If you looked at last year as a game of chess … 2015 was a year filled with game-changing moves made by queens of color from around the world; an empowering and entrepreneurial continuum. In other words, checkmate fellas.
Research from the “2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” has shown that from 1997 to 2015, women-owned businesses increased by 74%, which is 1.5 times the national average. Also, out of the 30% of businesses owned by women, 14% are African American women-owned.
First move … Activist and photographer of thecritically acclaimed Because of Them, We Can campaign, Eunique Jones Gibson partnered with Nickelodeon to air three 30-second PSAs for Black History Month. The PSAs featured children dressed as African American historical figures including Maya Angelou, Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. Through www.Nick.com, children could read a variety of historical facts and view history-based video clips. Gibson’s Because of Them, We Can campaign was started in 2013 to empower and build self-esteem in all people through capturing children dressed as African American figures in history both well-known and not-as-known.
Second move …Muhga Eltigani, University of Pennsylvania graduate launched NaturAll Club. Eltigani was inspired by her culture, as long hair is a sign of beauty, however, Eltigani’s hair was not as healthy as it should be. So, Eltigani began to make organic hair products at home and in time NaturAll Club was her power move. As a senior in college, Eltigani participated in a fellowship, Venture For America where she gained training, tips and assistance for building and starting her company. In March 2015, NaturAll Club, a subscription-based service delivering organic hair products to customers worldwide was official up and running. With NaturAll Club (www.naturallclub.com) users log on, select hair treatment area of choice, their desired time of treatment and monthly products will arrive at their doorstep.
Third move …April 3rd during Richmond’s First Fridays was the grand opening of Hannah Attia’s one-stop shop for unique, vintage pieces from varieties of contemporary designers, Soul.Eil. Attia started Soul.Eil in January 2014 and launched online in July 2014. Attia was inspired by her fashion experience at Washington, DC boutique, Annie Creamcheese where she was the youngest buyer and manager.
Women have proven this year not only to be entrepreneurs but also to be vital empowering speakers to the masses on the need for diversity in all realms of our lives.
Fourth move … Founder of MOGUL, Tiffany Pham was invited in June to be a participant in the Millennials Making Global Impact Panel at the 2015 Global Diversity Leadership Exchange Forum. Pham spoke on the global impact MOGUL has had on women since the launch in 2014 as women from over 196 countries and 20,651 cities worldwide have visited. MOGUL was created as an online platform to give women around the world the ability to access, post and share stories, jobs and products based on their interests.
Being a part of male-dominated fields of work and surpassing male counterparts was a big power move for women in 2015.
Fifth move …Jacqueline Majors’ public relations firm J Majors & Associatesin Richmond, California was recognized as small business of the year. Majors was recognized for her work as co-owner of Majors Foundation, a construction company.
Sixth move …Tani Brown became Head of Partnerships at Jopwell, an online platform that bridges the gap between minority candidates with top-tier employers. Brown’s position is extremely important and vital to the company’s success and ultimately candidates’ success as she makes sure there is a range of businesses and fields that are partnered with Jopwell.
Checkmate…I’ll leave you with this final thought by Margot Dorfman, U.S Women’s Chamber of Commerce CEO
“Women of color, when you look at the statistics, are impacted more significantly by all of the negative factors that women face. It’s not surprising that they have chosen to invest in themselves.”
Ashleigh Boisseau is a feminist with plans to use her passion for communications to advocate and empower anyone she can. She is alumna from VCU with degrees in Mass Communication and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies. She also is a former contributor to emPower and RVAMag/GayRVA. If she can inspire a few, she’s happy!