Mahisha Dellinger, CEO of Hair Product Line Curls, on Becoming a Leader of Your Life – New York Times

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Curls CEO Mahisha Dellinger (Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)

by Adam Bryant via nytimes.com

This interview with Mahisha Dellinger, chief executive of Curls, a maker of hair care products, has been edited for space and clarity.

Q. What were your early years like?

A. I grew up in California, in an area called Meadowview, which was dubbed Danger Island. There was a lot of crime: drug activity, gang activity, home invasions, drive-by shootings. I was my mother’s star child because I never gave her any trouble.But my brother was in a gang, so he got into a lot of trouble starting from 15 on. Our house actually got shot up because another gang came to retaliate. No one was hurt, but my environment was very much one of fear. I had to learn how to take care of myself at an early age. My mother worked a lot, and she was often gone. So from the age of 7 on, I got myself breakfast, made my lunch, went to school, came back home, did my homework, and then she would come home after 7. In that kind of neighborhood and environment, you can go either way. You can either become a leader and control your destiny because you’re forced to, or you can go in the opposite direction. I had to become a leader of my life, and it started there, at a young age.I think I have an innate strength about me because of where I came from. I’ve seen it all. And I had a desire to change my life. I didn’t want to live the way I was living. That pushed me to finish my education and ultimately go on to higher education, and change my legacy.

Given that you had to take care of yourself, were you able to be involved in things outside of school?

My mom changed her lifestyle. She used to party a lot on the weekend. My brother would babysit me, and take care of us both while she was gone. But in sixth grade, she gave her life to God, and that’s when our lives really changed for the better. From that point, it became all about church, all week. Church was my life. I didn’t have really a lot outside of that. It was a very strict environment from sixth grade on. I loved it. I had a sense of belonging.

Tell me about your decision to become an entrepreneur.

I reached a point where I decided I’m never going to work for anyone else again. I’m going to own my destiny, and I’m going to determine how far I can go. When I turned the switch on my website in April 2002, I was so happy when I had eight orders. It was the best thing ever, that first day. Initially, it was e-commerce only. The big change in my business really happened in 2009, when Target called and wanted to carry my products. That gave us the exposure we needed.

What have been some key leadership lessons for you?

I learned to soften my approach. Because I am a Type A, there’s not a lot of room for fluff, typically. That’s my personality, but I had to soften myself with certain people and adapt to different personalities and give each one what they need individually. I have four kids, and they’re all different. I feel like my employees are the same way. Some need more from me in some areas, some need less, and I had to change that so I could retain my key people. That was an important personal development for me.

To read more, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/business/mahisha-dellinger-of-curls-on-becoming-a-leader-of-your-life.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=4&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2016%2F12%2F30%2Fbusiness%2Fmahisha-dellinger-of-curls-on-becoming-a-leader-of-your-life.html&eventName=Watching-article-click&_r=0

Shoppe Black’s Entrepreneurs Tony O. Lawson and Shantrelle P. Lewis Commit to Black-Owned Businesses — And Each Other

Entrepreneurs Tony O. Lawson and Shantrelle P. Lewis are the founders of ShoppeBlack.us (photo via ebony.com)

article by Glenn Jeffers via ebony.com

It started with a Facebook post.

Curator and entrepreneur Shantrelle Lewis took to the social-media site to find sharp-dressed brothers for her exhibition, The Dandy Lion Project.” When Tony Lawson, also an entrepreneur, responded to Lewis’ online query, the two quickly bonded over their shared history — they attended Howard University at the same time but never met on-campus — and a strong interest in business.

That connection soon turned into a relationship that blossomed in several ways. In November 2015, the couple launched Shoppe Black, a site that promotes Black-owned businesses and culture around the globe. And last month, Lewis and Lawson were married in a “Nigeria meets New Orleans” themed ceremony that Okayafrica dubbed “The Biggest, Blackest Wedding of All Time.”

EBONY spoke with the newlyweds about the site, working together as newlyweds and how Black businesses can become wealth generators.

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EBONY: How did Shoppe Black come about? 

Lawson: We both have an interest in creating wealth in the Black community and understand that business ownership is the way, or one of the ways, to create wealth. That being said, when the Mike Brown shooting happened, there were a lot of calls to action demanding a boycott of businesses that don’t respect Black dollars and the support of Black-owned businesses. We sat down and figured out, okay, what’s the best way for us to organize and let people know about the Black businesses that exist. We knew that there was a need for it. We’re always looking to support Black-owned businesses and this is a way to compile all that information in one place and make that information interesting and aesthetically pleasing.

EBONY: What is the company’s mission? 

Lewis: Right now, we are providing content around Black money, thought, love and culture.  In early 2017, we will launch the directory and business services. Our primary mission is to make the process of supporting Black-owned businesses, like our business easy, to make it exciting, to create power, give us a source of power within our community and within society at large. The sheer size of Black buying dollars is overwhelmingly powerful.

Lawson: Additionally, another goal of the company is to reduce the rate of Black business failure. Black businesses fail at a rate higher than all other businessesWe want to be a hub for Black business. The services and exposure we provide will help put them in a position where that rate will decrease. You may not know that, okay, there’s a Black-owned leather bag company, a water company or a toiletry company. Those companies are out there, and it’s our mission to let the people know that they do exist and support them.

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/ebony/shoppe-black-entrepreneur-married#ixzz4UNEYnlhE

Author Chimamanda Adichie, the New Face of Boots No. 7 Make-Up, Speaks on Black Hair and Redefining Beauty

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Photo: Boots)

article by  via nymag.com

We probably don’t deserve Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The author and feminist who inspired Beyoncé is now fighting America’s political battles, and man is she good at it.

But that’s not the only hat Adichie’s wearing as of late. She’s also the new face of Boots No. 7 makeup — a British drugstore retailer known for its cult serum that’s a best seller across the pond. (You can purchase the brand in the U.S. at Walgreens.)

The partnership between Boots and Adichie is a match that feels in sync. For years Adichie has been outspoken in asserting that feminism and makeup can co-exist, and the specific campaign she was tapped to lead for Boots hedges on the concept that cosmetics are more than tools to look pretty: They’re vessels to help a woman begin her day. The Cut talked to the author about her foray into the beauty business, the complex relationship she maintains with her hair, and the feminist lesson to be learned from the presidential election.

What frustrates you about the beauty industry? What gives you hope?

The beauty industry is more inclusive than it was ten years ago. There’s a slightly wider range of foundation shades, for example. What I find frustrating is that it should be even more inclusive. The definition of what is beautiful shouldn’t be so narrow. We should have different kinds of women — different body sizes, different shades of skin, and in a way that is consistent, not only occasional.

A note that struck a chord with me in your book Americanah is when Ifemelu, the novel’s protagonist, says, “Hair is the perfect metaphor for race in America.” What did you mean when you wrote that?

Hair is something we see, but we don’t understand what’s behind it, kind of like race. It’s the same way that something seems obvious, but it is really complicated and complex. For example, to see a middle-aged white woman who has highlights is not something everyone in the world necessarily understands, especially if it’s because she struggles to cover her grays. Or if you’re a black women, sometimes the way that your hair grows from your head isn’t considered “professional” by people who don’t know black hair. I don’t think it’s that people are malicious, I think it’s just some people don’t know what the hair that grows from the head of black women actually looks like.

To read full interview, go to: Chimamanda Adichie on Black Hair and Redefining Beauty

Black Santa, For the First Time Ever, Comes to Mall of America in Minnesota

Larry Jefferson is the first black Santa in the 24-year history of the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. (STAR TRIBUNE SCREENSHOT)

article by Monique Judge via theroot.com

For the first time in its 24-year history, Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., had a black Santa on hand to help spread holiday cheer Thursday.

“This is a long time coming,” Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience, which has run the intimate photo studio at the mall for years, told the Star Tribune. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”

Customers at the Mall of America have two Santa options to choose from: They can wait in line with everyone else at the mall for the free Santa, or they can book an appointment with the Santa Experience. The Star Tribune reports that Luther conducted a national search last spring for a Santa to whom children of color would be able to relate. Santa Sid, who has worked at the Mall of America for 20 years, met Larry Jefferson of Irving, Texas, at a Santa convention in Branson, Mo. Of the 1,000 Santa impersonators in attendance, Jefferson was the only black one.

“It was like finding a needle in a haystack,” Luther said.

Jefferson, dressed as Santa Larry, will greet children, pass out candy and pose for photographs by appointment only from Thursday to Sunday.

To read more, got to: For 1st Time Ever, a Black Santa Comes to Mall of America in Minn.

Godwin Gabriel Launches Moovn, a Ride-Sharing App to Compete with Uber, Lyft in U.S. and Abroad

Moovn creator and CEO Godwin Gabriel (photo via urbvangeekz.com)

article by Wilfred Ainsworth via urbangeekz.com

Ride-sharing technology has boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry within the past decade with the biggest names being Uber and Lyft.  Now a new platform, led by an innovative chief executive, looks to stake a claim in the global marketplace.  Moovn is a ride-hailing app that is currently operating in 7 U.S. cities and has plans to rapidly expand in both western and emerging markets.

Founded by Tanzanian-born Godwin Gabriel, the mobile application also operates in 3 cities in Africa: Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; and Gabriel’s home city, Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania.  In an interview with UrbanGeekz, Gabriel talks about teaching himself to code and developing the software to launch the platform. Still, he admits his beta launch was “amateurish at best” and states, “It wasn’t until we received investor backing that I was able to hire and collaborate with a team of seasoned developers to transform the platform into what we have today.”

When asked what his biggest challenges are, he says, “The market, for the most part, is currently being dominated by Uber and Lyft with these companies enjoying the benefits of having first mover advantage with the transportation technology space. However, we’re confident that the global market remains sizable enough for all of us to fit in and play.”

In fact, operating in Africa has been a smart business strategy, particularly with the rise smartphone usage across the continent. It is also a chance to do business in markets that hadn’t been explored by big name brands. “I believe Moovn is changing lives – particularly in Africa and developing markets,” he says. “For instance, drivers earn more on our platform, are reducing idle time and are able to provide and build their communities.”

Gabriel has an impressive track record climbing the ranks of corporate America. He also has an MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Stepping out in faith as a tech entrepreneur, he quickly realized that he had to differentiate his brand to create a competitive transportation technology platform.

Moovn sets itself apart from most ride-sharing applications because it allows the rider to pre-schedule trips up to a month in advance, instead of only being able to request one for immediate service. It also allows different vehicle options depending upon local modes of transportation, such as motorcycles and tricycles in developing economies. Other unique features include the movement of products and services from the marketplace to the consumer and the ability to enable businesses to keep track of their transport logistics.

To read full article, go to: African-American Launches Ride-Sharing App to Compete with Uber, Lyft – UrbanGeekz

Entrepreneurs Andrew Colom and David Alade Work to Rebuild Detroit One House at a Time

Andrew Colom (l) and David Alade (r) [photo via Century Partners]

article by Rochelle Riley via Essence.com

Andrew Colom, 33, and David Alade, 29, ditched jobs in real estate and banking to start Century Partners, a development firm aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods in the Motor City. The duo also uses the biz to help Detroit’s Black residents build wealth.

What inspired you both to move to Detroit?

Andrew Colom: About five years ago, when I was a real estate developer in Mississippi, I was raking leaves in front of a house before showing it. I was listening to an audio book, Arc of Justice, about Ossian Sweet (a Black Detroit home owner acquitted of murder after he defended his new home against a White mob in 1925). I was thinking about the stories of people who were struggling during the Great Migration, and it sort of inspired me. So I took a trip up here about four years ago and drove around and fell in love with it. I went to David and said, “Detroit is where it’s at. We’ve got to invest.” He said, “You’re crazy.”

David Alade: As a banker at Credit Suisse in New York City, I covered the Big Three auto companies—Ford, GM and Chrysler. All I ever heard was negative stuff about Detroit. Andrew’s talking about artists and potential, and all I’m hearing is crime and violence and abandonment and bankrupt auto companies. About two years ago, I started thinking that it wasn’t my dream to stay in banking. I’ve seen so much inequity in the world, and it’s all tied to wealth disparity. And whatever I wanted to do next, I knew it had to be somewhere in that area.

How does Century Partners tackle wealth disparity?

Colom: We buy historic, abandoned homes and let neighbors invest in the rehabilitation of those homes and recoup their investment from the fund consisting of rent paid by new neighbors. Investors can also sell their homes to Century for cash and inclusion in the investment pool.

Why was it important for Black residents to be involved financially in the rehabilitation process?

Colom: Detroit is a city where there was such high African-American ownership of homes. That got us thinking about bringing neighborhoods back.

Alade: Mrs. Cox, a Black woman who has lived here for 50 years, will talk to you for hours upon hours about the history of Detroit. Within the context of White flight from the neighborhoods, we have a chance to reinvigorate diversity. Ultimately, we can help bring wealth back to the communities that deserve it the most. People who stuck with Detroit through the depths of crisis are really looking forward to seeing how it looks on the other side when home values go up and neighborhoods are vibrant again and abandonment is gone.

Colom: We want to make the Atkinson Historic District, a historically Black neighborhood that has been dormant, active again. They used neighborhood associations to keep Blacks out. What if we use neighborhood associations to build Black wealth?

To read rest of article, go to: http://www.essence.com/2016/08/16/rebuilding-detroit-century-partners-andrew-colom-david-alade

Lupita Nyong’o Speaks on Colorism and More Opportunities for People of Color

Lupita Nyong’o (Photo: Courtesy of Vogue)

article by Erica Schwiegershausen via nymag.com

In the October issue of Vogue, three-time cover girl Lupita Nyong’o talks about growing up in Nairobi, and her desire to see more African narratives represented in Hollywood and beyond. “I want to create opportunities for other people of color because I’m fortunate enough to have a platform to do that,” she said.

Recently, Nyong’o starred in “Eclipsed” on Broadway, playing a 15-year-old girl held captive by a rebel officer in Liberia. In her latest film, “Queen of Katwe,” she plays the mother of a Ugandan girl who becomes an international chess master. (The film opens next week.) And she’s also working on the forthcoming film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah“— a love story that centers around two Nigerians.

“Being able to use my platform to expand and diversify the African voice … I feel very passionate about that. It feels intentional, meaningful,” Nyong’o said.  She was drawn to “Queen of Katwe,” she said, because it was “based on a true story, an uplifting story out of Africa.”  Nyong’o also reflected — not for the first time — on the significance of seeing darker-skinned women represented and celebrated as beautiful.

Alek Wek changed how dark people saw themselves,” she said. “That I could do the same in a way for somebody somewhere is amazing.” She added, “The European sense of beauty affects us all. I came home from college in the early two-thousands and saw ads on TV with a girl who can’t get a job. She uses this product. She gets her skin lighter. She gets the job. The lording of lighter skin is a common thing growing up in Nairobi. Being called ‘black mamba.’ The slow burn of recognizing something else is better than you.”

Working on the set of “Queen of Katwe,” Nyong’o said a young Ugandan-British woman came up to her and said: “I’ve never had so many people call me beautiful until you showed up. I get called to auditions I never would have been called to before. I know it’s because you exist.”

Source: Lupita Nyong’o Wants Opportunities for People of Color