#BlkWomeninBiz: Leah Williams

Originally from Cheltenham, MD, Leah Williams made history when she graduated from Delaware State University (DSU) in 2015 as the first person to ever be awarded both the Presidential Academic Award for her 4.0 GPA all eight semesters, and the Presidential Leadership Award for her leadership throughout campus. Leah returned the following year to pursue her Masters of Business Administration degree, which she completed in just one year.

During her MBA, Leah was selected by the White House to serve as an HBCU All-Star, supporting President Obama’s Initiative to promote the excellence, innovation, and sustainability of HBCU’s. Leah represented DSU at the HBCU Conference where she had the opportunity of introducing Vice President Biden. Leah has also been featured on numerous communication platforms including AspireTV network and the The HBCU Nation Radio Show radio show.

During her time at DSU, she founded two organizations on campus, which are still active today, and served as a supplemental instructor for multiple classes, tutored many students, and mentored freshmen.

Outside of her many academic accomplishments, Leah plays nine instruments and was a dedicated member of the marching, concert, jazz, and pep bands. When available, Leah continues to provide assistance to the band program who still play some of her arrangements.

Leah has always had a business mindset and even created a student-run Christian Organization on the campus of Delaware State University. Alongside her best friend, they created F.O.R.C.E Ministry (Focusing On Renewing Christ-like Existence) in order to provide students with an opportunity to fellowship in Christ. The organization is continuing to grow and flourish on DSU’s campus today.

Leah’s accomplishments did not come easy. In 2015, one month into her MBA, Leah thought she was just sick, but ended up being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Her battle with this disease has been an extremely tough one but she strives to overcome it and be an inspiration to others.

Today, Leah is an employee of Northrop Grumman, an American global aerospace and defense technology company. She has received several company awards, and plans to continue to climb up the corporate ladder in her career, while also making an impact in her community.

Being a minority female in the aerospace defense industry holds a special meaning for Leah. She wants to represent herself and others who look like her, and show the world that race, background, and gender do not determine worth. It is the heart of a person that really makes you who you are.

Leah’s advice for other minority women considering joining the aerospace industry:

Go for it! Don’t hold back, dream big, be true to yourself , and strive to do everything with a spirit of excellence.

Leah has an impeccable work ethic and puts her all into everything she does. She is a humble, hardworking, and ambitious young professional working to leave her mark on the world.

Leah, thank you for continuing to push yourself to be an amazing representation of what a black woman in business looks like. It is because of women like you who push through adversity everyday that inspire others to keep working towards their dreams. Thank you for joining our tribe of #BlkWomeninBiz!

Do you know an amazing black woman in business climbing the corporate ladder? Send her information to info@tjecommunications.com.

28 Days of Black Women in Business

In February we celebrated 28 black women in business who are paving the way for us all. The month may be over, but we’re still celebrating women business leaders who are climbing the corporate ladder, and those branching out into their own businesses. Some of the daily features included our favorite local ladies, Morgan A. Owens, Kelsea Wiggins, and Adrienne Ruff. In addition to our international players, Valeisha Butterfield, Angela Yee, and Oprah Winfrey.

These past 28 days have allowed me to reflect on my own journey. I’ve started to not only think of ways I can improve, but how I can celebrate and support women like these every day of the year. It has been my pleasure to highlight these women and I am grateful for all of you that followed along every day.

It’s so important that we continue to celebrate and support one another. Representation truly matters and when little black girls see us prevailing, they will know that they, too, can be a top executive at a major corporation, or be asked to speak at conferences across the country.

So, how can we continue the celebration? Simply liking, commenting, sharing, and purchasing from the ladies we love can go a long way! If WE don’t, who will?

With that being said, I challenge you to visit the @blkwomeninbiz Instagram and learn more about these amazing women. As we move right along into Women’s History Month, stay tuned for more full Black Women in Biz features right here! Stay in the loop by joining my mailing list.

Want to be the next Blk Women in Biz feature? Send your resume, website, and supporting documents to info@tjecommunications.com.

Content Planning: Why & How

2018 is here and it’s time for you to get your content strategy revamped and ready for the new year. If you do not plan out your content, you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to truly measure your success.
As a one-woman shop, we have two major roles to play: we have to work IN the business and ON the business. Planning out your content will give you more time to focus on other major tasks that are going to take your business to the next level.

What exactly is content?

Content is king. It is everything you see from a business including videos, blogs, posts on social media, eCourses, etc.

How do I plan my content?

  1. You need to decide what type of content you want to circulate and how you plan to disseminate every piece of content you produce. For example, if you decide to create videos and you plan to post them on social media, you need to remember you will have to create the blog content in addition to your social media content.
  2. Next, you should think about frequency. How often do you plan to produce content? Too much content may cause people to ignore you if it’s not of quality, not enough content may cause people to forget you. Find your happy medium.
  3. Find the right tools and resources that work for you. From scheduling tools, to editing tools, do your research and find out what works best for your brand, and your budget. There are a lot of free tools out there to help you get started. Keep in mind as you grow, you may want to start to investing in some platforms that will make sure life easier.
  4. Keep track of how long it takes you to work on each piece of content. This will help you understand which projects need to take priority, and which you can hold off on. As your business grows, you may want to start delegating some of these tasks to employees or third parties if it is taking up too much of your time.
  5. If you’re a visual person like me, you should create a content calendar so that you can keep track of which content is going out, and which platforms they are going to. I use a simple Excel Document that is color-coded for each platform I use. Join my mailing list to get your free content calendar template.

To be completely transparent, I fully understand how hard it is to plan your content in advance and sometimes, I don’t. However, when I do, it is completely life changing for my business and allows me to be able to put my time towards other things.

Download my template and get started on planning out the remainder of January and the first few weeks of February.

Happy Planning!

#BlkWomeninBiz: Shanequa J, Owner of Barcode Glam

Shanequa was born in Akron but raised in Cleveland, OH. She always wanted to be a fashion designer but when life happened, plans had to change.

She attended the University of Cincinnati but dropped out after 2 years. Later, she attended Brown Aveda Institute where she became a Licensed Esthetician; specializing in threading and waxing.

Her first business idea was to open up an esthetic shop. However, since she didn’t have a lot of money or capital, so she decided to start something that would be more efficient but ultimately help her reach the end goal. Her love for shoes gave her the idea to open an online shoe boutique. She put her ideas on paper and decided on the name, Barcode Glam. After that, she created her logo, invested in inventory, and began vending at events to build her brand. Her ultimate goal is to merge both Barclode Glam and her esthetician business.

In 2016, she was ready to move forward and found the perfect location in Walnut Hills of Cincinnati, OH. Her heart was set on the space and she event spent $500 on an architect to create the design and floor plan. She submitted the plan to the building owner but they decided they did not want any boutiques in the building. Ironically, during this time there was a lot of gentrification happening in the area. Leaving Shanequa to believe it was not just boutiques they didn’t want, it was her.

Shanequa knows that eventually she will be able to merge these businesses. She believes he denial of the space was a good thing because Barcode Glam is steadily growing. Next time instead of leasing a space, Shanequa plans to buy a building.

Being a black woman in business makes Shanequa feel empowered, especially when she gets to network with like-minded women. Her advice for anyone considering to take the leap and become a business owner themselves: “Pay for what you need to grow your business.”

She also suggests you truly understand your target market and what they would want to purchase; not what you think they would want to purchase.

Shanequa, thank you for your resilience and stepping out on faith to become a black woman in business!

Head over to barcodeglam.com to shop and learn more!

Know a woman who should be featured in the #BlkWomeninBiz series? Complete the form below.

#BlkWomeninBiz: Ibriz M.

Meet Ibriz M; a senior studying Political Science and Community Development at Howard University. Reigning from Philly, Ibriz was raised by her great-grandmother and mother who are both cosmetologist and beauty salon owners. Needless to say, being an entrepreneur runs through her veins.

Growing up she was always encouraged to pursue her dreams rather than take on your average 9-5. She knew from an early age that she was going to be her own boss. When she was around 7 years old, she and her cousin began making jewelry out of beads and plastic cord. This was only one of her first business ideas.

Her current hustle is her makeup line; Dipped Cosmetics. Many black women can relate to the woes of trying to find your perfect foundation shade. Ibriz saw this as she began learning more about makeup through YouTube. She created Dipped Cosmetics to bridge the gap in makeup for enthusiasts of color.

How did she do it?

She dedicated an entire summer to researching the cosmetic industry, manufacturers, and other successful companies. She worked tirelessly all day and night working on logos, coming up with new business ideas, and planning her launch. She committed herself to creating her brand and in the end, she made her dream a reality.

While that may sound simple enough, Ibriz had to make many sacrifices to build her business.

“The money that I used to start my business was supposed to buy my first car. I had to give my dad an entire business plan in order to convince him to let me invest the money in buying mink lashes rather than a car.”

To this day, gaining support from family and others alike has been one of the most challenging aspects of her business. When you dedicate your life to your business, there are some days you want to ask yourself, “is this even worth it?”

“I had a few great friends who held it down and supported me from the very beginning without me having to ask but there were more people that I love that never supported my brand but would call me from the Sephora store asking what I suggest they get.”

Overtime Ibriz has learned a lot about herself, and the harsh reality of being a black woman in business.

“Starting my brand really helped me realize that everyone won’t always be happy for you or eager to support you but as long as you stay true to your vision, your dedication will pay off.”

After a while Ibriz didn’t even have time to acknowledge the non-supporters because she was too busy sending packages out to complete strangers from all over the country. She is inspired by black women who have paved the way in the industry such as Blac Chyna with her Lashed brand.

“It’s empowering to be a part of a collection of independent women who are grinding to make their dreams a reality.”

One piece of advice Ibriz would give to other women wanting to start their own cosmetic line? Commitment. You have to be prepared to make the sacrifice to begin to be recognized amongst the big-name brands. If you’re ready to put it all on the line, then go for it!

Ibriz, thank you for being amongst this tribe of black women in business. Your drive and dedication is inspiring to me and all the women who will follow your lead. Never stop, never give up. WE need you!

#BlkWomeninBiz: Adrienne Ruff

Adrienne has always had a passion for fashion, but her creativity and love for design is used in what some may consider a nontraditional way.

Originally from Central New Jersey, Adrienne’s family relocated to Columbus where she spent majority of her childhood. She attended Northland High School and after graduation, she briefly attended Columbus State Community College (CSCC) and later transferred to University of Cincinnati (UC). She studied business marketing, but after three years, she knew that fashion was her purpose. After spending so much time in her major, she was hesitant to change it so she chose to stick it through.

During her junior year of college, she decided to take some time off as she was preparing for one of her biggest challenges; becoming a mother. Later, she pursued a career in real estate and successfully obtained her license.

Adrienne always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. She had come up with a lot of business ideas, but had to figure out how to monetize them. Her first idea in 2001, was a mobile spa party business for young girls. A great idea that was short lived.

Her current business, Adrienne Ruff Event Co,, was right under her nose all along. Adrienne’s family has been in the catering business for over 20 years. She would always work at the events assisting in any way she could; from serving food, to rearranging and offering suggestions on the set up. One day it clicked! She could use her passion for fashion and design, to create extravagant event set ups. Adrienne would become an event designer.

The first thing she did was research and practice. Secondly, she started volunteering her services to friends and families to gain experience, display her talents, and build her portfolio. Then, she created a website and started booking a few events throughout the year. At first it was a hobby, but she knew that corporate America was not where she wanted to spend her life. Eventually she started networking and forming relationships with other event planners to gain exposure. She also had a mentor who would tell her the ins and outs of the industry and helped her think strategically about her business.

Some of the challenges that Adrienne had to face were within. She had to be more comfortable networking and creating relationships that were outside her inner circle. When she first started, naturally she was intimidated by those who had been in the industry for some time.

“I was intimidated by the veterans who’d been doing this for years. I never thought I would get hired for an event because there were so many that were better than me, who had more exposure than me, and more experience.”

She soon realized that was far from true. She began to study some of the successful people in the industry and created her own niche.

Seeing other female minority business owners be successful lets Adrienne know that she can do it too. She also wants to become that example for those coming after her. Whether she believes it or not, she is already doing that flawlessly.

One dose of advice from Adrienne for those looking to launch their own event planning business:

“Just do it! Don’t be afraid to ask to volunteer for the experience. It’s never too late to start, and my number one piece of advice is: network!”

Adrienne, thank you for setting an example and being amongst a beautiful tribe of #BlkWomeninBiz. Your resilience and positivity is what drives and motivate many young entrepreneurs, like myself, to keep pushing until we reach the top!

Know another #BlkWomeninBiz killing it in her field? Send your submission below.