My Business Mommas
It all started at a pop-up. I was in downtown Athens, setting up, and I was next to this Ms. Adrienne Freeman-Chappell. She was hurriedly setting up her products, and I was putting my jewelery up at my leisurely pace. She had storage tubs full of skin and haircare products. By the time she was done, it looked like she set up a whole general store! I was still new to selling, but I was amazed by the way she had so many customers flock to her table. She did product demonstrations and explainations with ease! I was astounded. I thought to myself, "I want to be like her!"
When I had the chance, I went to go visit her table. We talked about business, and she was extremely friendly. We ended up vending at the same places for the next few months, and I got to know more about her business and products. She sold natural skincare products, and the name of her business is Chalises Heavenly Inspired. At first, I kept calling her Chalise the same way people tend to call me Joforia because as entreprenuers, we are our brand! Her name finally stuck with me because she has the same name as my mother! Anywho, Ms. Adrienne was always eager to help and give me business advice. She kept me motivated during slow days and knew about all of the latest opportunities.
One day, I was selling with Ms. Adrienne, and there was another black businesswoman hurriedly setting up her food truck. She was jovial and seemed to know everybody. I watched her as well and admired her ability to connect with so many people and make such delicious macaroni and cheese. On one particulary slow business day, she came by at the end and gave me a huge plate of food. "It's because you're special, and I love you!" She laughed before walking off to finish packing up her food truck.
"What's special about me?!" I pondered to myself. I was frustrated with the low sales because I had left my job early that day with hopes of making more money and gaining exspoure. I felt foolish, and while everyone had t-shirts with their business on it, I had on a cat mask to go with the Halloween theme. I went home and hungrily ate the best Jamaican food that I've ever had in my whole entire life. The creator of that food was Ms. Rashe Malcolm who would become my Business Momma #2! She started the Culinary Kitchen of Athens to create a shared kitchen space for food vendors trying to scale up their business in the Athens area. Although she made money from her food truck, Rashe's Cuisine, she needed more capital for her Culinary Kitchen, so she started the Winter Market.
She invited me to sell my bracelets every Saturday from January through March. I eagerly agreed because I had been slacking so much during the holiday season. I was ready to get back at it! I went to Joann's and bought two yards of black faux fur, which ended up drawing so many people to my table because it looked so fancy! I designed one of my favorite vendor displays so far! Every week I vended, I was late for some odd reason, but Rashe was patient and always had a spot for me. She checked in on me and pushed me to sell during slow days. Her events helped me become a better businesswoman because I learned where I had to get myself together. At first I sold every other week, but I quickly learned that I was missing out on people from my off weeks. Plus, I also had to make sure I had enough products to sell. People liked variety, which is why Chalise's was a hit. If you didn't need soap, you might need shampoo or lotion or body oil. Whatever you thought you needed, she had it!
Then, I met Precious. Of all my Business Mommas, she's the one whose products I can't use because I'm not a tea drinker (but they make great gifts for people who do!), yet I have learned so much from her. She's more laidback than Adrienne and Rashe, but that doesn't mean she can't sell tea! She greets everyone with the first term of endearment that comes to mind (my personal favorite, "Hey Sugarfoot!"). Then, she explains the new herbal blends that she makes from herbs she grew in her garden. On slow days, she vows with quiet resolve to bounce back. Her vendor displays are some of the best I have seen!
One thing I admired the most about all of my Business Mommas, is their ability to smile through anything. Being an entrepreneur requires so much time and energy that you might not have while raising kids, trying to keep the lights on, or even working another job. They showed me I always have to put my best face forward but also to rely on other people. We made a vendor family because we were open to helping each other! Everyone easily could've worked on their own businesses and not helped me make Joforia Jewels into what it is today. Precious taught me the importance of visual presentation and focusing on one type of product. Adrienne taught me how to keep my brand visible and staying persistant. Rashe taught me to keep selling with a smile. There were so many days where I was just tired of everything, and they all told me to keep going.
I am so appreciative of these amazing black businesswomen who continue to pour love into their businesses and communities. I aspire to one day motivate and help another entrepreneur the same way they helped me.
If you want to check out their products, here are the links to their pages:
Chalise's Heavenly Inspired: https://chalises.com/
Rashe's Cuisine: https://www.rashecuisine.com/
Me Plus Tea: https://www.meplustea.com/