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.
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.
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.
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 BohemiansCourtesy 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-BennettCourtesy 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 ElleCourtesy 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.
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 JordanCourtesy 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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Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images
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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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