Five African American entrepreneurs whose businesses also impact their communities
In a recent Hiscox study, we discovered that 86% of African American business owners expect their profits to either stay the same or increase in the next 12 months. Not only that, they are mostly satisfied with the state of the economy, but if it comes to it, their businesses are prepared for an economic downturn (74%)
In light of these positive outlooks from African American business owners and with Black History Month upon us, we wanted to take a moment to explore some of the most innovative African-American owned businesses to learn more about what is driving their success.
This year, keep a close eye on these five entrepreneurs who continue to grow their businesses and inspire their communities. All of these individuals exhibit incredible drive and a desire to create positive change for black and brown communities.
Sassy Jones, the company for women’s accessories founded by Charis Jones, wants to transform the way women perceive themselves. The brand was developed around the idea of celebrating being “extra,” as described on the company’s website.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Charis admits she was fired three times from corporate jobs before realizing she was destined for something beyond the four walls of an office building. She had an idea for an accessories line that would allow her to express herself and inspire others to do the same.
Charis started out by traveling to trade shows to try to get her business off the ground, but she eventually came up with another idea that was better for her bottom line and her customers. She launched what she calls Sparkle Party® -- a livestream event where she sells her items to customers on social media. It drums up tons of business from thousands of viewers and gives customers the opportunity to ask the business owner about the products before they purchase.
You can learn more about Charis and her path to entrepreneurship in her interview on the Black Enterprise podcast, “SistersInc.”
Tye and Courtney Caldwell
This entrepreneur duo started the app, ShearShare, in 2015 as a way to match empty chairs at salons and barbershops with hairstylists who rent the space by the day. The husband and wife team started their business after discovering how difficult it is for new beauty professionals and entrepreneurs to find work in salons due to expensive contracts that salons often require with stylists.
The ShearShare app offers stylists a way to see more customers and not be tied down to a certain salon, as well as giving salons the opportunity to make money on space they’re not using.
Behind the scenes, Courtney manages the marketing and demand generation aspects of the business, while Tye leverages his more than twenty-five years in the beauty industry to manage their own salon.
And the business is quickly expanding. Just last year, they announced a new feature to the ShearShare app: A finance module that helps beauty professionals and solopreneurs manage their finances and put money away towards taxes.
You can learn more about Tye and Courtney Caldwell and their growing business on their website.
Chris-Tia Donaldson’s successful hair care brand, Thank God It’s Natural (TGIN), was on the rise in 2015. It had just reached the shelves of Target stores nationwide, when, six months later, Chris-Tia received some devastating news: She was diagnosed with breast cancer.
TGIN was born from Chris-Tia’s passion for hair from a young age. She grew up in Detroit and had early aspirations of owning her own business. Before launching TGIN, Chris-Tia wrote a book that jump-started her success: “Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Natural Hair.” It’s been described as the “natural hair bible” by Essence Magazine.
The cancer diagnosis could have been a road block for Chris-Tia but the young entrepreneur wouldn’t have it. She recovered from breast cancer and is now a voice for women facing economic hardship while undergoing cancer treatment.
To learn more about Chris-Tia’s story, check out her newest book, “This Is Only a Test: What Breast Cancer Taught Me about Faith, Love, Hair, and Business.”
Khary Septh and Kyle Banks
Khary Septh and Kyle Banks are cofounders of the print magazine, The Tenth. A Brooklyn based magazine, The Tenth covers topics related to “the history, culture ideas, and aesthetics of the black LGBTQ community.”
What started out as a personal project between the founders to document the lives of their group of friends through collage, has ballooned into a biannual publication. Although the purpose of the publication is to serve as an outlet in which to discuss the experiences of black, homosexual men, the magazine features stories on other groups of people, such as women and trans communities.
You can read more about what these budding entrepreneurs are up to and their growing publication on The Tenth website.
Lisa Pegram has a unique approach to developing skin lasers: Her laser works for all skin types. This may seem like a no-brainer, but Lisa’s laser technology called Belle 51, is the first at-home laser to work on every type of skin tone.
Lisa is a data scientist with a background in biomedical engineering, psychology, and data science. She has degrees from the University of Virginia, Howard University, and the University of Southern California, and is currently pursuing a PhD at Columbia University. As a kid going to school in the Bronx, Lisa was involved in tons of extracurricular activities and always held a job - even multiple jobs at the same time. She worked as a babysitter, waitress, and even charged to weave other women’s hair. This may sound like a lot, but the hustle has been in Lisa’s DNA for a long time, so it’s no wonder that she ended up an entrepreneur.
Belle 51 was started after Lisa had an eye-opening experience. After accompanying a friend to Sephora to purchase an at-home laser, Lisa realized there were skin color restrictions on all of the at-home lasers on the market. It was extremely difficult to find a laser that would work on brown or black skin.
This sparked Lisa to start Belle 51. Her laser uses PiQo4 technology, which allows it to locate abnormal melanin deposits and break them up to make room for a clearer complexion.
For more information about the origins of Black History month, click here.