Entrepreneur life looks so glamorous on Instagram with all the filters and props, doesn’t it? But hardly anyone ever posts about the true trenches of entrepreneurship and the sometimes literal blood, sweat, and tears it takes to build a successful brand or product.
However, during the Fourth Annual Women Excelling in Business conference that took place March 12, 2022, in Raleigh, North Carolina by entrepreneur and branding engineer, Indie Felder, attendants were prived to a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be successful in 2022 from a panel of six women of color on how they created and sustained their now six (and seven) figure businesses. The panel featured Jourdane Ivory (J.Ivory&Co.), Claire Sulmers (Fashion Bomb Daily), Courtney Ajinca (“Plan My Celebrity Wedding”), Nilou Henderson (Henderson Ventures), Kara Chin (A-19 Boutique), and keynote speaker and star of Amazon Prime’s critically acclaimed series “Harlem”, Meagan Good.
Women were truly celebrated in style during the event with six-foot centerpieces, a four-course dinner, elaborate rose bouquets, and opportunities for vendors to create new customers.
It was truly a beautiful occasion and left the 200+ guestlist feeling inspired, empowered, and motivated, to pivot their businesses to the next level. Especially, after hearing the panel share their stories of triumph and their rock bottom “I have to make it” moments.
The celebration was reminiscent of an Easter service, with everyone dressed in their Sunday’s best and with words just as convicting, but instead of a pulpit, there was a runway. And our favorite pioneer fashionista, Claire Sulmers, who donned a beautiful Fuschia ensemble, slayed per usual. According to Claire her “I had to make it” moment came when her Instagram account was disabled for nine months for posting an improperly licensed photo in 2018, bringing her 1.4 million followers to zero overnight.
“Those nine months were hard for me because that WAS our business,” she says recalling the incident. “We focused all our energy on Instagram and we had all these deals lined up and everything came to a screeching halt.” But instead of loathing over what was seemingly lost, Sulmners took a commonly cited adage about having at least eight revenue streams and got to work.
From there, FashionBombDailyShop.com was created to help elevate smaller but talented brands. She also began offering consultations, planning events, and even started public speaking. Claire also gave lovemmamawoman.com the exclusive on the release of her second book and says we can expect it next year February 2023.
Latoya Evans, who owns the internationally known PR firm, LEPR, recalls her “had to make it” moment” when she was laid off for the third time from a major corporation and decided then “ I’m not going to do this again…I’m not going to give anyone else this power over me where I work myself to death for months and then they say ‘no more-go home’”. That was several years ago and seven figures later, she proclaims it was the best decision of her life to finally believe in herself and bet on her own skills.
Lastly, the keynote speaker Meagan Good, who looked absolutely amazing in a long pattern duster, jeans, and wearing her “Harlem” character’s signature locs, presence exuded poise and peace.
Goode, who just celebrated her 40th birthday (and doesn’t look a day over 25) recalls being in an awkward limbo at the age of 19 where she wondered why she wasn’t booking jobs but all of her colleagues were. In a moment of surrender, she remembers praying “ that she wanted what God wanted for her more than what she wanted for herself.” And at that moment was humbled with gratitude “ that she GETS to be an actress, and not to forget about her faith.”
“My entire job is a faith walk, she says. “ I don’t know when I’m going to get my next job…unless it’s something I produce or direct.” Meagan credits all of her success to God and allowing Him to guide her career without question, a sentiment that was shared amongst all of the panelists.
Conclusively, if this panel taught me anything, it taught me to never underestimate the bottom…it is there that your most winning ideas are created and where your skillset is sharpened. So the next time you feel defeated, remember Claire going from 1.4 million followers to zero followers overnight for nine months, remember Megan not knowing where her next job was going to come from, and remember Latoya deciding to never give her power away again to an employer. Remember these stories, so if you ever hit rock bottom, you know it’s only up from there.