If we asked an infinite number of people what defines an entrepreneur, we’d get an infinite number of answers. But one thing is for sure: this word always conjures up something inspirational.
In the US, black entrepreneurs have historically had their work and successes overlooked by mainstream media and society as a whole.
However, since the early days of emancipation, the likes of Madam CJ Walker, one of the wealthiest self-made black female entrepreneurs of her time, to more recent figures such as the African-American entrepreneur and billionaire businessman Robert F Smith, members of the black community have proven just what they are capable of producing in terms of innovative successful entrepreneurship. A formidable force to be reckoned with.
It’s precisely in this vein that we chose to celebrate the rise of these 5 trailblazing go-getter young black business owners.
1. An Accidental Entrepreneur: Kendra Barnes, Real Estate for Beginners
The best ideas are often the ones that come from the most unlikely places. That’s precisely what happened to Kendra Barnes and her husband. During a game of Cash Flow, that takes the player through the trials and tribulations of being stuck in the rat race, they realized a few home truths: sure they had a good life but they were doing absolutely nothing to build wealth on the money they had. Ultimately, they would have to stay in the game right up until their golden years. Eww!
What happened next changed their lives forever. They decided to take the plunge and buy their first property for rent. Kendra is the first to admit that they made a few beginner’s mistakes, but after learning “on the job”, they soon found success. A few years on, she was able to quit her full time job as an economist for the government to focus exclusively on her ventures as real estate investor.
However, Kendra didn’t stop there. Inspired by the lessons she and her husband learned along the way, she founded thekeyresource. The aim? Change the perception of what a Real Estate Investor is “meant to” look like and show how anybody can do it! Lessons are taught through ebooks, group coaching, online workshops and webinars. Neat!
2. The After Hours Entrepreneur: Christa Clarke, Career Accelerator for Women
Whilst working at the Texas medical center, Christa Clarke was left uninspired by a lack of professional and leadership development resources. She aspired to become a successful black female entrepreneur. So she decided to do something about it and started a personal blog freeingshe. She hasn’t looked back since.
The blog took on a life of its own which pushed her to create cubiclestococktails: a platform that connects like-minded successful black female business owners with one another (which she entirely self funds!). The organization hosts workshops and events on a regular basis. It also provides its members with all the resources and tools any career woman, especially from the black entrepreneurs community, needs in order to reach the top, whatever their chosen career path. What better way to learn from your peers than by sipping cocktails with them, right?
Cheers to that ladies!
3. The Against All Odds Entrepreneur: Michael McCoy, Photographic Storyteller
Rising star photographer Michael McCoy’s road to entrepreneurship is nothing short of a Hollywood movie. After two tours in Iraq, Michael was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. However, hope soon came in the form of an old passion of his: a love for photography and documenting life in all its forms. Aged 34, whilst still receiving treatment at the Walter Reed hospital, his career and personal life would soon be changed forever.
Take a peek at his work on his beautifully curated website michaelamccoyphotography, and you’ll immediately understand the hype surrounding this Baltimore, MD native’s work. Michael defines himself as a photographic storyteller. His work often reflects his personal struggles with PTSD, which he is passionate about destigmatizing.
Michael works with private clients in various locations and under all kinds of conditions. His work has appeared in several high-profile publications for which he has received extensive recognition and numerous accolades. This is the ultimate story of how a young black entrepreneur’s work quite literally saved him. *All the feels*
4. The Black Girl Magic Entrepreneur: Fashion & Make up Activist
From Nigeria to New York City there is no stopping the fierce force of nature Moshoodat Sanni. This licensed aesthetician, make-up artist (MUA), creative director and costume designer is making waves in the makeup industry.
Initially, Moshoodat set out on a personal mission to show the world the beauty of women of colour. On the verge of giving up, she teamed up with photographer friend Joey Rosado. Together they created the eponymously named Moshoodat Paint Series. It went viral, propelled her into the limelight and the rest as they say is history.
Moshoodat has since worked with high-profile networks, major modelling agencies across the world, celebrities, publications, music video directors and a loyal army of brides. She dreams of joining the ranks of other famous black female entrepreneurs and plans to launch her own brand of cosmetics for the everyday woman, no matter her skin tone.
5. The Problem Solving Entrepreneurs: Courtney and Tye Caldwell, Startup Founders
Two entrepreneurs turning the salon industry on its head, are the husband and wife black tech duo Courtney and Tye Caldwell. In 2012, Tye, a barber with over 20 years experience, who holds a Doctorate in Professional Barbering, opened his second salon. Not long after, a freelance hairstylist approached him and enquired about renting one of the empty salon chairs on a part-time basis. Tye decided to give it a go. The experience was instrumental in changing the couple’s entire outlook on how and in what direction the beauty and barbering industries needed to evolve.
In a bid to streamline the entire process they realized there was nothing out there to facilitate this new-aged professional matchmaking. So Courtney and Tye created one. Fast forward a little bit and Ta-dah: Shearshare was launched. The app matches freelance beauty professionals who don’t wish to be constrained by long term contracts with salon and barbershop owners with empty chairs. Game changer!
Looking To the Future…
These 5 successful black entrepreneurs dispel any myths and preconceived notions of how an entrepreneur should look like, what paths they must follow and even what kind of businesses they have to create in order to find success. Entrepreneurship comes from all backgrounds and in all shapes and sizes. We can’t wait to see what they have in store next!