Within the Seed, Black Women CEOs Find Purpose and Happiness in Life
Latoya Thompson didn’t start her own beauty company for a little extra pocket change each month. After reading, The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work by Jon Gordon, Thompson was motivated.
This spiritual renewal prompted Thompson to revisit her senior thesis about the various stigmas women and children faced. In her thesis, she found that she wasn’t following through on the promises she’d made to, “support her neighbor and be a good citizen.”
Thompson combined her renewed desire to give back and love for natural hair extensions to build her company, Heritage1933, with a purpose. For every product purchased, Heritage1933 donates hair care products to a local shelter, supporting women and children in need.
Thompson’s story of entrepreneurship is not different from the stories I listened to while attending The Naturalista Hair Show. The Naturalista Hair Show displays, not only the beauty of Black natural hair, but also the power of passion in entrepreneurship.
The show, which is in its fifth year, is the brainchild of Angela Walker, the owner of N Natural Hair Studio in Silver Spring. Held at the Silver Spring Civic Center and sponsored by KinkyCurlyYaki, the show featured panels on a multitude of topics, hands on classes, a spa lounge, and a second show called the after-party that catered to folks 21 and older.
During my stay at the morning show, I noticed the variety of vendors who came from near and far to share the story of their crafts.
Sitting in the audience, I listened to owner and CEO, Chris-Tia Donaldson, of Thank God I’m Natural, discuss her experience in the natural hair industry.
During Donaldson’s final year at Harvard Law School, she was transitioning. But she soon realized there was very little information on natural hair. Her encyclopedia for information all things natural had been a site called Nappturality. In that transitioning time, Donaldson was about to begin working for a prestigious law firm in Chicago.
With so few places to learn about her natural hair and so few products on the market designed specifically for textured hair, Donaldson resorted to wearing a wig. Under the impression that her smooth and straight wig would make her coworkers take her more seriously, Donaldson was putting on a façade of someone else.
“And at the end of the day it ultimately backfired,” Donaldson said.
And it was in this moment, Donaldson decided she wanted to reconnect with her kinks and coils by learning how to take care of it and styling it in a manner that made her feel confident at work.
For the rest of her panel interview, Donaldson detailed what it’s like experimenting with different combinations for her products, being part of a multi-faceted team, and working while battling breast cancer. Donaldson’s efforts to create products that allow Black women to proudly be themselves are no different from stories shared by another vendor I spoke to.
Riane, founder and owner of EA Polish, created her brand with “women on the go in mind.”
After seeing an ad for The Naturalista Hair Show while walking through downtown Silver Spring, Riane made sure to keep an eye out for this year’s event so she could get involved. Following the birth of her daughter in 2014, Riane didn’t have the time to spend an hour doing her at home mani-pedi sessions.
Nails are a passion of Riane’s and so she took this opportunity to begin the business she’d always wanted. With EA Polish’s fast-drying formula, Riane’s business is giving women a quick and cute outlet to express themselves in their everyday lives.
“Time is money, ya know. We don’t have time. We’re trying to find time,” Riane said.
Whether it is Latoya Thompson merging her interest in hair care and helping those in need, Chris-Tia Donaldson wanting to find comfort within herself while working for the corporate world, or Riane juggling mommy-time with me-time, each of these women is motivated, intrinsically rather than extrinsically by money, to uplift and inspire their female counterparts.