Here at Chime, we support the fight for racial justice, and we believe in lending our platform to those whose voices may not always be heard. So this February, we wanted to celebrate Black History Month by giving the mic to Black female business owners across the country — many of whom have overcome untold barriers to make their dreams come true.
We asked these entrepreneurs what Black History Month means to them, and what’s giving them hope for the year ahead. Here’s what they had to say:
Jennifer Ledwith | Scholar Ready
For the past 16 years, Jennifer Ledwith’s company has taught math and personal essay writing, as well as prepped students for dreaded exams like the PSAT, SAT, and ACT.
“Black History Month means recognizing the full humanity of Black people. There’s not a right way to be Black. Black people — whether classy, bougie, ratchet, or a combination of the three; dark-skinned or light-skinned; country or urbane; degreed or non-degreed; married parent or single parent; straight or queer — are valuable because we are human beings.”
In the coming year, Ledwith is drawing inspiration from her students, who inspire her to be “unashamedly Black” — and who have become more vocal about racial injustice in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. As they become the next generation’s leaders, she hopes they’ll use their education to help dismantle white supremacy.
Chauniqua Major-Louis | Major’s Project Pop
Though Chauniqua Major-Louis always loved popcorn, she didn’t love the long list of unpronounceable ingredients. So, in 2017, she cooked up her own kettle corn that was 100% vegan and organic. She now offers a handful of flavors, including a “Celebrate Black Lives” bag.
“Black History Month means the world to me. For 28 days, the country interrupts its normal conversation to talk about my people! We all get a healthy dose of Black history and culture, and I get an opportunity to learn about people who were and are change agents in our world.”
In recent months, Major-Louis has been inspired by the number of people who are talking about race, even when it’s uncomfortable. Looking toward the future, she hopes Black people will continue to be at the forefront of the national conversation — not solely because of tragedies, but because Black stories “are just as rich and meaningful” as everyone else’s.
Rosie Myers | Resistance Fashion
After witnessing the turmoil of 2020, Rosie Myers created her clothing line as a way to celebrate and uplift Black people. Her shop features tees and sweatshirts with phrases like “The best way to fight an oppressive culture is to embrace your own.”
“Black History Month is so important to me because I’m reminded of the strength that flows through my veins and the veins of Black people. When we were told ‘no’ and treated as second class citizens, we made our own way.”
Last year’s protests against racial injustice were the impetus for Myers’ business — and they continue to be a source of inspiration today. Because “so many Black people embraced their culture and stood in their power,” she believes 2021 holds positive changes for both entrepreneurs and the Black community at large.
Erma Williams | The Pomade Shop
In her online shop, Erma Williams sells pomades that help you style, moisturize, and grow your hair. Her products are handmade and all natural, filled with yummy ingredients like cocoa butter, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary, and coffee.
“For me, Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect on my ancestral roots and use that history to continue the tradition of creation and invention. I’m thankful to live in a time where I have the option of supporting myself through entrepreneurship and forming a collective with other Black entrepreneurs.”
As for what’s giving her hope for 2021, she cited the recent surge of support for small businesses, especially Black-owned ones, as it has reaffirmed the fact her products and presence are both necessary and valuable.
Christina Garrett | The Momathon Diaries
Christina Garrett, a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of five, provides coaching in productivity and organization to other “brilliant but busy” women with families. By sharing strategies in time management and self-care, she helps women stave off those all-too-common feelings of overwhelm, burnout, and frustration.
“Black History Month is monumental to our family, as we are always trying to help our five children see their blackness in a powerful way. It is a time to honor those who have gone before us, and a time to help our children embrace the tenacity and value that Black people have always brought to history.”
Garrett’s drawing optimism from her family and online community for the year ahead. She believes “greatness is on the way,” and is confident she has what it takes to bring it closer every single day.
Alexis Perkins | Chair One Fitness
When Alexis Perkins realized her grandmother couldn’t partake in the Zumba classes she loved, Perkins designed a fun, total body workout anyone could do while sitting in a chair. She now shares her program through online videos and instructor trainings.
“Black History Month embodies the idea of looking back to see how far we’ve come. It’s also a time to highlight some great accomplishments made by people of color that were downplayed in history books.”
Despite the challenges presented by 2020, Perkins is hopeful the world will remain united after overcoming the pandemic together. She’s also hopeful we’ll begin to see “real change” in the United States now that “the band-aid of racism has been ripped off.”
Simone Magee | Dress Downs
Tired of her city’s famous wind causing one too many wardrobe malfunctions, Chicago resident Simone Magee decided to take matters into her own hands. She invented reusable garment weights that stick to hemlines, so no one has to worry about how the windy city might interfere with any given outfit.
“As an inventor myself, Black History Month is a joyful reminder of how capable we can be despite the challenges — social, economic, academic — that other people place in front of us. When it would have been easier or more comfortable to quit, we persevered in pursuit of an idea.”
Magee, who’s looking to post-pandemic life for inspiration, decided to learn Korean in anticipation of when she can travel again. She’s excited for the day when she can put her new skills to use in a new city, communicating with locals on a level that wouldn’t have been possible before.
Tiffany Diamond | What’s Your Tea
Tiffany Diamond and her mother, who are tea fanatics, blended leaves from around the world to create four “fierce flavors” with equally fierce names like “Coconut Cali” and “Bougie Hippy.” They sell their teas in their online shop alongside cookies, coffee, and even some home decor.
“Black History Month is a celebration of our resilience. It’s a national reminder of how strong we are and what we’ve contributed to the United States — which is a lot. While Black people celebrate our history all the time, this is one month when the entire country can join in on our achievements.”
Like many of the other entrepreneurs, Diamond is drawing hope from last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. She believes there’s a shift occurring at the national scale — in regards to policies, laws, elected officials, and general attitudes — and is energized by it on both a personal and business level.
Alicea Moore | Alice. A. Candle Co.
What’s that you smell? It might be something from Alicea Moore’s fragrant collection of candles, wax melts, essential oils, and room sprays. Moore puts creativity into the packaging, too, by giving her products names like “Mental Vacation” and “Georgia Went Blue!”
“Black History Month isn’t just a time to share facts about notable Black inventors, scholars, and civil rights leaders. It’s a time to reflect, educate yourself, and bring awareness to Black people’s existence as a whole. We are constantly objectified and dehumanized in the media, as well as in our daily lives. Black History Month is a reminder that the United States has fallen short when it comes to the rights of its Black citizens and all people of color.”
Moore said her son is her main source of motivation. She wants him to grow up in a world where Black people have the opportunities and resources to become leaders in the business community — a hope, she said, that’s amplified by every new Black entrepreneur.
Kiana Montgomery | Ki Takeaways
Kiana Montgomery is a publicist who offers public relations, content creation, and marketing across a range of industries. Her specialty is garnering exposure for clients by translating their messages into angles the media can’t get enough of.
“Black History Month is a time to recognize the trailblazers that white historians have tried to erase from the records. We showcase Black love, Black family, Black struggle, and Black growth. It’s a celebration of how far we’ve come despite those who tried their hardest to keep us under. But in all truthfulness, every day is Black history, 365 days a year, seven days a week, and 24 hours a day.”
Our country’s “current state of awareness” is what’s giving Montgomery hope for 2021. She believes that the conversations surrounding inequality and racial justice “will be the catalyst for a better future.”
Words to live by
If you’re as inspired by these determined entrepreneurs as we are, we hope you’ll let their words soak in. We hope you’ll let their words ring in your ears for the whole of 2021. We hope you’ll let their words move you to recognize the challenges and celebrate the achievements of the Black community — not only in February, but every month of the year.