At Bluevine, small businesses are our business. We believe in the vision, genius, and values of the entrepreneurs we so proudly serve. Each of them has a story to tell about the why behind their business. The common thread among them being a desire to bring joy and uplift with their products or service—because it’s not about money, it’s about mission.
Last December, we spotlighted a number of small businesses for our first Holiday Gift Guide. This gift guide was one among many ways we dedicated ourselves to empowering small businesses last year—because that’s our mission. We hope that, by highlighting small business owners, we’ll reinforce their value to their communities. We also hope we can connect those who have established their own business with each other and with those dreaming of starting their own small businesses.
Advice for Black entrepreneurs, from Black entrepreneurs
This month, we’re sharing the voices of Black entrepreneurs. We asked them to share what they do, how they did it, and, most importantly, how that experience can help others in the Black community have a similar impact.
Thinking of opening a small business? “Just start.”
Suzanne Delica and Jelece Morris, BoCa Flavor
As Caribbean-Americans, decorated leaders, and all-around foodies, we collectively identified the uplifting powers of food and culture. We saw an opportunity in the market for BoCa Flavor to increase the accessibility of Caribbean flavors while diversifying current market offerings by creating seasoning blends that are authentic yet modern representations of our culinary roots.
The motivation to start the business arrived after the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received on our blends from some of our best critics, Jamaicans and Haitians.
We take a modern approach to traditional Caribbean seasoning, fusing staple ingredients from the islands to curate blends made to liven up your kitchen. As curators of bold Caribbean flavor, we use all-natural, native ingredients to craft blends reminiscent of what our mothers use to make a soulful feast. Our blends take the Caribbean flavor profile beyond jerk and curry to unveil the depth and breadth of what makes the Caribbean so unique. We’re just getting started and are eager to show the world how Caribbean flavors can enhance any meal.
If you’re a Black entrepreneur thinking of opening your own business, just start. You don’t have to have the perfect plan or know everything about every aspect of your business to get it going. In fact, much of BoCa Flavor’s growth has come from continuously promoting ourselves and letting other people know how they can support us. Many people want to help Black business owners if they’re aware of their needs.
So, don’t be shy. Let just about everyone know what you’re doing and get started.
Use your small business to give back to your community
Marcella Graham, The Root Remedy
I created The Root Remedy during the pandemic after I got sick and turned to herbal medicine to cure my symptoms. My family is Jamaican-Panamanian and Native American, so natural remedies come easy to me.
I noticed that few luxury wellness brands felt inclusive and genuine, so I sought out a way to create a gummy herbal supplement for the on-the-go health consumer. I also noticed that competitor formulas were filled with sugars and GMOs and made sure my manufacturer created a sugar-free, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy/soy-free formula.
And just like that, The Root Remedy was created. We believe that wellness should be inclusive to all and not a luxury to a few. Our sugar-free Apple Cider Vinegar formula, with Vitamin C, was designed to help the everyday person receive the amazing benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar without sugar’s negative effects.
I have a passion for sharing and educating others about wellness with a particular focus on the lack of diversity in BIPOC communities. My advice to aspiring black business owners is to be intentional about sincerely giving back to your community through assets, resources, and inclusivity. This helps stimulate the Black dollar and makes a huge impact in our economy.
Pave the way for others and open as many doors as possible
Austin Ifedirah and Derrick Taveras, Engagent Health
Our motivation stems from our love for solving problems to ensure that we make a meaningful contribution to society over the long run.
In the health insurance space, constant improvement is vital to advance the industry. Our leadership team noticed that a series of backend sales processes needed streamlining to drive efficiencies. The goal was to provide added value for the health plans and their sales agents. We did this by taking solutions such as agent onboarding, customer relationship management, agent oversight, commission management, and BPO services, among others, and combining them into one unified, comprehensive platform that serves all needs for multiple parties. We think of it as a health plan sales backend in a box.
Our advice for aspiring Black business owners is to be bold. Look for the changes you wish to see and strive to advance them through creative strategies that will benefit businesses and the end-users they serve. Build a network of people with a similar vision yet different methods to reach the goal to diversify viewpoints and get the whole picture. Make as many friends along the way as humanly possible and create mentorship programs. We must pave the way for others and open as many doors as possible.
We’re grateful these entrepreneurs chose us to help fuel their growth and success, and we’re proud to feature their stories. We hope you found them informative and inspiring. Starting a small business is a challenging yet worthwhile pursuit. Keep your eyes on this blog for more advice and encouragement and reach out to us if we can help you on your journey.
If you’re also a Bluevine customer and would like your business featured in future marketing campaigns, let us know.
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