All Articles Tagged "women in business"
Fashion is often unfairly considered primarily a superficial business with minimal substance and notorious fickleness. What that misconception fails to consider is that in order for a brand to thrive you need individuals behind-the-scenes that are savvy, intelligent and that possess vision to forecast the next wave of trends. T’Shurah Dove, vice president of marketing for clothing retailer Jimmy Jazz, exudes those qualities which has helped her ensure that the company remains one of the market’s leading urban retailers.
Dove was previously the marketing coordinator for urban fashion brand, Downtown Locker Room (DTLR). In that position she honed her skills. Today, in her role at Jimmy Jazz she manages the marketing strategies for more than 120 stores throughout the Unites States. We spoke with the ever-busy Dove about staying connected to the needs and desires of consumers, dealing with racism and ageism in her field, the power of networking and her secret to simultaneously working and taking care of her love life.
What has been your career path to get to where you are now?
Well I started out working as a promotions assistant in Baltimore from 2000-2003 at a local radio station. I knew at that moment that marketing and promotions was it for me. Fast forward two years and I ended up at an urban retailer headquarters as a Marketing Assistant and worked my way up to Marketing Coordinator/Manager. This great opportunity became available at Jimmy Jazz and I was offered a VP of Marketing position. That’s a pretty great ending for someone who started out in radio promotions. But it doesn’t end here for me.
What is a typical day like for you?
Every day is a different day for me. One Monday I may have a day full of meetings and the next Monday I may be working on a sponsorship project that helps brand the company. Every day is a different task.
By the time you arrived at Jimmy Jazz, it was already a leading clothing retailer. How did that impact your strategy since you weren’t building it from the ground level?
Well, just because a company is established doesn’t mean you stop reaching out to your consumer. You still work to stay relevant. You still work to make sure that the customer thinks of your company first when they decide that they want to go purchase goods. You work hard no matter what level you’re at. If the customer forgets about you, you have a serious problem.
Much of marketing boils down to having great ideas. How do you stay inspired to keep fresh ideas flowing?
Attending events to see what our demographic responds to helps me decide on how to approach the customer. I’m a big people watcher and so everywhere I go, I observe. I watch what people wear, what they read, and what technology they are into and I take that information back and turn it into a idea. I pay attention to how national chains market to their customers and turn that into an idea. There’s inspiration around you with every step you take; the key is to pay attention.
What ethical issues in marketing, such as pricing ethics or in your choices of advertising and promotion, do you deal with?
With the economy the way it is, I have to be smart about how funds are spent when it comes to advertising. I have to decide what opportunity will have the greatest effect and how we will get the biggest bang for our buck. We do cross promotions with a number of our vendors, which helps offset costs for projects. In this method, both companies get exposure.
Has being an African-American woman ever been an issue in your field of work?
I deal with issues ever so often with men and women who are uncomfortable with the position I hold and the work that I do. Due to my age and my skin color, I encounter resistance and hostilities but I pay it zero mind. I worked hard to get where I am today and continue to work hard. Those who take issue with it have insecurities that I’d rather not give energy to.
What do you consider to be your secret to success?
I remember to stay focused and humble. People are more inclined to do business with individuals who have pleasant personalities. I make sure to always attend the most influential events and network. It’s very interesting to meet people from different walks of life and talk to them about what they do.
How do you juggle your work and social life in order to keep a healthy balance?
I designate times of the week that I take myself out on a date. I found out that I’m a cheap date, but I also realized that taking this time is essential. I learned how to entertain myself while growing up the only girl. Other times, I may invite my boyfriend to an industry event. This way I kill two birds with one stone. It’s very important to separate work and your personal life and I make sure I put aside enough time to do both effectively.
Welcome back to my LDC Black Women In Tech profile series. I’m happy to bring you an interview with a hot entrepreneur named Kimberly Dillon, founder of House of Mikko, a “personalized recommendation engine that helps customers discover the best haircare, skincare, and color beauty products for them, based on their unique features and beauty goals.” She is quite a trailblazer and certainly one to watch as 2012 kicks off. Here’s a peak inside my recent conversation with a fellow player in the digital space:
LDC: I see you’ve been covered by certain mainstream tech/media outlets. We rarely see the brown face of a tech entrepreneur profiled in these types of outlets. Why do you think that is, and how did you overcome that hurdle?
I’ll be back just in the new year with more great profiles, so keep watching. You can also find out more about tech events, webinars and more at www.ldcoleman.com.
By Rhonda Campbell
Women in emerging economies are starting their own businesses at higher rates than women in more developed economies. This could point to the thought that perhaps necessity is not only the mother of invention, but also the mother of women’s business expansion.
Women Businesses in Emerging and U.S. Economies
In its 2010 Women’s Report, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) states that “more than 104 million women between 18-64 years old were actively engaged in starting and running new business ventures, contributing significantly to entrepreneurship in all 59 economies studied.”
What’s equally impressive is that “another 83 million women were running established businesses that they started over 3½ years earlier.” That means, a cool 187 million women in the 59 economies studied were operating their own business in 2010. Nearly half (45.5 percent) of these women entrepreneurs were managing their businesses in emerging economies (e.g. Ghana, Egypt, Iran, Jamaica, Vanuatu). In Ghana alone, 55 percent of the businesses were owned by women.
However, as it is in the United States, so it is in other parts of the world. Women business owners employ fewer workers than their male counterparts. This is due in part to the fact that women actually expect to grow their employee base less than men. Why this key area of business growth is less a focus for women isn’t clear. What is clear is that overall business growth necessitates employee growth. When businesses grow in size and scope (e.g. patents, products, services, revenues), more hands are generally required to be on deck. That said, the next real indicator of the growth of women businesses might be measured in size and scale of organizations women own and manage.
Steps to Strengthen Women Owned Businesses
Furthermore, the 2010 Women’s Report found that women are (certainly, you’re not surprised) as innovative as men. In other words, women create and launch new products and services at a pace that’s on par with their male counterparts.
What also comes as no surprise is the fact that governments and national populaces that support women owned businesses strengthen their economies as a whole. In the United States and abroad steps to strengthen women owned businesses involve:
- Offering women increased opportunities to gain access to capital
- Establishing mentoring programs for women entrepreneurs at early stages of business development
- Encouraging women to major in degree programs and courses that teach practical business growth strategies
- Promote community wide attitudes (including attitudes of family members) that support and encourage business ownership by women
It’s clear. Women have come a long way in the business arena. However, work remains as there continues to be significant room for progress. Perhaps no one plays more major a role in this progress than women entrepreneurs. After all, as women change their own perceptions and beliefs about managing million and billion dollar accounts, spearheading mergers and acquisitions, negotiating critical tasks and growing their employee base today’s women business leaders may take giant steps forward. They will also encourage their daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters to believe in and live out their loftiest dreams.
Rhonda Campbell, an East Coast journalist, is the owner of Off The Shelf radio and publisher of Long Walk Up and the forthcoming Love Pour Over Me.
MEET ATTORNEY TONYA MARIE EVANS: One of the few African American women to play on the professional tennis circuit like Venus and Serena Williams, Tonya Marie Evans knows how to combine passion and persistence to achieve lofty goals. She’s played at the U.S. Open, attended Howard University on an academic scholarship and worked at the U.S. Court of Appeals. Never content to follow the crowd, Tonya later partnered with her mother as an intellectual property attorney in Philadelphia, providing legal advice and protections for area business leaders and artists. She also launched her own literary firm, Legal Write Publications. This legal, athletic and artistic dynamo added professor to her resume when she accepted a teaching job at Widener University School of Law in 2008.
MN: You work in a field many people respect – law. That said, earning a law degree is no easy task, demanding dedication, commitment, confidence and resilience, the same attributes that help women succeed as business leaders. Why law, Tonya? Why did you take on such a challenging career field?
TE: I think my path to the field of law is part nature and part nurture. My mother, Susan Borden Evans, is an attorney and I basically grew up in the law library and Black Law Student Association office while my mother attended Temple University School of Law. And all of my “aunts” were her friends and attorneys too. So their example showed what was possible and also what was expected. As for nature, I think I came into the world with a healthy dose of intellectual curiosity and debate skills. Both lend themselves well to the practice of law, which I enjoyed very much before transitioning into my present position, Professor of Law.
As an aside, it is no secret that the skills developed and honed in law school, skills like research, writing, issue spotting and analysis, negotiation and – most essentially – problem solving, are easily transferrable into areas outside the actual practice of law. All of these skills have served me well in publishing and other business pursuits, and certainly now as a law professor.
MN: How long were you practicing law before you partnered with your mother and started an entertainment law firm in Philadelphia? What was the experience of launching and managing your own law firm like?
TE: I clerked for a federal judge in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for one year, and then worked at two international firms for about three years before transitioning into practice with my mother. That time was one of the greatest joys of my life because we were also nurturing our publishing company, FYOS Entertainment, LLC (now dba Legal Write Publications).
One of the many successes was offering a full service intellectual property practice, an area of law in which African-Americans and women were substantially underrepresented historically. My mother is a licensed patent attorney and assisted inventors in navigating the patent registration process. I focused on copyright and trademark counseling, registration and licensing, in the literary and music industries, mainly. We both also assisted with business entity formation, counseling and the review and negotiation of contract. Servicing a client’s general business and intellectual property needs was a vital link, one I am most proud of. This is especially true in the 21st century where manufacturing of physical goods is receding into the background and intellectual property and creating digital goods is growing exponentially. It is critical for small business owners to identify, protect and monetize their intellectual property assets early in the life cycle of the business. Some important dates and protections can be lost when intellectual property assets are not protected in a timely fashion. These assets include: business name, logo and goodwill, printed materials, digital goods, web content, databases, and materials created by employees in the scope of their employment. The unwary business owner can also wind up in court defending an infringement suit if they are not careful in the online environment.
In our series, Head Women In Charge, we have dynamic Black businesswoman share their insights on career and their businesses. This week, we’re featuring Sheri Riley, who is the Founder and Chief Partnership Strategist of GLUE, Inc. and has spent 20 years building profitable partnerships for products and personalities like: BMW, WNBA, Converse, and Porsche.
Riley received her start in partnership development and product management over twenty years ago and successfully introduced the world to multi-platinum artists like Usher, Toni Braxton, and TLC as the Senior Marketing Director at LaFace Records.
In addition to leading GLUE, Riley is also the Creator of Exponential Living, a ground-breaking initiative that helps celebrities, athletes, corporate executives, and high achievers create balance among life’s key areas in ways that promote a higher standard of excellence.
Riley has been recognized as Who’s Who in Black Atlanta, 2011, with the Atlanta Business League’s 2009 Creative Style Award, being named one of the Top 25 Women in Atlanta in 2007 by Rolling Out Magazine, a finalist for the American Marketing Association’s AMY Award Event Marketing Program of the Year (over $100,000) and countless other honors.
In her own words, Riley describes key lessons of her success:
What’s helped me most in building my career is being a person of integrity professionally and personally.
I knew my business ideas was great every day that I stay in business and new business opportunities continue to present themselves.
My greatest personal strength is my commitment and dedication to my relationship with GOD. Through prayer, I am able to understand, endure, thrive, persist, overcome, enjoy, and stretch myself and my vision.
My biggest learning lesson was separating from people IMMEDIATELY when they showed me their presence in my life was not for my good. In the great words of Ms. Maya Angelou, “when people show you who they are, believe them.”
The costliest mistake I made was not severing ties with my former business manager when he made his first mistakes. Instead, I tried to work with him and believed him when he said he was a man of integrity and would honor his agreement if he made financial mistakes he would cover those costs.
The best piece of advice I got was keep your personal and business expenses low. It’s not about how much you make, but how much you keep.
My most exciting project has been too many to name. In my company’s 14 year history, there has only been one project that I didn’t care for.
The best piece of advise I could give to other entrepreneurs would be to continually evolve your business and continue to educate yourself.
I define success as being at peace with who and what I am and spending time doing what I love and being with the people I love.
If I could do it over again, I would have fired my former business manager at the first mistake.
My favorite book on business is … I have several favorite business books. I really enjoyed Richard Branson’s autobiography, The E Myth, and Play Like a Man, Win Like a Women.
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. For months now politicians have been encouraging shoppers to support independent store owners within their communities. We say why not show the sistahs some love. Black women have boutiques, wine stores, and a myriad of ways to help shoppers looking for a unique experience find exactly what they’re looking for. Here’s a list of some black women, with boutique businesses worth supporting:
Ooh La La Fashion boutique in Atlanta is owned and operated by fashionista Ronni McBride. The African American proprietor’s store promotes many Italian designs and showcases lines that are mostly European influenced. The store features innovative designers from around the world as well as talented locals. In addition offering fashion forward clothing, the boutique offers a range of unique and even custom made accessories including precious stone jewelry, purses, shoes, and hats.
Allyson Morehead’s entrepreneurial journey began in 2003, when she unexpectedly became the belle of the ball. While serving as a board member for her local Urban League chapter, Morehead was tasked with coordinating the guest list and invitations for the organization’s annual gala. But when she discovered that funds for the event had already been allocated to other line items, rendering her unable to hire a graphic designer, she ended up creating the invitations herself.
Over the next few years, she would occasionally dabble in creating customized pieces for friends and family members, but it wasn’t until December 2010, during the holiday season, that she started seriously thinking about how to turn her hobby into a lucrative business.
“I’ve always been the hostess/event planner of the group, and when I would research invitations for people of color, I found the offerings were all the same, with outdated images or stereotypical expressions,” said Morehead. “And it wasn’t until I started getting repeat requests to create one-of-a-kind stationery that the light finally went off for me that this might actually work.”
It was this series of events that led Allyson to officially launch Sweet Potato Paper, a line of customized multicultural invitations for weddings, bridal showers, baptisms, parties and more this past summer.
“I wanted to create invitations that celebrated one’s culture—not image—and that were modern and unique in style,” said Morehead.
To that effect, Sweet Potato Paper gives clients the ability to create personalized packages based on the traits, trends, and experiences celebrated in their own backyard—such as hairstyles, skin tones and expressions.
Although the company, run from Morehead’s Upper Marlboro, MD home, with a satellite office in D.C. is still in its infancy, they’ve enjoyed a steadily increasing amount of sales success since the launch.
Allyson recently sat down with Madame Noire to talk about what it’s like to enter an established market, how she’s juggling a full-time job and a side-venture and what’s next for Sweet Potato Paper.
Tara Dowdell is no stranger to competition. In 2005, while still employed as an executive with the Port Authority, she was invited to join the third-season cast of Donald Trump’s hit show, The Apprentice. Although she was not hired by Trump in the end, Dowdell remained undeterred, leveraging her newfound spotlight from the show and a buyout offer from her employer to launch a consulting venture that would eventually morph into what is known today as The Tara Dowdell Group. We recently caught up with Dowdell for her take on how she rose from an apprentice to a boss.
When you joined The Apprentice, was your goal to work for Donald Trump long-term or did you have a larger vision for yourself?
I definitely had a larger vision for myself, but unfortunately I have to admit that I did not have a strategy to translate that vision into reality. Luckily, I am a big believer in learning from my mistakes and course correcting, which is what I did.
While on the show, you were employed with the Port Authority. What was your role there?
I worked for the International Shipping arm of the Port Authority, where my primary responsibility was to develop and implement a communications and government relations strategy for the multi-billion dollar redevelopment of the seaports operated by the agency. It was a massive infrastructure project, and I was the first African American to hold my position.
Prior to joining the Port Authority, I served as the Director of Appointments in the New Jersey Governor’s Office. As Director of Appointments, I ran the office that managed the selection and nomination of gubernatorial appointments to over 550 statewide regulatory boards and commissions. I was the youngest person and the first African American to hold this position.
What year did you launch the Tara Dowdell Group?
I started consulting in September 2005, and formally incorporated the Tara Dowdell Group in March 2006.
Did you launch your business immediately after leaving the show?
No, I stayed at the Port Authority for several months after appearing on the Apprentice. I ended up leaving after the agency offered a buyout package to all employees, which I decided to take. I then used the money from the buyout to launch my consulting business.
by Lauren DeLisa Coleman
Business analysts are showing that even with the recent economic upheaval, tech-related companies are standing strong and with billions of dollars in actual cash-on-hand. Not only is this sector representative of a financial behemoth, it is also one that is directly responsible for creating innovative and exciting new platforms of communication, entertainment and lifestyle enhancement – the extent of which we’ve only just begun to see. Yet there is still room for, shall we say, improvement. For example, even though many brilliant and creative people drive this modern tech industry, the gender disparities that plagued many industries in the past are still very much alive, though changing.
In fact, Facebook COO Sheryl Sanderberg recently began a movement to create and support more female leaders in Silicon Valley. But it’s extremely important, given that oftentimes female consumers of color out-index all other groups in mobile usage and social media frequency (source: Pew Research), that particular visibility, recognition and focus be given to building and supporting female leaders of color very much under-represented in the tech space.
We need to ensure that the vision of women in tech is as expansive and inclusive as possible, particularly since we are witnessing the browning of our country each and every day. So welcome to the series that spotlights some of the best and the brightest who are using their intelligence, experience and unique perspective to disrupt the old school in the very best way, while acting as catalysts who will encourage the next generation of hip Black women in tech-related occupations.
My first profile is an Q&A with Bonita Stewart, VP U.S. Sales at Google.
Here we go….
How did you get your position at Google?
I was directing interactive communications at Chrysler in 2006 when Google reached out to speak with me about leading their US Automotive sales team. It was an exciting opportunity for me because it gave me the chance to not only step into a new business space, but to bring my learnings about consumers and products — and the transformation taking place and being driven by consumers and their behavior in the marketing world — to a broader audience.
Did you have to answer many of those notorious brainteaser style questions we hear about?
I definitely had to answer some interesting questions, and had a number of interesting conversations, prior to joining the company. The questions were less about brainteasing, though, and more about discerning whether I had the ability to work in a flat organization and respond to a fast-paced, rapidly changing environment. Googlers are passionate about their work and tend to attack problems with flair and creativity — rolling their sleeves up to get things done — and apply their interests and talents in order to innovate for advertisers and users, and make the world a better place. We like to make sure that our employees communicate openly and ethically, and are committed to exchanging ideas to create a successful, collaborative, inspiring work environment.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your current position?
The most challenging aspect is continuing to stay at the forefront of a constantly changing digital world. It is important that I am confident in leading my team and clients into this new world; the technology and capabilities are there, but staying on top of such an always-evolving world, though incredibly interesting and fulfilling, is often challenging.
What is the best encouragement/direction you might give to young women of color who would like to work for digital leaders such as Google?
I would suggest that anyone who would like to work for a digital leader such as Google, that they focus on adding value to the solutions they’re offering to their particular audience, that they are tenacious in their pursuit of excellence and results, that they have a plan, and that they never stop learning. It’s key to set a high bar and continue to pursue excellence, and to seek — and really embrace — feedback along the way.
How was your experience at Howard?
My experience at Howard was excellent. I majored in journalism and minored in business, and ended up becoming so enamored by business that I chose not to graduate early in order to take more business courses. The education I sought out and received at Howard gave me a great foundation on which to begin my career.
Have you found it challenging to be heard/break through as a woman? of color?
Diversity is a major part of Google’s culture. We believe that diversity in the workforce brings diversity of opinions — which in turn brings a diversity of solutions to help our diverse users and advertisers. More and more companies, and people, recognize the importance of diversity at all levels — and how it drives innovation — which is a major positive for both companies and the world.
I believe you were at Chrysler during the introduction of the 300? If so, what was that like from an Interactive perspective given that urban culture was responsible for so much of the sales of that particular model?
The Chrysler 300 was an outstanding product designed by Ralph Gilles, an African American automotive designer. His unique design style drove the many accolades the vehicle received when it was introduced.
What do you think about the current movement for greater inclusion of women in both tech and advertising (and some saying that they don’t want to be considered just on gender)?
I am very optimistic about the movement toward women in leadership roles in technology, advertising, and the world in general. I see many talented women every day, at all levels of leadership, and find that their diverse perspectives — like those of any diverse group — bring nothing but good to the company and its offerings. Smart, interesting, talented employees with a unique perspective on the world are invaluable, no matter their race or gender, and I am incredibly happy that more and more companies are embracing this way of thinking.
How do you see greater balance of diversity coming about in our industry?
I see greater balance of diversity coming about as leaders recognize the value of a diverse workforce and make that a priority, and as the world continues to evolve and recognize — and reward — talented people with varying backgrounds and perspectives on life.
Any challenges regarding moving up the tech ladder and balancing marriage/home?
Work-life balance is never easy, particularly if you love what you do, but it is incredibly important to take the time to recharge and pursue passions outside the office. I’m lucky that I work in technology and am therefore not tethered to a desk; I can check email and do most of my work remotely, which allows me to step away from my laptop and enjoy my friends and family when I’m not at the office. I try to set a good example for my team by staying off the grid when I’m on vacation, and by not sending emails unless there is an emergency on the weekends.
By Andrea Williams
In her 10-plus years in the music industry, Erica Grayson worked her way from receptionist to top A&R exec at Interscope Records, rubbing elbows with heavy-hitters like Jimmy Iovine along the way. Today she is a self-professed “entertainment entrepreneur,” and she spends her days guiding the careers of uber-successful songwriters and producers including Jim Jonsin and Rico Love.
We recently had a chance to speak with Ms. Grayson about the people that inspire her most, why she believes the business of music and the business of selling records are mutually exclusive and why there is no substitute for good, old-fashioned hard work.
How did you get started in the music industry?
I got my first gig when I was in college, and I was answering phones for Jive Records on the West coast. That was officially my first paid job, and I was really fortunate because, since the office was a satellite to the New York office, it was really small. So, in addition to answering phones, I was doing everything. I was sending out records to the promo department, listening to music from the listening department, planning parties for artists, finding new writers and producers and setting up collaborations – I really did everything. It allowed me to get involved in many different aspects of the business, and I was so passionate about music that I wanted do everything anyway.
What was your first major career break?
I have to say that all along I’ve been really blessed. But I think that I – along with so many other women – used to underestimate myself a lot. Even though I had done so many different things just working as a “receptionist” at Jive, when a real job opportunity came along I kind of thought, ‘That really sounds like the perfect job and something I’d love to do, but I don’t know if I can do it or if I’ve had the right experience.’ I really started questioning myself a lot.
So there was a job at Sony Music Publishing as a Creative Manager, which was the first level executive that signs writers and producers, exploits catalogs and things like that. At that time it sounded like a million percent of what I wanted to do. My first thought was that I wasn’t ready and it sounded like a big responsibility. But I went for it, and after I interviewed I realized that I really wanted it. And although at the time I think there were probably people that had more experience than I did, I was very fortunate that the woman who was running the company at the time just saw my tenacity and saw that I could probably do whatever I put my mind to – and she gave me a shot. And that was really my first big break because I went from basically being an assistant to having an assistant.