In the United States, Black women leaders are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. While historically, Black females have earned less than men and less than caucasian women with the same education and experience, pioneers are working tirelessly to change this. As the country continues to fight for equality in funding, the workplace, and in every aspect of life, many impressive Black women are creating a runway for generations to come.
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In honor of Black History Month, we spoke with six impressive and successful Black female entrepreneurs who have already accomplished inspiring feats — and will climb even higher mountains in 2023:
Pinky Cole, CEO and Founder of Slutty Vegan
Why She’s One to Watch: Her company grew 50% in 2022, led by an average order value of around $30. Growth is expected to continue into 2023.
Her Story: In 2018, Pinky Cole founded Atlanta-based Slutty Vegan serving plant-based comfort food. The restaurant drew in locals quickly with a mouthwatering menu and flavorful ingredients. And then gained the attention of celebrities, including Snoop Dogg, Tyler Perry, Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah — and many others. Today, they have seven brick-and-mortar locations, including various neighborhoods in Atlanta, as well as Athens, Georgia, Birmingham, Alabama and Brooklyn, New York. (If you’re not near one of these locations, there’s a food truck that pops up around the country.)
In May 2022, Slutty Vegan earned a $25M Series A fundraising round that resulted in the brand’s impressive $100M valuation backed by Enlightened Hospitality Investments (co-founded by Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group) and New Voices Fund (led by billionaire entrepreneur & ESSENCE Ventures CEO Richelieu Dennis). Cole then published her first cookbook with 91 recipes titled, ‘Eat Plants, B*tch.’
After experiencing much success and growth, Cole established The Pinky Cole Foundation, an organization working to help future generations pursue their entrepreneurial passions and build generational wealth.
Alicia Homes, CEO and Founder of Journey To Wealth
Why She’s One to Watch: Her company has helped more than 1,000 Black and LatinX women increase their net worth, eliminate debt, and begin investing in blockchain, cryptocurrency and Web3.
Her Story: While Homes officially launched her company in 2016, she’s been informally supporting, educating and coaching women for over 30 years. Journey to Wealth (JTW) offers seminars, workshops and master classes for women committed to financial freedom. Within the company, Homes spearheaded the JTW Women in Action, who support each other in bridging the wealth gap by learning, growing and investing with a community of like-minded women. She has one purposeful goal: End the wage gaps and racial wealth gaps for this generation — and all to come.
Neidy Hornsby, Founder & CEO of Noir IP
Why She’s One to Watch: Since 2019, her law firm has increased its client base by 10% to 12% year over year, serving women entrepreneurs.
Her Story: Though it might not be the first ‘to-do’ list item you think of when you dream of starting a company, getting a trademark is an important—and expensive!—part of entrepreneurship. It’s something Neidy Hornsby knows firsthand—and something she wants to revolutionize. She founded a business and trademark law firm unapologetically focused on serving women entrepreneurs and hoping to disrupt the legal industry by providing bespoke legal services at predictable flat-rate fees. As she puts it: gone are the days when budding leaders must choose between $400/hour attorneys or DIY legal services.
Since 2019, she’s helped many female entrepreneurs on their quest for success, and today 98% of new business comes from word-of-mouth referrals. Her goal is to ‘lift as she climbs’. “Yes, I want my business to grow. I just want to get to the next level with fellow like-minded women,” she says. “I believe there is room for us all to exceed our wildest dreams. To that end, I view our clients as partners, not transactions.”
Chrishon Lampley, CEO of Love Cork Screw
Why She’s One to Watch: Her company supporting minority business owners in the wine industry has sold two million bottles, experienced a 272% increase in sales, and added ten new states of distribution in 2022.
Her Story: Chrishon Lampley’s path to becoming a leader supporting Black women in the wine industry all started when a freak flood in her building forced her to shutter her Chicago-based art and wine bar. At the time, she was already running a radio show and lifestyle blog for fun, where she gave advice on entertainment, wine selections, and relationships called Love Cork Screw. After the disaster that closed her brick-and-mortar, she decided to expand Love Cork Screw to be more than a blog, but also her brand.
So, in 2013, Chrishon Lampley founded LCS Entertainment, Inc., a licensed wholesaler, importer and minority business enterprise that features Love Cork Screw wines. Now, Love Cork Screw is a lifestyle brand selling wines and candles. She became the first Black midwest woman to go national with a wine brand. And then spoke at TEDx Grand Boulevard and continues to be featured in renowned publications, including Wine Enthusiasts, Ebony, Essence, NBC News, and more.
Following her success, she gave back and hosted the 2022 inaugural Clink Festival, the first Chicago-based event focusing on women and BIPOC communities in the wine and spirits industry. The event sold out fast—and another is planned for 2023. And with the little spare time she has, Lampley volunteers with nonprofit organizations through speaking engagements and sponsorship, hoping to help young women entrepreneurs with big dreams—just like her.
Tara Melvin, Founder of The National Society of Black Wedding & Event Professionals
Why She’s One to Watch: Within 60 days of formation in 2020, this association gained 100 founding members. It continued to grow over the next few years to represent Black industry professionals of all talents to 150+ members strongly represented in 24 states and the Caribbean.
Her Story: When Tar Melvin founded her first company, a Washington, D.C.-based wedding planning company, Perfect Planning Events, she achieved great success and high ratings. But she knew there was not equal representation in her industry. This is what inspired her to pursue her dream to start the first non-profit industry association to represent Black wedding and event professionals. The National Society of Black Wedding Event Professionals seeks to help professionals to feel empowered and grow their businesses within the wedding sector.
They provide a supportive space to ask questions, open doors, network and educate Black-owned companies. Through her work in NSBWEP, she hopes other entrepreneurs are listened to and able to leverage their strengths to grow their businesses. To date, the organization has 150 members and are well on their way to hitting their goal of 500 members by 2025.
Christie Lindor, Founder of Tessi Consulting
Why She’s One to Watch: In Tessi Consulting’s second full year in business, the diversity and inclusion firm became a seven-figure business. They also doubled their sales in 2021, and achieved 80% client retention in 2022.
Her Story: Founded in 2020, Christie Lindor’s consulting agency partners with high-performing organizations with a vital goal: to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace. They’re a certified B corporation and a MBC-certified woman and Black-owned business that is working tirelessly to fight social injustices and help minorities grow generational wealth.
As Lindor shares, “DEI is an emerging industry, and Tessi Consulting is at the forefront of creating rigor and professionalism around DEI—which we believe will be key to making progress and continuing to keep DEI a priority at organizations globally.” Some clients on their impressive roster include Ernst & Young, Salesforce and LinkedIn.
While they are a small team of 11, they are mighty, and in 2022, they launched the Institute for Inclusion, where they train other DEI consultants on our proprietary methodology. “I believe there is a tremendous amount of work to do, and we need all hands on deck,” Lindor says. “So far, we’ve certified 20 consultants since launch, and plan to certify another 100 this year.”
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