5 inspiring black businesswomen you need to know
In our last article, we talked about some African-American women who opened the door for black women in business. These are a few of the rising number of black women that have walked through it.
These young females aren’t taking no for an answer as they make revolutionary business moves.
The start of something new can always feel intimidating and uncertain, and even more so when your ideas are on the line. GE Slaps draws some serious inspiration from these vivacious go-getters who are following in the footsteps of today’s African-American business queens.
1. The social perception shifter: Yelitsa Jean-Charles
The young founder, CEO and student designer from Rhode Island School of Design identifies as a visual activist who is embodying diversity in a new, unique way.
Her venture, Healthy Roots, specializes in doll designs that empower young black girls to fight colorism and internalized racism. That’s a big task, but how does she do it? Well, her dolls come in different skin tones, facial features and hair textures that represent what real black women look like.
The dolls represent different stories and cultures from African- American, Haitian, Nigerian and Afro-Brazilian cultures. Healthy Roots is breaking down stereotypes and teaching our young girls to embrace their own beauty!
This inspiring entrepreneur has also been given her own TED Talk on #blackgirlmagic and hopes to inspire girls everywhere! “It is important Black children see a positive reflection of themselves,” said Yelitsa.
2. The rising media mogul: Angelica Nwandu
The hustle is real for 27-year- old founder of “The Shade Room” (TSR). “I don’t take a vacation. If I got a week off, The Shade Room would probably burn down,” says Angelica, whose publication covers trending stories, politics and celebrities from the point of view of people of color.
With more than 8 million followers on her online platforms – including Facebook, Instagram, a website, Snapchat and YouTube page – this media mogul has fought her way to the top. Angelica had a rough childhood at the hands of an abusive father and her experience through the foster care system.
Despite her circumstances, Angelica got a full-ride scholarship to Loyola Marymount University and graduated as an accountant. But her career took a full 180 when she was chosen to participate in the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab at the age of 23.
She began to network, met the right people and became inspired to begin a blog about the things she liked. By the end of the first week and a half, she had over 10,000 followers. “It’s a brand people want,” she says.
3. The barrier-breaking Hollywood writer: Issa Rae
“It’s nothing but a vibe” with co-writer and star of the HBO series Insecure, Jo-Issa Rae Dop (Issa Rae). As a child, Issa lived in Maryland where she says she grew up with things that aren’t considered ‘black,’ like swim team, street hockey and Passover dinners with Jewish best friends. But when her family moved to LA, she attended a predominantly black middle school and found it difficult to fit into the ‘norm blackness’ she thought she was supposed to be.
In 2007, she graduated from Stanford University with a major in African and African-American Studies. As a college student, Issa made music videos and wrote and directed for fun. She also met Tracy Oliver, who helped produce Awkward Black Girl, which went viral and helped launch her to the success she’s built today.
Most recently, our girl became the face of CoverGirl! Oh, and she’s now worth an estimated $3 million. How about that, Lawrence?
4. The CEO with all the tea: Nailah Ellis-Brown
Living in her mother’s basement and selling an old Jamaican family recipe, Nailah Ellis-Brown made it her mission to carry on the family legacy and bring this tea to a store near you.
The Forbes 30 under 30 entrepreneur used to sell the family’s special hibiscus tea from the trunk of her car. A generous silent partner invested $150,000 into her idea, and she now has her own 4,000-square foot bottling plant in Detroit. Ellis Island Tropical Tea is carried in 20 Whole Foods stores across five states as well as in Busch’s Fresh Food Market and others.
Her advice, “Don’t accept no as an answer from any person who does not have the authority to say yes. I was given that advice as an adolescent and I use it quite often. That advice has opened many closed doors for me.”
5. The problem-solving satin guru: Grace Eleyae
Grace Eleyae, founder and CEO of Grace Eleyae Inc., turned hair issues into an opportunity with her revolutionary Slap (satin-lined cap)®.
Her silky, satin-lined items were created after a trip to Kenya turned into torture for her hair due to long-term exposure to the Kenyan heat. After 12-hours of her head bumping on the headrest, her hair become so damaged it completely broke off in the middle of her head. Grace wished there was a stylish and comfortable product that could have stopped this from happening.
She saw her problem as a need for something new, which led her to her own company, personal brand and the next-generation of satin bonnets and products. From satin scrunchies to satin-lined baseball caps, Grace has become a savior for those looking to keep their locks in check while looking fly in the process.
“I wanted to create something that women could wear to bed that was comfortable enough to wear and that had an elastic band so it stays on the head,” said Grace. “It looks stylish enough to wear out whether you’re going on a date night or want to dress it up or down. It compliments any outfit well!”
These are the women who inspire us, who inspires you?