What inspired you to start your business?
I'm very vocal about on the disparities that occur in communities of color regarding education, specifically literacy. With over a decade of knowledge working with youth and communities as a Teacher, Assistant Principal, and now as a Professor; that is a pretty normal conversation. Courtney Thompson, Co-Founder of YES, on the other hand, is very vocal about all business, marketing, and organizational change. With over a decade of working in corporate America; that is a pretty normal conversation. One day those worlds collided with an incident with one of our young family members and their school. The issue wasn’t about behavior but their reading level. The school wanted to hold the child back, and we knew this was correct. Incorrect because I knew the child's capability because I purchased books on a frequent basis to stretch and increase her reading level. For months, Courtney watched a back and forth battle, as I advocated for our family members (child and parents) and eventually had the child retested; to find she was way above reading level. Courtney and I began to ponder. How many parents go through this each year? Who advocates for those children? How do parents build skills to advocate for their child? If a child needed help, do all parents have those skills? What if parents don’t have the resources to support their child? And the list goes on. The rest is herstory.
What do you love about being a Black Woman Business Owner?
In 2018, there were 2.4 million African American women-owned businesses in 2018. Black women are the only racial or ethnic group with more business ownership than their male peers, according to the Federal Reserve. I am truly proud to be 1 of the 2.4 million Black women who decided to invest in their idea and invest in my community.
What are the biggest obstacles you see for Black Women Business Owners?
I could name several obstacles that we as black women face in business, but I want I’ll wander outside the norm and say Black Women Business Owners are an obstacle for other Black Women Business Owners. When you look at the history of women across the world, women create an advantage when they are united. This unification is based on a common goal even if there are different religions, beliefs, ethnicities, etc. present. What if Black Women Business Owners came together with a positive velocity and created infrastructures that ultimately supported ourselves. What if Black Women Business Owners with the same business (e.g., beauty stores, consulting firms, real estate companies, etc.) created enterprises that ultimately took over the market instead of individual companies representing a small market share. What if Buy from a Black Woman became the one stop shop for all things business of consumer demand to shop solely with Black Women Business Owners. What if……
How do you define success?
Success is creating confident readers. At YES we define confident readers as those who can read, write, listen, speak, and question. Of course, we would like to create hundreds of thousands of confident readers, but there is something about seeing one child grow and bloom. With the support of parents, caregivers, and community organizations confident readers can be developed and we find that very successful.
How do you start your day?
Team Prayer. It’s a two-part prayer. First, we give thanks for the many things our creator has done in our lives. Second, we ask to be salt and light in this world. We want to make an impact by creating lifelong literacy experiences for communities of color. We want children to read towards liberation and change systems of inequity one book at a time. We believe in the power of saying YES!
If you had reset button to start all over, what would you do differently? Why?
Hard question. Of course there were mistakes along the way as we learned. But then there is large piece of me that wouldn't change a thing. James Baldwin said, “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” We know from whence we came. We reflected. We have our lessons learned. And we tried again. YES has absolutely no limitations on where it will go.
What is a word that describes you?
What's the best advice you've ever received?
Advice: There will be a day when you have to choose between the dollar and your purpose; stay rooted in what you believe. In our first year of founding YES, several people have asked us to change portions of our content to make to appeal to a bigger audience, specifically a different ethnicity group. The funding is there if you change; it goes away if you don’t. We decided to stay rooted and we know that someone will believe in our purpose to adequately fund our cause.
How has, if in anyway, Buy from a Black Woman help you with your business journey?
Motivation! It is extremely hard to keep pushing forward when all odds are against you. Each day, Buy from a Black Woman provides a reminder to keep on keeping on! To love myself in the process and dig in dipper to press forward. It’s a needed reminder. Thank you!
Anything else you would like to add to our readers?
Choose to live life and not just survive! Take a risk!
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