I have always been a little timid when it comes to speaking my mind or my opinion. Most people that know me can say that I am not confrontational, especially if it is not an open-minded discussion. I have always held back my opinion when it is opposing for the simple fact of not offending anyone. But I am tired of tiptoeing around anyone, and I just got to stand ten toes on everything I say.
Nonetheless, this blog is long overdue for me to speak on. It is ironic because this topic started brewing in 2020 when the protests heighten around the world. It currently feels important to discuss because of all the creatives I am surrounded by on social media and in real life. From successful black entrepreneurs to those striving each day to be better or are dismissed on a daily. I have had the opportunity to observe so much about black businesses so, let us get into it.
We all state that we “are rooting for everyone black”. What does that entail in society today?
I have always loved being in a community of black people. I applied to only HBCUs because I could not see myself anywhere else. The love, the support, the greatness coming from any historically black institution is unmatched. However, outside of those walls especially going into my career, I have had a hard time building that cozy feeling. The time during the protest got me thinking. Everything was in a new light for me. From seeing the true colors of business, gaining rich history, and seeing just how dirty the system can be.
My mind wandered to how can I be of support to a black wall street. So here is my way of starting & God knows he had so much in store for me.
Black business owners are human.
I do not say this to support any wrongdoing because it is no excuse for being a horrible person. However, the process of thinking, starting, owning & sustaining a business is demanding with so many odds stack against us. Pleaseeeeee do not let life hit you. Car problems. Funerals. Mental health. These companies do not have thousands of employees, marketing departments, and resources compared to many big brands. The one-man show for most businesses must go on by any means and be resilient at every turn. Learning more about black individuals and what goes into their business is astonishing. Most have no choice but to roll with punches at every turn.
So one of my biggest pet peeves for people not supporting black businesses is the preconception that ALL black owners are (fill in the blank). Every black professional is not unprofessional, late, rude, and the list goes on. It is not okay for us to down-talk ourselves from achieving greatness. Instead of criticizing people or situations, let us change the cancel culture perspective and find more ways to elevate. Give a compliment. Ask the individual if you can give valuable feedback to improve their business. Let us use our community to nurture and correct ourselves in respectable ways instead of discrediting publicly. Why continue to take your money outside of your community to make others rich. We all have room to grow & who knows? Maybe you can enlighten them on something they did not know.
Guidance is a necessity within the black community.
My decision to become an entrepreneur became challenging when I realized I had to figure everything out alone. In 2017, when I got the courage to apply for my LLC license, I became overwhelmed because I did not know where to start or what to focus on first. I search for a business mentor that could provide guidance but could not find anyone. I have connected with other entrepreneurs that were either in the same predicament as me or not interested in helping. With no entrepreneurs in my family and friend groups, I am learning from trial and error. Investing in different classes, trying to network, and ultimately just losing money. Not because of bad choices but simply not knowing any better.
Representation has become so important.
It is still so many unexplored industries and areas that Black people have not been a part of yet. Seeing any statement about "the first black person to...." makes my skin crawl because we are still scratching the surface. It is vital to help other black talents once you open the door for yourself. The most inspiring stories are when someone becomes successful from someone taking a chance on them.
Customer service is subjective.
Let us compare it to the saying “Not eating at everyone else house because of not knowing how they clean their kitchen, dishes, or food.” For most, we can agree with this statement after seeing that everyone was raised differently from what is considered normal or traditional.
This concept also applies to customer service because some individuals want employees to be at their beck and call. Some individuals prefer to browse on their own without someone offering to help every few minutes. The list can go on with different ways that everyone shops. With different standards and expectations, it is harder to stick everything in one category.
For one, you cannot trust everyone else judgment from a black own business. Let us call a spade a spade because some people are haters. For example, I was working with an individual for a business collaboration that someone on Instagram said (let us call the person Ashley) “Don’t work with Ashley because she is unprofessional” on their story. So, I took it upon myself to respond since I was working with Ashley at that moment, and she is cool…. I like her & she does beautiful work. Did I see ways Ashley can improve as a business owner? Yes, but I felt like their post was condescending. Ashley communicated she was moving from the beginning and apologize for the delays. She was professional with each interaction, gave updates when I asked, and finished on time. Ashley is human and has a life. Just because she is reachable unlike CEOs from fortune 500 companies, does not mean we try to manipulate for the benefit of ourselves. I enjoyed Ashley & our business relationship to order multiple items with no problems. Give some people a chance for yourself sometimes it is the customers that are problematic.
To wrap it up, although I am not where I want to be, I know that I will not ever make it by myself. I love talking business, so I do not mind connecting with entrepreneurs, not in the fashion industry. I do not mind sharing tips or tricks I have earned on my journey. I am secure in knowing that it is room for me where I am going. I want to take as many like-minded people with me on my journey. It is enough for all of us to eat & I am so sick of struggling/seeing others struggle.