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Getting Laid Off From A Six-Figure Job Shifted This SHEeo Into Entrepreneur Glory

Meet Jasmene Bowdry of SHIFT StyleHouse.

Meet The SHEeo

With the rise of more and more black women breaking away from traditional 9-5s to become their own bosses, the CEO is getting a revamp as the SHEeo. CEOs are forging their own paths, blazing their own trails, and turning their passion into a profit. Curious to know how she does it? In the Meet The SHEeo series, we talk to melanated mavens leveling up and glowing up, all while redefining what it means to be a boss.

After working several corporate buying jobs, Jasmene Bowdry was tired of going to an unfulfilling 9-5 job, so she stepped out on faith and in 2016 launched SHIFT StyleHouse— a fashion brand offering versatile looks for the modern day Renaissance woman on the go. Using her background as a retail buyer and fashion stylist, Bowdry has built a platform that's empowering women through style. She recently launched her collection inside The Market at Macy's in Atlanta's Lenox Mall.

In this week's feature, meet Jasmene Bowdry of SHIFT StyleHouse.

Courtesy of Jasmene Bowdry

The Stats

Title: CEO & Founder of SHIFT StyleHouse

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Year Founded: 2016

# of Employees: 1

30-Second Pitch: SHIFT StyleHouse is a fashion platform offering versatile fashion for the modern day renaissance woman. SHIFT is powered by love and determination to empower women through style.

The Details

What inspired you to start your brand? 

After working several corporate buying jobs, I still felt unfulfilled and like I wasn't walking in my purpose. I didn't know how things would turn out after launching. I simply knew I was a lover of fashion and loved seeing the confidence women exuded when they got dressed up, so I stepped out on faith and made my fashion dreams come to life.

What was your a-ha moment that brought your idea into reality? 

I always assumed starting a business was an excessive amount of money, but once I began to research I realized it wasn't and since I had a background of being a retail buyer and fashion stylist, I was like, 'Oh I can totally do this!'

Who is your ideal customer?

Her name is Jurnee. She is a modern day renaissance woman on the go. She's shifting throughout the day and night and she needs versatile fashion pieces that move with her. From kids' soccer games, to brunch with the girls to date night, she's got style, class, a schedule, and NO TIME to change in between it all.

What makes your business different?

My business is different because I really keep my customer (Jurnee) top of mind. Everything is focused on her lifestyle and what she needs. From assortment decisions, to pricing, etc, she is top of mind. So I would say my business is different because it is customer-focused versus focusing on the latest trends.

What obstacles did you have to overcome while launching and growing your brand? How were you able to overcome them?

Lots of obstacles will come when growing your brand. My biggest was resources. When I first launched I used my salary from my 9-5 to fund my business. But then I was let go and had to still make it happen without that additional income. You get real creative (laughs).

What was the defining moment in your entrepreneurial journey?

The defining moment was my brand launching in Macy's new pop-up format, The Market @ Macy's in Lenox Mall (in Atlanta). Just to have that presence and awareness speaks volumes.

Where do you see your company in 5-10 years?

The ultimate goal is for SHIFT StyleHouse to be a global fashion empire that allows customers to shop online and in-store for black owned brands.

Where have you seen the biggest return on investment? 

My biggest ROI is vending and ads. Vending is great because it allows for you to engage and interact directly with your consumers and potential consumers. They can hear your story and touch and feel the products. I love vending! Facebook and Instagram ads generate approximately 30% of my revenue. It allows you to increase your brand awareness as well as retarget customers who visited your website but did not purchase.

Courtesy of Jasmene Bowdry

Do you have a mentor? If so, who?

Sort of! Although we haven't started our one on one meetings yet (laughs) but Necole Kane which stemmed from our Path To Greater Than experience.

​Biggest lesson you've learned in business? 

Biggest lesson was to be okay with being uncomfortable. My comfort zone was a six-figure salary at a job I dreaded going to daily. Getting let go was a blessing but I was scared. I had plans to transition to full-time and move to Atlanta. Well, getting let go didn't stop no show. I still moved. I have been going strong for over 8 months as a full-time entrepreneur. I got my brand in Macys. And have amazing opportunities presented to me since moving here that never would've happened had I stayed in my comfort zone.

To keep up with Jasmene, follow her on social media: @jasmenemache and @shiftstylehouse.

Featured image courtesy of Jasmene Bowdry

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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