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'Stack Up And Staff Up': Girl Bosses Share Key Tips For Expanding Your Business

When you're an entrepreneur ready to take your business to the next level, how do you know when it's time to expand?

Workin' Girl

In 2015, we saw Zim Ugochukwu expand the Travel Noire digital platform into a brand that offers curated travel experiences. This year will see Issa Rae expand her media imprint into the podcasting world with “Fruit." and every time we catch a new episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta, we see Kandi Burruss and her castmates launching a new product or service to build their empires beyond their hour slot on Sunday night.

These girl bosses are expanding their businesses and brands, but taking that leap is no easy feat. When you're an entrepreneur ready to take your business to the next level, how do you know when it's time to expand? How do you know when you are ready?

Ritzy Glitzy Girls Club started as an on-the-go glam spa for young girls

Venetta Carraway, founder of Ritzy Glitzy Girlz Club, says it all comes down to demand. The entrepreneur, who has thrown parties for the daughters of celebrities such as Chris Rock and Buddy "Cake Boss" Valastro, started her business from a mobile on-the-go glam spa for tweens. Her original concept offered a unique pampering salon offering spa treatments, like ice cream facials in the comfort of her client's own homes, but as word spread of her exceptional kid parties, she expanded it to a storefront operation. “I knew that it was time to expand when we couldn't keep up with the high demand of our on-the-go parties. After doing some research, I noticed that there weren't any mobile spas for kids or physical locations of the sorts in my area. That's when I realized that the market was wide open," Venetta says.

For Fracassi Lashes, founder Falicia "Fracassi" Garries, it was all a matter of being aware of what consumers were missing.

Fracassi Lashes Owner, Falicia "Fracassi" Garries

After recognizing a need in the market for luscious lashes, she launched her business out of her remodeled garage in 2009, and with the help of family opened her first storefront that same year. When a year later the lines were out the door and people were driving for miles to get the Fracassi touch, she decided to open another store, and has since grew the brand to three boutiques and a makeup line. “I started this brand by being in tune with the market. I saw that there was a need for a place that does eyelashes. There wasn't a place that was clean, sanitary, had sterilization processes and a professional who understood eye lashes and knew how to make them look natural," Falicia says.

With years of experience with growing and expanding a brand, we chatted with the two entrepreneurs to get some tips on how to go from an idea to building an empire.

Do your research before reaching in your pockets.

Venetta: "I did tons of online research on how to operate a store, salon, spa and party business. I researched anything that I could think of that would possibly benefit my endeavor. I purchased equipment little by little; storing it all in my home until I had pretty much everything I needed to open. After that I looked for a building that would work for us in price and location. Once I secured that, I was ready to go."

Stack up and then staff up.

Fracassi Lashes

Falicia: "I had to turn my business into a seven days a week operation and hire staffing. Then I had to hire a manager. My advice is to make sure you have perfected one store first. That store should be able to run completely smoothly without you being there, because once you start to expand your focus will be on the new store. You have to clone yourself, which is hard to do. You have to find someone who cares as much as you, someone who is honest just like you, someone who is observant and can be meticulous in detail."

Listen to your clients.

Falicia: "Sometimes you can learn a lot by listening to your clients. People started asking us if we offer body waxing or this type of waxing, and at the time we were just focusing on the facial waxing. It took for us to listen to our clients to start offering those services."

Venetta: "We want to continue to expand the brand into so many avenues of the business. Our spa products were not for sale and our customers kept asking to purchase them, so we decided to create our own line of bath and body products for are clients."

Have a team of experts in your corner.

Ritzy Glitzy Girls Club -- spa day party

Falicia: "Have a team that helps with checks and balances. I have a small board with whom I consult with about what I want to do when it comes to expanding services or products. They offer their suggestions like if something might not be profitable or not. The board should be experienced in business, marketing and industries related to your brand."

Build a financial safety net.

Venetta: "Make sure you have money on side. Unforeseen situations happen to the best of us, so have a savings to offset expenses that are unexpected. It's always best to be on the safe side so that you can bounce back and recover."

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Originally published January 4, 2017

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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