Black Women Are Leading the Entrepreneurship Boom
When she launched L’Amour de Guylene to sell her jewelry designs, Guylene Solon thought she was just sharing another of her creative passions with the world. The multi-hyphenate who lives in Brooklyn is also a sought after professional photographer, as well as a musician who plays the kora, a West African harp.
But Solon’s eCommerce website turned out to be so much more than that. L’Amour de Guylene is a tribute to her grandmother who taught her so much about love and generosity. Solon crafts each piece with healing stones like obsidian and white quartz, aspects she hopes will bring good energy to the wearer. “That’s what the jewelry is about,” she says. “It’s about being compassionate more than anything.”
Almost as soon as she launched her eCommerce business, Solon received online feedback and sales that inspired her to keep going. Now, she debuts a new collection every autumn, and when she travels, she brings new designs to her international clientele. “Traveling to over 20 countries collecting material to create my handmade jewelry has been an adventure and a liberation,” she says.
She’s not alone. In recent decades, Black women eager for the autonomy that comes with owning your own business have been the fastest-growing demographic of new entrepreneurs. According to Inc. magazine, the rate of business ownership for Black women grew 518% from 1997 to 2016. And a recent study by American Express found that while the number of businesses owned by women of color grew 43% from 2014 to 2019, the number of Black women entrepreneurs grew by 50%.
A Growing Community of Black Entrepreneurs
Though the pandemic that began in 2020 has been challenging to all small businesses, Black entrepreneurs are turning to personal networks and upping their digital presence and employing social marketing to weather the rough time. The Spice Suite founder Angel Gregorio has been doubling down on her eCommerce and social media efforts, building on the community that she’s cultivated through her collection of internationally sourced spices from the souks of Morocco and spice markets of India.
It’s a smart move, since people spending more time at home turned to online shopping like never before, with worldwide e-commerce sales growing by nearly 28% in 2020, according to Intelligence Insider. Gregorio has been so successful that her SpiceBox sets sell out soon after she posts them to her social feed, a testament to her entrepreneurial spirit and the fierce loyalty it inspires.
But Gregorio’s community doesn’t stop at her customers. She is building a local ecosystem of entrepreneurialism by offering up her Washington, D.C. storefront—dubbed the “Spice Suite”—as a free pop up shop for local business women of color. Makers and artisans can book the space using Wix Bookings, a streamlined process that helps Gregorio save time and effort. The group of entrepreneurs is lovingly called the SpiceGirlin’ tribe, and they’re fostering a business community that lifts each other up, no matter the odds.
Back in 2015, Crystal Etienne, founder of Ruby Love period underwear, recognized a gap in the hygiene and personal care industry. Period products needed a revamp. People needed better options that were safer, more modern and eco-friendly. So, Etienne developed underwear that contained a smart, intuitive, patent-pending technology that offers maximum absorption and protection against leaks and stains, addressing a pain point for people all over the world.
A self-described perfectionist, she spent years testing hundreds of prototypes, tweaking designs, and perfecting her product. Her aim: to create discreet products that gave all users peace of mind so that they could say to themselves: “I’m going to be okay today.”
Ruby Love (which originally launched as PantyProp) made its first products available for purchase in January 2016. Since then it has grown exponentially and to date it has reached a revenue of over $22M.
The secret to the company’s success? A complete understanding of their customer’s needs and a desire to create a product that never stops people from “doing, being and going.”
“The connection we have with our customers—that, everyday, is what keeps us going.”
Ruby Love uses its website and social channels to empower their customers and cultivate a sense of community. On social media they share images and video content featuring people of all ages who are connected through their shared experience and love for the brand. On their blog, they create a similar experience, with helpful content that provides advice, answers common questions and educates shoppers. In 2021, they also launched a series of free webinars, offering fun and informative lessons to parents who want to educate their children on puberty, periods, and feminine care products.
Ruby Love has continued to successfully grow and evolve as an apparel company. Etienne recognized that her leak proof underwear could help those who experience stress or illness-related incontinence—men, women and the elderly. Her innovative products now range from period underwear, sleepwear and swimwear, to incontinence underwear, monthly period kits, reusable sanitary pads and soon to be launched athleticwear. Forget the crimson wave, Etienne is surfing a wave to stratospheric eCommerce success.
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Managing Editor, Wix eCommerce
Daniel is the Managing Editor at Wix eCommerce, where he uses his experience as a merchant, journalist and marketer to create content that helps online businesses grow.