All Articles Tagged "black entrepreneur"
Amber Knowles is almost positive that her fascination with photography came about shortly after graduating from New York University in 2005. Though when asked if there was a specific experience that sparked her interest, she eventually goes back to being a little girl flipping through the book still lying on her parents’ dining room table.
“I’ve always been fascinated with relationships and marriage. My parents have been married for 28 years now. I think that’s cool to able to pick their album up 28 years later,” said Knowles.
A Fly on the Wall
Intrigued by the poofy wedding dresses, tuxedoes with cummerbunds and joyous people exuding good energy through a pile of still pictures; it’s no surprise that Knowles’ destiny would involve wedding photography. Through her Dallas based business, The Amber Studio, she works toward creating similar memories that she is reminded of when looking back at her parents’ wedding photo album. Shooting weddings documentary style, Knowles says her work differs from most matrimonial snapshots.
“I capture the memories and moments. Sort of like being a fly on the wall and capturing things as they are — as opposed to restyling, posing and moving things around,” Knowles added. “Some photographers change the setting of a room, but my thing is to take photos of what’s happening as it’s happening.”
Although generally a wedding is thought to be an extravaganza, to her advantage, Knowles’ first clients were reserved. Exchanging vows at a New York courthouse then holding a small ceremony in Central Park was enough for the couple and Knowles whose self-belief was boosted because of their encouragement and simplicity.
“I got lucky because it was very low maintenance and really easy. Doing that wedding probably gave me the most confidence, because people were complimenting me. The couple loved the pictures and invited me to come to Trinidad when they have a formal wedding,” Knowles said.
by Andrea Williams
By numerous reported accounts, the average dress size of American women is a size 14 and, according to a 2011 Gallup Poll, the self-reported weight of women is up 20 pounds from 1990. But despite greater numbers of larger waistlines, there are still segments of American business and society that seemingly turn a blind eye to the unique needs of full-figured women – including the bridal industry.
Enter Shafonne Myers, founder and owner of Pretty Pear Brides Magazine, the online and print source of “bridal inspiration for plus-sized brides.”
Myers fell in love with all things matrimony as a wedding and event planner when she began coordinating events while studying biology at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. Though a full-time career in event planning beckoned after her 2001 graduation, she took the “safe” route and went to work in medicine.
It was until Myers planned her own 2004 wedding to her high school sweetheart that she decided to start her own business, with a blog thrown in for good measure. But despite the success of her site, the wedding blog market was becoming more and more saturated, leaving Myers in search of a niche.
“I was a plus-sized bride, so I knew the trials and tribulations that a plus-sized bridge goes through from personal experience,” Myers says. She soon discovered that many of her clients were sharing the same struggles and, in February 2011, the Pretty Pear Brides website was born.
So how did Myers transition from blog to full-blown magazine? She credits a close-knit group of friends that encouraged her to push well beyond her comfort zone. “I have four or five girlfriends that I talk to at least three times a week,” she says. “I didn’t have any publishing experience, but they kept telling me that I could do it.”
What Myers lacks in experience, she makes up for with first-hand knowledge of the subject area and a true commitment to bringing awareness to the plus-sized bridal market. Pretty Pear Brides is full of candid talk about body image and the full-figured experience – a welcome sight for other women who can relate to Myers’ similar story.
Over the last few years, women the world over have been trading in their relaxers for a more natural look. And with any change in taste, comes opportunity.
Carol’s Daughter, the natural hair and beauty product company, estimates that the market for relaxers has gone from bringing in $100 million a year in sales to just $35 million. Taking advantage of such a steep decline in market share, Carol’s Daughter and other companies have created products that cater to more diverse hair textures and styles.
But while beauty store shelves were being flooded with natural hair care products, no one seemed to be thinking about educating women on how to discover and use these products. No one besides Myleik Teele, that is.
Teele, 32 is the founder and chief experience officer of curlBOX, the monthly subscription service she launched that sends members up to seven natural hair care products that have been vetted for women with multi-textured hair.
Here, Teele talks about how she launched curlBOX (her second business!), beauty industry obstacles and provides advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
MN: Let’s get this out of the way first. Are you natural? If not, do you think you have to have natural hair to understand this sector of the beauty industry?
Teele: Yes, I’ve been “natural” or without a chemical relaxer for a little over a decade. I think it’s important , although not necessary, that one be natural to really understand what the subscribers are experiencing and having my finger on the pulse of what they want and need. I’m “pre-pooing,” and finger-detangling right along with my VIP members.
MN: In a recent interview with UPTOWN magazine you said that you noticed a void in the beauty industry. Can you talk more about your epiphany moment and how you knew it was the right time for this type of product?
Teele: After working with my beauty clients and going to the World Natural Hair Show and other shows and hair “meet ups” I had an epiphany moment. How would it be possible to package or “BOX” this experience (products & information) and send it to someone’s doorstep? The idea hit me and wouldn’t leave. I couldn’t even sleep at night with the thought on my mind. I took one step and the rest is history.
MN: curlBOX seems to have been modeled after other beauty related mail-order subscription services. What made you go this route instead of launching your own natural hair product?
Teele: My expertise lends itself to this business model. Mail-order subscription services have been around for years – remember Columbia House CD Clubs? I’m a “what’s the latest and greatest” kind of girl and I genuinely believe that I can better serve the hair community with a sampling service as opposed to another product … I’ll leave that to the experts!
MN: How did you decide which companies to partner with for curlBOX?
Teele: [Member feedback and research]. I am a product junkie at my core and beauty obsessed so I’m always on the blogs and watching YouTube videos. I also read the emails and take a look at the survey results and work from there. You won’t see any products in curlBOX that aren’t personally endorsed by me.
MN: When you first made your pitch, were product companies receptive? Or, did you experience resistance?
Teele: Some brands like Karen’s Body Beautiful, Frizoff Curly Hair Solutions and Hair Rules got it right away and there were some that wanted to watch the brand for awhile which is completely understandable.
Putting one title on Abiola Abrams is simply impossible. The proud Caribbean and Harlem-based owner of AbiolaTV.com does it all. What started off as an online hub for interview and opinion videos developed into a multi-platform mini-empire that includes books, TV appearances and product lines. What drives her? Passion. That mission statement is embodied in her site tagline: “Life is not a passive experience. It’s a passionate one.”
Abrams’ motivation is to encourage women to live their best lives everyday. Her “passion” has also lead her to publish two books (one of which, The Official Bombshell Handbook, hits stores soon), be a lifestyle expert on the CW’s Bill Cunningham talk show, pen regular advice columns for Yahoo Shine and contribute to the teen site Gurl.com. Despite having monthly traffic of 30,000, over one million YouTube hits and 14,000+ Twitter followers, Abrams is still humbled about her success. Now, as part of BlackEnterprise.com’s Black Blogger Month, she discusses the business of running a passion-focused site, the importance branding and what drives her passion everyday.
Read the rest at Black Enterprise
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(News One) — Fred Mwangaguhunga, founder and owner of the urban gossip site “Mediatakeout.com,” recently sat down with us to share his ongoing passion for business. Mwangaguhunga told us that he realized his purpose while pursuing an MBA and a law degree at Columbia University. “More so than being a lawyer, more so than being an investment banker, I want to go out there and do business,” Mwangaguhunga told TheUrbanDaily’s Associate Editor Shamika B. Sanders during the NYC interview.
(TheLoop21) — Amsale Aberra has designed bridal gowns for some of America’s most well known celebrities. Her client list includes Halle Berry, Selma Hayek and Julia Roberts, just to name a few. Still, her first client nearly 25 years ago was a person she knows very well, herself. Aberra started designing bridal gowns when she couldn’t find a dress to walk down the aisle. So, she designed her own wedding dress that focused on simplicity, clean lines, with a touch of glamour. Aberra’s bridal aesthetic quickly caught on, making her a go-to designer in bridal showrooms across the U.S. A native of Ethiopia, Aberra came to the U.S. to study commercial art. When she took the 18-hour flight to New England, she had no idea she wouldn’t be able to return home. A revolution broke out, leaving her to support herself. Having no money to buy clothes, Aberra made her own and discovered she had a gift of design; an occupation she didn’t even know existed in Ethiopia.
(Boston Globe) — Baron Hilliard wasn’t much of a cyclist when he decided to spend a year biking across the country visiting black businesses. But walking wouldn’t get the entrepreneur, who promotes black businesses through his Together AsOne Foundation, where he wanted to go fast enough. So, on February 4, his 39th birthday, he left his home in Plainfield, N.J., pedaling an $89 bike donated by a co-worker. “I wanted to get out and bring more exposure to some of the good things going on in our community,’’ said Hilliard, whose ride is chronicled on www.JourneyThruBlackAmerica.com. “What better way to do that?’’ Hilliard has already visited businesses in New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, hoping to raise their profile, as well as raise money to send a student to college through his foundation’s scholarship fund.
by J. Smith
Guerrilla marketing tactics usually means blanketing a parking lot with flyers underneath car windshield wipers or advertisements greeting you at every street corner, but for Dave Smith and his homemade wine company, it means going where the customers are. On Tuesdays, he’s at Stadium Village Farmers Market, Wednesdays at the Original Farmers Market at City Market, the Columbus Farmers Market every Saturday and on the second Saturday of the month at the Binford Farmers Market, all in Indiana, the Indianapolis Star reports. The marketing strategy has been a gold mine for Smith as he connects with customers and sells out of his fruit-flavored wines.
“I wanted to be able to talk with people,” he told the Indianapolis Star about his decision to take his wines directly to customers instead of setting up a traditional tasting room. “In this type of setting, they’re more relaxed. You get a nice camaraderie.”
From the looks of the profile, Smith’s business model and personable nature are what attract clients to his booths in various parts of the city. His free samples go over so well that he frequently sells out, with non-drinkers often his best customers.
“Although he had sold out of the four cases of wine he had brought to the market, Smith kept pouring samples and taking orders for that tropical-tasting Calypso Breeze, the raspberry-infused white zinfandel he calls Rhazz, and his peach wine, an intensely fruity chardonnay that is his most popular,” the Indiana Star reports.
Smith’s winery is the only black owned winery in Indiana, making his regional monopoly and guerrilla marketing techniques the winemaker to beat.
(Philadelphia Inquirer) — The Weave Bar in West Philly doesn’t open until 9 a.m., but many women – and some men – start lining up at 7 against a backdrop of fried fish restaurants and African braid shops to snag the precious first walk-in appointment of the day. Most come with their tresses already washed and blown out; some have bags of hair stashed in pocketbooks. Why are they so excited? Because once they hop in the chair, they’ll be out in 90 minutes. And – get this – prices start at $50 for a whole head full of long, luxurious, silken hair. For women who have spent hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours waiting for extensions, the Weave Bar is akin to, well, haute heaven. ”I used to drive up to New York on the regular to get my hair done,” said Jonesy, WUSL Power 99′s popular morning-show host. “But ever since I started going [to the Weave Bar], I haven’t gone back up. They do such a good job and most importantly, they really value my time. And as a working woman, my time is valuable.”
(New York Times) — The thieves pulled the iron bars out of the windows, outsmarted the motion detector that would have triggered a burglar alarm and did not give the safe or cash register a second look. Instead they went straight for what was most valuable: human hair. By the time the bandits at the My Trendy Place salon in Houston were finished, they had stolen $150,000 worth of the shop’s most prized type, used for silky extensions. The break-in was part of a recent trend of thefts, some involving violence, of a seemingly plentiful material. During the past two months alone, robbers in quest of human hair have killed a beauty shop supplier in Michigan and carried out heists nationwide in which they have made off with tens of thousands of dollars of hair at a time. “I heard about it from a couple of different supply companies and customers who said: ‘Guard your inventory. There’s a rash of this going on,’ ” said Lisa Amosu, the owner of My Trendy Place. “Whoever did it knew exactly what they wanted. They didn’t even bother with the synthetic hair.” Once stolen, the hair is typically sold on the street or on the Internet, including eBay, shop owners and the police say.