13 Black Founders on How They Built Their Wellness Businesses

Entrepreneurship takes a lot of grit, tenacity, talent, passion, and dedication. Like any career path, it's not exactly for everyone. Some people are well-suited for it, while others might be better taking their talents somewhere else. It's like a roller-coaster ride—there are some struggles and disappointments, but there can also be success and fulfillment.

And the truth is, it can be even harder if you're a BIPOC founder/creator/entrepreneur. There are barriers and inequities that still exist. And even though in recent years we've been seeing more support, there is still a long way to go.

In honor of Black History Month, I spoke to 13 Black founders across the wellness space to learn how they built their businesses, the lessons they learned along the way, and any advice they have for people who are looking to forge their own path. Even if you're not an entrepreneur, consider what they have to say as universal career advice. See below.

Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Xula

Photo:

Courtesy of Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey

What does being a Black founder mean to you?

Being a Black founder means being a founder.

How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

By remembering where I came from. I hail from a single-mom immigrant household. I hail from the legacy cannabis market. These foundations ground me, humble me, and keep my focus on why I do this work.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

I've learned nothing is as urgent as it seems. I think this patriarchal arm of capitalism is constantly nagging us that everything is urgent. Answer this email now. Answer this text message now. Answer that random person in your DMs asking for advice like right now. But here's the thing: It doesn't have to happen right now. Yes, there are actual deadlines and priorities that do need to be met on time. There is a business to run, but I learned that I can do it all with ease and with remembering that I'm a living, breathing human being. Not a robot.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

Rest is productive.

What's your definition of wellness?

Wellness for me is the thing that makes you feel well. A well wish for yourself or others. An intuitive stretch in the morning to get kinks out of your back. It can be eating a snack that you're craving, the wisdom from plant medicine, or sitting alone quite in the dark with calming thoughts.

How do you practice self-care?

My favorite way to practice self-care is through community care. I think self-care is important, but community care takes it one step further to cultivate deeper care and healing for the community collectively.

One manifestation of that is the Floret Coalition, a collective of 130+ small cannabis companies, including Xula, that funds equity-oriented actions via monthly donations of $10K to organizations prioritizing the needs of Black, Latin, and Indigenous communities. This work is done because of the few coins we all chip in to give to the community.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

My advice would be to take your time to sit with something that might not feel right in your gut. This could be anything from a business decision to a potential product name or a microaggression from a client, colleague, or collaborator that for some reason just didn't feel right. Also, never be afraid to ask questions. Look for a mentor or be a mentor.

Tai Beauchamp, Malaika Jones, and Nia Jones, Founders of Brown Girl Jane

Photo:

Courtesy of Brown Girl Jane

What does being a Black founder mean to you?

Malaika Jones: Being a Black founder means channeling all of the innovation, perseverance, and creativity instilled in me by my community in order to fill much-needed gaps in the industry.

How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

Tai Beauchamp: For too many years, women, especially Black women, have felt forced to silence or undermine pieces of ourselves. I feel my truth, and I share my truth, and I am committed to creating space for others to do the same. We created both the Black Beauty and Wellness Summit and our weekly IG Live series, "You Good, Sis?" as a space for Black and Brown women to learn, share, exchange, grow, and advance on our wellness journey. By bringing my full self—transparent, vulnerable, strong, knowledgeable, and ever-evolving self—to the table, I give permission and license to our Brown Girl Jane tribe to do the same.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

MJ: The most important thing I've learned in building my business was simply to start and then perfect along the way. It can be debilitating to focus on the many elements required to achieve your long-term goals, and I've learned not to get overwhelmed with the totality but instead to strategically take it step by step and piece by piece. 

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

Nia Jones: "Faith over fear" because it reminds me to focus my thoughts on all the good that is possible versus sitting in a space of anxiety and frustration.

What's your definition of wellness? How do you practice self-care?

NJ: Wellness is taking care of whatever you need for yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. As a mom of three busy young boys, my self-care practice involves anything that is done exclusively for the betterment of my spirit—it can be something as simple as spending 20 minutes alone daily for relaxation time to taking my daily BGJ tincture.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

NJ: My advice would be to believe strongly in the power of your business mission and surround yourself with a team of people who will encourage and help you to achieve it.

Bea Dixon, Founder and CEO of The Honey Pot Company

Photo:

Courtesy of Bea Dixon

What does being a Black founder mean to you?

I don't really think of myself in the terms "Black founder" first—that's not what is top of mind for me to be honest. I am a human first, founder second, and I happen to live in a society that needs to classify me by my race. With that said, I'm so proud to be paving the way as a Black woman and founder. My culture makes me who I am—but I'm hopeful that in the future, it will be so common to have founders of every race and color and that our backgrounds won't be as much of a conversation anymore.

How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

For me, there is no other way to show up. Authentic is the only way in everything I do, whether that be personal, work, love, or anything else.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

1. To be here for the journey and to not force it.

2. The importance of understanding what I can control and what I cannot.

3. And to listen to my intuition.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

I actually have two: that all things are in order even when it doesn't feel good and that everything communicates.

What's your definition of wellness?

Feeling good inside, especially with my mind and body. And also being in a good place with myself where I don't repress anything.

How do you practice self-care?

Self-love, awareness, and acceptance. Acupuncture, therapy, chiropractic therapy, water, loving myself, family, my partner, friends, and clean food.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

My piece of advice would be to stay true to the core of who you are and to not pay attention to how the world views you. Love the human race, make products for the human race, and go for it! Think as big as possible and know that you can achieve it no matter how far the heights! You may have to work harder at doing it, but do the work, stay focused, and achieve! And the last thing is to be sure you are taking care of your mind and body. It's the most important thing you could possibly do. When your mind is free and clear, you can see and think and achieve.

Shirley Menard, Founder of Beurre Shea Butter Skincare

Photo:

Courtesy of Shirley Menard

What does being a Black founder mean to you?

It's all of me: creator, problem solver, seeker. Beurre was something new and exciting that began organically. I never imagined it as a business, just a side hustle that turned into a business, but the more I created new formulations, participated in events, made connections in the beauty space, and began getting sales, I noticed that people started watching. As an attorney, I've always had to navigate legal and business circles. I've been on panels and done interviews, but this seems next-level. The BLM movement that exploded in 2020 sharpened my focus and my purpose. Being a Black woman in business means being seen as an example of what can be done and the limitlessness of where we can go. I'm very conscious of what I do, how I represent myself, being in charge of my own story, and being an example of what we all can achieve.

How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

This is a lesson that was hard for me to learn. When I first started, I looked at what other similar brands were doing on social media, at trade shows, etc. I looked at what they were selling and how they were selling and marketing their products as examples of what I needed to do with Beurre. The more I researched, the harder it got for me to find my voice. I had to step back and ask, "Who am I? What am I trying to do? Where is my place in the beauty space?" Then I realized the only way I could do anything—create new products, design my labels and my website, create a plan—was to bring myself to the table. Beurre is me. The name is French—my first language. My beauty routine is simple, so my ingredients are simple. Every decision I make comes from me, not what I think it should look like but what it actually is and who it represents: me.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

The business needs to be fluid. There needs to be room to be flexible in order to move forward, change direction, or just stay afloat. There have been so many times that I've invested time and money without focus or because I was short-sighted. COVID-19, of course, has changed everything. I had so many plans, so many opportunities that were in place that got canceled. So now, we've had to pivot and adjust to the new normal.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

God is in control. I remind myself of this simple fact every moment of the day. It energizes me, it leads me, it frees my mind, and helps me not to worry so much. I put in the work, but I can't control what happens once an order goes out the door. I can make plans all day, but things can change in an instant. I can wake up one morning and my whole business can either die or thrive, but God will always be in control of whatever happens next.

What’s your definition of wellness? How do you practice self-care?

Wellness for me is when the mind, body, and spirit are one. I learned that from one of the bands I managed in my former life, and it really helps my focus because when one part of this trio is out of line, everything falls apart. It all starts with the spirit—God is my center and my well. If my spirit is at peace, then everything else falls into place. I start and end the day in prayer. My mind quiets and shuts out all of the mess and my body releases the negative energy that weighs me down. I go for a walk with my music, and I work out three times a week to clear my head and strengthen my body. I try to eat right, but sometimes I need that ice cream and wine.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

I was asked this question once and had so many things I wanted to impart—legal advice, work/life balance, financial guidance—but I've come up with five key elements that I think are most helpful.

1. Passion: If you don’t have that fuel to keep you going, you won't make it. I think about shea butter literally all day every day. I think about formulations, new ingredients I could add, new opportunities to pursue. I'm constantly researching and going down countless rabbit holes in search of new ways to improve, and I love it. You will encounter so many "nos" on this journey, so you need that passion to overcome the negatives and keep moving forward.

2. Support: You really need a network of family, friends, and community to keep you up. Being a Black-owned, woman-owned business can be a lonely place. You also need a "business bestie" to talk about everything from marketing strategies, promotional opportunities, and packaging, to exchanging resources and managing your business. You also need one to keep your spirits up when you're having a bad day or need help making a decision that no one else can understand.

3. Knowledge: Know your product. Know your process. It's one thing to come up with an idea—that's the easy part. Now you have to figure out how to execute that idea. For me, I loved shea butter, and all I wanted to do was share it with the masses. I didn't know how shea butter reacted in the heat and cold or how it worked with other oils. I didn't know that if you put it in the wrong container, it can get moldy or that the wrong combination of ingredients will change the consistency. I had to educate myself in so many areas (sales, marketing, wholesale). It's a constant learning process. Every level of success brings new challenges, so always be ready.

4. Make a plan: Create a business plan. Sorry, I know this is really basic, but I think that this process is often overlooked because people think pretty packaging and cool pictures on social media means you have a business. If you don't sit down and write out a plan, you can't grow and develop into a sustainable business. It can start as a simple list that evolves into a concrete road map to the success of your company. It's also a living document—I'm constantly changing my plan, but not my vision. Things move so fast, and you have to adjust—I mean, man, COVID!

5. Listen and breathe: Black women are really good listeners. Listen to your customers, listen to your circle, listen to your heart. You can get caught up and sidetracked very easily when you go deep, so to get outside your own head, just take a moment to listen and breathe. Listening to my customers helped me to create new and improved products. Listening also prevented me from jumping into bad deals. Take a deep breath and listen to your heart. That's where the truth lives.

Taylor Elyse Morrison, Founder of Inner Workout

Photo:

Courtesy of Taylor Elyse Morrison

What does being a Black founder mean to you? How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

I had to sit with this question because being a Black founder is the only thing I know how to be! Going the business-owner route was especially appealing to me as a Black woman because it meant that could create new possibilities. I get to make the rules. I can wear my hair however I want. I can choose who I network with, and I don't feel like I have to hide parts of myself to be more palatable. That's such a gift.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

There's so much power in making a well-formed ask. When I was launching Inner Workout, I reached out to so many podcast hosts, media outlets, and potential partners. A lot of them ignored me or said no, but some said yes! (Shout-out to THE/THIRTY for being among the first websites to feature me.) You'd be surprised what's possible when you simply ask.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

I've been obsessed with this quote by yogi Amrit Desai: "I exist in perpetual creative response to whatever is present." It reminds me how much possibility there is when I don't try to impose my will on the present moment.

What's your definition of wellness? How do you practice self-care?

For me, self-care encompasses wellness. I define self-care as listening within and responding in the most loving way possible. My self-care needs are always changing, but lately, self-care has looked like a lot of baths, giving myself manicures, going to bed ridiculously early, and being really honest with others about my capacity.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

Remember that you're just as capable of building a business as anyone else, even if you don't see a lot of people who look like you in your field. Also, there is so much free content and programming available to you! Some places to start: Future Founders, DigitalUndivided, and the Bank of America Institute for Women's Entrepreneurship at Cornell University. Finally, talk to your customers and potential customers as much as you can. Welcome their feedback. Act on their feedback. It's invaluable.

Mbali Z. Ndlovu, founder and CEO of Lukafit

Photo:

Courtesy of Mbali Z. Ndlovu

What does being a Black founder mean to you? How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

Bringing my full authentic self to my business has allowed me to see opportunities that others overlook. I started Lukafit because as I spoke to the women in my fitness meetup group over the years, I noticed that most of us were unable to find activewear that accommodated curvier body types, despite the hundreds or thousands of dollars we were spending on workout clothes.

My own personal experiences as a Black woman in the fitness world have influenced the core mission of my business because I had met and talked to hundreds of other women who were also tired of feeling ignored and tokenized by bigger brands.

In contrast, Lukafit's mission is to truly celebrate our customers by developing every aspect of our business with them in mind—from our uplifting designs to our measurements specifically made for curvier figures to our inclusive marketing images and messaging.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

You must become your own biggest fan. Being an entrepreneur brings all your insecurities and self-doubts to the surface, and it also exposes you to criticism from others. Not everyone is going to like you or your ideas. You're going to hear a lot of nos. People will ignore and underestimate you, so it's incredibly important to develop a thick skin and block out all the noise around you.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

Every day is a new day. It's easy to get swept up and overwhelmed by the anxiety and stress of adulting, but thankfully my meditation practice has helped me develop more compassion for myself. I'm learning how to put things in perspective and remember that every day is an opportunity to start with a clean slate.

What's your definition of wellness? How do you practice self-care?

My definition of wellness means taking care of myself not just physically but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My self-care routine is a morning ritual that I practice when I first wake up. I meditate, think of a few things I'm grateful for, recite affirmations, exercise, and stretch. I don't always have time for the full routine, but whether I have an hour or just five minutes to spare, I try to pour into myself every single day so that I can show up in the world as my best self.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

My biggest piece of advice would be to find or create an accountability group. I owe most of the progress I've made in all areas of my life to the support systems I've built around me. I finally started exercising regularly when my friends and I checked up on each other and invited each other to classes.

When I first quit my 9-to-5 job, my best friend volunteered to call me every morning to make sure I showed up to my co-working space by a certain time. I also formed a business-accountability group with three other entrepreneurs, and we would meet every week to discuss our progress and goals. On days when I need an extra push, I'll join virtual co-working rooms on Clubhouse.

There's no shame in needing support. We are social creatures who thrive in community. Positive peer pressure works, and it really does take a village!

Dafina Smith, founder of Covet & Mane

Photo:

Courtesy of Dafina Smith

What does being a Black founder mean to you? How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

It means being resilient. I love that in the beauty industry, I'm not a pioneer, I'm not unique, and this industry is very much our playground. I feel so proud to be a part of the transformational and empowering nature of our industry.

In terms of authenticity, your business feels like a child you give birth to, so you are super vigilant about the mission and vision and that breeds authenticity in a visceral way.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

Your mission and vision are everything. They should be the lens through which you make difficult decisions, take risks, and how you define your strategy. I have mine written at the front of my bullet journal that I look at almost every day. To be honest, I used to be dismissive of the concept. But as your business grows, you come across challenges that you are certain will break you—they don't, but it's usually looking at my mission and vision statement that gets me back on my feet again.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

Write the vision, and make it plain. (Habakkuk 2:2–3)

What's your definition of wellness? How do you practice self-care?

My definition of wellness is boundaries. I've always had very clear and strong boundaries, but I never had a perspective on why I had them. Perhaps they were just a defense mechanism put in place when I was young. As I've gotten older and have context about just how important boundaries are, especially as a mother, wife, and business owner, I've really doubled down on erecting boundaries as a foundational part of my self-care.

I have a few tools of self-care. Journaling has been my longest-running form of self-care. I write and express myself when needed and at a cadence that matches the phase of my life that I'm in. I also have embraced what I call "thinkating." I started with meditation, but my mind thinks way too much, so I use Omvana, an app that has a lot of guided meditations, and my favorite is the 6 Phase Meditation. Another favorite form of self-care for me is taking walks and hiking.

But lately, my biggest form of self-care has been detoxing from social media, especially my personal Instagram account.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

My advice would be to take some time to learn about imposter syndrome. Understand its triggers and build a support system for you of like-minded entrepreneurs to help you navigate the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur.

Michael Tennant, Founder and CEO of Curiosity Lab, Creator of Actually Curious

Photo:

Courtesy of Michael Tennant

What does being a Black founder mean to you? How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

Generations before me were shown far fewer options than those that I see for myself. Today, we celebrate Black or BIPOC entrepreneurs much more than our parents and ancestors were exposed to. I get to use those inspirations and examples, alongside the lessons I can gather and synthesize from inspirational entrepreneurs of all races and backgrounds. I have permission in a way Black founders have never had before.

While I proudly represent that label of Black founder, my authenticity stems from my willingness to honor labels in our society and the expectations they might hold, while gradually dismantling the hold they might have on me. I get to be a living proof point of other ways of perceiving potential. And proof of other possible paths and outcomes born from inner knowing and affirmed by the worlds that receive one's authentic expression.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

Things rarely go exactly as I plan them, but sound grounded planning has worked out for me in the end. Sometimes, I'll set a goal around something that might seem fairly simple and routine. Say, for example, find a reliable accountant and file taxes on time. And that task, even with the greatest intentions and consistent energy, might take half a year to complete… and be very frustrating along the way. Meanwhile, I might write a target tactical or revenue goal at the beginning of the year and very rarely look back at that document—perhaps once or twice in the year. Then at the end of the year, I realize I've achieved my stretch goals.

My greatest gift as an entrepreneur is self-belief, self-reflection, and consistency directed toward clearly defined long-range goals. Skills anyone can have and that we teach. Finding what that looks like on an individual level helps to stay focused and shake off the small stuff to keep energy high and apply attention to those short-term decisions that will bring you closer to long-term goals.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

Right now, my purpose statement is, "I embody empathy and compassion as I spread emotional prosperity and happiness." It's a bit of a stretch, to be honest. I recently minted it for 2022. For me, it means a wish to strengthen my ability of defaulting to empathy and compassion (for myself and my resilience and to create more capacity for empathy and compassion for others) as a way of modeling what's necessary to achieve emotional prosperity and happiness in ourselves and the worlds that surround us.

Last year, we used proceeds from our first profitable year to create www.valuesexercise.com to help our community connect to their purpose. We enjoy leading guided values exploration as part of our empathy skill-building workshops for our community and for schools and organizations across the world. We believe clarity of purpose is a key component of individual and communal prosperity and happiness.

What's your definition of wellness? How do you practice self-care?

My definition of wellness is living a life in which our individual emotional and physical well-being, as well as that of our important relationships, are able to take priority above all else. It's an aspiration no doubt, but without a vision, we cannot progress toward.

My freedom is the key to my self-care. I have a self-love morning routine consisting of meditation, tarot, journaling, and coffee. By the time that I've completed, I've processed and moved through my stresses, irritants, and anxieties. I close my routine with a clear sense of how I wish to invest my energy that day, as well as how to maintain a level of enthusiasm and grace. I feel free when I know what I'm feeling and am aware of the control I have in how I direct my energy and attention.

I am very open about identifying as an introvert. I am also open about my past struggles with social anxiety and substance abuse. These days, I find myself in extroverted roles, representing our company and teaching tools of empathy to groups. Conscious self-reflection, intentional scheduling, and energy- and rest-blocking are crucial to me showing up as my best self and keeping my cup full for the marathon that is business and social impact.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

Know yourself. What makes you tick. What makes you quit. What makes you sick. In my journey, I found that I spent much of my adolescence and young adulthood ignoring situations that didn't quite feel right, numbing the dissonance that created in me, and carrying on.

In my earliest stages of entrepreneurship, my ego blinded me from my areas of need and growth. A more mature and emotionally aware me can see that and learn from my missteps with empathy and love. In that sense, entrepreneurship can serve as its own vehicle for self-discovery and emotional development.

To the entrepreneur in you, I would say, "Trust that you know." And to the future you, who is guided by empathy, I would say, "It's going to be a fun ride no matter what."

Nancy Twine, Founder and CEO of Briogeo

Photo:

Courtesy of Nancy Twine

What does being a Black founder mean to you? How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

It's a really profound experience to be able to defy norms and inspire other like-minded entrepreneurs to pursue their passions and dreams, especially those who may feel underrepresented. It's important to pave the way for each other and bring others up. I have been fortunate to have built a successful business throughout the years, and I want to help others do the same. As a way to elevate other Black founders, I've become more intentional about sharing Briogeo's platform to help amplify their unique stories. Additionally, I have enjoyed volunteering my time and participating in structured opportunities like the Sephora Accelerate program, which helps support Black entrepreneurs by providing insider knowledge and resources to succeed, as well as seek advice directly. I also sit on the Board and Diversity & Inclusion Committee for CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) to help improve representation in the industry.

I'm very aware of my personal values, and they really set the North Star for the energy and passion that I bring to my work. The brand pillars that Briogeo stands for—boldly innovating clean, transformational products, celebrating diversity, and empowering our community—directly reflect my own values. As an entrepreneur, it's really important to have a strong grasp of what you value as a person and as a founder because that's what roots you in your authentic self.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

"Perseverance is the key to starting a successful business."

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

Never rush into launching an idea—put in the needed work to make a business plan and learn the industry. When I first started Briogeo, I continued to work my full-time job in finance during the day, then I would go home at night and do beauty-industry research, come up with packaging ideas, and take calls with chemists. As an entrepreneur, when you're not worried about how you're going to make rent, you can put a lot more energy into shaping your passion project—this will make you feel more prepared to eventually take action and pursue your dreams.

What's your definition of wellness? How do you practice self-care?

I define wellness as making mindful choices and practicing good habits every day to live an all-around healthier lifestyle—mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Self-care has played a big part in my ability to tackle challenges and external forces outside of my control. I root myself in the truth that challenges are only temporary—having and maintaining an optimistic mindset is key. I have established proactive practices such as meditation, yoga, and fitness to keep me stronger and balanced. Especially in the midst of these unprecedented times, it's important that people find what kind of self-care makes them feel happier and healthier from the inside out.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

Be proactive and open-minded about seeking mentorship from Black and non-Black allies. Building a diverse network is crucial to opening up more doors, resources, and opportunities as you strengthen your business strategies. At the end of the day, no one gets to success alone—you go further if you have a strong internal team and external support system. As an entrepreneur in the beauty and wellness space, I've learned it's really important to keep an "abundance" mindset. I'm extremely grateful for my female beauty founder friends because we support each other, share advice and perspectives, and promote each other's products. There's a misconception that you need to be competitive in order to survive, but that's not true—every brand has its own unique story and products, and there is room for everyone!

Also, research the network organizations in your industry. In beauty, for instance, there is Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW), which has been paramount for me in meeting people and opening up opportunities along the way.

Denise Woodard, Founder and CEO of Partake Foods

Photo:

Courtesy of Denise Woodard

What does being a Black founder mean to you? How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

My mom and dad raised me to bring a strong sense of integrity and kindness into everything I do—including work. So my authenticity comes to the company in the unwavering commitment to quality, inclusivity, accessibility, and opportunity in all we do. I'm building a team of people who align to these values yet bring really diverse life experiences. Altogether we're giving each other the space and grace to bring our full selves to the company. We're building the table instead of waiting for a seat.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

In the early days of Partake, Seth Goldman, the founder of Honest Tea, gave me the advice to "just get started." Over time, by listening to our customers, I would get the feedback I needed to iterate and create a product that people wanted and loved. I always strive to improve (at least a bit) every day because I know it's the small, incremental changes that make a seismic impact.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

"Am I good enough? Yes, I am." — Michelle Obama

What's your definition of wellness? How do you practice self-care?

Being aware of what serves me and makes me feel better, stronger, and happier and doing more of that. I practice self-care by running (a renewed hobby), utilizing a daily meditation practice, and spending time with my friends and family.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

The business advice I'd give to fellow Black entrepreneurs just starting out would be the same that I'd give to any entrepreneurs starting out—know your why, understand the financial metrics of your business, value progress over perfection, and specifically to the Black community, I'd say that your particular lived experiences are what make you unique—that's an advantage, not a weakness.

Karen Young, Founder and CEO of Oui the People

Photo:

Courtesy of Karen Young

What does being a Black founder mean to you? How do you bring your full authentic self to your business?

Being a Black founder means that I'm often in a "first-of-its-kind" league—among the first to hit certain milestones, publicly at least. It's at once frustrating and thrilling. To be recognized for your hard work and to know that you're paving the way for other Black founders to see themselves, well, that visibility is necessary and exciting to be a part of. My authentic self far surpasses my race; it encompasses my nerdy self, my meditative self, my new-mom self, my curious self, my driven self, and my creative self. I bring those things first and foremost to my business, and thankfully, the people I choose to hire understand the full expression of my humanity first and foremost.

What's the most important thing you learned while building your business?

Listen deeply to your customers, and they'll lead you to everything you need for success.

What's your favorite motto or affirmation?

This year, with so much changing in my life and the world, I've simply adopted one word: surrender. It's a reminder to take a breath and focus on what I can control in the moment, which is often how my body is reacting to something that feels like an existential threat but often is not.

What's your definition of wellness? How do you practice self-care?

With a 9-month-old at home, I get little time to myself, but I don't feel ready for the day without a great shower. I've started taking what I call a "luxury shower." I buy an incredible bodywash or soap and have the most luxurious shower in whatever time I have available. When I have 30-plus minutes to myself, a good soak is my runner-up.

What advice do you have for people in the Black community who are just starting out and building their businesses?

Your success is not as rare as it can be portrayed. You got this. Practically speaking, find an audience with a real need, listen and learn with empathy, build what they need, and make sure you understand your numbers on the way up.

Next, 41 Black-Owned Wellness Brands to Shop and Support