Recognizing the achievements, contributions and voices of Black business owners is something we strive to do year-round; however, in honor of Black History Month, we’re shining a light on the experiences of five Black business owners who spoke with us recently about the importance of mentorship.
Mentors help shape future business leaders, nurturing their confidence and empowering their entrepreneurial spirit. These small business owners proudly share the value mentorship has played in their success and how they are paying it forward.
About the business: An Upper Marlboro, Maryland-based certified online business consultant with expertise in strategic planning, project and team management and system and processes management.
Mentors have a unique ability to impact lives, not only in the present but also in the future. I’ve been fortunate to have mentors at each stage of my life. Their roles have varied as they have served as sage counsel, purposeful contrarian and acquaintance maker. Interestingly, the relationships have always proven to be a two-way street as mentors stand to learn from their mentees if they are open and willing.
I continue to pay it forward by sharing generously with others. I encourage young people to pursue their passions alongside their well-paying careers. That passion project is not only a way to feed your soul, but it is yours, and you can use it to express your creativity and experience entrepreneurship. None of us are entirely self-made, and we should always look to share generously with others. Mentors are not only those that are younger than you but anyone seeking to rise to your level. Remember, while mentoring others, make sure you have a mentor for yourself. Follow Kiva Slade and The 516 Collaborative on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Cara Johnson-Graves, co-founder & creative visionary, EPIC Everyday, Inc.
About the business: EPIC Everyday, Inc. is a Washington, D.C.-based lifestyle brand with unique apparel, accessories and home goods that amplify multicultural positivity.
Our mocha-hued movement has been positively impacted by mentorship thanks to the guidance of numerous business strategy, marketing and social media coaches. Learning from the ideas and insight of purpose-driven mentors has allowed us to pivot from one collection to over 300 apparel, accessories and home good products. Our slogan, “Never Ordinary, Always EPIC”, is a true testament of how exceeding expectations has led to intentional relationships designed to facilitate success.
Support is a verb, and we deliberately foster collaborative efforts to uplift like-minded startups, small business owners and entrepreneurs. From authors to toy makers, influencers to brand ambassadors, we have built a framework to gain exposure while developing authentic relationships. We work collaboratively via virtual events, giveaways, podcast interviews and webinars that highlight the dream, plan, and execution process for entrepreneurial success. Mentors cultivate a win-win process for growth. Entrepreneurship requires a village, a tribe of dedicated role models that motivate, inspire and encourage consistent growth. It is vital that you consistently add to your framework of positive thinkers, thought-provoking leaders and social change agents that impart invaluable training to inspire the next generation. Follow EPIC Everyday on Facebook & Instagram.