Tracee Ellis Ross Partners With Non Profit To Support Black Women-Owned Businesses

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Tracee Ellis Ross Partners With Non Profit To Support Black Women-Owned Businesses

By Angela Johnson, The Root

She’s already crushing the beauty game with her PATTERN line of hair care products and accessories. Now actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross is teaming up with the non-profit Buy From A Black Woman (BFABW) and H&M USA to inspire and support other Black women business owners. According to a June 13 press release, H&M will partner with Buy From A Black Woman for the second year in a row to shine a light on Black women-owned businesses. And this time, Ross will serve as the non-profit’s ambassador.

In a June 10 sit-down with Buy From a Black Woman founder Nikki Porcher at H&M’s LA showroom, Ross shared her advice on achieving success with other young Black female entrepreneurs. “I am proud to help support Buy From a Black Woman and the incredible network of business owners they’ve brought together,” Ross said. “Black women and their contributions are often overlooked, which is why it’s crucial for us to come together to build, strengthen and create our own opportunities for success.”

Buy From A Black Woman launched in 2016 with a mission of providing Black women with all of the tools they need for success, including educational programming, an online directory and funding. In the second year of their partnership, H&M USA plans to donate $250,000 to BFABW and provide sponsorship for the Buy From a Black Woman Inspire Tour, which will place products from Black women-owned businesses on shelves in select H&M stores across the country.

BFABW founder Nikki Porcher says she believes Ross is one of the best advocates for the cause of supporting businesses owned by Black women. “It’s hard to describe in words what it means to have Tracee Ellis Ross as an ambassador for Buy From A Black Woman. This year we are celebrating and showing the world that Black Women are living examples. I couldn’t think of a better example to help us spread our message of just how important it is to buy from and support Black Women Business Owners better than Ms. Ross. We are truly honored to work with her and to continue our partnership with H&M,” she said.

Click here to read the full article on The Root.

Resources for Beginning Your Self-Employment Journey

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A Black man in a business suit in a job interview

Unemployed, underemployed or just curious? Changing circumstances in the economy may be making self-employment a more intriguing option to consider, and there are plenty of helpful training and information resources to help you explore the possibilities.

a black man sitting at his laptop

Self-employment options

Independent work is a term that describes self-employed, freelance, temporary and “gig” work done by millions of workers in the U.S. It also includes individuals who sell items on e-commerce, vend private residential rental space on online platforms or drive for ride-hailing services. Independent work is an increasingly important means for either a primary or supplemental income in the U.S.

Another form of self-employment involves running a business with a physical location that employs others to make or sell goods or provide services. You might do this by starting your own business, buying a stand-alone existing business or joining a franchise program.

a black man on the train looking at his phone

Free entrepreneurship learning opportunities

Whatever your ideas for a business model, there is a wealth of valuable entrepreneurship learning and business counseling opportunities available. Check out some of these free resources:

Local American Job Centers provide small business skill training, career awareness and counseling and information to help you understand the types of services and products in demand in your local economy.

 

Entrepreneurial Marketing

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): A course designed to help participants develop a flexible way of thinking about marketing problems and understand key marketing concepts, methods and strategic issues relevant for start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs.
  • Money Smart for Small Businesses: This new instructor-led training curriculum developed jointly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) contains 10 training modules covering key topics for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Small Business Administration Learning Center: Take free online courses covering how to plan for your successful business startup, launching your business, managing, marketing and growing your business. It also includes an overview for young entrepreneurs.
  • SBA Online Small Business Training: The Small Business Administration offers more than 30 free self-guided online business training courses covering a variety of topics including how to prepare a business plan, franchising basics, government contracting, green business opportunities and more.
  • SCORE entrepreneurship online courses: View all their free courses available, including hiring workers, setting up a physical location, pricing products and services, finding funding and more.

 

Resources for targeted audiences interested in small business

  • Minority Business Development Agency: The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. MBDA programs, services and initiatives focus on helping MBEs grow today, while preparing them to meet the industry needs of tomorrow.
  • Native American Enterprise Initiative: The Native American Enterprise Initiative seeks to build on the U. S. Chamber of Commerce’s record of success and advocacy by focusing on the crucial economic issues confronting tribal business entities and Native American-owned enterprises.
  • Veterans Business Outreach Centers: The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.

 

Source: CareerOneStop

Black Celebrities Fostering Diversity in Business

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Serena WIllaims looking off into the distance as she competes in a tennis match

The celebrities we know and love aren’t jut making strides in their professional fields, but actively making a difference in diversity, equality and excellence.

 

Serena Williams and Nike Create Sportswear for Diversity

Photo Credit: Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

In collaboration with Nike, tennis champion Serena Williams has come out with a collection of women’s athleisure, designed to promote diversity in the world of fashion design. Currently, only 6.3% of US apparel makers identify as Black Americans while about 60% identify as White. To combat this, the collaboration brought together a group of ten new, talented and diverse designers of color to create Williams’ entire line. The clothes were designed to be fashionable, yet functional, for individuals of all backgrounds and body types. “I want people from all walks of life to have the opportounity to be in the room,” Williams told CNN of her collection, “I hope the next generation sees this program and is inspired to get involved.”

Source: CNN

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 13: Shawn Carter attends the Los Angeles Premiere of
(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Jay-Z Fosters Small, Minority-Owned Businesses and Community Endeavors

Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

About a year ago, successful rapper Jay-Z began using his platform to support minority-owned, cannabis businesses through his partnership with The Parent Company, a social equity corporate venture fund. As the company’s Chief Visionary Officer, Jay-Z has used his position to give out $10 million worth of funding to entrepreneurs of color in the industry, including the first women-owned cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles. According to the Parent Company’s CEO, Troy Datcher, Jay-Z has also expressed his vision to not only foster business success, but to support their local communities. In accordance with this vision, Jay-Z has additionally invested his funds into other black-owned businesses such as technology companies, the food and wine industry and projects centering on the arts.

Source: Benzinga, Wikipedia

SANTA MONICA, CA – JUNE 16: Host Tiffany Haddish attends the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for MTV)

Tiffany Haddish: Creating a More Inclusive Playing Field

Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for MTV)

Tiffany Haddish is more than just an amazing comedian and actress; she is also a businesswoman looking to improve the lives of the community around her. After facing financial struggles for much of her life and early career, Haddish is dedicated to helping those with similar backgrounds make informed financial and business decisions through investing in causes that she cares deeply about. Having grown up moving from foster home to foster home, Haddish founded the She Ready Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of foster children. This not only includes the general well-being of children in these systems, but includes educational, internship and career opportunities through the “She Ready Internship Program.” To take it a step further, Haddish additionally has plans to open a grocery store in South Central Los Angeles with primarily black and minority-owned vendors to provide community needs to lower income areas, provide information on healthy food choices and to circulate money in the black community.

Source: The Hollywodd Reporter, She Ready Internship, Forbes

BET Awards 2021 - Arrivals
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 27: Issa Rae attends the BET Awards 2021 at Microsoft Theater on June 27, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

Issa Rae Helps Others Find Black-Owned Businesses

Photo Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET

In the United States alone, Black-owned businesses makeup $150 billion annually and are sought out by about 44% of all U.S. consumers. In her recent team up with American Express and the U.S. Black Chambers, Issa Rae is committing to helping others have easier access to discovering and shopping from these businesses through ByBlack, the first nationwide certification program for Black business owners. “I think it’s one thing to support them during a very specific time when you feel guilty, but we’re beyond that,” Rae said to Variety of the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses, “To support these businesses year-round, and to know what you’re supporting and actively making an effort to do so, is extremely necessary.” Rae is also an advocate for hiring people of color in the workplace, including her own small businesses and the entertainment industry.

Source: Variety

 

Sean “Diddy” Combs:

Photo Credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Sean “Diddy” Combs has been one of the most influential advocates for business diversity, especially in the last year. Not only does he have extensive experience in founding and investing in businesses across sectors, such as the immensely successful Combs Enterprises, but is constantly working to bring Black-owned businesses into the public eye. In the last year, Combs launched “Endeavour,” a development program for aspiring entertainment executives of diverse backgrounds and “Shop Circulate,” a digital marketplace for Black entrepreneurs. Combs has also gone out of his way to make sure minority-owned businesses are educated and advocated for through the “REVOLT Summit x AT&T,” a conference for black professionals in the entertainment industries to network with one another.

Source: Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, REVOLT, Combs Enterprises

Advocating For Women Entrepreneurs: A Conversation With Women Impacting Public Policy President And CEO Candace Waterman

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Advocating For Women Entrepreneurs: A Conversation With Women Impacting Public Policy President And CEO Candace Waterman

By Rhett Buttle, Forbes

October is National Women’s Small Business Month where we take time to recognize the achievements of female entrepreneurs and their positive impact on the economy. Prior to Covid-19, women were the fastest-growing segment of small business owners in the United States.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed this progress and compacted long-standing inequities. For example, women-only receives 4% of all commercial loan dollars and the federal government has only reached its mandated goal of awarding 5% of its contracts to Women-owned small businesses only twice.

As President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Candace Waterman leads a national nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs, strengthening their impact on our nation’s public policy, creating economic opportunities, and forging alliances with other business organizations. She has more than 35 years of experience across the private and public sectors and has owned three successful companies in the medical, real estate, and hospitality industries.

I recently had a conversation with Candace about the state of female entrepreneurs and WIPP’s efforts. I am grateful to her for taking the time to speak with me and below is a summary of our discussion.

Rhett Buttle: Before Covid, women were the fastest-growing segment of small business owners in the country. What can we do to support women who want to open businesses and rebuild that momentum?

Candace Waterman: It is true that prior to the pandemic, women were the fastest-growing segment of business owners in the county. While growth was strong across the board, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the fastest-growing sector was businesses owned by Black women. The pandemic has certainly turned back a huge amount of progress, as many women left the workforce or permanently closed their businesses, wiping out savings and losing out on wages and income.

From a business-to-consumer perspective, the easiest way to support women-owned businesses recovering from the pandemic is to do business with those locally, in your area. By doing so, you are helping them to keep their doors open. You may want to go a step further and recommend their businesses to friends and family. If you want to do more and have the resources to do so, you could also invest in women-owned businesses in the form of venture capital or by becoming an angel investor.

October is National Women’s Small Business Month where we take time to recognize the achievements of female entrepreneurs and their positive impact on the economy. Prior to Covid-19, women were the fastest-growing segment of small business owners in the United States.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed this progress and compacted long-standing inequities. For example, women-only receives 4% of all commercial loan dollars and the federal government has only reached its mandated goal of awarding 5% of its contracts to Women-owned small businesses only twice.

As President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Candace Waterman leads a national nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs, strengthening their impact on our nation’s public policy, creating economic opportunities, and forging alliances with other business organizations. She has more than 35 years of experience across the private and public sectors and has owned three successful companies in the medical, real estate, and hospitality industries.

I recently had a conversation with Candace about the state of female entrepreneurs and WIPP’s efforts. I am grateful to her for taking the time to speak with me and below is a summary of our discussion.

Rhett Buttle: Before Covid, women were the fastest-growing segment of small business owners in the country. What can we do to support women who want to open businesses and rebuild that momentum?

Candace Waterman: It is true that prior to the pandemic, women were the fastest-growing segment of business owners in the county. While growth was strong across the board, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the fastest-growing sector was businesses owned by Black women. The pandemic has certainly turned back a huge amount of progress, as many women left the workforce or permanently closed their businesses, wiping out savings and losing out on wages and income.

From a business-to-consumer perspective, the easiest way to support women-owned businesses recovering from the pandemic is to do business with those locally, in your area. By doing so, you are helping them to keep their doors open. You may want to go a step further and recommend their businesses to friends and family. If you want to do more and have the resources to do so, you could also invest in women-owned businesses in the form of venture capital or by becoming an angel investor.

Another, very important way to support women-owned businesses is to incorporate them into supplier diversity pipelines and supplier development programs and give them a seat at the table when discussing matters related to small business. When women don’t have a seat at the table, their voices get lost and they can’t share their pain points and what would be most helpful to them from a solutions perspective.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

How this 28-year-old’s pandemic cookie business became a celebrity favorite

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ABC News' John Quinones talks about California coming back in business

, Good Morning America

When Lara Adekoya started baking cookies at the start of the pandemic, she never anticipated that a year later, celebrities like Issa Rae, Jenna Dewan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Melissa Benoist and Lena Waithe would be lining up to order from her Los Angeles business, Fleurs et Sel.“What I’m doing is reaching beyond just the backyard,” Adekoya, 28, told “Good Morning America.” “It’s refreshing to have their support, because these are people that now know who I am, and they know that I make really great cookies.”

Her Hollywood clientele isn’t just limited to celebrities either. The business owner has catered to Amazon Studios, A24, the Oprah Winfrey Network, HBO’s “Insecure” set and, most recently, National Geographic. But even though Fleurs et Sel has quickly risen as a business that’s only a year old, its success is anything but a fluke — Adekoya said she hustled to make a name for herself.

“I’m customer-obsessed and social media-driven, and I use those skills to create community through my cookies,” the baker of Nigerian and Japanese descent said. “I hope that my voice transcends communities and transcends different cultural groups so people know that we, as young Black women, we are capable of doing so many things.”

Adekoya’s venture started when she was laid off during the pandemic as a designer shoes salesperson at Nordstrom. Like many Americans, the pandemic prompted her to reimagine her career goals. According to a survey by Prudential, 50% of workers admitted that the pandemic made them rethink their careers, and another study by Microsoft found that 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer this year.

Despite the career change, Adekoya said her job at Nordstrom was invaluable to the success of Fleurs et Sel because of the work values and connections she built there.

“The key to me working in designer shoes was building relationships, because in order to be successful, my work was strictly commission driven, so it was up to me to make money — I wasn’t going to be there and not hustle,” she said.

Two important relationships she cultivated there were with female entrepreneurs Aderiaun Shorter and event planner Mindy Weiss, the latter who is known in Hollywood for throwing lavish parties for the Kardashians, Justin Bieber, Ciara and many others. When Adekoya started sharing her baking hobby on social media, her two former Nordstrom clients were the first to buy cookies and promote her. That’s when her idea for Fleurs et Sel really kicked off.

“I got a new entire following, and I was introduced to a new crowd that I would have never otherwise been exposed to,” Adekoya said. “Aderiaun and Mindy are both self-made women entrepreneurs, and they were both instrumental in mentoring me as a woman entrepreneur in this new space.”

The women’s support helped leverage Adekoya’s presence on social media, which in turn exposed her to high-end clientele. Adekoya credits community word-of-mouth and digital promotion for the social media craze of Fleurs et Sel.

Click here to read the full article on Good Morning America.

Black women are finally shattering the glass ceiling in dance

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Dionne Figgins, artistic director of Ballet Tech, is one of several Black women named recently to leadership posts in dance. (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)

By Sarah L. Kaufman, Washington Post

Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell knows how it feels to be the only Black dancer in the dressing room.

“Everyone was friendly, but it was a lonely feeling that nobody looked like me,” says the former star of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recalling her first dance job 30 years ago, with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

“So when it came to styling my hair, I couldn’t rely on anyone to help advise me. There were so many little things like that.”

Throughout the concert-dance world, dancers of color have often shared that sense of isolation and difference. But in recent months, some significant appointments offer hope of change. In March, Fisher-Harrell began leading the company where she once felt so alone. As the new artistic director of Hubbard Street, a widely respected contemporary troupe founded by Broadway dancer Lou Conte, she is one of very few Black women heading traditionally White-led dance organizations.

Fisher-Harrell, who most recently had been teaching at Towson University and the Baltimore School for the Arts, made changes quickly at Hubbard Street. She hired four dancers of color, bringing the total at the 14-member company to six dancers.

Three more Black women have recently assumed dance leadership roles, in front-office moves that are rare in the dance world. Each has led a distinguished performance career in premiere companies on international stages followed by years as dance educators.

Endalyn Taylor is the new dean of the dance school at the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. A former leading ballerina of Dance Theatre of Harlem, an original cast member of “The Lion King” and “Aida” on Broadway, and a dance professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Taylor succeeds former American Ballet Theatre principal Susan Jaffe.

Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post.

I am a Black female CEO, and this is how I redefined the white men’s club in tech

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CEO stock photo of two people walking on top of blue glass

BY Danielle Rose, Fast Company

Growing up in East Oakland, I personally experienced the diverse realities of the divide between the wealthy and poor, and the ricocheting effects of violence and substance abuse. My mother was the only one to graduate from college in her family and she understood the importance of education and the doors it could open.

Her determination to ensure that regardless of our socio-economic circumstances combined with the promise I showed in math and science meant that I was able to attend an affluent private boarding school at the base of Mount Diablo in California on scholarship. This is where, for the first time, I often found myself to be the only Black person in a classroom. I was isolated emotionally and physically, living in one of the wealthiest communities in the country, worlds apart from my humble Oakland beginnings.

Despite my ability to perform academically, my continued attendance at my new school was repeatedly threatened because I questioned the school administration’s exclusionary and invisibilizing practices towards students of color. Nevertheless, I thrived and I graduated. I was accepted in and awarded scholarships from 12 of the top engineering programs in the nation.

My story isn’t unique, but in many ways, it’s not nearly common enough. Education, particularly in STEM subjects, has historically been unwelcoming to young people of color. And for those passionate about STEM, there are countless hurdles including loneliness, doubt, sexism, and racism to name a few. So let’s talk about it.

EVERY EXPERIENCE IS NOT ALL GOOD OR BAD, SO KEEP LEARNING
Being Black, a woman, and an engineer I found myself shadowed by skepticism in every space I occupied from high school to the present day. In meetings, my managers would not make eye contact with me when I spoke. My ideas seemed to land only when regurgitated by white male counterparts. My white male managers questioned whether I was paid too much because they thought my clothes were too fashionable. A senior executive told me that I seemed to be a better fit working at “one of those fancy boutiques on Rodeo Drive.” With two Bachelor of Science degrees in mathematics and mechanical engineering and a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the third top engineering school in the country, I cannot say I ever contemplated working at Gucci. All of these slights told me I didn’t belong as I was, the authentic and costume-free me.

The micro and macro aggressions I experienced, while staggering and hurtful, only made me more reflective and self-aware. The times when people who looked like me and tried to minimize me, were especially informative. I used those painful interactions with people who I assumed would understand my experience as a way to deconstruct my own biases and become a stronger ally and advocate for others.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN YOU
From my early education and into my career, I was often the only Black person in a host of STEM education programs and it was lonely. I quickly grew to understand how easy it can be to look for the exit and self-opt out of spaces where you don’t see yourself represented.

Spelman College graduate Marian Wright Edelman once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” It is no coincidence that it was during my undergraduate studies at Spelman College that I realized the power of representation coupled with social and emotional support when it came to success.

CREATE NETWORKS OF PEERS, MENTORS, AND MENTEES
The importance of this can’t be understated. Who you know, and who you surround yourself with will have an incredible impact on how you envision your future and realize your maximum potential. Connect and enlist a team of people who can see you, especially when you cannot see yourself, and who are authentically committed to your success and want to support you along your journey. You need people who will nurture your spirit, remind you of how you have grown, and of your superpowers during the inevitable storms of life. You need people who will shout with joy and applaud the loudest when you win because your wins are their wins.

LEVERAGE PERCEIVED EXCEPTIONALISM RATHER THAN INTERNALIZE IT
Ursula Burns, the first Black woman to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Xerox), writes about how there was a pattern where her colleagues would reconcile her success as a Black woman by elevating her to an “exceptional status.” They viewed her as incredibly gifted, instead of any other talented and hardworking Black person.

I lived this early on in my career. As an “only” or one of a few Black women in my engineering classes at Georgia Tech, the labs at NASA, the meetings at BP, and countless other spaces, I became the unicorn in the room. My achievements became my last name. When I was introduced it was, “This is Danielle. She has degrees from… She’s worked at…” Folks thought they were being complimentary, but instead, it felt “othering.”

What were considered rare accomplishments for someone who looked like me became the buoys that I grabbed hold of when I found myself in spaces that were not welcoming or generative to my professional development. I used the perceived exceptionalism to access roles and responsibilities that would otherwise have been considered uncustomary or too high-risk for someone with my academic and professional background. I successfully pivoted from engineering to working on a trade floor, to retail and marketing—all for the same company.

Click here to read the full article on Fast Company.

Prime Universal Network, a husband and wife-owned, positive content television network signs with Hisense, the third largest TV manufacturer in the world

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PRIME Universal logo

Prime Universal Network, a division of Prime Local TV Network, Inc., has signed a distribution agreement with international manufacturer, Hisense, and their content platform VIDAA. They will place Prime Universal Network’s positive content TV App onto 140 million currently purchased televisions and an additional 30+ million new televisions annually.

Prime Universal Network’s content platform called – The Positive People Platform, came into existence in 2018 after Rodney and Holly Harris began their search for positive and uplifting human interest stories being showcased on a consistent basis.

The Positive People Platform offers only positive content produced by the couple and other content producers, with a variety of short stories, sports, documentaries, and events. Their platform showcases the positive and unique experiences of ordinary people.

Mission – To change the negative narrative and misunderstanding that positive content means boring. Positive can be and is exciting, interesting, and informative. Our world already has enough negative content.

History – How did they get started in media? Born in the Akron/Canton region of Ohio, they began covering their hometown hero, LeBron James, when he played with both Cleveland/Miami NBA teams. They also covered most of his NBA Finals games.

13 things you didn’t know about Shonda Rhimes

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Shonda Rhimes

For as long as Twitter’s been around, every Thursday night, the timeline is flooded with tweets cursing Shonda Rhimes’ name, usually, for something devastating that’s happened on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Even though she hasn’t been the showrunner of “Grey’s” for a few years, she will forever be linked to the hugely successful, 17-season-long (and counting!) medical drama. But Rhimes has done plenty of other things in her career, including writing two films and a memoir.

Rhimes, who now lives in Los Angeles, is so dedicated to her home city that she gets Chicago deep-dish pizza flown in every Christmas Eve, she told Food & Wine in 2017. Her favorite comes from Illinois restaurant chain Aurelio’s, she told the publication.

She’s the youngest of six kids — two older brothers and three older sisters. While growing up in University Park, she shared a room with one of her sisters, Sandie, she wrote in her book, “Year of Yes.” Both of her parents were educators.

Rhimes earned her BA from Dartmouth College.

Much like her own creation Meredith Grey, Rhimes graduated from Dartmouth College. She even cameoed as herself in fellow Dartmouth grad Mindy Kaling’s show “The Mindy Project,” when she attended a Dartmouth alumni beer pong game. After Dartmouth, she earned her MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television in 1994.

Read ten more interesting facts about Shonda Rhimes at Insider.

Soul Life Travel, the First Black and Women-Owned Travel Agency in Costa Rica

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Soul Life Travel, the First Black and Women-Owned Travel Agency in Costa Rica

By Yamily Habib, Be Latina

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a myriad of things in the way we live. Not only did we learn to value our personal spaces and our community solidarity, but we put into perspective the way we travel and the value we place on freedom of movement.

Combined, these learnings have made us more sensitive to the fair representation and authenticity of our experiences.

For Sadie Jordan and Emily Orgias, these life lessons came to fruition in Soul Life Travel, the first Black and women-owned travel agency in Costa Rica — Jordan’s mother’s native home (Jordan was born in the States).

After years of giving travel tips to their family and friends in the region, always trying to bring value to the authenticity of the Caribbean, Jordan founded Soul Life Travel; Orgias joined her afterward as a travel specialist.

This agency combines their decade-long experience in the travel industry and their more than fifteen years of personal globetrotting.

Soul Life travel offers unique and authentic trips that compete with irresponsible tourism, which poses a growing threat to local culture, especially in Costa Rica.

“We believe that sustainable travel is both possible and essential, which is why we craft exciting tours that highlight, not harm, the essence of places you visit,” the founders explain on their website “Our personal connection to the region not only enhances our expertise and commitment to the local community but also motivates us to carefully design tours that are tailored to every desire in your dream trip.”

As Jordan told Travel Noire, there are many things people don’t know about Afro-Caribbean Costa Rican culture. With Soul Life Travel, the founders hope people will learn by researching and planning trips for them. Their goal is to bring people together around culture, wellness, and adventure in the often forgotten Caribbean coast.

“I created Soul Life Travel to show Black and brown people our cultures. A lot of things connect us, whether it be our cuisine or how our mama’s throw down in the kitchen, and so many experiences,” Jordan said.

Soul Life Travel offers many tours, including “A Taste of Costa Rica,” “A Week In Costa Rica,” and “Afro-Caribbean Costa Rica.”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

11 Gorgeous Afro-Latinx-Owned Online Shops To Support During National Black Business Month

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Afro-Latinx Owned products

By Andrea Reindl, Mitu

August is National Black Business Month and this year, there’s no better time to support Black businesses. After the racial reckoning of 2020, many of us are still educating ourselves on structural racism and the impact it’s had on Black business owners and generational wealth. And part of that education includes shopping at Black-owned businesses.

Luckily, there are Black entrepreneurs out there who are following their dreams and making money moves. Here is a list of Afro-Latinx-owned businesses you can shop at online.

Azteca Negra

Azteca Negra was founded by Jefa Marisol Catchings, who identifies as Chicana and Black. Her online store started off selling colorful hand-crafted headwraps, but since the pandemic, she has also expanded into selling face masks as well. Buy the Mami & Me Princesa Headwrap Set (pictured) for $38.00.

La Boticá Studios

Founded by Afro-Dominicana Dawn Marie West, La Boticá Studios is what she describes as a “luxury fragrance brand” that is “rooted in culture.” With scents like “Flor de Selva” and “República,” her candles are sure to transport you to the Caribbean. Candles start at $78.00.

Coffee Del Mundo

Belizean coffee connoisseur Jonathan Kinnard founded Coffee Del Mundo’s to “help people rediscover coffee the way it was meant to be enjoyed.” So unnatural additives are a no-no. You can get pods or whole beans via delivery. Buy a bag of El Salvador Whole Bean (pictured) for $13.50.

The Cozy Cup Tea

The Cozy Cup Tea was founded by a New York Dominicana who loves tea. While she throws tea party events for the tea-lovers out there, she also sells Caribbean-inspired tea on her website. Buy all teas starting at $10.00.

Breukelen Rub Spice Co.

Breukelen Rub Spice Co. is a Flatbush-located spice brand that produces hyperlocal artisanal spice blends and dry-rubs. Founded by Afro-Puerto Rican chef, Chef JD, Breukelen Rub Spice Co.’s most popular spice blend is the all-purpose, nostalgic spice blend Abuela’s Adobo. Buy for $15.00.

Reina Skincare

Inspired by her own skin troubles, Panamanian Jefa Adriana Isabel Robinson Rivera created a skincare brand fit for a queen. She sells everything from cleansers to toners to serums to oil. Browse their catalog.

Coco and Breezy Eyewear

Famous Afro-Puerto Rican twin DJs Corianna and Brianna Dotson created this luxury eyewear line as a creative experiment. Their brand has since achieved wild success. These are luxury eyewear, so the price point starts at $285.00.

Peralta Project

First-generation Dominican, M. Tony Peralta founded the Peralta Project. According to his website, his designs explore blackness in Dominican identity and pay homage to old-school hip-hop. This shirt is available for $35.00.

Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry

Valerie Madison is a fine jewelry business that describes itself as sells Black-Latina owned. The luxury retailer sells engagement rings, wedding bands, and other fine jewelry. These indulgences are a once-in-a-lifetime type of splurge, so prices vary.

Pisqueya Hot Sauce

Pisqueya hot sauce was created by Maritza Abreu from a recipe handed down “through a family of Dominican cooks.” With three delicious flavors (Smoky Hot, Medium Buzz, and Spicy Sweet), you’ll find a sauce for every occasion. Sauces sell for $6.99 each.

Click here to read the full article on Mitu.

All-Black women crew operates American Airlines flight from Dallas in honor of trailblazer Bessie Coleman

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In honor of the 100th anniversary of Bessie Coleman becoming the first Black woman to earn a pilot's license, American Airlines operated a flight from Dallas to Phoenix with an all-Black female crew.

By Emma Tucker, CNN

An all-Black female crew operated an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Phoenix in honor of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license in 1921.

The airline hosted the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars tour this week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Coleman performing the first public flight by an African American woman in 1922. “She bravely broke down barriers within the world of aviation and paved the path for many to follow,” American Airlines said in a statement. Coleman’s great-niece, Gigi Coleman, was hosted on the flight operated by the all-Black female crew of pilots, flight attendants, customer service coordinators, cargo team members and the aviation maintenance technician, the airline said. “I’m grateful for American Airlines to give us this opportunity to highlight my great aunt’s accomplishments in the field of aviation,” Gigi said in a video posted by American Airlines titled “Empowering Women in the Skies.”

Very few American women of any race had pilot’s licenses by 1918, but those who did were often White and rich. Undeterred, Coleman learned French and moved to Paris and was accepted by the Caudron Brothers School of Aviation. In 1921, Coleman became the first female pilot of African American and Native American descent.

Coleman died at 34 in 1926 during a practice run with another pilot. While she never fulfilled her dream to open a flight school for future Black pilots, Coleman’s imprint on aviation history lives on, CNN previously reported.

Black women have been “notably underrepresented in the aviation industry, especially as pilots, representing less than 1% in the commercial airline industry,” American Airlines said.

“Today, I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of the crew where we are inspiring young girls, young girls of color, to see the various roles that these women play in every aspect to make this flight possible,” Captain Beth Powell, the flight’s pilot, said in the video.

American Airlines said it is committed to diversifying the flight deck, which includes “expanding awareness of and increasing accessibility to the pilot career within diverse communities” through its cadet academy.

The day after the historic flight, representatives from the Bessie Coleman Foundation and American Airlines pilots and cadets met with students at the Academies at South Mountain in Phoenix, where the flight landed, to expose young people to careers in the aviation industry.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Certification: The Best Gift You Can Give Your Business

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Closeup of woman's hand iworking by touching laptop

By Natalie Rodgers

Being able to call yourself an official Minority-owned Business Enterprise (MBE) is more than just its title. In fact, when you become certified as an MBE, there are a surplus of benefits that can help you to grow your business in ways that weren’t possible before certification. So, whether you’ve been certified for years or you’re wondering if the application process is worth your time, here are four ways that certification can benefit you.

Funding

It can be difficult to acquire the necessary funding for any business, but when you become achieve certification, you gain access to lucrative and competitive financial opportunities. Funding programs vary according to what agency certifies your business, but nearly every agency has special opportunities that aren’t available to the public. For example, the Small Business Administration offers special set-aside contracts for those in their SBA contracting-assistance programs and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) offers grants, exclusively to companies that are certified under their agency. While there is funding available for non-certified businesses, becoming certified allows you to utilize as many resources as possible.

Networking

Having a support system is one of the most important aspects of any kind of endeavor from business aspirations to personal projects. This is especially true when it comes to small business owners and entrepreneurs. When you earn your certification, you gain access to a network of other minority-owned businesses under your agency that can blossom into mentorships, business partnerships, financial partnerships and even general support systems that can help you navigate the new world of business ownership. NMSDC, for example, holds various networking events, job fairs and conferences throughout the year that give NMSDC-certified businesses the space and resources to discuss all aspects of their operations. Since the events of COVID-19, there has been the addition of more virtual networking events that allow small businesses to better connect with one another despite their distance. While networking is possible despite certification, becoming certified is one of the easiest ways to gain access to the people you need to make your business succeed

Corporate Partnerships

Not only does certification connect you with other small businesses, but also to large-scale corporations. Especially today, large corporations are more interested than ever in increasing their supplier diversity initiatives and partnerships. In order to do this, corporations depend on small businesses to connect them to other small businesses that can help them hit their supplier diversity program goals. By becoming a certified MBE, your business greatly increases its chances of becoming a partner with big name banks, retail stores, shipping services, digital providers and corporations of all kinds. Not only can you increase your revenue stream, but you can also expose your company’s brand to a larger audience and funding pool.

Resources

Becoming certified also gives you access to resources and trainings that you can utilize to expand your knowledge and skillset in any area of business. While the types of resources and trainings differ per certifier, some of the most common programs available to MBEs are specialized financing, training workshops, educational programs, career fairs, professional business advice, mentorship, technical assistance and management training. These events are often exclusive to MBEs in your certification and are one of the best hotspots to obtain all of the tools you need for every stage of your company.

Taking the next step into certification can feel like taking a step into the unknown, but in the long run, the rewards that come from certification are some of the greatest gifts you can give towards your company’s success.

Sources: Small Business Administration, Zen Business

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. National College Resources Foundation Upcoming Events–Mark Your Calendar!
    September 24, 2022 - April 1, 2023
  4. ROMBA Conference
    October 6, 2022 - October 8, 2022
  5. City of Los Angeles Workshop – Navigating City Contracting Opportunities
    October 27, 2022
  6. NMSDC 50th Anniversary Conference & Exchange
    October 30, 2022 - November 2, 2022
  7. NBIC Unity Week 2022
    November 15, 2022 - November 18, 2022
  8. CSUN 38th Annual Assistive Technology Conference
    March 13, 2023 - March 17, 2023