Tag: black female business owners

TRAVEL: La Maison in Midtown, a Black-Owned Bed and Breakfast in Houston, Beckons Vacationers

BE _LaMaison_logoHouston is a destination hotspot, to say the least. From the burgeoning culinary scene, to the thriving nightlife, to the city’s main attractions, it’s increasingly becoming one of the top cities to visit in the United States. So much so, that Houston is already setting the stage to host more than 200,000 fans for the 51st edition of the Super Bowl in early 2017 at NRG Stadium, which is also the home of the NFL’s Texans.

The most important decision when planning your visit to Houston (or any city, in fact) is deciding where to lay your head every night. And while hotels are typically the first thought when making accommodations, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) have been growing in popularity for a number of reasons — namely, cost, comfort, and the family-style environment. These mini-residences combine the chic style of hotels with private rooms and a home-cooked meal.

For those unfamiliar, there are more than 30,000 bed and breakfast establishments in the country, but sadly only about 1% are black-owned. Don’t get it twisted, however — just because the numbers are lacking doesn’t mean that these options aren’t some of the most luxurious, five-star accommodations that you will come across.

Lodging in one of the few, but hailed, African American–owned bed and breakfasts would ensure coverage of all your vacation needs — especially if you’re staying at La Maison in Midtown. Dispelling the notion that “sisters” can’t support and grow with each other, Houston attorney Genora Boykins and her business partner Sharon Owens are the epitome of brilliant, boss women. And they are also the founders of La Maison in Midtown.

La Maison owners Genora Boykins and Sharon Owens (photo via theempowermag.com)
La Maison In Midtown founders Genora Boykins and Sharon Owens (photo via theempowermag.com)

Inspired by the architecture of New Orleans, the three-story B&B features seven unique and well-appointed guest rooms (all accessible via elevator) that offer amenities like whirlpool tubs, walk-in showers, flat-screen TVs, bathrobes, Wi-Fi, and great views of the downtown skyline. As soon as you walk through the doors, you will understand the “wow” factor of staying at La Maison.

As you continue on your tour, if you head to the second level, there’s also a 310-square-foot conference room available for private business meetings. Downstairs, a parlor, living room, and dining room area lends to the property’s cozy, at-home vibe and plays host to a daily, Southern-style breakfast.

Building your own B&B is no easy feat. Though the property was built in 1999, it was not opened until 2010. Genora Boykins shared, “For the most part, it was about trying to wait until the area was very well developed, and also just figuring out the bed and breakfast industry, since neither of us had that previous experience. We knew exactly what we wanted to do, however.”

“We were very intentional when we created the B&B [La Maison] and the concept that we were trying to achieve. We wanted it to be a place where people would feel very comfortable and cozy, but also wanted the rooms to have a hotel feel, because that’s what people typically don’t like about B&Bs. We wanted to have the same amenities that you would find at a hotel, so that you are able to find the best of both worlds.”

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CEOs Mellody Hobson and Judy Smith to Speak at 10th Annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit

The anticipation continues for Black Enterprise’s 10th Annual Women of Power Summitwhere power women across the nation will convene for three days of fellowship and networking. Added to the list of keynote speakers is the president of Ariel Investments L.L.C., Mellody Hobson, and the inspiration for Scandal‘s Olivia Pope, Judy Smith.

Hobson worked her way up from intern at Ariel Investments L.L.C. to president of the Chicago investment firm. Ariel is known as one of the largest African American-owned money management and mutual fund companies in the United States. In addition to her role as president, Hobson serves as chairman of the board of trustees for Ariel Investment Trust.

REGISTER TODAY: Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary in Florida for 2015

Aside from her work at Ariel, Hobson is chairman of Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc., as well as the director of The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and Starbucks Corp. Hobson is nationally recognized as a financial expert and has contributed her expertise in investments to the Tom Joyner Morning ShowBlack Enterprise, and ABC’s Good Morning America. In 2010 she earned a spot on Black Enterprise‘s 75 Most Powerful Women in Business list, and in 2013 she was announced as one of Black Enterprise‘s Most Powerful Corporate Directors.

Smith, recognized by many as the real-life Olivia Pope, Smith has paved a career for herself as an author, television producer, and CEO of the crisis management firm Smith & Co.  Prior to founding Smith & Co., the Washington, D.C., native served in several high-profile roles including partner at a few Washington, D.C.-based nonprofits, and a White House position as special assistant and deputy press secretary to former President George H. W. Bush. She later broke into television as senior vice president of Corporate Communications at NBC, just to name a few.

Her work in crisis management for many notable cases including Monica Lewinsky, actor Wesley Snipes, and NFL player Michael Vick caught the attention of screenwriter and director Shonda Rhimes, who developed the popular television drama Scandal inspired by Smith’s work. Serving as co-executive producer of the show, Smith offers expert advice and insights on how to portray crisis management issues on-screen.

With exemplary resumes that have catapulted them to become nationally recognized businesswomen, Mellody Hobson and Judy Smith will offer advice and business tips on how to take charge of your career at Black Enterprise’s Women of Power Summit.

The 10th Annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit hosted by State FarmMarch 2–4, 2015, will be held at Fort Lauderdale Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Fort Lauderdale, FL. This executive leadership summit is designed to train, equip and encourage women to become industry leaders, learn career strategies, and discover proven work–life balance techniques. Register Now! http://www.blackenterprise.com/wps

article by Courtney Connley via blackenterprise.com

Young Business Owner Rahama Wright Using Shea Butter to Empower Women Around the World

Rahama Wright, founder, Shea Yeleen International (Image: Wright)

Many people don’t think about where shea butter comes from when they glide their favorite shea product onto their skin or hair, but Rahama Wright thinks about it every day. As founder of Shea Yeleen International, the socially conscious leader has made a business out of her passion for helping female shea butter producers.

Growing up in upstate New York, Wright’s Ghanaian heritage influenced her interest in African-related issues. After working and volunteering in West Africa and drawing on her mother’s stories as an immigrant in the United States, Wright committed herself to making the invisible women behind shea butter production visible to the world.

With patience and relentless diligence, she has grown her company—which initially started as a non-profit—with Shea Yeleen soaps, lip balms, and body butters now available in over 40 Whole Food stores in the United States.  In between meetings for the growing natural body care brand, Wright stopped to chat with BlackEnterprise.com about her career journey and commitment to women’s empowerment.

BlackEnterprise.com: What inspired you to use shea butter to empower women in West Africa?

Rahama Wright: It wasn’t until I did an internship at the American Embassy in Burkina Faso and started learning about income-generating activities for women in the Sahel region that I learned about shea butter. It struck me that this great product that was in so many mainstream haircare and skincare products came from this part of the world, yet there was a lack of visibility for the women producers in the marketplace.

After my internship, I served in the Peace Corps for two years in Mali, which was my first time living in a rural setting. Seeing a lot of the women in my community unable to send their kids to school or buy food or medicine made me want to do more than just say, ‘I served in the Peace Corps.’ So, I started researching income-generating activities for the women in my community, and shea butter came up again. When I returned to the U.S., I started Shea Yeleen to create a space that allowed market visibility for female shea producers.

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