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Female Founder Series: Blackout Tuesday Edition

Female Founder Series: Blackout Tuesday Edition

Over the past few weeks, our team at SENREVE has looked inwardly to better educate ourselves through reading, discussions, and reflection. At the same time, we have looked outwards to find ways to proactively support the Black community, one of which is shopping with Black-owned businesses.

On Tuesday, July 7th, many people are recognizing Blackout Tuesday a day in which consumers are to spend money supporting the Black economy. In her TEDx Talk, author Maggie Anderson explains that “a dollar circulates in Asian communities for up to 28 days, in Jewish communities for nearly 20 days, in white communities for 17 days and in Hispanic communities for 7 days. Yet in the Black community, a dollar circulates for only 6 hours”.

Whether it’s through our own Selected by SENREVE partners, like EXAU, or companies supported by our Octopi community, we’d like to share more about amazing female-founded, Black-owned businesses. Read on to learn about two incredible female founders we recently chatted with, Anika Pettiford of Janelle Beauty and Brandi Wallace of Sacred Heart Collections.

Janelle Beauty - Founded by Anika Janelle Pettiford

Anika headshot
After a health scare of her own, Anika sought out to create a line of products that empower women to love their hair and skin through wholesome and premium ingredients.

What was your inspiration for starting your business?

I was inspired to start Janelle Beauty out of a personal need to use hair and body care products that were as close to nature as possible. I knew from experience, that truly pure beauty care products are what you can whip up in your own kitchen. I started Janelle Beauty to be second to your own homemade concoctions. Due to shelf time and safety issues, there needed to be some level of preservatives in any product you buy on the market. There are natural preservatives that are less harmful, and we focus on those. However, nothing can compare to the freshness of a home-made recipe. In order to support our customers who wanted to explore their own homemade treasures, I wrote the book Janelle Beauty Book. It is full of beauty recipes for those wishing to experiment. When you need a break, or need the convenience, we hope to be your second choice for beauty care products.

Janelle beauty product

Our brand was built on the brand pillars of empowering “women to do it all”. What does being a “woman who does it all” look like for you as a Black female founder?

I get visions of Wonder Woman when I think of “women to do it all.” It is an empowering vision but it can also be somewhat intimidating. We have the pendulum swing of women not even being allowed to vote to women maintaining families and a full-time power career. As a black, female founder, there is the added concept of working twice as hard to prove your worth. It is all daunting and simply ridiculous. My paradigm is "yes, I want to do it all", including the ability to breathe. As a founder, I strongly believe in being anchored in your worth. From this place of self-worth comes a confidence to take risks and the ability to enjoy the luxury of failure. Failure is a major catalyst of explosive growth and it is time to harness experiences, good and bad, to see stunning victories in the marketplace.

How has your role, as a founder and community member, evolved in the last few months?

2020 has been extremely challenging as a black female founder. COVID-19 took an especially hard toll on Black Americans and it was quickly followed by the death of George Floyd — a deeply tragic time for the entire Black community. As the company grappled with supply chain issues and the uncertainty of quarantine, the emotional toll of injustice brought the question of whether black lives mattered and the need to ensure that it does. From a community perspective, we have partnered with the non-profit organization Women of Excellence in their initiative called MOBS Mothers of Black Sons to mobilize women to not only pray, but facilitate change in race relations. Our customers are primarily Black women and many of them are mothers of Black sons who constantly live in fear. Our goal is to help alleviate that.

As a Black female founder, the phrase "Black lives matter" is a fact. However, it needs to be more than just a phrase one says to show solidarity with the Black community. The effect of COVID-19 revealed the economic inequities in the black community and there has to be a collective effort to bridge the economic gap. As an entrepreneur, I believe that gap is bridged through entrepreneurship and wealth creation. Even though the statistics are dismal for VC investment in Black founders and even more so for black female founders, I am excited that it seems a major shift is on the horizon.

Sacred Heart Collections - Founded by Brandi Wallace

Brandi Wallace headshot
True to it’s the name, Sacred Heart Collections hopes to empower women to look and feel their best with pieces that are close to their heart - whether it’s a special birthday dress or custom sorority apparel.

What was your inspiration for starting your business?

The inspiration for starting Sacred Heart Collections was truly my friends and I. We wanted unique, chic garments that we wouldn't have to sacrifice NYC rent for. So, Sacred Heart Collections was born! I specialized in cocktail dresses and jumpers before being inspired by my sorority sisters to create a custom sorority collection. The collegiate collection is inspired by vintage varsity looks with subtle embellishments and modern silhouettes.

Model with Sacred Heart Collection apparel on

Our brand was built on the brand pillars of empowering “women to do it all”. What does being a “woman who does it all” look like for you as a Black female founder?

"Women who do it all" is very much a description of my life & business. As a wife, mother of toddler twins, and entrepreneur, "doing it all" is all in a day’s work. Owning and operating a thriving online business while balancing a healthy home is challenging. Sometimes, that looks like late nights when the family is asleep, but it’s worth it because I love what I do. I take a lot of pride in creating special pieces for special women.

As a Black woman, we are often seen as the strong back bones of our homes and our communities. While, I am sometimes fueled by the strength of my ancestors, sometimes for me, "doing it all" means not doing anything, taking time to practice self-care, or simply just enjoying family time.

How has your role, as a founder and community member, evolved in the last few months?

With response to COVID-19, my role as a business owner has changed in that I had to adapt to declining sales with creative ventures. I've had to practice patience with my overseas factory as there were production delays. My clients have all been very understanding.

With regards to the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a light shone on Black-owned businesses. I have never been more proud to be a Black-owned business, specifically catering to a niche market of the Black community. It’s amazing to know that I am servicing a Black customer who consistently invests her Black dollar back into my Black-Owned business. My prayer is that my business will continue to thrive and ultimately create generational wealth for my children.

What Black-owned businesses are you passionate about supporting? We'd love to hear from you in our comments section below.

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