Black Accessory Designers Alliance presented the work of Emerging Accessory Designers of Color For NY Fashion Week on February 15

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Black Accessory Designers Alliance™ (BADA) presented the creations of emerging accessory designers of color at their semi-annual New York Fashion Week Pop Up Soirée.

The event, a celebration of talented, yet undiscovered artisans, took place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Unarthodox at 547 West 27 Street, Suite 300 in West Chelsea.  Wilbur Pack, Jr., the co-founder of BADA, was among the designers showcasing the newest styles of his bag line SK WiLBUR.  He says, “We are very proud to generate this opportunity for designers, like me, who would not normally be able to afford the cost of showing for New York Fashion Week.  With BADA, we are able to pool our monies to reach the shared goal of shining a spotlight on each individual and our community as a whole.”  Ursallie Smith, the interior design dynamo behind Rococo Design Interiors and the mastermind behind Pillow Throw and Tuck™ decorative pillows, presented her home accessories line for the third time with BADA.  “It’s gratifying to be a part of BADA sharing my aesthetic with a broad spectrum of people,” Smith admits.  Velvet Lattimore, the owner of Vedazzling Accessories Boutique in DUMBO, Brooklyn and co-founder of BADA presented accessories by a diverse group of designers carried in the store.  She says, “There is so much under-the-radar talent out here. With BADA and Vedazzling Accessories, I am able to introduce their work to the buying public and press, too.”

Dawn, owner of Fashion Trybe, TV interview

Adding to the style mix this season is the brand called Fashion Trybe.  Bold and colorful necklaces comprise the label that launched officially in November 2016 by a four woman collective.  In the planning stages since 2015, Christel Cole, Stacey Hebron, Dawn Holloway, and Francine Hunt were already in formation when Beyoncé made her declaration.  With many years experience in buying, merchandising, product development, and fashion styling, these black girls who rock are fully prepared to outfit all the classy, sassy ladies ready to up their fashion game.

Joshua with SK WiLBUR Bag

After more than ten years as a licensed optician working with A-list actors like Chris Noth, Blythe Danner, Amanda Seyfried, and Oscar© winner Meryl Streep on their eye care needs, Tanisha Middleton made the decision to focus on her own vision as a business owner and established Framed By Tee Tee.  Capitalizing on all her business relationships in the optical world, she was able to open up her very own online optical boutique in 2014.  Stylish yet affordable frames for both men and women populate the site noted for its excellent customer service.  Tanisha believes that an amazing shopping experience will have you wanting to come back for more and telling your friends, too.  Be on the lookout for Framed By Tee Tee at a Brooklyn outpost in the near future.

Ursallie shares a laugh
Plush Vodka display

Lauren Tatum, the boss chick behind Bunny Paige, became obsessed with jewelry as a child when a treasured vintage necklace her mother gave her broke and she was left with a pile of beads, rhinestones, and inspiration to work with.  From that moment, a love affair with handcrafting began.  She established Bunny Paige in 2012 after quitting her unfulfilling office job and traveling to Japan and South Korea where she was inspired by the culture’s bold, brash, bright, and funky street style.  When she returned home to Cleveland, she was ready to fully immerse herself in her passion.  Since then, Lauren has gotten orders from around the globe on her Etsy store, is carried by other local retailers, and is widely known for her subversive use of Swarovski® crystals.

Pamela Wright is the visionary responsible for the jewelry line House of Queen Charlotte.  She first started making jewelry while living in England where she was inspired by the beautiful European locales.  When she returned to the United States she found her niche as a makeup artist and skincare specialist.  After raising her children and becoming a grandmother, Pamela decided to take up jewelry making again and created her label.  Each piece of jewelry is made with love and created to be a work of art.

Premium liquor brand Plush Vodka was the sponsor for the event and conducted a tasting.  Plush Vodka is infused with plum, is six times distilled from corn grain, is made using only natural flavors, and is gluten free. Sweet plum fruit, used in the Far East for years to make plum wine, is one of the most complimentary fruits for pairing with a premium liquor. The result is the smoothest, most elegantly flavored vodka available.

Press Inquiries should be emailed to thebadaorg@gmail.com or contact Wilbur Pack, Jr. by phone at 917 520 4615.

Avoiding Workplace Word Wars

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A napkin with conflict resolution solutions wrtten on it, sitting next to a cup of coffee

By Lorie Reichel-Howe
Founder, Conversations In The Workplace

If you work with people, it’s inevitable that you have felt the sting of cutting words, the stab of sarcasm and the sickening silence when a coworker is verbally attacked. When workplace word wars occur, people become casualties, relationships are strained, and morale plunges downward.

Unless people effectively and confidently respond to verbal outbursts, culture will erode, productivity will plummet, and attrition will skyrocket.

In my consulting work, I’ve observed that unaddressed behaviors become workplace norms. When hurtful behaviors are tolerated, people are dehumanized and verbal offenders multiply. On the flip side, organizations that prepare employees to effectively respond to workplace zingers, jabs and verbal bombs, establish a safe workplace culture.

Unfortunately, wanting to speak up when a verbal assault bomb is dropped doesn’t mean you know how to speak up, or even what to say so here are a few communication strategies you can implement. Instead of simply describing the strategies, I will demonstrate how to implement them in a workplace scenario where a frustrated employee, Jolene, blurts out a negative comment about the Help Desk department.

Scenario

Upon submitting a request for support from Help Desk, Jolene was informed that, due to complications with the new system software installation, that there will be a two-day delay in receiving technical support. Angry at the delay, Jolene blurted out:“The Help Desk department should be renamed the Helpless Department.”

Request clarification

In a calm and firm manner, ask Jolene to share what she meant by “renaming the Help Desk Department to the Helpless Department.” In taking a curious approach, you invite reflection of the meaning of one’s words. Asking questions prevents you from accusing, lecturing or judging the actions of others.

Acknowledge the needs or concerns of the other person

Acknowledging someone’s concern is a great diffuser. People commonly breathe a sigh of relief when their concern is recognized. When we feel angry or hurt and believe someone has crossed a line, our human tendency is to become defensive. Acknowledging the other person’s challenge is not instinctive. Even so, learning to acknowledge instead of telling someone what you think of their outburst, can become a patterned response with repeated practice. While acknowledging is not a solution to the problem, it opens up a dialogue where a solution could be explored. Rest assured, acknowledging someone’s concerns doesn’t mean you approve of their behavior, it simply means you understand what motivated their behavior or outburst.

Communicate positive wants (for everyone involved)

When people hear that you desire a positive outcome or solution to their problem, they see you as an advocate, not an enemy. It’s assuring to know someone cares about you even when you’ve acted impulsively or spoken inappropriately. It only takes a few seconds to communicate to Jolene that you want her to obtain the technical support needed to complete her work. Share that you want Help Desk to successfully implement a new system upgrade that improves everyone’s working experience and that you want other departments to support Help Desk in their improvement efforts. Lastly, include your desire for a positive work environment for everyone where concerns and needs are respectfully communicated.

Bring awareness of the impact of words and actions

To help Jolene understand the impact of her words, tell her that when you hear her say that the Help Desk Department should be renamed the Helpless Department, it comes across as an attack on a team within the organization. Share that negative comments like these, instead of unifying the organization, separate and divide. It only takes one match to ignite a fire and once negativity spreads, it’s hard to stop.”

Ask questions to spark brainstorming a solution

Successful communicators empower others by asking them questions. They avoid directing or dictating what others can or should do. Ask Jolene if there are technical support resources other than Help Desk. This moves her from attacking a department to finding another resource for technical support.

Get a commitment

To ensure that negative comments are not made in the future, ask Jolene to commit to discussing her concerns in the future without attacking a team or individual. Documenting Jolene’s agreement is helpful in case of a repeated offense. It takes discernment to know if a reminder is adequate, if an apology is appropriate or if consequences should be imposed.

If the behavior continues

If the behavior is repeated, reference the earlier commitment and identify that you are now holding an accountability conversation to address a behavior pattern. Make it clear that this is not a first-time offense – this person has a history. Pattern behaviors erode trust because they cause you to question whether a person has the ability to uphold their commitments.

Create safe and positive workplaces

It’s not enough to inform people of workplace policies, people need to know what to do when policies are violated and when employees become causalities of a toxic culture. Organizations that develop a positive and safe workplace understand that telling or expecting people to address negative behavior is as helpful as a medical diagnosis without a recovery plan. These organizations invest in training all employees, managers and teams in effectively addressing harmful workplace zingers, jabs and verbal bombs.

Lorie Reichel Howe is founder of Conversations in the Workplace. She leverages over 20 years of expertise in communication and relationship management. She equips managers, teams and business professionals to have “safe conversations” – transformative dialogue that uncovers hidden workplace issues. Whether issues are challenging team dynamics, mismanaged expectations or good old-fashioned bad behavior, “safe conversations” foster greater innovation, inclusion and collaboration within organizations.

Click here to learn more about Lorie’s impact.

Rihanna Joins ‘Forbes’ List Of America’s Richest Self-Made Women

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Rihanna on professional women's magazine cover wonder woman of the year.

Forbes has unleashed its list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women and there are plenty of recognizable names.

According to the outlet, the entire ranking of trailblazers are worth a collective $90 billion and have “have started or helped expand companies that do everything from build rockets to create snowboards to make Covid-19 tests.” At the top of the ranking is roofing entrepreneur Diane Hendricks, co-founder of ABC Supply, one of the country’s largest wholesale distributors of roofing, siding and windows. She tops the list for the third year in a row with her empire, which reportedly exceeds $8 billion.

Meanwhile, Rihanna makes her first appearance on the list at the No. 33 spot, courtesy of her cross-genre ventures. In addition to her Fenty Beauty line, the pop titan also has her Savage x Fenty lingerie line, as well as her music ventures, racking up an estimated $600 million for her earnings across the board in 2019.

Among the other celebrity appearances include Kris Jenner, who nabbed her first entry at the No. 92 spot with a net worth of $190 million. Oprah Winfrey returns to this year’s ranking at the No. 9 spot with a net worth of $2.9 billion, while Kim Kardashian took the No. 24 spot with her net worth of $780 million and little sister Kylie Jenner took the No. 29 position with a net worth of $700 million. Lady Gaga and Jenniffer Lopez both snagged the No. 97 spot with their net worth of $150 million.

Continue on to 1043myfm to read the complete article.

New Law Requires Large Corporations to Diversify Boards

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A diverse board of directors sitting around a table

By Natalie Rodgers

On August 31, California lawmakers passed a new, unnamed piece of legislature that would increase diversity and inclusion rates in big California businesses.

Under this new law, large corporations would be required to have at least one board member on their team who comes from an underrepresented community. The legislature further clarifies the definition of underrepresented communities to include: Black and African American, Hispanic and Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander, or LGBTQ+.

“Corporations have money, power, and influence,” Assemblyman and author of the law Chris Holden stated. “If we are going to address racial injustice and inequity in our society, it’s imperative that corporate boards reflect the diversity of our state.”

Holden hopes that the bill will make large representative changes resulting in racial justice, similar to the gender equality shown after the passing of the 2018 bill, requiring big-name corporations that have a certain number of women on their board.

While presenting the new legislature, lawmakers strived to prove the necessity for its existence by referring to various studies that showed a lack of diversity in big corporations and the state of California alike. One such study, done by the Deloitte and Alliance for Board Diversity in 2018, stated that out of the 1,222 new board members that were introduced to Fortune 100 companies, 940 of them identified as Caucasian, a whopping 77 percent. Another study, done by the Latino Corporate Directors Association in July 2020, stated that 87 percent of California business boards did not have Latino representation, despite making up almost 40 percent of the total population. Many large technology companies, such as Apple and Facebook, were also tested to have all-white executives in the top executive positions on the board.

“There is enough evidence to show there is discrimination,” Holden told lawmakers. “The numbers simply don’t lie.”

Besides the presence of discrimination, lawmakers also showed evidence of the economic impact that diversity can have on large corporations. Companies that present a larger understanding and representation of diversity have shown to increase in profit as their target audience begins to draw in more people from various backgrounds.

Under Holden’s law, diversity would be required to increase in the coming years in California businesses. Corporations with more than nine board members would need to have a minimum of three members that come from underrepresented communities and corporations with  five to eight board members would be required to have at least two of these members. If signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the law would also penalize those violators with fines starting at $100,000.

Level Up: Joining a Professional Organization to Bolster Your Network

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A group of men shaking hands and networking

By: Stephanie Hughes, MPH, CHES

Featuring: Collin Mays, MPA

If I asked a room of 10 people what comes to mind when they hear the word “networking,” I would expect to get ten different answers.

The first thing that probably comes to mind is a room full of people with name tags, exchanging resumes, or business cards. Networking is the activity that we all know and love, or hate, that involves the exchange of information in either a personal or professional capacity. We build networks every day to find jobs, mentors, and friends. This exchange of information makes it possible to form long-lasting relationships and can provide opportunities that would not be present otherwise.

We have all heard the statement, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” I remember hearing it on many occasions in both my undergraduate and graduate career. Then, “why am I spending all of this time in school, if what I know doesn’t weigh all that much?” While knowledge and expertise are important for us to mold our careers, it isn’t the only factor. If I have learned anything throughout my professional experience, it is that having champions in your corner who know your character and what you stand for are more powerful than any line on your resume.

Collin Mays, a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), an organization committed to supporting professionals in the field of public administration, recounts his experience joining a professional organization committed to public service:

“I joined NFBPA because I believe in the overall mission. Often, black public administrators are not highlighted for their work. My goal is to help promote our profession and encourage the next generation of black public administrators. I realized that to pursue that, networking is essential to your career success. Of course, I encourage everyone to pursue as much education as possible. However, while education is the foundation of success, ultimately networking will help you land your next job and advance through your career. You never get anywhere if people don’t know you.”

I resonate very much with Collin’s statement. The National Forum for Black Public Administrators was my first real experience networking and building professional relationships. I never knew what it truly meant to network. I attended their Annual Forum as a scholarship recipient and truly had no idea what to expect. It was the first time in my life where I was surrounded by so many professionals who looked like me. And for some reason, they wanted to get to know the 19-year-old girl from Raleigh, North Carolina.

Throughout the conference, I met with people from all over the country that served in various capacities and spoke about my passion for public service. Conversations seemed to flow easily as such like-minded individuals surrounded me. Individuals I met have become mentors and friends as I pursue a career in healthcare and public service. In fact, this is true for many professionals as they recount the beginnings of their careers. It was at this moment when I realized the true importance of joining a professional organization.

“Young people, especially young people of color, should join as many professional organizations as possible. Not only will each organization enhance your knowledge of the profession, but each organization can produce lifelong friendships and professional relationships.”

If you are interested in a career in public administration or a related sector and would like to join a professional organization, please  consider contacting the NFBPA.

Click here to view the NFBPA websitethrough our website

Click here to explore programs for emerging leaders and young professionals.

The National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) is the nation’s principal and most progressive organization dedicated to the advancement of African American public leadership in local and state governments. NFBPA is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1983. With more than 2,500 members, NFBPA has established a national reputation for designing and implementing successful, quality leadership development initiatives.

JPMorgan Chase Commits $30 Billion to Advance Racial Equity

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Diverse Equality Gender Innovation Management Concept

Today, JPMorgan Chase announced new long-term commitments to advance racial equity. The firm will harness its expertise in business, policy and philanthropy and commit an additional $30 billion over the next five years to provide economic opportunity to underserved communities, especially the Black and Latinx communities.

Structural barriers in the U.S. have created profound racial inequalities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The existing racial wealth gap puts a strain on families’ economic mobility and restricts the U.S. economy. Building on the firm’s existing investments, this new commitment will drive an inclusive economic recovery, support employees and break down barriers of systemic racism.

“Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co. “We can do more and do better to break down systems that have propagated racism and widespread economic inequality, especially for Black and Latinx people. It’s long past time that society addresses racial inequities in a more tangible, meaningful way.”

Over the next five years, the firm expects these new commitments, which include loans, equity and direct funding, to:

I. Promote and Expand Affordable Housing and Homeownership for Underserved Communities

A. Originate an additional 40,000 home purchase loans for Black and Latinx households. To do this, the firm is committing $8 billion in mortgages. Efforts include:

  • Improving key home lending products and offerings, including substantially increasing the Chase Homebuyer Grant in underserved communities.

B. Help an additional 20,000 Black and Latinx households achieve lower mortgage payments through refinancing loans. To do this, the firm is committing up to $4 billion in refinancing loans.

C. Finance an additional 100,000 affordable rental units. To do this, the firm will provide $14 billion in new loans, equity investments and other efforts to expand affordable housing in underserved communities. Efforts include:

  • Investing additional capital in vital community institutions and increasing funding for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing for low and moderate-income households nationwide.

II. Grow Black- and Latinx-owned Businesses

A. Provide an additional 15,000 loans to small businesses in majority-Black and -Latinx communities. To do this, the firm will deliver $2 billion in loans. Efforts include:

  • Launching a new program designed to help entrepreneurs in historically underserved areas access coaching, technical assistance and capital.
  • Accelerating a digital lending product to better support the needs of small Black- and Latinx-owned businesses seeking quick access to capital.

B. Spend an additional $750 million with Black and Latinx suppliers.

III. Improve Financial Health and Access to Banking in Black and Latinx Communities

A. Help one million people open low-cost checking or savings accounts. To do this, the firm commits to hiring 150 new community managers, opening new Community Center branches in underserved communities and materially increasing marketing spend to reach more customers who are currently underserved, unbanked or underbanked. Other efforts include:

  • Continuing to open 100 new branches in low-to-moderate income communities across the country as part of the firm’s market expansion initiative.
  • Building awareness and trust in Chase Secure Banking to meet the needs of Black and Latinx unbanked and underbanked households and expand access to traditional banking.

B. Invest up to $50 million in the form of capital and deposits in Black and Latinx-led Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), and continue to mentor and advise select MDIs and CDFIs to help them achieve future success.

IV. Accelerate Investment in our Employees and Build a More Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

A. Continuing to build a more equitable and representative workforce and hold executives accountable by incorporating priorities and progress into year-end performance evaluations and compensation decisions for members of the Operating Committee and their direct reports.

B. Providing financial coaching services to the firm’s U.S. employees.

The firm will also provide $2 billion in philanthropic capital over the next five years to drive an inclusive economic recovery and support Black, Latinx and other underserved communities. This extends and increases the firm’s current five-year $1.75 billion philanthropic commitment made in 2018. It will also include an emphasis on supporting Black- and Latinx-led organizations.

A fact sheet detailing JPMorgan Chase’s new commitments is available here.

Holding Ourselves Accountable

Measuring impact and ensuring accountability is central to these new commitments. Progress will be tracked regularly and shared with senior leadership across the firm, as well as externally with the Chase Advisory Panel, to assess performance and hold the business accountable. These efforts will further allow for maximum impact and bring an enhanced equity lens to the firm’s business.

Comments on the Importance of Advancing Racial Equity

“We have a responsibility to intentionally drive economic inclusion for people that have been left behind,” said Brian Lamb, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, JPMorgan Chase.The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated long-standing inequities for Black and Latinx people around the world. We are using this catalytic moment to create change and economic opportunities that enhance racial equity for Black and Latinx communities.”

“To ensure the Latino community can thrive, we must work together to break down persistent obstacles to opportunity created by systemic racism,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS. “JPMorgan Chase’s new commitments will help ensure that the American dream is accessible to more Latinos today, create a multiplier effect through generations, and lead to a stronger country with greater shared prosperity.”

“America’s racial wealth gap has been a persistent injustice, and it can no longer be tolerated as business as usual,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League. “I am heartened to see JPMorgan’s specific, measurable commitments that we believe will address decades of systemic racism toward Black communities – and will bolster the wellbeing of families across the country, as well as our collective economy. We are proud to work alongside JPMorgan Chase to make these changes and help craft conditions for lasting racial equity.”

“All Americans deserve equitable access to affordable housing and the physical, emotional and financial security it represents,” said Lisa Rice, CEO, National Fair Housing Alliance. “JPMorgan Chase’s new commitments will help make owning or renting a reality for more Black and Latinx families, whose housing access has been impeded by decades of systemic racism and are now disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19. Addressing the affordability crisis, now overlaid with the pandemic, will require many players on many fronts, and these commitments are concrete, meaningful steps in the right direction.”

“This moment requires leaders and their institutions to shake off the husks of complacency and to stand in transformative solidarity with the more than 100 million in America who face the burdens of a democracy and economy that does not yet allow them to participate, prosper, and reach their full potential,” said Dr. Michael McAfee, President and CEO, PolicyLink. “JPMorgan Chase is beginning the journey to answer this call. It’s targeted investments in black and brown communities, and its leadership advancing public policy that ensures all people in America participate in a just society, live in a healthy community of opportunity, and prosper in an equitable economy is the type of creative spark that will usher in America’s renewal.



About JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $3.2 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.

Daymond John Launches Black Entrepreneurs Day To Inspire Black Business Owners To Persevere

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Daymond John holding microphone onstage

What do Black entrepreneurs—more than 40% of whom have shuttered their businesses amidst the pandemic—need during this unprecedented time?

If you ask Daymond John, it’s support from industry peers, honest conversations about Black business and, during a time of heightened emotional stress, quality entertainment.

“You see people out there burning businesses when they should be building them,” the FUBU founder and CEO and Shark Tank investor tells Forbes. “People of color need more inspiration and more of the right inspiration, instead of letting out frustrations and disappointment in today’s current environment in a negative way.”

John turned his anger into action. The result: Black Entrepreneurs Day Presented by Chase for Business, an inaugural event on Oct. 24 that will bring together business leaders such as BET cofounder Robert Johnson, A-list, second-act entrepreneurs like Shaquille O’Neal, LL Cool J, Gabrielle Union and Jamie Foxx and investors like Backstage Capital’s Arlan Hamilton.

Crafted with the help of an entertainment company helmed by former 30 Under 30 honorees, Medium Rare, the event will also feature performances from artists including three-time Grammy winner Chance The Rapper.  “It’s like a big block party online,” says John. “We’re having a good time with it.” And it’ll be available for free streaming across more than 20 platforms. John’s Facebook page will be the day-of hub.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

The Newest Member of the Billionaire’s Club

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Tyler Perry pictured at awards ceremony smiling

Actor, producer, writer, and director Tyler Perry has officially become a billionaire, making him the seventh black billionaire in the United States.

Perry’s newfound status includes him in the same income bracket as Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Robert F. Smith, and Michael Jordan.

Perry earned much of his money through his productions and his investments. Though most notably known for his work in the Madea movie series, Perry is no stranger to any form of performative arts.  Not only did he direct, produce, write and star in the Madea franchise, but he has also served as an actor and writer for many of his own projects. In total, Perry has been involved in over a thousand television episodes, 22 movies, and 24 stage productions. Additionally, Perry works closely with the BET television network, earning an annual income of $150 million to create content for their live and streaming platforms.

According to Forbes, Perry’s billion-dollar net worth can be calculated into five main categories: library, cash and investments, the studio, his stake in BET, and homes and toys.

Since closing his production company in 2019, Perry has decided to invest in wealth into his community. Having recently become a spokesperson against human trafficking in Georgia, Perry wants to use his funds to provide housing for trafficked women and LGBTQ youth. He also plans to set up a financial academy for children and wants to build a Disney-like theme park with shops, restaurants, and a movie theater.

Virtual Events Take Center Stage

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Man giving virtual job interview online

By Innovate Marketing Group

As the live events industry awaits COVID-19 regulations, guidelines, and phase rollouts; innovations and digital opportunities arise, virtual events take center stage, and the importance of an events agency and planner sustains.

Why go virtual? Virtual events have proven to be an effective and efficient way to convey content and engage attendees. Experts shared that future events will incorporate a digital aspect as a hybrid-type model as the events industry seeks to widen their audience and maintain contingency plans. Events will see more virtual aspects embedded into their programs moving forward.

Going virtual also brings market share and new opportunities.
“Some companies that were previously on hold to wait out COVID-19 have either pivoted to virtual or seriously considering since the recovery is so uncertain. Business still needs to go on. Leadership conferences, educational and training are still vital for companies,” said Amanda Ma, chief experience officer of Innovate Marketing Group.

All of the different elements of a virtual event need to be coordinated into one impactful and engaging experience. The event agency’s role includes helping guiding businesses to pivot to the new normal, advising and adjusting contract changes, applying event strategies to help meet goals, vendor coordination and recommendations, program management and managing multiple tracks, marketing and communication, incorporating sponsors and stakeholders and the guest experience.

Some of the many benefits of pivoting to virtual include:

  • Cost savings and lower cost per guest attending
  • Access to a wider audience and reach, and not limited by location
  • Replay capabilities and reusable on demand content
  • Lower carbon footprint and less impact on the environment
  • Attendee engagement
  • Opportunity to get creative and engage viewers in new ways
  • Metrics, instant data tracking and capture, and gaining new insights
  • Virtual events eliminate the need for a venue, catering, rentals, stage, décor, photographer, videographer, transportation, etc.
  • Taking action – calls to action link in right away; connect, survey, polling, Q&A and donate

Some challenges in comparison to a live event include emotion and energy, stimulations such as touch, taste and smell, memory and recall, networking, and viewer attention span.

Innovate Marketing Group also shares top best practices in going virtual, such as setting your goals on information, education, message, attendee and sponsor engagement, networking, etc.

Format: Determine your virtual event format – webinar, webcast, pre-recorded sessions, simu-live, live streaming, networking, exhibitors.

Registration: Reconsider the registration process, including number of users who will be accessing the website, personal data, payment processing safety, and customized questions per data you would like to collect.

Keep Your Audience Engaged: with tools such as live polling, question and answer sessions, networking opportunities, gamification, live leader boards, rewards and social media feeds. Maintain your event experience by making your guests feel involved and connected to your program. We are in the planning stages of a 3,000 people walk/run event, and one of the ideas is on the day of the event to have a virtual DJ play during the walk and the organization lowers the volume if messages need to be communicated. The music is based on what the organizers want. This way while people are walking, they can stay connected as part of the program.

Pre-Event Communication & Marketing: Communication and marketing are key. Unlike an in-person event where they must get dressed up, drive to the event, and spend more time to prepare for the event, a virtual event is simply a login to a platform. Therefore, it is very important to send out reminders and build up the anticipation of the event. In a recent virtual event, we advised the client to ask for the attendee’s cell phone number.

So, in addition to email reminders, the week of event and day of, a text notification was sent out to all attendees. We received great feedback for putting that in place. It reminded folks the virtual event is coming up and to tune in. Digital marketing, promotion, advertisement, and video content is still very important for a virtual event, before broadcasting on your event day.

Surprise and Delight Before the Event: Sending a swag bag prior to the event with items relevant to the event. For an upcoming conference, we are sending a box with a blue light blocking glasses, candle, custom door handle, notebook, T-shirt, and a coffee tumbler. We have a special note to go along with this kit to kick off the conference mindset. On the day of the conference, we asked everyone to wear the shirt provided. One less worry about what to wear on “top.”

Content is King: Offer educational, relevant, timely and meaningful content that people will want to hear. It is vital to create content that captivates guests, sparks their creativity and results in productivity.

Do Not Try to Replicate Your Live Event: Instead, look for new opportunities but stay true to purpose of your event. Keep principle of why your guests were coming together, and make it part of the equation.

Test, Test, and Test Again: Technical difficulties may occur, and it often distracts from your event. Have a run through with your speakers and moderator in advance and test the virtual release on your platforms.

Too Young to Retire Couple and Their Son Bring the Top Mobile Flooring Franchise To Dallas, Texas Area

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Mike & Daphne Williams stand outside in front of their work vehicle

Tired of traveling. Corporate buyout. Empty nesters. Too young to retire. Take all four ingredients, mix together and you have the perfect recipe for a new career and new direction in life as a franchise owner. That’s exactly what Mike and Daphne Williams cooked up as newly minted franchisees with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. The Plano, Texas couple’s Floor Coverings International North Park/Dallas franchise serves clients throughout Highland Park, University Park, Preston Hollow, Lakewood, Lake Highlands and White Rock.

Mike Williams, 55, spent 30 years in medical device sales and management and most recently was regional sales director for a global medical device manufacturer. Having tired of a rigorous travel schedule, Williams took advantage of a buyout opportunity. Daphne Williams was a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s now grown sons and always had a passion for home improvement projects. Mike’s buyout package included the services of a franchise consultant and that’s when the couple discovered Floor Coverings International. “We were too young to retire and after 30 years in the corporate world, I was ready to tap into my entrepreneurial drive and be my own boss,” said Mike. The couple’s youngest son, Miller, will also be assisting in the new family business while remotely attending college.

In Floor Coverings International, the Williams’ found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. “People are doing more home projects now and consumer spending is shifting from vacations to home improvement, so I believe the market is very strong,” Mike Williams said.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2020. For franchise information, please visit www.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, www.floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Advice for Entrepreneurs, From Entrepreneurs

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collage of four diverse entrepreneurs

Starting a business is tough. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes the first years of a new business can be unstable (unsurprising) and volatile.

A third of all of young companies fail within two years and about half fail within five. Although these figures seem upsetting, all hope isn’t lost. It simply indicates that good business strategies and quality management are key to pushing through the initial volatile period. If you’re hoping to strike out on your own and launch the world’s next successful start-up, you’re going to need every bit of advice and support you can get. That’s why we’ve asked successful entrepreneurs to share their advice for the next generation of young business minds.

Here’s what they had to say.

‘Surround yourself with great people’

Team spirit is the defining factor for Danny Scott’s company CoinCorner. He said: “I think the most important thing is to surround yourself with great people. “You want to be able to trust your team to tell you when you’re going in the wrong direction or to be there as support when hard times come knocking. The team makes the company at the end of the day, and you’ll want to spend your time with people who believe in you and the business.”

‘Get ideas down, however silly or small’

Leiho aims to help people feel good by doing good for others. Founder Joey Li says the company’s journey began by selling socks to help homeless people – for every pair of socks sold, Leiho gives another to a homeless person. Li said: “Our socks are also made with bamboo because we believe in sustainability and social impact.” When it comes to launching a business, Li said the most important thing to do is take that first step: “Get ideas down on a piece of paper however silly or small it is. Once you see it in front of you, that brings your idea to life and more ideas come rushing to your head. “Don’t prolong the start – try to sketch out website ideas, packaging ideas or anything that will literally make you see the potential of whatever you’re selling.”

‘Don’t fear failure’

Li also told us that mistakes and setbacks shouldn’t be treated as the end of the road. “Fail fast and fail cheap. The earlier you make mistakes and fail, the cheaper and better it is for the future of your business. Don’t be disarmed by failure and don’t fear failure. Learn to accept it and learn to improve, develop and try again.”

‘Take the criticism because you never know how helpful it might be’,

Li added: “There will be people out there who don’t believe in your idea and there will be a lot of people out there who support it. Listen to both. Take the criticism because you never know how helpful it might be. “Ask them what else you could do, what else they like about your idea and what else they would suggest. This is the best market research you could ever do – get to know your customers!”

‘Keep an eye on your cash’

Cara Holland started her business Graphic Change 13 years ago, going on to work with brands including TimeWarner and Google, and now even has an online academy with students from over 70 countries learning to work more visually. She told us: “Keep an eye on your cash. For lots of businesses, you don’t need much to get started. Start with your minimum viable product and only spend what you absolutely need to evolve.

‘Trust yourself and be true to your vision and your values’

Holland also places great important on positivity and self-belief. She said: “Trust yourself but don’t be afraid to get input from potential customers and other people whose views you respect. Don’t just ask your family and friends because they’ll never tell you the truth for fear of hurting your feelings. “Be true to your vision and your values. The right customers and clients are out there. The more authentic you are, the easier it will be for them to find you.”

‘Don’t forget to enjoy the process’

Dhruvin Patel is the founder of Ocushield, the world’s only medically rated screen protector. Ocushield protects eyes and improves sleep while protecting your digital device, by limiting the amount of blue light emitted from the screen. As a qualified optometrist, he understands the importance of blue light protection in today’s society. He said: “Since qualifying, I was able to raise investment which allowed me to grow the business, the team and improve our products. When asked for his advice for other entrepreneurs, he said: “When launching a business, too many founders can get caught up in the end goal and forget to enjoy the process. Remember that developing a start-up can truly elevate your life both professionally and personally.”

Ayo Foods Brings Authentic West-African Cuisine To Us Grocers To Spice Up Frozen Foods Category

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black cuisine business owners Perteet and Fred Spencer pose together

Frozen meals just got a whole lot more joyful. AYO Foods, the authentic and delicious line of West-African inspired cuisine, has developed a partnership with Whole Foods and is now available at nearly 50 locations throughout Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Founders Perteet & Fred Spencer have developed the brand from their family’s own recipes that have been shared across generations. The line offers nutrient-dense, flavor-infused frozen meals and presents the opportunity for grocers to attract new and existing customers – including the large West-African millennial population and growing number of ethnic explorers.

Additional grocer tension points that AYO Foods are positioned to directly address include:

  • A brand with extensive growth potential across shelf and aisles – 38 percent of customers order out ethnic cuisine at least once a week. AYO Foods provides a new, convenient, and unexpectedly authentic option at grocers. The company’s initial line of inspired West African cuisine is tailored for the Frozen Foods section, however the company has many additional products in development.

 

  • New options for consumers to meet a growing demand for frozen ethnic cuisine – Three of the top five fastest growing frozen specialty entrees at grocers are internationally inspired. AYO Foods’ brings a new experience to the set to accelerate consumer interest in the category.

Ayo foods Jollof Rice ad

  • Stand out better-for-you options that meet consumer lifestyle demands – the deeply flavorful, nutrient-dense dishes celebrate the unique produce of West Africa with are convenient entrees for healthy meals on-the go.

 

  • AYO Foods is a proud, Black-owned business – as part of the cultural conversations that are currently taking place in the US, many retailers are being asked to commit to provide shelf-space for Black-owned businesses. Founders Perteet & Fred Spencer story connects with customers.

AYO Foods initial offerings that are currently available in select Whole Foods markets include:

 

  • Cassava Leaf Soup – Ground cassava leaves, chicken and spices slow cooked into a soup. The family recipe starts by grinding the Cassava plant’s fibrous leaves and simmering them with all natural chicken, cayenne pepper and savory spices until it makes the perfect family soup.

 

  • Jollof Rice – One pot long-grain rice spiced and stewed in a flavorful tomato broth with roasted red peppers and onions. A staple throughout the region, our recipe is based on the classic version.

AYO Soup Ad

  • Egusi Seed Soup – Ground melon seeds, fresh peppers, onions and spinach slow cooked into a savory stew. This recipe is chock-full of nutrients and is high in protein and healthy fats.

AYO Foods can be found in the frozen-food section with a suggested retail price of: $5.99. The rich flavors come from sustainably-sourced ingredients inspired by Perteet and Fred’s family traditions. @AYOFoods can be found on Instagram and Facebook. For more information, please visit www.AYO-foods.com.

ABOUT AYO FOODS

Founded by Perteet and Fred Spencer in 2019, AYO Foods is a celebration of West African cuisine. AYO Means “joy” in Yoruba, one of the many languages spoken in West Africa. These savory and spicy recipes have brought joy to the Spencer family for generations. AYO foods feature nutrient-dense, flavor-infused dishes and can be found in the frozen food section at select retailers across the US. To locate a retailer, please visit the company’s website www.AYO-Foods.com. Fans are encouraged to follow @AYOFoods for brand updates on Instagram and Facebook.

Using Your Voice as a Powerful Business Tool

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Angelica Nwandu headshot

By Angelica Nwandu

The power of voice is an often-underestimated tool within the business world. Countless entrepreneurs have harnessed the power of their voices to create strong online brands that people trust.

By putting your voice out there, you can establish yourself as a leader in the industry—translating into endless business opportunities. If you’re an up-and-coming entrepreneur, the number one way to grow your brand is by sharing your expertise across all mediums. You’ll see the ROI in no time!

Here’s how you can use your voice as a powerful business tool through content and other means:

Find Your Niche

The first step in using your voice as a business tool is to establish your expertise. You need to establish yourself as an expert within your niche. That is the only way your audience will take your words as an authoritative resource.           

Dive into your skillset and find the area that you believe is your strongest field. What can you offer that no one else in your industry can?

Once you’ve found the place where you can set yourself apart from the rest, target in on that. Create useful and educational content surrounding your expertise. Write about things no one else besides you can write about, and find the questions no one has answered yet. By doing this, you will start to gain traction and attract a significant audience.

Have a Strong Social Presence

Social media is important for networking and discovering potential customers. Post consistently to LinkedIn and connect with prospects. Your connections will then see your expertise and hopefully consider you as a thought leader.

Always engage with your followers. Respond to comments and encourage conversation on your social profiles. Make sure every one of your social profiles is complete with a profile picture, bio, and more so that you come off as authentic and professional.

In addition to all this, feel free to join social groups on Facebook and more that you believe could bring a larger audience to your brand. Share your own personal articles and additional educational resources that would be of value to these groups.

Be Authentic

One crucial part of transforming your voice into a business tool is authenticity. In order to utilize your voice as a tool for business, you first need to establish trust. And trust only comes with authenticity.

When posting content or networking with potential clients, be sure to be authentic. If people trust you and your content, they’ll be more likely to do business with you. Post content in your personal tone and voice. Be a useful and reliable educational resource for your target audience.

Also, pass on the self-promotional content. Post and share content that your audience can truly benefit from as opposed to self-promotional advertisements. 

Post Consistently

If you want to be taken seriously in your industry, you must post consistently. Posting consistently will establish you and your brand as a trusted voice in your niche. Post educational, compelling, and unique content that will help you reach your audience. Create a posting schedule that keeps you on track to share educational content. Overall, hold yourself accountable to posting regularly.

Also, make sure your tone and quality are both consistent. You want your content to be top-notch every time you share content.

Harness the Power of Video

Video is one of the most essential mediums today. It can convey vital information more effectively while also offering more opportunities for creativity. It will communicate your voice better and stronger.

Instead of writing post after post, consider a quick one or two-minute video. Speak about topical subjects, best practices, and more. This can make you stand out in your industry and garner trust from your audience.

Seek out Speaking Opportunities

One of the best ways to use your voice as a business tool offline is to seek out speaking opportunities. If your city is hosting a conference or convention within your industry, see if there’s any way you can contribute. Volunteer for a panel and showcase your expertise. Attendees will take note of your insight, and you may be able to turn them into customers.

Overall, your voice can be a powerful business tool to attract a broad audience. Choose your words wisely and utilize your expertise to find your target market. Authenticity, trust, and consistency can go a long way, so be sure always to put your best foot forward.

Your voice is the most powerful business tool you have. Start using it today!

Angelica Nwandu is the founder of The Shade Room, a site that covers celebrity news and celebrates black culture. She was named as one of Forbes “30 under 30” in 2016 and has created a media company that inspired Refinery 29 to dub Nwandu “the Oprah of our generation.”

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  1. HBCU Career Development Marketplace
    November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020