Browse Tag


8 mins read

Born to Roam: A Vision for Inclusive Headwear

Jennifer Sinigal-Cornelius is the founder of Born to Roam, a Los Angeles-based headwear brand that offers stylish and comfortable hats for women of color, catering to their diverse hair types.

In this interview, Jennifer discusses the inspiration behind the brand, the challenges of managing her business alongside a 9-to-5 job, her creative process, and her plans for Born to Roam.

born to roam
Jennifer Sinigal-Cornelius

What inspired you to start your business? 

Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey fueled by personal experience, I recognized a niche market need: hats that accommodate the unique styles and volumes of hair that are common among women of color like myself.

Frustrated by the lack of options for those of us with braids, twists, or weaves, I created a line of hats that are as stylish as they are comfortable. These hats are not just headwear; they are a celebration of diversity, offering a fashionable and comfortable solution that embraces our individuality and heritage.

How do you navigate the time commitment and energy required for both a 9-to-5 job and building your own business?

Balancing a 9-to-5 job in sales with my entrepreneurial venture, I leverage the discipline and skills honed over 20+ years in sales to manage my time and energy efficiently. By day, I’m committed to excelling in my sales role, focusing on achieving targets and delivering exceptional service.

Post-work, I channel my energy and passion into my business, applying my sales expertise to drive its success. This dual commitment demands strategic time management and a deep dedication to both roles, allowing me to thrive in both arenas.

born to roam

What thought process goes into sourcing and selecting new hat designs that fit Born to Roam’s vision and target market?

In the creative journey of bringing new hat designs to Born to Roam, my process is deeply personal and intricately connected to the brand’s ethos and our audience’s needs. At the heart of my design philosophy is a blend of practicality and personal passion. Each hat is crafted with a keen focus on protecting the hair and scalp while ensuring a fit that embraces all sizes, reflecting our commitment to inclusivity.

My affection for vintage aesthetics plays a pivotal role in shaping the designs. This love influences every decision, from selecting materials that stand out for their timeless appeal to integrating features that echo a bygone era’s charm. Whether it’s through unique patterns, unconventional silhouettes, or imaginative details, the essence of vintage is always present, serving as a bridge between past elegance and contemporary style.

Furthermore, staying attuned to current trends is crucial, so integrating the Pantone colors of the year into our designs ensures relevance and vibrancy. This thoughtful blend of functionality, vintage inspiration, and trend awareness is what shapes our selection process, ensuring that each hat not only fits Born to Roam’s vision but also resonates with our discerning target market.

If you could give some advice to your younger entrepreneurial self, what would it be? 

If I could sit down with my younger entrepreneurial self, I’d share heartfelt advice rooted in my own journey. First and foremost, I’d emphasize the importance of trusting your instincts, which, for me, is akin to a divine compass guiding my path. It’s crucial to absorb wisdom from others, but equally vital to believe in your own insights and choices, as they are reflections of your unique journey and inner truth.

I’d stress the significance of embracing every step of this unpredictable entrepreneurial voyage, with its highs and lows, knowing that each experience is a building block for your character and business acumen. Holding gratitude close to your heart is another key piece of advice I’d impart. A grateful mindset isn’t just about positivity; it’s a source of strength and perspective that can transform challenges into opportunities for growth.

Investing in yourself is another critical piece of advice. It’s not just about financial investments; it’s about enriching your knowledge, skills, and personal growth. This self-investment lays the foundation for success and fulfillment in both your personal and professional life.

And speaking of finances, I’d underscore the importance of being prudent and strategic with your money. Saving diligently and making wise investments are practices that safeguard your future, allowing you the freedom to pursue your dreams with confidence and security.

born to roam

What are your plans for your brand? 

Looking ahead, I have a clear vision for evolving Born To Roam into a brand that transcends its current offerings. My multi-faceted strategy focuses on broadening our reach, securing robust financial backing, and deepening our brand’s connection with our audience.

Firstly, expanding our retail footprint is paramount. I aim to forge partnerships with retailers who share our ethos, creating avenues to introduce our products to a broader audience both in the U.S. and overseas. These strategic alignments will be pivotal in making Born To Roam accessible to a wider demographic, enhancing our market presence.

Securing funding is another critical objective. I’m exploring various financing avenues, from engaging angel investors and tapping into venture capital to leveraging crowdfunding platforms. These financial strategies are crucial for scaling our operations and fueling our growth initiatives, ensuring we have the resources to realize our ambitions.

Lastly, my vision extends beyond hats; I envision Born To Roam as a lifestyle brand that resonates deeply with our audience’s values, aspirations, and experiences. This transition is about creating an ecosystem of products and experiences that reflect and enhance our customers’ lifestyles, cementing our brand’s position in their lives.

With a blend of passion, dedication, and strategic planning, I’m committed to steering Born To Roam toward a future where it stands as a beacon of inspiration and a testament to the power of dreaming big and acting boldly.

Don’t miss any articles! Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn

Advertise your Business

5 mins read

Yenaé, High End Jewelry Inspired by African Culture

Yenaé (pronounced as Ye.Nay) is a high fashion jewelry brand that offers culturally curated and African-inspired collections. Their exquisite jewelry designs fuse deeply rooted and diverse African culture with a twist of modern design appeal.

We caught up with co-founder Seble Alemayehu to find out more about the business.

Yenaé co-founders, Seble Alemayehu and Felekech (Fei) Biratu.

What inspired you to start your business?

Yenaé was born out of our shared experiences – two Ethiopian- Americans, jewelry lovers, and co-founders, Seble Alemayehu and Felekech (Fei) Biratu.

While living in different parts of the US, we saw the magnitude of the lack of awareness that existed about Africa, especially in a positive light.

We were both born and raised in Ethiopia and we had first-hand knowledge about the creativity, craftsmanship, and resources that exist in Africa.

Coming from entrepreneurial families and holding MBA degrees ourselves, we decided to pursue our interest for business and love for jewelry.

With that, we founded Yenaé – a high fashion jewelry brand that takes patrons on a journey inside Africa through exquisite jewelry designs that blend culture and storytelling with a twist of modern design appeal for a wide range of jewelry enthusiasts.

How did you raise the capital to start your business?

Yenaé is 100% self-funded and women-owned. We raised our initial funds from our immediate families while we worked on the side to raise our own capital. But most importantly, we learned how to kickstart with minimal investment.

We heavily utilized a lean startup model to build the brand, where our ideas started with customer interviews, building out the minimum viable jewelry, testing it, quickly iterating, or pivoting to get to the core of our offering and branding.

What makes your pieces unique?

What makes Yenaé stand out is its creative focus on offering customers multi-wear jewelry. Currently, 50% of our collection fits this category, whereby a single piece of jewelry can be worn in a minimum of 3 different styles.

All of our jewelry is made from recycled brass, plated with 14K gold or rhodium; responsibly and ethically sourced Ethiopian semi-precious gemstones, hand-crafted by artisans in Ethiopia, and hand-polished hypoallergenic jewelry made in California, USA.

Ranging from simple, everyday jewelry to one-of-a-kind, contemporary statement pieces, each piece of jewelry has a story behind its design, sourced from historians and storytellers.

What is one lesson you’ve learned as a business owner that you’d like to pass on to other entrepreneurs?

One of the most important lessons we learned is the power of taking action and having a “Start Today” mentality. Often, there are so many limiting reasons for why one may not pursue their ideas or take it to the next level.

There will never be perfect timing, working capital, network or resource. Whatever you want to explore as an aspiring entrepreneur, don’t limit yourself. Just start.

We both love to wear jewelry, but we didn’t have a single clue or background on how it’s made. We just made the bold decision to start, figure it all out, and learn as we go along our journey.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

In 5 years, we see Yenaé playing a role to influence a consumption pattern that moves towards a more sustainable community, away from fast fashion.

We will be expanding the design of our jewelry collections to cover every corner of the African continent, showcasing the rich heritage and culture of each African country. Lastly, we see our collections available in major retail stores in the US.

Tony O. Lawson

Don’t miss any articles! Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn & Twitter.

4 mins read

Veteran Creates The First Black Owned Inspirational Eyewear Brand

SWAV Eyewear is a Black-owned inspirational eyewear brand that sells stylish sunglasses & frames to inspire you to never give up on the vision you have for your life.

The brand was created by Isiah Fowler, a former member of the US Air Force who decided to pursue his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. We caught up with Isiah to find out more about him and his business.

Black Owned Inspirational Eyewear
Isiah Fowler

What inspired you to start an eyewear brand?

I was inspired by the lack of meaning and purpose in the eyewear market and the fact that I wanted to reach more people with my message. All I ever saw in the industry was a product being sold. I never saw anything being done with meaning, purpose, and a vision.
Black Owned Inspirational Eyewear
I wanted to bring inspiration to the eyewear industry. I also had a podcast called “Starts With A Vision podcast ” that I wanted to reach more people with and I knew I’d be able to do that with a product so I turned the meaning and concept of my podcast into an Inspirational Eyewear Company and Brand.
Black Owned Inspirational Eyewear

Briefly explain the thought process that went into selecting a manufacturer?

When I first Started SWAV Eyewear I sourced my manufacturer from China. However,  when I received the product, I was devastated by the lack of quality.

It was at that moment I dedicated myself to finding a manufacturer with top of the line quality. I had already been looking for one in Europe and after my first inventory run from China, I dedicated myself to find a new one.

Two months later I flew to Greece to meet them and design the next two collections.


What has been the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur so far? What has been the most rewarding?

The most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur so far has been understanding the fact that success is not something you are entitled to. Therefore, you must become a responsible individual if you want your business to blossom.

The most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur has been going through the process that forced me to become the person I am now. Entrepreneurship will test you in a myriad of ways and you must rise to the occasion no matter what is presented to you.
Black Owned Eyewear

What is your vision for your business in the next 5 years?

My Vision for SWAV Eyewear is to be able to be in a position to give away $1 million to entrepreneurs through our Visionary Investment Fund.

For every pair of frames we sell, we put $5 into our Visionary Investment Fund. Twice a year we give that money away to a few people who have a vision.

SWAV stands for Starts With A Vision because that’s our core belief. When I was younger my goal was to make a million, but as I’ve grown the goal has evolved into me wanting to be able to give away a million.

Black Owned Inspirational Eyewear

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

The advice I have is to know yourself and work on yourself more than you work on your business.

The success of your business is simply a by-product of the person you become. Where you want to go in life will demand a greater version of yourself so it’s important to stay grounded and focus on what’s important.


-Tony O. Lawson

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter

Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!


3 mins read

Talley & Twine: A Black Owned Watch Brand Creating Timeless Timepieces

One Black owned watch brand I’ve had my eye on for a while now is Talley & Twine.  I’m impressed by their growth and dedication to offering a quality product. I wanted to find out more about the brand so I had a chat with the founder, Randy Williams.
Black Owned Watch Brand
Randy Williams: President of Talley & Twine

SB: What inspired you to start a watch company specifically?

RW: I was inspired to start Talley & Twine because I couldn’t find watch designs that I liked without paying $1000 or more.

SB: Describe the Talley & Twine customer.

RW: The Talley & Twine customer is sophisticated, ambitious and grounded.
Black Owned Watch Brand

SB: What does an average day look like for you?

RW: Each day is different but it usually involves some sort of tracking of our daily numbers along with discovering new ways to reach potential customers.

SB: What thought goes into the design of your watches?

RW: Overall, the design of our watches are meant to stand out but to do so very subtly. We focus on details that the average consumer may never notice but we believe that is the mark of true quality.

Black Owned Watch BrandSB: The holiday season is when most watch companies see the most sales. How do you keep sales high after that period?

RW: After the holiday season is over we maintain our sales numbers by releasing new products and also by encouraging referrals from our satisfied customers.

Talley &TwineSB: What is the most challenging and most rewarding thing about what you do?

RW: The most challenging AND rewarding thing about Talley & Twine is growth. It’s exciting to see the company grow every month but that growth creates new hurdles that we must overcome. Often, there is very little time to celebrate that growth because we have to be thinking about our next steps.

Black Owned Watch BrandSB: Where do you see the business in 5 years?

RW: Within the next 5 years, Talley & Twine will take on a larger manufacturing role, thereby providing more jobs to our community. Additionally, we’ll be known for our other products as well as our watches.

SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

RW: Aspiring entrepreneurs should know that we’re living in the greatest time in history to be an entrepreneur because the information is at our fingertips and new industries are emerging every day.

They should emulate those who are successful but also study market trends to see where the future business opportunities are.


-Tony O. Lawson

Related: Black owned Skincare businesses

Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter

 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!


2 mins read

Black Owned Businesses in the Diaspora: Buying Black Across The Globe

For the past few years, there has been a battle cry in our community to spend our dollars with Black owned businesses, as opposed to the usual suspects.

Well this year, we’re inviting you to take Black Friday a step further.  We created a list of Black owned businesses from various parts of the African Diaspora that would welcome your support, no matter where you are on the globe.

Take a look at our selection of some of the best of what the international Black community has to offer.

Black Owned Businesses in the Diaspora


1. The Continent


  • KenyaTheMaasaiShop:  Handcrafted beaded jewelry
  • EthiopiaZAAF: Luxury apparel and leather accessories produced in Ethiopia.
  • South AfricaM’hudi Wines: Family operated a wine farm located in the Cape Winelands.
  • GhanaChristie Brown: Show-stopping fashion and accessories for women.

2. The United Kingdom


  • Ohema Ohene: African inspired fashion brand for Men and Women
  • Lela Bag: An exciting new character brand offering adorable Backpacks & Tees for girls.
  • Sheabutter Cottage: Award winning, fair trade natural skincare products.

3. Canada

custom eyewear

  • Bohten: An eco-friendly, luxury eyewear line.
  • Style Me Ankara: An online retail store that sells handmade  African inspired clothing for men and women.
  • Earthtones Naturals: Premium natural hair and body products.

4. The Netherlands


  • Nomi by Naomi: Surinamese owned Dutch-wax fashion line for men and women.
  • Amsterdam Slavery Heritage Guide: Companion guide for the Black Heritage Amsterdam Tour, packed with amazing historical tidbits and research. A perfect book for your next European getaway to Amsterdam.

5.  And last but not least, the good ole U.S. of Black A.

Bow Tie

Don’t miss any articles! Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn

Advertise your Business