All Articles Tagged "african american entpreneurs"
For the natural haired divas, Curly Nikki is most likely a household name. But for those of you who aren’t as versed in the black natural hair blogging sites, Curly Nikki is one of the largest and most comprehensive sites for everything natural hair. Founded by St. Louis native Nikki Walton three years ago, the site shares Walton’s personal hair journey as well as hair tips and products, and has helped countless fans in their journey to maintain the health of their natural tresses. The site is so popular it has even been featured on the Tyra Banks Show, the New York Times, USA Today and the Huffington Post. Black Enterprise took a moment to sit down with the entrepreneur to learn a bit more about her story.
“We live in a world where straight hair is Queen. It’s the standard. It’s all we saw growing up, on TV, in magazines [was] straight, long, flowing, silky, shiny, “desirable” hair,” Walton said. “Meanwhile, many of us have hair that is naturally the opposite—coily and curly; shrinks up to mask length; and is more cottony than silky. Even a blind man could see what a lifetime of these images could do to a person.”
For Walton, natural hair became her passion; she even gave it more time than studying for grad school. After observing the reaction from friends and family as she began her hair transition, she looked to the Internet for help and support.
“I realized that for most newly natural women, the only safe haven and source of support was online,” she told Black Enterprise. “I loved the friendly atmosphere and thorough info. The women there quickly embraced me, taught me lots, and soon came to anticipate and respect my advice and reviews.”
Walton received so much encouragement that she decided to start her own blog. Three years later, she says, “what started off as a $10 investment in a hobby, has blossomed into a profitable career.”
She owes her success to her work ethnic. While her input online may leave viewers to believe there are several working under her, Walton discloses that she’s on the computer 24/7 talking to other bloggers, responding to emails and social networking.
“The brand is not some anonymous drone,” she said. “It’s me—my face, my experiences, my voice.”
Most importantly, Walton doesn’t let advertising get in the way of helping out her avid viewers. She puts her brand first and only endorses products she truly believes in and always keeps in mind why she started the brand and what her readers expect.
But while creating and running an innovative brand that inspires black woman everywhere and receives national attention, the profession and success is not without its drawbacks.
“Most people don’t understand that a lifestyle blog is a personal sacrifice,” she told Black Enterprise. “For I don’t take off, in fact, last year I blogged more during that time. I hope people appreciate that. Every day you spend thinking about the next article, the next picture, the next story. It’s difficult to live in the moment.”
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(Rolling Out) — How did the concept of The Green Room come about? I started teaching classes in Atlanta a year ago. I was teaching from acting books I had accumulated from 15 years of living in Los Angeles. My students would ask, “where ccan I get this book?” And I could only send them online. There was no place in Atlanta for them to go and get it. I called Samuel French, that’s the name of the bookstore in Los Angeles, and asked them about opening up a Samuel French store in Atlanta. Through my conversations with them, it sparked the idea to open my own bookstore and to just distribute their books and then the coffee bar, lounge and all that came into play because that’s what I would like if I was going to hang out at a bookstore.
by Kweli Wright
Women are known to love shoes — and many dream of taking that passion and starting their own lines. But it takes a certain kind of woman to do her research, find a niche and bring these coveted accessories to market. Fortunately, Ashja Jones, the founder of Takera Shoes is making it happen.
As a star of the WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun, Jones has a choice of many shoes to wear and many designers to choose from…or so one would think, but as much as she loves great shoes, they haven’t always loved her back.
“Shoes have always been an issue for me,” Jones admits. “I wear a size 13, and I’ve been that size since I was 12 years old… so I’ve had an issue all my life where I have needed shoes for different occasions.” Not only did Jones have difficulty finding shoes that fit her, she also found that size 13 didn’t always mean stylish. “You have a lot of players squeezing their feet into shoes that are too small and wearing whatever they can find,” she says. “It’s a huge deal for women also outside of the basketball field, there are women who can’t find shoes that look and feel great.”
Jones didn’t have any formal fashion or design training, but that didn’t stop her from launching Takera Shoes (taken after her middle name), a footwear line which caters to women sizes 10.5 to 15. Her first collection launches this month and has already been initially previewed at last years’ WNBA All star event at the Mohegan Sun and was largely recognized by many of the leagues bests, as well as WNBA president Donna Orender.
In 2010, Jones partnered with Final IV Enterprises, a black owned, operated and financed apparel and footwear company based in Atlanta, GA. “At some point you get sick and tired of it and I decided to do something about it,” Jones says. She’s involved in every step of the line from creating to designing and selling the footwear. “It’s important for me to be involved in every aspect of the shoe. I have a hand in deciding if I want to pick trends, styles, colors, because I’m the one with the big foot! If I don’t feel a show will look good in a yellow, then I can say no to that.”
(Atlanta Journal-Constitution) — Atlanta is more conducive to the black business owner, and Kamal Grant knows this as well as anyone. A former San Diego and New York resident, Grant, 30, opened Sublime Doughnuts in Atlanta in 2008, in part because he felt the city would bring business to him. ”A lot of people have come up and congratulated me just because I opened the shop,” Grant said. “They are surprised to see a young black man with his own business making doughnuts. But they support me, black and white.” Grant, who attended the Culinary Institute of America and the American Institute of Baking, is the extension of an overly successful trend. On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released figures that showed black-owned businesses in metro Atlanta grew 99 percent between 2002 and 2007. The numbers were taken from the “Survey of Business Owners: Black-Owned Businesses: 2007,” which is compiled every five years, and found metro Atlanta recorded more than 127,000 black-owned businesses in 2007, up from 64,000 in 2002. That exceeded national figures that showed a 60.5-percent increase for black business ownership over the same period. Georgia had the second-highest number of black-owned businesses among states, trailing only New York, with more than 183,000 black-owned businesses, or 9.6 percent of the national total.
(The Grio) — When Amiya Alexander’s friends couldn’t afford dance lessons, the then-9-year-old dancer decided to start her own studio. Now 12-years-old, this entrepreneur brings dance classes to children in underserved Detroit communities with a bright pink school bus that she’s not yet old enough to drive. Amiya Alexander is making history … tending to the budding dancers of Detroit. Before her bright pink mobile studio, dance classes were a dream for most of Alexander’s classmates. Their low-income community lacked sufficient practice space, and parents lacked the time to travel to studios. The cost of dance training, $25 per class, made the activity all the more unlikely for Alexander’s peers. Drawing up a blueprint in crayon, the youngster became determined to teach reasonably priced classes — $11.50 each — in her own neighborhood’s parking lots.
(Seattle Times) — WHEN YOU’RE not from here, it can take some work to understand what sort of place you’ve landed in. A job with The Seattle Times lured me to the Northwest after stops in Cape Town, South Africa, Boston and New York City, and I actually made some of the transition quickly. I started running, flirted with the idea of commuting by bicycle. And after receiving some admonitory stares, I even learned to politely stop until given the walk signal before crossing the street. But three months into my new Seattle life, one thing eluded me still: Where was Seattle’s community of young black professionals?
(CBS) At age 40, Dawn Fitch is part of a fast growing movement in America – black women who are launching their own businesses.
“There is another choice beside corporate America,” said Fitch, president of Pooka Pure & Simple. “You can start your own business from something that you may love or a passion that you have.”
Between 2002 and 2008, the number of firms owned by African American women increased by 19 percent – twice as fast as all other firms, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. And they generated $29 billion in sales nationwide.