Starting and growing a successful business is challenging for most people and it takes a special type of person to be willing to put themselves and their idea out in the world with no guarantee of success.
Currently and throughout history, the majority of businesses are founded by men. However, in recent times we are not just seeing an increase in the number of female founders, but also in the number of founders from other diverse groups. But with diverse founders, comes a range of diverse problems and opportunities in starting and running a business. These problems and opportunities can very easily be overlooked if we simply classify founders into either a “male” or “female” category with no mention of race, age, culture, ability or sexuality.
If we genuinely want to use business to create an equal, sustainable and compassionate world, it is important that all perspectives are understood and addressed. In order to gain insight into what it is like to be a Black, Queer female founder, I spoke with V from Black Queer Magic, which offers “handmade jewelry and workshop facilitations to aid in the adornment and reclamation of Black LGBTQ bodies.”
When and why did you start your business?
I started my business five years ago in 2016. I had just quit an exploitative job and needed to find what brought me joy. I took a year to explore and landed on jewelry fabrication. I fell in love!
What changes are you hoping to make in the world through your business?
I’m hoping that Black queer folks are empowered to walk in their magic while reclaiming their bodies through intentional healing adornment.
As a Black, Queer woman, are there any specific challenges you have faced in terms of starting or running your business?
Some challenges that I have had have been around receiving guidance and support from the jewelry industry. As a self taught artist it has been difficult to build connections, have opportunities to expand my business and to receive financial support.
What do you think needs to happen in order for all business founders, regardless of age, race, gender, ability, sexuality and culture to be on a level playing field?
We can’t focus on addressing one area of society without acknowledging the racism and biases that are present and condoned in our larger society. When we acknowledge these root issues the attempts to include marginalized folks in any segment of society will be more long standing and surpass any performative activism or diversity hire.
In terms of creating widespread changes to our current economic system so it is more sustainable, ethical and inclusive, do you think the demand for change needs to come from consumers or business?
I think that businesses are responsible for creating change. When we move past the performative activism that we saw from BLM (Black Lives Matter) to really assess internal business structures and be intentional about addressing racism or harm, then we are actively contributing to the changes we want to see. But first we have to be honest about our practices and intentions.
As a Black, Queer woman, do you believe you are at a disadvantage when it comes to growing your business on a large scale and, if so, why?
Yes, I think that if I wanted to expand that it would be very difficult because although we are moving into a more inclusive world, biases are still present. My work may not be represented or acknowledged outside of Black History Month or Pride because of my identities, which makes it hard to build a consistent following.
What do you think the unique advantages are of being a Black, Queer female business founder?
My identities have played an influential role in my survival and creativity. I have been able to create things to sustain myself when I didn’t have any other resources. I channel that creativity into my work and into offerings.
Do you have any role models? Who are they and why?
Douriean Fletcher (@douriean) is the first jeweler in the Motion Picture Costumers Union, Local 705. I admire her work & it’s been featured in Black Panther, The Voice, Roots, NCIS: New Orleans, TLC’s Beauty Masters and Coming 2 America.
You can find out more about Black Queer Magic here.
Shannon Threlfall is the founder of The Founder’s Vision, a platform for news, business strategy, consulting, online courses, collaboration and more. This is a platform for WOMXN entrepreneurs who have a massive vision for their business and see the world differently. We are leading a movement to revolutionise the business world and create a new economy that has diversity and social entrepreneurship at its heart. Find her on LinkedIn