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Arian Simone & Keshia Knight Pulliam On The Why Behind Their $5 Million Dollar Investment In Black Women

The important reason they've dedicated their lives to creating a table where we can all thrive together.

Business

The table is where bread is broken and deals are made, but sadly, for generations, Black women have been barred from taking their rightful seat. Statistics show that although women of color are starting businesses more than any other demographic, they are also the least funded, proving that even today, we are not only lacking a seat at the table, but a place in the room.

This was a conundrum that didn't sit well with author and entrepreneur Arian Simone, who recently joined forces with Emmy-nominated actress Keshia Knight Pulliam to launch The Fearless Fund, a company that is on a mission to invest $5 million dollars in aggressive, scalable businesses owned by women of color that are seeking pre-seed, seed, or Series A stage funding.

The Fearless Fund aims to invest time, mentorship, and anywhere between $50-250,000 in early-stage, high-growth WOC-led ventures that have established at least $100,000 in revenue. According to Keshia and several other studies that prove that women in business are lit, although venture capitalism can be a gamble, betting on Black women always pays off. "Honestly, we are the sure bet. We are the people we should be betting on because we're having so much success in the space."

This is the reason that Arian, Keshia, and their investment partners have chosen to invest in companies like EnrichHer, a company that recently won the Fearless Fund's pitch competition at Facebook's Headquarters, that is not only profitable but has the potential to sustain a long-term relationship.

@dewaynerogers

Arian, the best-selling author of Fearless Faith + Hustle: 21 Day Devotional told xoNecole that as an entrepreneur at heart for the past 20 years, spearheading The Fearless Fund was a destiny that, for her, was both necessary and inevitable. Today, the serial entrepreneur has now become a boss in her own right but says she'll never forget the lessons she learned when she was a broke college student.

"I promised myself then, 'Arian, one day you need to be the investor that you're looking for," Arian shared. "Women of color are starting businesses more than anybody else, but they're the least funded. Women right now are getting 2% of venture capital funds and women of color are getting less than 1% and there's no need for that."

Historically, the table can be the most important piece of furniture in the whole damn establishment, and since Black women couldn't find a seat, Arian and Keshia built one. The duo recently sat down with xoNecole and spilled the tea on everything you need to know to break into the investors' club the right way.

Here are four things you need to know before seeking investment and giving up equity in your business:

1. Know How It Works

I must admit, Shark Tank is my sh*t, but after my conversation with Arian and Keshia, I discovered that there is a lot I don't know about the world of venture capitalism. Although it may sound great to have a mogul give you a couple hundred stacks to play with, the investment industry is not a game.

Although The Fearless Fund is here for all of the empowerment, the goal of their company is to eventually make their money back with interest. Arian told xoNecole, "The goal, of course, is you want to select companies that cover the cost of the actual fund. And in addition to that, you want them to have a strategy to exit the fund within a certain period of time."

Although seeking an investor may be a viable option for some companies, Arian explained that additional capital is not always needed to maintain a thriving business. "Some businesses do not need venture capital. Some businesses, depending on where they're looking for growth and scale, you need the capital in order to do that."

Ultimately, these bosses agreed that making the decision to give up equity in a company is a decision that each founder has to make individually based on their company's needs. "That's a discussion for each founder, based upon their business and where their own resources lie and what their end goal is. What is their exit strategy? Are they looking to get acquired? A lot of that is based on where you are in your company," Arian shared.

Keshia added, "Depending on what the end strategy is, you need to know how much equity are you leaving on the table for other investors."

2. Vet Your Relationships

Securing an investment from a partner isn't for the faint of heart, it's a long-term commitment that you need to investigate thoroughly before you make any deals. Arian and Keshia warned of the importance of vetting your check because if that investor just so happens to leave the relationship, they leave with the equity you gave up in the initial business deal. Arian explained, "I think something that a lot of people don't realize is that for a company, once you get to the pinnacle, a lot of the times, the founder of the company only really has maybe 20 to 25% ownership in that company."

It is for this reason, Arian says, that you should make sure you're getting in bed with one helluva partner. She continued, "With that being said, you want to make sure that they're aware this is a long-term relationship, that this is a good marriage."

Nothing in this world is free, especially not money, and it's important to keep this in mind when you're giving up ownership of your company. So when it's time to give some equity in your business in exchange for capital, make sure you think before you let it go, sis.

3. Invest In You First, Sis

Along with being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, Arian and Keshia also noted the importance of putting your money where your mouth is. To this dynamic duo, one of the most attractive traits of a potential investment is being able to see that they invested in themselves, first. Keshia said bluntly, "You can't expect people to believe and put all of their money and efforts behind your business if you're not."

Arian agreed with this sentiment and affirmed that it's hard to believe in someone who doesn't believe enough in herself. "That's really important because you're going out here and asking people to invest in your dream, but how invested are you in your dreams? And I feel me that's a telltale sign, because someone who's truly invested, truly dedicated and has already shown that they put in the work and the sweat equity, is important."

4. Pay It Forward

Fruit doesn't grow from the vine to be eaten by the tree. Let that sink in for a minute. One of the most telling signs of a boss is her need to put others on, and Arian and Keshia think it's time for you to boss up too, sis. According to these ladies, the most effective way to level up your life is to pour into someone else's. Keshia stated, "We are a collective, and Arian and I both operate from a space of abundance and knowing that there is enough for everybody. And when you've been poured into, even though yes, it's an investment that we expect a return on, there are so many other layers that are poured that are shared."

Even though these women are at a place in their lives where they can easily kick their feet up and relax, they've chosen to dedicate their lives to creating a table where we can all thrive together. "Empowerment will happen. When you are in the place where you can then pay it forward to ensure that you do it too."

Keep up with Keshia and Arian's latest projects by following them on Instagram and learn more about the Fearless Fund at Fearless Fund.

Featured image by @dewaynerogers.

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It's Pride Month, and what better time to highlight amazing Black LGBTQ leaders and advocates killing it in business? Yep, now is the perfect occasion. These entrepreneurs and executives are providing spaces for inclusion, disrupting and innovating in fashion, tech, entertainment, and finance, and giving voice to the struggles, issues, and vibrancy of LGBTQ communities. They are exemplary examples of brilliance we all can admire and take a nod from in our own lives both professionally and personally. Check them out below:

Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of National LGBTQ Task Force 

This power woman and mother is the first openly queer-identified Black woman to hold the position at the long-standing organization, and she's tasked with leading strategy to ensure equality and justice for LGBTQ people across the nation. The National LGBTQ Task Force works to fight against discrimination in housing, retirement, employment, healthcare, and more.

Kelsey Davis, CEO & Founder of CLLCTVE

Kelsey Davis was a creative professional who worked for major companies including Conde Nast and created content for brands including Coca-Cola before launching her own firm that provides services for matching freelance creatives with Generation Z brands. It's the creating real opportunities for other young creatives to get to the bag for us.

Lena Waithe, Co-founder of Hillman Grad Productions

If series like The Chi, Boomerang, Them, and Twenties, or films like Queen & Slim don't ring a bell, sis, you need to go ahead and pop from under that rock, subscribe to somebody's streaming service, and get caught up. Lena Waithe not only includes diverse depictions of LGBQT stories within her scripts, but she takes the advocacy further via the hiring practices and opportunities of Hillman Grad Productions.

Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy, Co-founders of BLK MKT Village

This fab couple offers super-cool items that show just how rich and beautiful Black culture truly is, and they do it so stylishly. Together, Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy lead their Brooklyn shop and online community of more than 280,000 followers, offering a well-edited selection of collectibles, apparel, and heirlooms that would put any museum curator to shame.

Ariell Johnson, Founder of Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse

Ariell Johnson's North Philly shop offers an array of comics that put inclusion and representation at the forefront. From books and magazines to toys and figurines, she provides a special selection of items that ensure all lovers of the genre can find something to enjoy and be inspired by, and she unapologetically includes LGBTQ sci-fi "geeks" and comic enthusiasts in the all.

Natalie Patterson, Founder of Natalie Is Poetry

A self-proclaimed "teaching artist," Natalie Patterson fosters growth, compassion, and integrity via workshops, breakout sessions, performances and lectures. Her client roster includes brands like Sephora, Uproxx, and the United Way, and sis will have you deeply moved with her poetry. Trust.

Arlan Hamilton, Founder of Backstage Capital

As if surviving homelessness, living out of an airport and building a venture capital fund isn't impressive enough, Arlan Hamilton has spent the last six years raising millions of dollars to support more than 170 companies founded by female, minority and LGBTQ entrepreneurs. And get into this latest win: A recent crowdfunding effort reached its $5 million goal via more than 7,000 supporters. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Way to get to that coin, sis!

Angelica Ross, Founder of TransTech Social Enterprises

Her company serves as an incubator to economically empower LGBTQ professionals and their allies by providing training for career skills. The platform particularly provides a forum for tools to fight against employment discrimination, and Angelica Ross, a self-taught programmer and actress known for her role on Pose as well as her work as a transgender rights activist, partners with brands and companies to foster training and employment opportunities.

Corianna and Brianna Dotson, Founders of Coco & Breezy

These savvy businesswomen have been giving twin-rock star-Black girl magic energy since 2009 with their eyewear brand, worn by celebrities including Beyonce, Prince, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, and Lady Gaga. As a brand, Coco & Breezy has since expanded into a luxury retreat venture, DJing, and visual art projects. They're also huge in LGBQT activism, lending their voices, art, and platform of more than 170,000 followers and supporters to issues of advocacy and rights protections.

Janelle Monae, CEO of Wondaland Arts Society

She's the soulful, ecclectic, tuxedo-wearing, boundary-pushing singer, producer and actress known for her roles in Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Antebellum. Janelle Monae is also a fierce artist mentor, record label exec, and LGBTQ rights activist who has identified as pansexual and rides for equal rights and freedom of expression for all. Word to Django Jane.

Featured image via Coco and Breezy/Instagram

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You know, love is a funny, funny thing. I once read that 90 percent of it is based on the friendship developed by the two of you, and only 10 percent is actually based on love. And oftentimes, your marriage will boil down to the work put into maintaining and nurturing that 90 percent. Ain't that sumthin?

That's why when I see couples who have been married for many years, especially those in the public eye, I take every opportunity to celebrate their union with them. After all, love fades, and it can even vary from day-to-day. Friendship is the basis of all of this, it's the foundation.

And one duo who certainly understands this assignment is our dear faves, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker. They have spent much of their marriage genuinely loving on each other and helping other couples along the way just by being themselves. From revealing the infamous "prayer", to showing the importance of the little things; things like date nights, or complimenting your partner openly and unapologetically.

Most recently, Boris took to Instagram to swoon over his wife in the cutest way. Shared with a screenshot from FaceTime, he asks:

"Hey Babe, can I ask you something? Can you please keep shining your light on me? Like 20,30,40 more years maybe? Feels really good. Thank you. I love you."

To which Parker responded:

"I'm gonna shave my legs. to. night. #yourenotreadyyyy"

It's the hashtags fa me.

Then there was that time that he was checking her out, and complimenting her fitness, which, *swoon*:

There's the time he surprised her on a boat and copped a few feels:

Same.

When she celebrated his latest venture as his number one fan:

When they celebrated their anniversary with a few locals and dance in the city:

All while jamming to some, which is always a vibe.

And when Boris showed her infinite love on International Women's Day:

The lovers and friends pair have said before that their relationship is not different from anyone else's and that that they have simply taken the time to do what works for them, which is having fun. Nicole even addressed it directly, offering advice by saying:

"You become better people on the other side. Everyone wants to run if you have one argument, one misstep or one mistake. But if you commit to going through the desert, so to speak, it's so good on the other side. And Number 2: treat him like your boyfriend. Because in marriage, you get into a practical rut. It's nothing new. Don't panic. You're going to get in a practical rut about who is doing what, paying bills, sharing the house, two different jobs, then the children. You become roommates."

She continues:

"But if you remember that this person is your boo [laughs], you keep it fun. You can't wait to get home, even if 10 years have gone by. You can't wait to buy him a gift for no reason on your way home from work. He gets you flowers for no reason. So, I always say, the minute you find your husband, make him your boyfriend."

Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Featured image via Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks about love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.

When the pandemic hit, it really changed the way we connected with one another. While yes, social media has always been around, it has never been relied on as much as it is now. Especially within the last year. Social media became instrumental in building relationships as it continues to be a main source in making new friends, business partners, and, of course love interests. I mean, when it comes to love interests we are all familiar with the swipe left, swipe right, and the DM slide. But it is much more special when social media is actually the motivator for you to fly out and meet the woman of your dreams, who lives almost 1,000 miles away.

A simple scroll and a nice charming smile is what caught Andrea Fernandes' eye to really see what Jibre Hordges was all about. The 25- and 27-year-old were able to connect and after a couple of weeks of text messages and phone calls, the now-couple decided that distance or a pandemic was not going to hold them back. Andrea mentions, "I felt like time flew by when we were together. When we met in-person, we were able to talk for hours and hours."

The couple made it official in June 2020. Since their initial meeting online, Andrea and Jibre have been positive influences in each other's lives. They have been complementing each other's strengths and challenging each other's areas of improvement. They support each other through their own individual journeys of growth and never losing sight of faith. While Andrea and Jibre are still in a long-distance relationship, they are dedicated to spending that quality time together. For these two, they are only one call and a flight away.

In this installment of xoNecole's How We Met, the publicist and actor shares how their love continues to grow by honest communication, speaking each other's love languages, and keeping God as a shared value.

How We Met

Andrea: I was scrolling through Instagram one day and I came across Jibre's page. I saw that one of my friends followed him too. So I sent his photo to my friend and asked, "Who is this man?" (laughs) I will say that if it wasn't for my friend also following him, I probably wouldn't have tried to connect with him. After some time, I decided to reply to one of his IG stories. This is something I have never done to a guy, I honestly don't know. But I liked his teeth, so I decided to give it a shot (laughs).

Jibre: After our mutual friend told Andrea who I was, we started following each other. We followed each other for about two weeks before we even said anything to each other. I lowkey had my eye on her, but it's all about timing. Since she reached out to me when I was already planning to reach out to her, I thought, Say less, let's do it (laughs). When we started following each other, I already noticed that she stayed in New York. But I work for an airline. So I was willing to fly out to see her, no problem. We talked for a couple weeks before we decided to finally meet in-person. We worked with each other's schedules and I flew out to see her.

"When we started following each other, I already noticed that she stayed in New York. But I work for an airline. So I was willing to fly out to see her, no problem. We talked for a couple weeks before we decided to finally meet in-person. We worked with each other's schedules and I flew out to see her."

Courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

First Impressions

Jibre: From talking those few weeks, I already knew that I liked her. But when I met her in-person, I immediately thought she was beautiful. We talked to each other for hours and just picked each other's brain. Her brain is definitely a reflection of her beauty.

Andrea: I thought he was very nice. Overall, he exceeded my expectations. I felt like time just flew by when we were together. We actually had dinner reservations that night, but ended up skipping it because we continued to just talk and get to know each other more. The chemistry between us was there from the start.

Courtship

Jibre: So after we met, I flew out a couple of more times to hang out with her. But after the second time we hung out, Andrea was honestly a little skeptical about moving forward with us. Initially, I was down for it. I was thinking about her all the time. I was calling her, texting her, and telling my friends about her. But she was trying to ghost me the whole time (laughs).

Andrea: I know I am in the hot seat now (laughs). But yes, I was definitely second-guessing myself. I felt that I was moving kind of fast with him and it honestly scared me. I was coming into the year where I was focusing on myself and self-love. So even though I did like him, I thought maybe I like him a little too much (laughs). So I tried to distance myself from him. My thinking behind it was, I would rather save myself now before I fall too deep and there's no turning back. But it wasn't until one day I was with my mom and she saw me ignoring his calls. She was the one who told me to answer and I listened (laughs).

Jibre: I didn't know that was how she felt. It really caught me by surprise because I thought things were going well. But thankfully, I was persistent.

Courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

Making Things Official

Andrea: So a month later, I invited him on a group trip with my friends. That was when I could picture myself being with him. The way he put in the effort to actually make it to the trip meant a lot. It was a little challenging, but he was dedicated to making it happen. My friends also loved him, so that was a plus (smiles).

Jibre: It was around the same time for me too. When we met, she mentioned that she mainly focuses on herself and self-love. So when I started seeing changes where she was including me in her life, it made me feel like she was choosing me to stick around. At first, I was thinking about making things official on Valentine's Day. But even though it didn't happen right then, the weekend with her friends was a huge weekend for the both of us.

The "L" Word

Jibre: We were having a lot of difficulties starting out. For one thing, I am a Gemini and she is a Taurus. And if you know about astrology, Tauruses can be some tough cookies. I was getting that stubborn side of her and we clashed a lot. Some people would agree that when you keep clashing, it's easier to walk away. But as time went on, any time I felt I wanted to walk away, I just couldn't. My heart would keep telling me to stay and make it work. It had been years since I had been in love. So I knew this had to be real love because I didn't want to be with anyone else.

Andrea: We did conflict quite a bit in the beginning. I always told him that we would clash over our differences and our similarities. It was tough. I am usually the person that can walk away from things easily, but I couldn't with him. So I knew it was different. My heart was truly in this and he was honestly everything I ever wanted. There's this song that says, "I would rather have bad times with you than good times with someone else." It's so true with him and I just love him.

"I am usually the person that can walk away from things easily, but I couldn't with him. So I knew it was different. My heart was truly in this and he was honestly everything I ever wanted. There's this song that says, 'I would rather have bad times with you than good times with someone else.' It's so true with him and I just love him."

Courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

Favorite Things

Andrea: My favorite thing about him is also the main thing I complain about the most (laughs). Jibre is kind of a neat freak. I jokingly make fun of him all the time for it. But his organization actually pushes me to be more organized in my life. So I don't think he knows how much of a positive influence that has been for me.

Jibre: My favorite thing about Andrea is that she genuinely wants me to be a better person. She is willing to tell me the things that other people won't tell me. Like the things that I don't want to hear, but I need to hear. I can really appreciate that because it just means she wants me to be the best version of myself.

Early Challenges

Andrea: I grew up an only child. So I was always focused on myself, even if I was in a relationship. When Jibre and I got together, I struggled a little with providing what he needed from me. I am a huge advocate for self-love. But I am learning now that I can balance loving myself and prioritizing him as well in my life. Jibre and I worked together on what I could do more of to show that I am still considering him, while I still work towards my personal goals.

Jibre: In conflict, I have noticed that when I get angry or emotional, I tend to just react and not think things through. I have learned that sometimes in a relationship, you have to look at yourself and give yourself grace. You have to know yourself enough to be honest and hold yourself accountable when you may be wrong. We have strengths and weaknesses. So learning what your weaknesses are and then working on them, is a good way that has helped us be better together as a couple.

"We have strengths and weaknesses. So learning what your weaknesses are and then working on them, is a good way that has helped us be better together as a couple."

Courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

Love Languages

Andrea: I still tell Jibre that I think he changed my love language. At first, when I took the test, all the areas were even (laughs). So I figured, I guess I need all of them (laughs). But when you truly love someone, you want to be loved in a different way by that person. So when I took the test again, it showed I value physical touch and words of affirmation more than the other areas.

Jibre: My number one is physical touch. Growing up, my mom was very affectionate with me. So that stuck with me as I got older and now I am a very affectionate person. My number two was quality time, but while being with Andrea, it has grown into acts of service. At the end of the day, we make sure we give each other the entire spectrum.

Love Lessons

Jibre: Man, love is so complex. But true love wins every time. Being in a relationship has definitely taught me that you have to be patient with your partner. It's important that we are still learning from each other and with that you have to have patience through each other's growth. God is also the center in everything we do. So keeping him as a foundation in our relationship is very important to us.

Andrea: Keeping our faith is definitely something we share. I think another thing that has been an important lesson is a sense of understanding who your partner is. To really get out of your head sometimes and put yourself in your partner's shoes. Like how something I do may make him feel and vice versa. People can be really set in their own ways. But if you make it a point to understand your partner's point of view on things, it is really essential.

For more of Andrea and Jibre, follow them on Instagram @drea.lisanna, @jibrehordges, and @jibreandrea.

Featured image courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

In a move that makes us so happy, the ever-so-stunning Ryan Destiny has been making her rounds lately, showing off her subtle but enamoring vibe in recent appearances with Vogue, HelloBeautiful, and even Doja Cat's new "Need to Know" music video. The former Star actress and singer also took a moment to join Harper Baazar for their 'Go to Bed With Me' segment, a video series where various celebs show off their nighttime skincare routines.

This appearance was our absolute fave because to see her demonstrating how to maintain her beautifully radiant skin is something we all want to know, right?! Right. So, sis...we gotchu just in time for summer!

Here a guide on how to achieve Ryan Destiny's poppin and oh so melanated skin:

What you'll need:

La Mer The Cleansing Oil ($95)

Black Opal Blemish Control Bar ($6.50)

Black Opal Lip Oil ($6.25)

CosMedix Clarity Serum ($42, or $35 with subscription)

Black Opal Brightening and Plumping Serum ($14.95)

​Harper’s Bazaar/YouTube

Rocking a blow-out for the gawds, after a cute intro, Ryan opens with this one simple, but loud, tip:

"Wash your hands. Wash your hands before you start anything."

She then proceeds to use the La Mer Cleansing oil and thoroughly massages the product all over her face and neck. Get in there good ladies, this step is important!

"Rub it all over my face, get down on my neck. And once I feel that it's all broken down, I am going to rinse."

Harper's Bazaar/YouTube

Next up, Ryan focuses on a problem area that many of us have: hyperpigmentation. To combat this, she uses the Black Opal Blemish Control Bar, a brand she has used since she was 16 years old. She is also the face of the brand, which is Black woman-owned.

"What's really really great for the hyperpigmentation that I sort of have a lot of right now, is the . It's like extra, extra important to me to take of all of the makeup before you go to bed. It just makes such a difference. It's the worst when you go to sleep with your makeup still on, and you just know it just sets you back like a whole week."

Harper's Bazaar/YouTube

Destiny then moves on to hydrating her lips with the Black Opal Lip Oil.

"I kinda sorta sorta kinda kinda have chapped lips. But not anymore becuase I did a lot of trial and error, and I found something that works for me. It works with my makeup as well. It nourishes and hydrates my lips, it's not there to just look pretty, you know."

Harper's Bazaar/YouTube

As a final step, she moves on to her serums for pigmented skin and dark spots. Here she uses the CosMedix Clarity Serum and Black Opal Brightening and Plumping Serum.

"This is also really great for prepping your makeup. I use this serum right before I start doing my makeup. It like, glides right on and helps my makeup look better and apply on my skin better."

We stan a simple but effective routine, sis!

Watch the full video below:

Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Featured image by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET

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