Browse Tag

black women entrepreneurs

9 mins read

This Black Owned Coloring Book Series Was Created To Inspire and Relieve Stress

Today is National Coloring Book day! This is the perfect day to support a Black owned coloring book business that celebrates Black women and girls!

Entrepreneurs Color Too creates adult coloring books to help creatives and entrepreneurs practice self care. Each book is filled with 24 inspiring illustrations that celebrate the beauty of black women and they are the perfect way to de-stress, relax, and get motivated.

We caught up with founder, Latoya Nicole to find out more about her and her business.

black owned coloring book
Latoya Nicole

What inspired you to start your business?

I was at work a while back and it was a really busy season and we were all frustrated and overwhelmed with the workload. Some of the managers wanted to try and make things better so they were doing “stress relieving” things like providing free coffee, massages and they also brought each of us coloring books to help “take the load off.”

black owned coloring book

To be honest, when I first saw the coloring book I was thinking “What am I gonna do with this?” because I hadn’t used a coloring book since I was a child. But one day I had become frustrated to the max and jokingly said to the guy beside me, “Pass me one of those colored pencils!” Once I started coloring, I noticed that I started feeling calmer!

But, I thought nothing else of it until years later and I was browsing the internet trying to figure out great ideas to put in place so that I could create passive income. I was browsing the internet and asking God what my next move should be when I heard “24 Shades of Business.”

When I hear certain things, especially after I ask, I don’t take them lightly because I’m a believer that I have always been given “witty inventions.” I quickly jotted down the title that I had heard and put it in my journal.

Later, I started putting pieces together and remembered how the coloring book from my job had really helped. I also remembered that the coloring book only had trees, mandalas, and birds for me to color but nothing that I could relate to. I started doing more research and found lots of coloring books but very few that looked like me on the cover.

So, I knew that I had to fill the diversity void and create books celebrating Black women. Now, my company Entrepreneurs Color Too has grown into a series of 5 coloring books aimed to help women relieve stress, practice self care, and release their creativity.

How do you decide what images to use in your coloring books?

I like to create a story with my coloring books. Each book tells a different story. For example, my HBCU coloring book tells the story of an HBCU experience including memories from the culture on the yard to the experiences in the classroom.

black owned coloring book

So, when I‘m creating a new book I start by brainstorming ideas to include everything I already know about the specific topic or niche. Then, I plan out all of the images and types of settings I will want to include.

Next, I take time to research and gather inspiration from little things including people that I see every day along with any trends that I may see that I want to incorporate into my vision.

After I finish jotting down sketches and/or creating all the types of images that I want to add in a particular book, I send my illustrator the list using stick figures, ink pen & pencil drawings as well as pictures that inspired me so that she can make the images come alive and look professional.

What differentiates your products from other coloring books out there?

My coloring books, largely for adults, are focused on black women, black concerns, and my creative vision as a black author who wanted to self-publish images that celebrate, uplift and inspire women and young girls like me, because representation matters.

I will never get tired of hearing words like “I’m 40 years old and this is the first time I have ever seen a coloring book with women that have my features and hairstyles”. It’s good to know that people feel included.

And, it’s so important not only for women but for children to understand the importance of diversity. That’s why I was intentional with the release of my most recent mommy and me coloring book because I wanted to be sure that young girls could also see positive reflections of themselves too.

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

My vision is to continue to expand. I have a lot more books to publish and plan to add other unique and creative things to the brand as well, including a line of journals.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Even during this time, I’ve heard so many success stories, particularly from authors, about how their sales are growing because so many people are looking to support Black Owned Businesses now more than ever. The key is that they were not afraid to start and also not afraid to take calculated risks.

Remember that you are going to need a plan and some traffic in order to sell anything. To start, you should focus on creating something that solves a problem. Then, focus on ways that you will bring traffic to your website to sell that product. This could be from creating an email list to marketing with ads. Ultimately, you need more people to learn about what you do and to become a customer.

Look at what’s working for others. If you follow someone on social media that you like or admire, look at what they’re doing. Of course, do not copy their success, but follow the clues of their success. Whatever they’re doing is working for them and could also work for you.

After you have done your own research, which is extremely important, don’t be afraid to reach out to others who have been successful and done what you want to do. It’s ok to “slide in those DM’s” or email people for advice or even set up a consultation with them. I even offer consultation services and courses at teaching others how to start and market their online businesses.


-Tony O. Lawson

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11 mins read

Black Women Entrepreneurs: The Good And Not-So-Good News

Dell Gines, the author of an intriguing new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Black Women Business StartUps, loves this quote attributed to Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn: “An entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down.” But for black women entrepreneurs, Gines quickly adds, “they do it with only a toothpick and a napkin.” What he means is that black women entrepreneurs typically lack the resources and capital to launch, yet take-off they do — in droves.

According to The 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Reportcommissioned by American Express, while the number of women-owned businesses grew an impressive 58% from 2007 to 2018, the number of firms owned by black women grew by a stunning 164%, nearly three times that rate. There are 2.4 million African American women-owned businesses in 2018, most owned by women 35 to 54. Black women are the only racial or ethnic group with more business ownership than their male peers, according to the Federal Reserve.

Black Women Entrepreneurs: The Revenue Lag

But not everything about black women entrepreneurs is so rosy. Running a business brings challenges like knowing about new things like a credit note and how it differs from a refund. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

American Express found that the gap is widening between the average revenue for businesses owned by women of color and those owned by non-minority women. For women of color, average revenue dropped from $84,000 in 2007 to $66,400 in 2018, while for non-minority businesses, revenue rose from $181,000 to $212,300. And the gap between African American women-owned businesses’ average revenue and all women-owned businesses, Amex found, is the greatest.

What’s more, a catalyst for making the leap into entrepreneurship, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City report said, “often was poor treatment and the perception of being undervalued in the workplace.” The Amex report echoed this, noting that “higher unemployment rates, long-term unemployment and a much greater gender and racial pay gap have led women of color to start businesses at a higher rate out of necessity and the need to survive.”

“It’s pretty evident that one of the primary reasons for black women to start businesses is frustrations on the job,” Gines told me. “They feel they can’t get anywhere. We have been to seven cities doing the outreach and talked to a lot of black women. There’s a feeling of being passed over for promotions, a sense of workplace fatigue, of being asked to train people to be their boss.”

What’s also evident, according to Gines: “The businesses tend to stay very small, and you don’t see a lot of scalability.”

On average, annual sales at businesses owned by black women are two times smaller than the next-lowest demographic group, Hispanic women, and close to five times smaller than for all women-owned businesses, according to the Federal Reserve. The average annual sales for businesses owned by black women was $27,752 in 2012 (the most recent figures available), compared to $143,731 for all women and $170,587 for white women.

Gines said those figures are unlikely to have shifted dramatically since 2012. “The gap persists at about the same level,” he said.

Why So Many of the Businesses Are Micro

One reason so many of the businesses are micro is that many black women have difficulty accessing credit and face capital constraints, according to the Federal Reserve. That makes it hard to get the necessary funding to grow. And when black women try to borrow with lower income and lower wealth, “these factors make going for a loan that much more difficult,” Gines said.

As a result, black women entrepreneurs tend to tap personal savings, and, all too frequently, retirement accounts, according to BC Clark, director of business development at the Nebraska Enterprise Fund, a nonprofit based in Omaha that works with many black women business owners.

“We definitely do not want them to do that because it took years to build and they might not get that money back,” Clark told me. That’s why the Nebraska Enterprise Fund puts on workshops to teach things like borrowing basics, how to write a business plan, creating a mission statement and managing risk.

Starting As Side Businesses

For many black women business owners, the tiny size of their firms is intentional, regardless of the dearth of capital available from lenders. That’s partly because they’re often launched as side businesses out of financial necessity. Most black women entrepreneurs work part-time in their businesses, less than 39 hours a week, according to the Federal Reserve report.

“Many black women founders may be single parents and need to have this dual income to support the household needs,” said Gines.

Using a startup as a second income stream initially can lead to positive results over the long haul. “It can mitigate the risk,” Gines said. “Because the women are taking care of their families, they need to have a level of confidence before they can make that jump completely. Woman who are responsible for the household tend to keep the size of businesses artificially low because they’re risk averse, need health insurance from a primary employer and want to make sure everything is absolutely appropriate before taking the jump.”

A Lack of Resources and Mentors

Another factor that slows growth: a lack of educational resources and mentors to help black women entrepreneurs ramp up their business knowledge. If you’re a woman looking to start your own business, check out these useful links for women-owned businesses. There are loads of other things that you can do to make sure that your business is successful though. It all depends on much effort you are willing to put in. Obviously you want your business to be as successful as possible. Which is why it might be a good idea to check out something like this Human resources consulting to make sure that you can make the most out of your business.

While there are SCORE programs (retired business professionals offering free advice to startup founders) in every major city, many black women cite a lack of mentors who understand their businesses and business models or feel they can’t connect culturally with the ones they meet, Gines said.

Two dominant entrepreneurial characteristics expressed by many black women business owners who participated in the 2017 focus groups conducted by the Federal Reserve of Kansas City were determination and self-learning. “Self-learning was a key characteristic that allowed many to start and grow a company in an environment with limited access to formal business knowledge and training,” according to Gines.

Frequently, black women “don’t know who to go to, where to go and what organizations are out there that can support them,” Gines said. This is one reason, he added, that “you see a lot of clustering in very few industries with a low barrier to entry — service businesses such as hair salons, catering, child day care centers and consulting.”

The Optimistic Outlook

But Gines anticipates promising change coming.

“You are going to see a rise in black women doing business in professional services with the rapid increase in education levels for black women and their increased participation in the labor market, in fields such as accounting and engineering,” he said.

Where to Get Advice

Both Gines and Clark advise black women entrepreneurs to look for know-how through a local chamber of commerce, the Small Business Association’s Women Business Centers and women’s business owner associations. Also, they say, take courses on entrepreneurship at a local community college.

It might make sense, too, to get certified as minority-owned and as a women’s business on the federal, state and city level, Clark said.

One parting thought: Faith and religious belief have also been important characteristics of many of the black women business owners who spoke with Gines. “They used their faith as both as a source of motivation and a tool to support resiliency during difficult times,” he said.

Amen to that.

Source: FORBES

Feature image: Shawntera Hardy and Camille Thomas, co-founders of Fearless Commerce magazine. ( Credit: Andrea Ellen Reed)