It’s International Women’s Day (IWD). A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
Yes, it’s IWD 2021 so I’m taking the opportunity to do a round-up of some of the remarkable women I have had the privilege to connect with over the last few months and longer.
For those who are keen to know why I have chosen Black women in business, I think this needs no explanation – what I will say, is that there are more black female entrepreneurs than ever despite the fact that we continue to struggle to get funding and still deal with the same old ‘isms’ (both in business and out) oh, and you can throw in an extra dose of misogynoir while you are pondering this fact. When you take this into account, highlighting the many success stories of Black female entrepreneurs is a must-do this IWD – well, it is for me. As a business owner myself, I have built and sold businesses. I also provide support for those who are starting up their own projects and small businesses too. Many of the women I have included in this post, I have met because of this work. No matter who I meet, one thing remains true: starting and running a business is HARD. It takes a leap of faith and the type of perseverance that you need to tap into on a daily basis – especially when you have many more barriers than the average Joe stacked against you. These women are launching emerging and running established businesses and they are my INSPO list for IWD 2021:
The Jewellery Brand
Ebelechukwu (Eby) Oligboh, NDU Jewels
“I had been thinking about setting up a business for a long time, but I really harnessed the idea of a jewellery company in mid 2020. The main driver for me was looking for a creative outlet and a space for true individuality and authenticity. As a lawyer by profession – I craved a space to be free and to encourage others to be that too. Our products are unique and embody personality. We focus on curating products that represent individuality and facilitate self expression. NDU literally means life and we want personality and authenticity to permeate everything we do. We are still getting started, but we are really hoping to build a community of free spirited fearless people!”
The Nail Polish brand
Natel Allen, Telle Moi
“I was about to start a new job and to me that always justifies a new nail polish. I remember trying to find a simple brown nude nail polish that would suit my skin tone – I didn’t want to stand out too much on my first day, so I thought nude would be the safest option. I searched through a range of high street brands that usually sell polish and struggled to find a flattering nude nail polish that wasn’t just a lighter or darker shade of pink. I remember coming home so annoyed! So, I started to research on Google to see if it was possible to make your own nail polish. After locating a few reputable suppliers and going through lots of trial and error, I created 4 beautiful shimmer nude polishes. I was so surprised by how pretty they came out, I just felt like I hadn’t seen these colours anywhere before. I now specialise in nude nail polishes for darker skin tones.
The name Télle Moi derives from the phrase ‘tel moi’ in French which can be translated to ‘Like Me’ as I wanted everyone to be able to see colours that represent themselves.”
The Cosmetics brand
Yaa Kankam, Eboni Cosmetics
“When I developed a sensitivity to big named products, I began doing personal research and discovered the irritants and chemicals that lurked in the ingredients. After exploring more natural alternatives, I was blown away by the abundance of benefits it gave my skin. It became apparent to me that our skin is not as complex as others make it seem. At Eboni Cosmetics, we are committed to producing natural, handmade and eco-friendly products that are kind to both your skin and the environment. We want each person who shops with us to feel powerful in their skin. Unlike many cosmetics brands, we have an extremely short ingredients list, customers will not be confused by what our products contain. We also source our raw material directly from Ghana, ensuring that we pay the women we work with a fair price, a price that they deserve.”
The Children’s brand
Vese Aghoghovbia ‘Wolu, Philly & Friends
“I launched Philly & Friends and wrote the book Who Do I See in the Mirror? when I had my daughter in 2017. I searched for books with characters who looked like her. I was alarmed by the lack of diversity in kids’ books and toys. Therefore, it became my mission to ensure that my daughter, who is the muse for the main character, Philly, has books that feature children that look like her. I started Philly & Friends, a diverse children’s brand that creates picture books, wall art, and toys that instil confidence and self-love in our little ones. It’s my gift to her and kids all over the world because representation matters.”
The food brand
Caron Schersmith-Meikle, First Choice Caribbean Hut Lunches
“I’m a chef who specialises in Caribbean food. My passion and interest for cooking started from a very young age – whilst watching my parents cook. It was then that I first began to put my own creative twist on traditional family recipes, recipes now available on menu. Now, with years of experience, I am known for combining the very best Caribbean spices and seasoning to create signature dishes. My company has grown over the years and I now provide delivery, office and private functions and festivals. I am also the Food & Hospitality Award Winner for 2020.”
iN pARNERHIP WITH WAKUDA
We are currently working in partnership with Wakuda, The Online Marketplace Empowering Black-Owned Businesses.
Check out a few woman owned brands you can find on their site:
Clariscia Gill, Couturiere and Fashion Designer
Couturiere and fashion designer, Clariscia Gill has created garments for just about every conceivable body shape in her long career. The combination of her rich experience and clients repeated requests have led to her to setting up the online; CG Store. Accessories for women and men are available in the CG Store and a Lifestyle home decor range will be another addition.
Melanin Minds, Candles
‘Melanin Minds raises awareness and will become a Social Enterprise for Mental Health within the BAME community. The first signature collection has been created by paying homage to Black Culture. Hummingbird, Crop Over, Zouk Ti Punch and many more all resonate with life in the Caribbean culture. All of our hand poured, strong smelling candles are made from 100% soy wax and are also eco friendly, they have a burn time of an approx. 55 hours.’
La Vie by Lateefah, Wellness Products
‘My wellbeing hobby turned into my business!” I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunty, an employee, a coach, a mentor…..I was EXHAUSTED!!! During the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to make a decision to start doing at least 1 activity a day, that focused on my wellbeing and not on being there for everyone else. So I started making handmade bath bombs. Over the few months that we were in lockdown for, I started exploring and experimenting with different product recipes and fell in love with anti-anxiety balms. I never planned for my ‘wellbeing hobby’ to turn into a business, but here we are!’
Akirma Luxe, Cosmetics
‘I started experimenting with natural oils and butters, doing patch tests on my skin to see irritant levels before mixing and blending to create different formulas for my skin and hair. Eventually I came up with a butter that worked well for my skin and hair and an oil blend that worked. Soon I was using these products on my children who have eczema and they worked for them too! I would end up making jars of the Hair and Body Butter for friends and family and saw that it worked well for many different skin and hair types. I thought if friends and family like the products that I was making then I must be doing something right so why not make and sell my products for other people.’
Knight’s Hampers, Gift Hampers
Knight’s Hampers is a family run luxury hamper business. A business that was created using grandma Knight’s name to honour and build on her legacy. Owner Zaneeka is a hardworking and ambitious Christian woman that has worked in customer service for all of her working life. The hamper business is a first love and very strong passion of hers.