Black Executives Closing the Corporate Board Gap by Promoting African Business Growth

1 min read

Despite high levels of education and proven ability, the pathway to the c-suite and paid board seats remains elusive for many Black executives in the United States.

B-Direct is a corporate board preparedness and executive search firm on a mission to multiply corporate board opportunities for U.S. Black executives and entrepreneurs by preparing them for and connecting them to board placement on African-based corporations looking to scale nationally and internationally.

Africa is home to over 430 businesses with $1 billion in annual sales. Of this total 25% are subsidiary group companies of foreign domicile multinationals, 50% have a local origin, 40% are publicly listed, and 60% are privately owned.
We caught up with the B-Direct executive team, Larry Yon, Andra Ward, and Henri Ward to discuss:
In this interview we discuss:
  • The importance of knowledge and resource sharing between African entrepreneurs on the Continent and Black professionals in the Diaspora.
  • Why the US should pay more attention to the business environment on the Continent.
  • What should US executives consider when taking on a board role in Africa
  • The mutual economic value of culturally connecting Africa to its US Diaspora.
  • Their unique approach to board placement

Interested candidates and corporations can learn more here.


Mompreneur Creates Fun Products That Inspire and Educate Children

5 mins read

Teni & Tayo Creations produces STEM kits, toys, books, apparel, and more for kids.

The business is on a mission to help close the representation gap in the products made for kids while creating fun and engaging products that any child can enjoy.

We caught up with founder Omobola Imoisili to learn more.

Teni & Tayo Creations
Omobola Imoisili

What inspired you to start your business?

I was born and raised in Nigeria and was always surrounded by people that looked like me, but now I’m raising 2 young daughters in California, and we are a minority.

After my girls were born it didn’t take long for me to notice the lack of representation in the everyday things for kids, but also the lack of awareness when it came to African culture and history.

Most people only think of poverty and war when they think of Africa, but I wanted my daughters to feel proud of their heritage and to know that there is more to Africa than that.

That’s when I decided to start something on my own.  My hope is that the products I create appeal to children from all ethnic groups, while at the same allowing black and African children to feel more empowered, and proud to be who they are.

What do you enjoy the most about being an entrepreneur?

I enjoy most the freedom to create without boundaries. I enjoy being able to see a gap in our community and find creative ways to solve that problem without having to seek approval from a boss.

I enjoy that the only boss that I have are the customers who shop with me, and I enjoy listening to the needs of my customers and adapting as needed.

How do you decide what to include in your subscription box?

I teach a STEM robotics class and an African Folktales class, very different topics, I know. However, I get a lot of ideas from those two classes on what to put in the box.

Many (not all) of the things in the subscription box are STEM toys (e.g we’ve done a mechanical safe and glowing house) so interacting with the kids in the STEM class helps to vet and test some of the things that go in the box. And by teaching the African folktales class, I learn what kids find interesting and build content around that for the subscription box.

Teni & Tayo Creations

If you could master any business skill overnight, what would it be and why?

I would master the art of sales. I don’t think there is much else to say about that. Sales is very important for any business and having mastery of that skill would be amazing.

Teni & Tayo Creations

What are your future goals for Teni & Tayo Creations?

My goal is for Teni and Tayo Creations to be known as the go to place for fun and educational toys and activities for kids that empower and inspire.

And through my products and services, I would love for Teni & Tayo to help change the narrative of Africa and inspire the next generation of leaders to work together to improve Black communities across the world.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

My advice is to pull a Nike and “Just Do It.” If you have an idea, don’t waste too much time thinking about the obstacles. Instead, focus on the steps that you need to take in order to get to your end goal.

Break into smaller manageable chunks if you need do. But don’t wait. Also, do not be afraid to adapt and change based on what is working and not working. Business is hard and being flexible is important to survival.

@Tony O. Lawson

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

3 mins read

Looking for way to elevate your living space? Coffee table books add color, texture, and layers to a table or nook while showcasing your unique interests.

Check out these coffee table books written by Black authors.

Coffee Table Books

“Justice of the Pies” by Chef Maya-Camille Broussard

In Justice of the Pies, Chef Maya-Camille Broussard shares more than 85 recipes for sweet and savory pies and other mouthwatering creations that put her social mission–based bakery on the map.

“Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style” by Shantrelle P. Lewis 

Described as “high-styled rebels” by author Shantrelle P. Lewis, Black men with a penchant for color and refined fashion, both new and vintage, have gained popular attention in recent years, influencing mainstream fashion.

“AphroChic: Celebrating the Legacy of the Black Family Home” by Jeanine Hays and Bryan Hays

A powerful, visually stunning celebration of Black homeownership, featuring inspiring homes and family histories of notable Black American

“The Modern Day Black Alphabet,” by Arial Robinson

The Modern Day Black Alphabet is a children’s photo book by Arial Robinson. This book started as a simple photo series to keep Arial occupied while being quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic but now has blossomed into a full book.

In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food. Includes contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaires from around the globe.

“Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion,” by Marcellas Reynolds

To date, there has never been a book devoted exclusively to top black models. Supreme Models fills that void, paying tribute to black models past and present.

“BLACK FUTURES” By Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham

A collection of work—images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more—to tell the story of the radical, imaginative, provocative, and gorgeous world that Black creators are bringing forth today.

“Black Is Beautiful” by Kwame Brathwaite

In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Kwame Brathwaite used his photography to popularize the political slogan “Black Is Beautiful.” This monograph—the first ever dedicated to Brathwaite’s remarkable career—tells the story of a key, but under-recognized, figure of the second Harlem Renaissance.

@Tony O. Lawson

Attorney Talk: Fashion Law, Brand Partnerships & Protecting Your Work From Copycats

14 mins read

The internet age has exacerbated many of the legal issues that creators and fashion companies encounter, fueling the necessity for specific legal advice and protection.

For example, design piracy and copycat litigation have grown in recent years, prompting new legislation that provides legal protection for fashion designs.

We decided to get in touch with a legal expert to shed light on these issues and others facing those involved in the creator economy.

Ashley N. Cloud, Esq., MBA is the Founder and Principal Attorney of The Cloud Law Firm, PLLC based in Brooklyn, New York.

fashion law
Ashley N. Cloud, Esq., MBA

What inspired you to become a lawyer?

My mother was the first person to suggest I become a lawyer. My mom was super strict, so I was always advocating for myself to hang out with my friends on the weekends for longer than 2 hours at a time. We would have full-on debates and I’d write her letters with carefully crafted arguments. I was relentless.

Although I was very convincing, most of the time, my mom’s answer was usually still “no,” but she figured I would be able to help others with my talents. Once my mom gave me the idea of being a lawyer, it just made sense. I’ve never been one to accept the status quo. I’ve always been quick to point out unfairness and injustices and I never shy away from the opportunity to help those in need.

Black women only make up 2% of the legal profession. The road has not been easy, but it has been more than worth it. Representation matters and I know the work that I do greatly impacts my community. It brings me so much joy to be a voice for the voiceless and to empower and educate people who look like me.

I am so thankful and honored to do this work. I have so many ideas of how I can continue to be a positive force in this world and I am just getting started!

What should creators include in brand partnership agreements?

Usually, creators are presented with brand partnership agreements, so there are a few clauses they should always be on the lookout for. They include but are not limited to Compensation, Deliverables, Exclusivity, Termination, and Disclosures.

Compensation is important for obvious reasons – you want to make sure you are aware of what you will be paid, any conditions associated with payment, and when you should expect your payment. With respect to deliverables, you want to make sure you understand what the brand expects to see from you and make sure what you create is aligned with their requirements. There will likely be an approval process that you will want to make sure you are compliant with as well.

Oftentimes, brands will require you to work with them exclusively for their respective industry. For example, if you work with one shoe company, you may be restricted from working with other shoe companies during the term of your agreement. Pay attention to the length of the agreement and under what conditions you or the brand may terminate the agreement; including any morality clauses.

If you are a content creator, you’ll also want to pay attention to any disclosure requirements, as the Federal Trade Commission requires you to disclose your relationship with any brands you promote. You can check out some helpful guidance on the FTC’s guidelines here.

Kim Kardashian was recently ordered to pay over $1 million for violating the FTC’s rules, so you’re going to want to pay attention to this!

In any case, you will want to read your contract, ask questions if you don’t understand something, and remember to know your worth! Advocate for what you want if you are unhappy with the terms of your agreement.

If you are unsure if the partnership is right for you or if you still don’t understand the implications of the terms of your agreement, I suggest you reach out to an attorney you trust to assist you.

What are some common misconceptions in fashion law?

One of the biggest misconceptions about fashion law is that it’s all about intellectual property. Sure, intellectual property is one exciting facet of fashion law, but there is so much more to fashion law than just intellectual property.

Fashion is a multi-billion-dollar industry. It can be glamorous, but like any other industry, fashion is a business. Aside from intellectual property, fashion law includes, business law, contract law, labor and employment law, real estate law, international law, e-commerce law, privacy law, supply chain law, technology law, consumer protection law, environmental law, and so much more! The law really touches every aspect of a fashion business.

As the creator economy grows, what types of legal matters do you foresee arising?

There are more and more creators entering the marketplace now that the barrier to entry is lower and consumers are more accessible. The major legal matter I can see growing in popularity is the world of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), blockchain, and the Metaverse.

Because the law hasn’t quite caught up with this facet of fintech and intellectual property, I am interested to see what types of precedents are established to help further guide creators and attorneys in this space.

What are some recent lawsuits in the fashion world that you find interesting? That designers can learn from?

Recently, Skechers USA Inc. filed a lawsuit against Hermès International and Hermès of Paris, Inc. for patent infringement in relation to its Massage Fit sole technology. This case excited me because it is the perfect example of properly policing and enforcing your intellectual property rights.

Skechers has gone after brands for a similar infringement. With the popularity of the thicker, chunky shoe sole emerging in recent years, it will be up to the courts to decide if Hermès infringed on Skechers’ patents or if the company is simply hopping on a popular trend not originated by Skechers.

fashion law

Another case that stands out and is not fashion-related but falls more within the realm of entertainment, is the lawsuit recently lodged by, Goldenvoice, the company responsible for the popular U.S. music festival, Coachella, against Afrochella, a popular Ghanaian music festival. Allegedly, Afrochella has infringed on Coachella’s trademark and goodwill in the promotion of Afrochella.

There are arguments on both sides on whether Afrochella should be held liable for infringing on Coachella’s trademark. One argument is that Afrochella specifically identified its own festival as being inspired by Coachella, which some say creates an unauthorized affiliation between the brands.

Another argument is that Afrochella is only held in Ghana and should be permitted to use its name since the company does not currently host its festival in the United States. I am interested to see how the courts decide this case or if the brands will be able to come to an amicable settlement.

How can smaller designers protect their work from being copied?

Formal intellectual property protections of fashion designs (i.e. the shape, style, or cut of a garment) are virtually unprotected. However, there are a few ways you can protect certain aspects of your work as a fashion designer. One way is that you can protect an original print, pattern, or sculptural adornment that is included on a garment through copyright protection. You can also protect certain types of creations through a design or utility patent.

Additionally, you should protect your brand through trademark and trade dress protection. Another way of protecting your designs is through the contracts you draft and sign in partnership with others. For example, you can require the manufacturer of your designs to sign a non-disclosure and non-compete agreement so they don’t disclose your design to another brand or try to replicate your design by creating a knock-off of their own. If they do, you may be able to recover damages for violating your contract and the sales associated with doing so.

I also suggest designers use the power of their communities to fill in the gaps where the law falls short. When you see another designer or brand copy your design, let it be known via social media. It’s a lot less expensive and you may be able to resolve the dispute a lot quicker than suing in court.


Ashley hails from Houston, Texas, and is a proud graduate of Howard University School of Law and School of Business. Ashley is licensed to practice law in New York, Texas, and the District of Columbia. Follow @thecloudlawfirm and @yourfashionattorney for updates. You can also visit for more information.

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Black Owned Luxury Hotel, Jnane Tamsna Hosting Writers Retreat in Morocco for Black Authors

5 mins read

Jnane Tamsna is the only Black woman-owned luxury hotel resort located in the lush date palm forest of Marrakech, Morocco.

In partnership with Parea Books, Jnane Tamsna is launching the Philoxenia retreats, an Immersive Literature & Writing Retreat for four esteemed authors in a series of generative creative writing workshops that explore themes of self-expansion, societal revolution, cultural presence, and embodiment.

Jnane Tamsna

The workshops ( January 6th to 11th 2023) will be complemented by cultural activities, including private tours of the city’s majestic medina and sojourns to secret gardens within the city’s walls.

This will be a space to discover, create, reflect, and develop relationships with people across borders, cultures, and backgrounds.


Cleyvis Natera

Cleyvis Natera is an essayist, short fiction writer, critic and novelist. Her debut novel Neruda on the Park was an anticipated book of 2022 by TIME, the Today Show, Good Morning America’s Zibby Owens, ELLE. Upon publication, Neruda on the Park was selected as a May 2022 New York Times Editor’s Choice.

Camille T. Dungy
Camille T. Dungy is an author, poet and scholar. Author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. Her debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black. Originally from Spring Valley, New York, he graduated from SUNY Albany and received his MFA from Syracuse University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming from numerous publications, including the New York Times Book Review, Literary Hub, the Paris Review. He is the winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award.
Tanaïs is the author of In Sensorium: Notes for My People, a finalist for the 2022 Kirkus Prize, and the critically acclaimed novel Bright Lines, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize. TANAÏS is based in New York City.


Meryanne Loum-Martin is the owner of Jnane Tamsna. We caught up with her to find out more about this exciting cultural experience.
Jnane Tamsna
Meryanne Loum-Martin

Why is this retreat important to you?

In a world where so many deserve to be seen but still are not, in a corporate space where to reach the same level, we are expected to stand out: we need our voice.

Curated by our mind, customized by our uniqueness, and enriched by our experience, our voice is our personal tool for change,  growth, and impact.

With our Philoxenia retreats, we want to learn from prominent storytellers and writers of color.

Jnane Tamsna is a space in which energy, style, and architecture have “ de facto” been a catalyst for transformative experiences. It favors a remarkable connection between people.

It is important for me to bring this efficient and educational tool to the immense construction site which is diversity, inclusion, and equity.

How can people support this event?

There are 3 ways:

  1. Individuals can book the retreat.
  2. Corporations can send employees. The unique bond of this shared experience will impact the conversation back in the office.
  3. Donations to The Global Diversity Foundation will pay for their airfare and a small stipend of up to 10 young writers. Most of them coming from HBCUs. Jnane Tamsna will offer them room and board.

Please contact for more information.


Black Owned Proptech Startup, REZI Secures $100M to Expand Nationwide

2 mins read

REZI, a real estate technology company offering “Occupancy-as-a-Service” for rental property owners, has secured $100M in debt financing from Stratos Credit, announced on Tuesday by Sean Mitchell, CEO & Co-founder at REZI.


This funding comes at a time of rapid growth at the NYC-based company. It has expanded into several new markets across the country, including Los AngelesSan Francisco, and most recently, Austin, after securing a deal with Rastegar Property Company to lease-up over 200 vacancies across nine of the firm’s developments.

REZI will leverage this new $100M in capital to expand its offerings to more property owners in existing and new markets. The company uses innovative technology including machine learning algorithms to accurately predict rent prices, vacancy timelines, and credit losses.

It then uses those insights to guarantee leasing performance for property owners who work with them.

“Stratos has been a core strategic partner of REZI since 2017. This facility marks the next phase in our relationship and the beginning of a new and exciting time at REZI as we expand our service across the country and launch more products for property owners, investors, and renters alike” said Sean Mitchell.

Leveling the renting field for everyone

REZI leverages the latest tools in technology, analytics, and finance to get rid of the old inefficiencies to focus on empowering both tenants and property owners.

For landlords, they remove risks from the equation by guaranteeing their income and taking over every aspect of the renting process. For tenants, they offer a fast, easy, and free experience to find their next home, removing removed broker fees and replacing unnecessary bias with financial eligibility and secure background checks.

African Ancestry, the FIRST Black Owned DNA Testing Company

1 min read

African Ancestry is the world leader in tracing maternal and paternal lineages of African descent. Founded in 2003 by Dr. Rick Kittles and Gina Paige, it is also the first Black owned DNA testing company.

With the industry’s largest and most comprehensive database of over 30,000 indigenous African DNA samples, African Ancestry determines specific countries and specific ethnic groups of origin with an unrivaled level of detail, accuracy, and confidence.

African Ancestry

In this episode, co-founder Gina Paige discusses:

  • The origin of
  • Taking DNA test recipients on curated “birthright trips” to Africa
  • Why she is passionate about her work
  • The many ways African Ancestry differs from other DNA tests
  • The surprising results from tracing her ancestral lineage
  • How a lack of connection to Africa impacts Black identity

-Tony O. Lawson


Loclicios, a Black Owned Natural Haircare Brand inspired by a personal setback

3 mins read

Loclicios is a Black owned natural haircare brand that creates all-natural haircare products for locs, loose naturals, and all hair types.

Black Owned Natural Haircare
Kabi Mickens, founder of Loclicious

In her teens and early twenties, Kabi, the founder of Loclicious, often used relaxers. As a result, she got bald spots on her scalp and could only wear her hair in certain styles to hide them.

She decided to go natural in 2008 after she got pregnant with her first child. Although she was no longer using relaxers, she realized that many of the products that claim to be for natural hair were anything but “natural”.

“As a loc’d sister, I saw that the loc community was underserved in their options. I found that the existing haircare product options were full of harmful chemicals and poor-quality ingredients that at best leave unwanted residue in locs and at worst can severely damage locs/hair.

As a result, it can be very overwhelming and stressful for women who want to start their loc or natural hair journey. I saw a need in the loc and natural hair community, so Loclicious.”

Black Owned Natural Haircare

How do Loclicious products differ from others on the market?

Loclicious Haircare promises a high-quality product for modern men and women of color. Our products are FREE from Parabens, Phthalates, Sulfates, PEGs, Mineral Oils, and other toxic chemicals. Our products are lightweight, water-based and will not leave residue that causes buildup.

Black Owned Natural Haircare

What are some business accomplishments you’re most proud of so far?

Loclicious was initially only available via our website However, as of September 2022, Loclicous products are now also available on

What advice or tips for others interested in starting a haircare business?

There is a lot to consider when starting a haircare product line. However, the first question to ask yourself is… what business model do you want to go with?

You can decide to self-manufacture products in a private label model (like we did) or you can choose to do a white-label model where you purchase premade products in bulk and brand them with your business name.  Both models have pros and cons but you should choose the model that works best for your business.

What are your future goals?

We look forward to getting our products into retailers like Walmart, Target and Sally Beauty in 2023.


People of Color, a Black Owned Nail Polish Brand Focused on Diversity

3 mins read

People of Color is a Black owned nail polish brand founded by Jacqueline Carrington.

She was inspired to start her business after seeing her then 3-year-old daughter return from grandma’s house with her nails painted.

Black owned nail polish

“I didn’t have anything at home to change her nail polish color and keep up with her new interest. It rekindled my interest and reminded me of when I was a kid and skipped wearing nail polish because I played basketball and never saw nail polish shown on brown hands.”

Black owned nail polish

When Jacqueline went online to search for nail polish, she was shocked to see things hadn’t changed in terms of representation.

“I wanted to create a nail polish brand that picked out colors that complemented the various shades of brown skin as the first thought, not an afterthought. As I grew deeper into our values, it became our mission to celebrate and represent people of color from all over the world by telling our stories through nail polish collections. I named the brand People of Color to literally represent us from all over the world, and figuratively because we all live in a world of color!”

Black owned nail polish

What goes into color selection?

We use the majority of our nail polish collection to tell people of color stories from all over the world. When a theme comes to mind, the stories and inspiration pertaining to the collection theme are what lead us to the chosen colors.

Each color then has a story and meaning behind it. We have done collections to celebrate the impact of Black culture in America, with a collection called For the Culture, with colors like Around the Way Girl (lime green) and Soul Glo (glowy orange).

We celebrated women of color queens with a collection called the Queen collection, with colors inspired by and named after queens Moremi, Lili’uokalani, Makeda, Rani Chennamma, and Anacaona.

We strive to tell authentic stories and will utilize our community to sometimes work with co-curators from a specific culture/background to share their stories and select colors and polish names. 

Black owned nail polish

What business skills do you wish you could master overnight?

Content creation! Oh, the time and energy it takes to curate, create, plan and schedule never-ending content! More than 3 years into running People of Color, and I still feel behind in the world of content creation and trends.

What is one fun fact we should know about you?

Surprisingly, I don’t like chocolate. I’ve never liked the taste or smell of it. That’s made it easy for my husband not to have to buy it during any celebrations or holidays. Lol.

-Tony O. Lawson

Black Owned Businesses With “Wakanda-Inspired” Products

2 mins read

One of the most anticipated films of 2022,  Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was released in theaters on November 11th.

The movie has reportedly earned $84 million at the box office so far, marking the second-highest opening day of the year.

In celebration of the second installment in the franchise, several companies have partnered with Marvel Studios to create their own Black Panther-related items.

Here are some Black owned brands with “Wakanda-inspired” products.


Bevel’s popular double-edged safety razor is now available in a limited-edition all-black and includes a free 2 oz shave cream.



The Ututo sunglasses from  Bôhten are inspired by the rich tones of the Black Panther universe. Includes limited edition Wakanda Forever cleaning cloth and packaging.

Wakanda Forever

Actively Black

The Actively Black Wakanda collection features athleisure styles for both men and women, including performance shirts, tights, hoodies, and joggers in black, purple and gray, emblazoned with official Black Panther artwork.

BLK & Bold Coffee

This limited-edition licensed packaging from BLK & Bold delivers the same delicious quality of coffee while featuring some of your favorite Black Panther characters like Shuri, Okoye, Nakia, and M’Baku!

Wakanda Forever

A Dozen Cousins

A Dozen Cousins “Flavors of Wakanda” Variety pack is a limited edition seasoning sauce variety pack that includes Wakandan Jollof Rice, Wakandan Jerk Seasoning, Wakandan Coconut Rice and a Vibranium inspired, Stainless Steel crafted spoon.

Wakanda Forever


Explore the new FUBU  X Marvel Black Panther collection of tees, hoodies, joggers and more. Available for a limited time.

Young King Hair Care

The Young King Wakanda Forever Wash & Style Gift Set includes a curated limited-edition collection of 5 new hair products for everyday heroes big and small.

Pear Nova

Pear Nova presents “Layovers“, luxury faux nails designed to lay over your natural nail for a long-lasting reusable, instant manicure.

-Tony O. Lawson

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