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11 Black Female Entrepreneurs You Need To Follow

The road to being self-made is not without sacrifice.

Workin' Girl

National Entrepreneur's Day is a fairly recent national holiday that came into prominence in 2010 when our forever POTUS Barack Obama proclaimed it as such. Since then, the official day has fallen on every third Tuesday of November, meaning this year, November 17 is the moment we raise our glasses in a toast to all of the self-made entrepreneurs out there who have made a bustling empire virtually out of nothing. We see you, sis! Between the endless hours of hard work and the blood, sweat and tears that goes into growing a vision into its fullest potential, the road to being self-made is not one without sacrifice.

Furthermore, as Black women, entrepreneurship holds even more of a special place in our hearts as we strive to become our ancestors' wildest dreams by stepping into our true power. And as the fast-growing group of entrepreneurs in our nation, becoming our own bosses gives us the tools to write our own paychecks in a world that tells us our worth is 63 percent of what non-Hispanic white men are paid. In that way, entrepreneurship has acted as a vessel for Black women to take control of their career and financial destinies while living lives that they love.

To commemorate this National Entrepreneur's Day, here are 11 of our favorite entrepreneurs elevating their hustle and making money moves in 2020 and beyond that you need to follow ASAP.

Monique Rodriguez

Courtesy of Monique Rodriguez

Founder and CEO of Mielle Organics, Monique Rodriguez is a millionaire mogul through and through. The SHEeo went from being an RN and preparing her hair coveted hair products at home to having her products line the shelves of over 100K stores worldwide -- and we live! She credited her self-made journey to millions to a vision planted in her heart and mind from God.

In an xoNecole exclusive, she shared that her entrepreneurial endeavors took root well before she knew it was possible for her efforts to bear fruit. And this year, she sought to create a similar legacy with the creation of More Than a Strand. She told xoNecole in regards to her story:

"I want people to look at me [and] I want them to see themselves in me. And to see that, listen, this was a girl who was just from the Southside of Chicago that had a dream and she was able to accomplish her dream. She had a lot of faith and little experience, but look what she was able to accomplish."

Follow Monique on Instagram @exquisitemo.

Watchen Nyanue

Courtesy of Watchen Nyanue

Founder and CEO of I Choose the Ladder, Watchen Nyanue is doing her best to provide Black women in corporate spaces with the tools to "climb the ladder" of success the way that they want to achieve it. The Liberian-born entrepreneur saw a void in the opportunities and rooms Black women were allowed access to and sought to change it with the creation of her career consulting company as well as her career summit, The Climb. It's clear elevating Black women is her mission. She revealed to xoNecole:

"I love us for real. If you get us in a position to win, we're always going to make sure that we all win."

Follow I Choose the Ladder on Instagram @ichoosetheladder.

Melissa Butler

Courtesy of The Lip Bar

The Lip Bar founder Melissa Butler has come a long way since facing rejection from the critically-acclaimed ABC series Shark Tank. The self-proclaimed "rebel with a cause" dared to be different and dared to be great by turning her "no" into the only "yes" that mattered: her own. She fought for her brand of cocktail-inspired bold vegan lipsticks to become what it is today, a bonafide beauty empire that now includes foundation and a recently-launched concealer. In conversation with xoNecole earlier this year, Melissa shared how the customer stays at the forefront of her mind as a leader:

"I'm understanding that in time, things change, the customer's needs change. My job as the leader of the organization is to make sure that I'm always serving the customer."

From startup to household name, Melissa is definitely an entrepreneur to follow.

For more of Melissa, follow her on Instagram @melissarbutler.

The Brown Bohemians

Courtesy of The Brown Bohemians

The Brown Bohemians are culture curators and co-founders Vanessa Coore Vernon and Morgan Ashley who together spearhead the mission to being the change they wish to see in their community with The Bohemian Brands. The two, who started as best friends before evolving into business partners, created their brand to emphasize the color that is often washed out of the bohemian space. In addition to self-care, intersectionality is a huge focus of the duo and painting a lifestyle brand representative of the fully-realized self-expression of Black and brown bohemians. This year, the entrepreneurs dropped their latest project, a 200+-page coffee table book, Brown Bohemians: Honoring the Light and Magic of Our Creative Community.

When discussing their intention of infusing their Black and queer identities into their brand, Morgan Ashley shared with xoNecole:

"Identifying as a woman, a Black woman, and a queer Black woman is extremely important to me. I would like to say that I put a ton of attention behind it and always want to put it on the forefront, but it just happens organically because those are things that I'm so proud to be. It just comes across in everything that I do. Blackness and conversation around race and ethnicity are in everything."

To follow Vanessa, follow her @thebazaarbohemian and to follow Morgan, follow her @oaklantathebohemian.

Jamisa McIvor-Bennett

Courtesy of Jamisa McIvor-Bennett

Jamisa McIvor-Bennett is a testament to the financial freedom that can be waiting for you on the other side of generational wealth and an impressive multi-million-dollar real estate portfolio. The now-26-year-old was 19 working in a supermarket when her grandmother changed her life by giving her a quitclaim deed transfer to her house for a total of $400. That property would lay the groundwork for the portfolio of 21 properties and counting she owns under her belt. The real estate guru spoke to xoNecole earlier this year about her path and dropped gems on how others could follow suit:

"Right now, my portfolio total is $3.2 million, cash flow is a little under $50,000 a month."

Let's just say, we'll have what she's having.

For more of Jamisa, follow her on Instagram @rosebudsinvestment.

Alex Elle

Courtesy of Alex Elle

Alex Elle is a true testament of the abundance that await you when you stand firmly in your truth and allow transparency to reign supreme. The former blogger has worn many hats and had many businesses, but known of them stuck quite like words have. The healer has used her gift with the pen to touch others and become a leader in the self-love movement. Since amassing hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, Alex has also lent her gifts to writing, authoring books like Love in my Language and the recent After the Rain.

In a recent conversation with xoNecole, she revealed how doing the (inner) work led her to her best life:

"When it comes to my process: self-choosing has been like a prayer; it's been a meditation and a mantra. Being able to hold myself accountable when I get it right and when I get it wrong has really been the greatest lesson in writing for me. The turning point was knowing I wanted something different in my life and knowing that I could access it, I just had to show up and do the work, even if it was scary and daunting. And it still is sometimes."

Follow Alex on Instagram @alex_elle.

Mariee' Revere

Instagram/@parmoonx

We all live for moments when well-deserved brands or creators get the credit that they are due. At xoNecole, we love ourselves some dope skincare, so of course MoonxCosmetics came on our radar. The black woman-owned vegan skincare brand is founded by entrepreneur Mariee' Revere and had the ultimate viral moment earlier this year when they made $1.8 million in sales in 9 minutes.

Though the company has been a thing for three years, they truly started to see the fruits of their labor this year after 20,000+ orders catapulted them into seeing Ms in sales in a matter of minutes. Next up, we're sure we'll see the beauty entrepreneur's brand lining the shelves of our favorite retail stores. Keep glowing and growing Queen!

For more of Mariee', follow her on Instagram @parmoonx.

Jasmine Jordan

Courtesy of Jasmine Jordan

Jasmine Jordan's father might be a legend, but the mogul-in-the-making is establishing a legacy all her own through her pioneering work with the Jordan brand. Although some people might feel that she has a leg up in life because of her famous dad, Jasmine has worked hard for her opportunities and her subsequent wins. In conversation with xoNecole earlier this year, she noted:

"Do I reap the benefits of it being his daughter? Absolutely. But I have no right to claim those things, and I never do because those are his accomplishments. I'm his daughter and I'm still going to make a name and do whatever I need to do so people can see me for me."
"If I can have my work ethic, my accomplishments, and my success on projects outshine the fact that I'm my father's child, then my job is done."

For more of Jasmine, follow her on @mickijae.

Tika Sumpter & Thai Randolph

Courtesy of SugaBerry

The ladies behind SugaBerry are Tika Sumpter and Thai Randolph. With the modern-day mom-focused brand is a major pivot in Tika's career who has shifted from acting to pour into entrepreneurship. Alongside Thai, the co-founders are inviting moms of color to indulge through their website, social media platforms, and podcast. In a conversation with xoNecole, Tika stated:

"There are a million websites on motherhood, and we were barely there."

Thai shouted out the significance of SugaBerry's presence in this space by adding:

"Historically, Black women have not been depicted as vessels deserving of care. We've seen in a caretaker's context. The idea that there should be indulgent self-care afforded us...that is a foreign concept to so many people."

Follow Sugaberry on Instagram @thesugaberries.

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Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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