Computing. Kai can be reached by email at email@example.com or by visiting his website at www.
Terica Kindred’s success is definitely related to the fact that she commands a broad expertise. She is a speaker, business consultant and investment strategist who heads OutEstate Investments, which specializes in real estate and international investments. She’s currently writing her first book The Next Global Millionaire based on her experiences in working with businesses across five continents. We recently caught up with Kindred to pick her brain for our series 10 Insights From A Millionaire.
What’s helped me most in building my career is working for Corporate America
I knew I was on the right track when I could make my annual corporate salary in a month
My greatest personal strength is my integrity. If you treat people right and you do things for the service of others you will always be successful.
The best mistake I made was not getting my MBA.
The best piece of advice I got was focus on one thing and do it well.
The best piece of advice I could give to other entrepreneurs would be: you don’t need a fancy business plan to start a business just get it started
Inspiration comes from God. I know that the work I do will change and impact nations of people. As long as I am doing his will and making a difference in the lives of others my day was well lived.
I wake up at 7am
If I could do it over again I wouldn’t change a thing the experience have been well worth it and has shaped who I am today. Changing anything would mean changing me.
The first thing I really splurged on was nothing. I haven’t really haven’t splurged. The more money I make the more I invest.
(Daily Finance) — It wasn’t until 2005 that she slowly recovered some semblance of her old self, and was able to focus enough at work to make $80,000. By 2007 though, she was ready to do her own thing. Late that year, she started Harvest Wealth Financial, a firm that offers financial and disaster planning with a spiritual, compassionate flavor, specializing in serving clients who are dealing with traumas such as catastrophic illness or a premature death in the family. “I use my experience and my empathy,” says Simpson.
Helping others helped her. “I reached the point of no return. A decision had to be made. Was I going to continue to allow September 11, 2001, to defeat me or would I make every attempt to find myself again,” says Simpson, who marks her rebirth in 2008 when she says she chose to live. She credits her turnaround to her faith, and when was asked to make a speech, she titled it “Dare 2 Dream.” She did just that, and the speech grew into a book: Dare 2 Dream: Pushing Past Your Pain to Pursue Purpose.
In Inc magazine’s annual accounting of the top 500 fastest-growing companies, African-Americans represented. Based on their annual rankings, we highlight the top Black entrepreneurs and their fast-growing companies, according to Inc. Check ‘em out.
Jarrett Pumphrey, CEO
2010 Revenue: $8.7 million
Three-Year Growth: 8,625%
Pumphrey was the son of a dentist in Houston. He eventually took his background to create his company which produces an alternative to braces.
(Black Enterprise) — I always knew that I wanted my work to leave an indelible imprint on society, but I never thought I would be underestimated because of my race and put in a position to justify the true reasons for my success. How I entered the wine industry — where black ownership is nearly nonexistent — and the reputation I earned would ultimately determine my success. I had a lot to prove, a short amount of time to make it happen, all eyes were on me to either sink or swim and I knew first impressions were everything. The idea of learning how to brand a business as race neutral while still embracing what made me and my business unique was something I hadn’t considered. At 19-years-old I was building a vineyard and winery from the ground-up and on the road to being the youngest female winery owners in the country.