Feature:DWomoh-Piper Twins

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Danielle and Chantelle Dwomoh-Piper are Models, bloggers and Designers based in New York.Since the start of their journey in fashion they have been blazing the fashion trail with features in WWD,Elle SA,Essence,HuffingtonPost, Lucky Magazine, Marie Claire, Buzzfeed and The New York Daily Newspaper, as well as appearances on the Rachael Ray Show, NBC’s Today Show, Good Morning America, and placements in Vogue Japan and so much more. Their designs have also been exhibited at fashion weeks all over the world, including New York Fashion Week, Arise Magazine Fashion Week, Glitz Africa Fashion week in Ghana, Caribbean International Fashion Week, Fashion week in Los Angeles and their talent has been recognized on a wide array of media platforms in New York and beyond. Celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o Jojo, Chrisette Michele,Angela Simmons,Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes, Karen Civil, Towanda Braxton and others have been spotted wearing their designs.
Born to a Caribbean mom and an African dad, the DPiperTwins embrace their roots and display it in every collection through a bold and vibrant combination of colorful African print designs. They were born in New York but raised in Ghana and later came back to the United States to pursue their dreams. They graduated from The High School of Fashion Industries as well as the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology with their bachelor’s degree. After graduating,Chantelle interned at Shwartz & Benjamin,which is the showroom for DVF and other brands where she worked alongside the design and marketing team. Danielle interned at Marchesa and Maggie Norris Couture, where she sharpened her skills with hands on experience.
They have used their platform to highlight brands they love. As fashion bloggers/ innovators in this industry, they have partnered with brands such as Keds, Teva, Budweiser and Chinese Laundry just to name a few.
As part of their efforts to give back, the DPiperTwins have raised funds for several non-profit organizations. They have also done charity fashion shows for Sickle Cell Anemia organization SYNC, Nyaka Aids Orphans School and New Life Orphanage in Ghana. Annually, they use a portion of their sales to purchase toys, clothes, books and other supplies for an organization in need. Recently, they spent their birthday at New Life Orphanage home in Ghana and New Years at a Village in Ghana where they gave numerous gifts to children . They hope to one day create their own non-profit organization to help further their goal of bringing smiles to the faces of people globally through their joy of fashion.

 

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Feature: Victoria Coker

Victoria Coker

Victoria Coker whom owns  ClredContent aims to become the premier source for quality black web series. The platform was created to amplify the voices of black media creators by showcasing narratives from a variety of genres, including: comedy, romance, and action. We believe that by creating a place for black people to share their stories the community will be empowered. ClredContent.com is a part of the CLRED Media, Inc.

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Amazing Women Entrepreneurs Making a Difference in the World

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If you think you have to run a billion-dollar company to make a difference in the community, think again. In a nod to this past Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (November 19), Black Enterprise caught up with two women trailblazers for their best business advice.

[RELATED: Successful Women Entrepreneurs Share the Business Rules They Didn’t Follow]

Rahama Wright is a member of President Obama’s Council On Doing Business in Africa and CEO of Shea Yeleen, a unique social enterprise and a commercial entity that sells high-quality, unrefined shea butter products, available at Whole Foods Markets.

The traditional career or business rule you’re glad you didn’t follow.
Climbing to the top of the ladder usually requires having advanced degrees and years of work experience. I broke all the rules by launching a social enterprise in my early 20s with little business background, mediocre funds, and a tiny network of friends and family. My wild idea to start a company that directly benefited rural shea butter farmers in West Africa was driven by my desire to support a better future for women and their children. My lack of experience did not factor in because what I lacked in skill I made up in heart and persistence. I was also fortunate enough to meet people with the right skills who believed in my vision and led me in the right direction.

Of course, my journey was a slow process. I call myself the 10-year overnight success! It took about 7 years before I was able to get my products into retail and adequate funding to scale the business from a strictly e-commerce platform to over 100 retail locations, including Whole Foods Market. If I had chosen a more traditional career path, I know for a fact I would not wake up every day enjoying the work that I do!

When you first started in the business, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Shea Yeleen offers a premium shea butter product. We create living wages by supporting women-owned cooperatives in Northern Ghana to make a value-added product, the unrefined shea butter, instead of harvesting the seeds at a much lower cost and much lower profit. To succeed, we needed to get our products in major retailers, which presented several challenges.

When I made my initial pitch to Whole Foods Market our products were not ready to be in a major retailer. I soon learned that pitching was only part of the process and rejection was the other! After each rejection, I would take feedback and readjust and pitch again. The entire process required updating my packaging, securing investment funding, and ensuring that I had enough inventory to scale. The process was well worth it! Shea Yeleen is now sold in over 100 retail locations along the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, with new stores in the pipeline.

Many trailblazers find themselves making their own rules. What have you discovered you’d do your own way?
Starting my business at such a young age required me to always make my own rules. Probably being the eldest of five kids had an influence in my take-charge attitude that has served me well as I have developed my enterprise. Knowing early on that I was not going to follow a traditional career path required me to be a proactive problem solver, and I learned along the way.

Having to learn the business as I go makes me extremely adaptable and dedicated to finding solutions. I listen to feedback, and if it makes sense I try to implement it quickly. I take the advice I receive from vetted advisors and I trust myself to make the right decisions for my business.

The skills that I mention here are the real entrepreneur toolkit. It’s fantastic if you have an MBA or another advanced degree, but if you have an idea you believe in, you’re a problem solver, and you’re persistent, you will go very far in business.

Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning writer and digital strategist covering everything from technology and social injustice to comedy and travel. She’s worked with a variety of major brands, such as XFINITY Comcast, Target, BET, Nielsen, HGTV, Verizon, and Toyota. She’s also co-founder of The Red Pump Project, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. And she’s working on her first book, titled I’m Judging You, to be released in 2016.

When you first started in the business, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was charging what I was worth because I thought people and companies would walk away from me if they thought I was too expensive. So I’d lowball myself and then end up getting cheated because it seems that during those times when you make concessions, people will ask you for more. They pay a nickel and want a dollar worth of work. I finally had to stand strong and realize that I bring a lot of value to the table, so I’m worth what I ask for, and people can walk away. Those are not the ones I should be working with, because when people come to me for anything, it should be because they know I am the best choice. It was a tough lesson in making sure people do not take advantage of you.

We have to learn to ask for what we want with an exclamation point and not a question mark. It’s a continuous lesson, though. It never stops.

 

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Entrepreneur Talks Finding Success by Creating Her Own Dream Job

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Monica G. Coleman, founder & president of M320 Consulting, breathes life into the quote: ‘your dream job doesn’t exist, you must create it.’ “I kept landing what I thought were ‘dream jobs’ but still felt like something was missing,” said Coleman. I knew that I wanted to work in the sports and entertainment industry, but I also enjoyed some aspects of brand development and traditional marketing.

Many people felt that these two worlds were completely separate, but I saw an opportunity to combine the best of both worlds, so I launched M320 Consulting. I wanted to be at the intersection between key consumer lifestyle touchpoints like music, fashion, entertainment and corporate brands; specifically among multicultural consumers. This may seem common now, but 10 -15 years ago, companies were still figuring how to authentically connect with multicultural consumers.”

[Related: From Intern to CEO: Glenda Smith Talks What it Takes to Run a Successful Nonprofit]

Coleman’s marketing and communications firm, which is based in Atlanta, Ga., has worked with a few global heavy hitters. “Our first client was Magic Johnson’s Burger King Restaurants, which was huge for a brand new agency,” said Coleman. “However, the client trusted us, we delivered, and we’ve been growing as a multicultural marketing agency ever since.” Other clients include Pepsi, Lexus, The Home Depot, entertainment properties like Funk Fest Concerts, and the Bank of American Atlanta Football Classic, and non-profits like The City of Atlanta’s Office of Recreation, and marketing agencies like GLUE, Walton, Divine Marketing Agency, and Liquid Soul Media.

When it comes to her best career advice, Coleman says, “own your truth.” “The biggest career mistake I made was letting fear guide me by taking jobs and opportunities because I wasn’t fully committed to accepting that I was an entrepreneur. I suffered and my work did too. It’s important to fully commit to what you inherently know is the path for you, and when you do, things will begin to fall into place and you’ll have a level of peace that is indescribable.”

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the enterprising trailblazer to learn more.

BlackEnterprise.com: Since starting your own business, what has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself?

Coleman: I’ve learned that I get the most professional satisfaction from helping other people’s goals and dreams become a reality. As a consultant, I’ve been able to take on clients that may have been failing, or may have known the results they’ve wanted to achieve, but lacked the strategy to get there.

What’s the biggest challenge you faced on your entrepreneurial journey?

One of my biggest challenges has been marketing my business, which is ironic because we are a full-service marketing firm. I care most about promoting and positioning my clients, so I’ve struggled with figuring out how to tell the story of what we’ve accomplished as an agency in a way that is meaningful.

The best step I’ve taken to overcome this, was hiring a firm to manage our marketing, which takes me out of the process, and that’s been great! Our new agency is helping to develop regular communication with current and potential clients, and to secure speaking engagements and other opportunities that allow me to demonstrate what the firm is delivering in the marketing space.

What are the top 3 resources you use to help manage your business?

1) A To-Do List – I start every day with this age-old tool. Some days, it may have 22 things on it, but it’s a great feeling to cross things off as they get done, and it helps me keep track of my deliverables for the day.

2) Client Communication – I make it a point of connecting with my clients by phone frequently, and I’ve found that doing this has led to honest dialogue that helps mitigate risk and sprout new ideas and programs.

3) Project Management Tools – As entrepreneurs, our instinct is usually to get going and figure things out as we go. However, as your business grows, the need to manage projects and people becomes more and more important. I use something internally called a project grid, and it allows me to track key project deliverables and timing. You can also simply create a formula that works well for you in Excel.

What are things women can do to break barriers?

Gender barriers exist, but I believe that the vast majority of professionals want to work with and learn from talented people who are going to produce results – regardless of gender. The first thing women should do is have confidence that their professional experience, expertise, and preparation have given them the right to contend at the same level as men in their desired professions. Work from a place of belonging and not a place of asking permission.

Another suggestion is to have a male mentor who is interested in your professional development. This can definitely help broaden your perspective about business and building relationships in general.

You have some pretty well-known corporate clients. Any secrets or inside tips to landing major clients? 

At M320, we focus on two key things: relationships and results. We’re interested in fully understanding our clients’ business because it makes us better able to service them, and we arm them with the metrics and tools that they need to look great internally, which makes us a valued partner.

You’re also a mom  juggling the demands of business and family. Any tips or advice for making it all work?

Balancing family and business is something that many entrepreneurs continuously try to master. Two of the most important things that I’ve learned are:

For The Entrepreneur – Your family probably doesn’t understand exactly what you do or how much work and time it takes, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t love and support you! Communication is extremely important in helping your spouse, parents and friends understand how they can best support you. Don’t assume that they’ll never ‘get it’! Spend time bringing them into your world by sharing details about your day, your work as it’s in progress, or challenges that you’re having, and it will often help increase both their understanding and support.

For the Family Member – Let go of the traditional idea of ‘normal’ because many entrepreneurs don’t work ‘normal’ hours or have ‘normal’ business habits. Clinging to what is supposed to be normal can lead to friction, misunderstanding, and resentment. Spend time collaborating with the entrepreneur in your life to determine what your normal can potentially be, and focus on that.

 

 

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Whitney White Turned Her YouTube Platform into a Booming Natural Hair Career

Whitney White

Whitney White (better known to her millions of followers as Naptural85) has been dominating YouTube since 2008, when she chopped off her relaxed air and decided to document it’s growth. When White started making videos, YouTube wasn’t yet monetized and she wasn’t getting paid by sponsors either. White made natural hair videos out of a simple passion for her hair.

[Related: Save the Date: Women of Power Summit 2016]

“The thing about YouTube is that it wasn’t a career back then. It was just a bunch of weirdos,” White told Business Insider. “If I told anyone I made videos on YouTube, they’d look at me like I was crazy.”

 YouTube has become, not only a community for like-minded black women to come and share beauty tips and explore their natural mane, its also a place where they are able to earn a living by assisting major brands in navigating the natural hair world. White’s love for the hobby paid off. According to Business Insider, White now make twice as much as a YouTuber than she did as an entry level graphic designer.

The black hair industry is now a $2.7 billion business and has seen a 7% increase since 2013, according to a 2015 report by market research firm Mintel, and can expect “more robust growth” in the next five years.

White tells Business Insider that her partnership with hair mecca Carol’s Daughter, is one of her most cherished relationships. But even when she’s taking on sponsored deals, White makes sure to remain transparent and authentic to the products that she likes.

[RELATED: Meet the First African American Woman to Hold a Patent for a Natural Hair Product]

“I try not to promote anything I wouldn’t personally purchase,” says White. “I’ve turned down a lot of money … I’ve turned down deals from huge companies … because I didn’t like the ingredients in the product.”

To learn more about White and her YouTube empire, click on ‘source’ also check out one of her videos on our ‘source’ page.

 

 

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Young Entrepreneur Turns Class Project into Successful Kids Transportation Company

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Every day millions of parents struggle with transporting their children to and from school, extracurricular activities, and events. Whether it’s because they don’t have the time or could use a helping hand, managing a child’s daily schedule, as well as their own, can feel like a stressful part-time job. Enter KidzCab, a transportation service for children ages 4-16, providing a sigh of relief for many parents in the Michigan, area.

[Related: 6 Reasons All Business Owners Should Register Trademarks]

“The idea for my company stemmed from a marketing assignment I had in school, where I had to come up with a product or service and write a paper on it. Once I started researching it, I thought maybe I could really create this,” said Aireal Taylor, the founder of KidzCab.

Fresh off the heels of resigning from her steady job in administration and accounting, Taylor is solely focused on running KidzCab full-time. She has 3 KidzCab vehicles. She’s booked for the mornings and afternoons for the entire school year, and she expects to average about 6 trips per day, per vehicle.

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the ambitious leader to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.

BlackEnterprise.com: What makes your business different than other child transportation-related businesses?

Taylor: We use a fleet technology system that tracks our vehicles in real-time and provides destination alerts to parents. We also provide booster seats for children; one less thing parents have to worry about.

Describe the long-term vision or goals that you have for your business?

I’d like to see Kidz Cab’s outside of almost every school in Michigan. I’d also like to begin offering franchise options in other states.

What have you been most surprised to learn about yourself?

I’ve learned that I can really make things happen when I need to. If one way doesn’t work out, I figure out something else to make it work.

What do you believe is your greatest achievement personally and/or professionally?

My greatest achievement personally is following my dance dream and becoming an NBA dancer. My greatest achievement professionally would definitely be becoming an entrepreneur, [which is] difficult and scary.

What do you wish you had known then, that you know now?

I wish I knew that things are harder than they look or seem! Ha!

What, in your opinion, is a huge myth about entrepreneurship?

I think most times people believe that entrepreneurship is singular, as in only you, but you really need a good support system around you, in my opinion, to thrive. I’ve had very good resources that helped me tremendously. I did a lot by myself but not nearly all of it.

What resources do you use daily to help manage your business?

Michigan SBA, Entrepreneur Magazine App, my mother and my husband.

What qualities have helped you succeed thus far?

My dedication is the main quality that’s helped me succeed. Starting a business is extremely difficult and I truly wanted to quit many times, but my dedication to this dream helped me push through.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a young woman who wants to be the next successful entrepreneur?

Plan, plan, and plan some more. Completing a business plan took my business idea to a completely different level. Business plans force you to think about the ‘not so fun stuff’ that could really affect your business if not thought through properly.

Since launching your business, what has been your biggest challenge?

I think not giving up after hearing many ‘no’s.’ But I knew I had a good idea that I could execute with time and I didn’t let anyone change my mind about that.

 

 

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An Internship’s Other Purpose

Young pretty editor smiling at camera with colleague working beh

Internships serve many purposes: to expose you to potential careers, to give you work experience, to help you build professional skills, for network purposed, and to help you decide exactly what you want to do … right?

[RELATED: Tips for Landing a Last-Minute Internship]

Well, internships also serve another purpose—to show you what you don’t want to do. There is a difference between hating your internship and dreading coming to work, and simply realizing this is not the type of work you want to do for the rest of your life. My only advice for those who are offered a job they can’t stand is to be thankful for the opportunity, graciously rescind the offer, and be proactive in securing opportunities that better suit you.

Realizing early on that the internship’s requirements and assignments do not align with your goals and passions is beneficial. Understand that most internships will involve busy work and menial tasks, but it is up to the intern to be ambitious in acquiring meaningful work. When you are given assignments with substance and still aren’t stimulated, that internship may not best suit your potential. This realization helps you ‘X’ out what you are not interested in. Again, this is beneficial. Unless you are the person who’s set on what you want to do, there are so many options.

If you want to go into business, there is entrepreneurialism, marketing, management consulting, trade, and law. Internships you don’t connect with can help you narrow down your potential career path. For example, an internship at a medium-sized, somewhat well-known company may have you working on a little bit of everything: marketing, management consulting, and communications. But you’ve discovered that you’re most engaged when working on marketing assignments. Wonderful! You are finding your passion and showing your supervisor and the other executives that this is an area where you blossom, and this is why they need your marketing skills to propel the company.

It is imperative to still fulfill the requirements of the whole internship, but allow yourself the opportunity to share ideas with your supervisor. There’s nothing worse than having an intern that does not do what is expected of them. If you are working in the editorial department with a current degree track in advertising, take it upon yourself to construct an advertising project of new ideas and ways the company can excel in advertising. Remember, even if you are not fond of the internship, that should be all the more reason to create something you do like that will also help the company.

Also, go to a meeting you think you have no interest in. (It could become interesting!) Talk to people, research something, ask your supervisor about other work/internship opportunities. They might just know someone with your same interests. This will disguise your dispassion for your current work, and the higher-ups will notice you and appreciate your thought process and ability.

Overall, the best way to avoid an internship that doesn’t fully engage you is to be proactive in searching for internship that does. Every media major’s dream is to intern with Viacom, or Goldman Sachs if you’re a business major. But these programs are highly competitive so having a solid Plan B is critical. After all, an internship is meant to give you a taste of a particular career, to teach you things about yourself and help you make smart career decisions. Knowing that you aren’t very happy where you are opens your mind to other careers you might be better suited for.

 

 

 

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