*Over the nearly ten years I have been writing this weekly column, I have had the honor and good fortune of interviewing many women in corporate American and women who have started their own businesses.
I have to admit, their stories have been inspiring, filled with travail and triumphant. Their ascent has been no crystal stairs but in the words of the Greek writer Antiphanes, “Everything yields to diligence.” That is what their stories have in common, unrelenting diligence in spite of the odds and obstacles they have faced.
In spending time with many of these women I have learned a lot. Their words have impaired my spirit; their resolve has stayed on my mind. Their prowess is barely eclipsed by their passion. They have been beacons of bright lights.
Women who strike out and dare to start their own business have been of particular interest to me. From non-traditional fields such as construction firms to traditional businesses like hair salons, not only do they share the same desire to work for themselves, but they share the same challenges as well. Such as encountering discrimination because of their gender; not having access to credit; not having enough cash flow; finding and retaining loyal employees; and promoting their business.
But just like a woman, their solutions have been creative and innovative and they have lead from the front even when the dogs were nipping at their heels. They are the true leaders, innovators and way makers. Their indomitable will to succeed is the stuff that a good story is made of. I am thankful so many have let me tell their stories.
Today I tell my own story. It’s a story that rides not only on hem lines of the many women I have interviewed, but on the broad shoulders of a man that I admired and respected. That man is the late Muhammad Nassardeen, President and Founder of Recycling Black Dollars (RBD).
In 1988 he started a movement that changed my life. If I could succinctly summarize it, it would be: “Be a black business, support one too.” We had numerous conversations about how important it was for African Americans to provide services and produce products in the marketplace for their community and the world. Our business acumen illuminated our ingenuity; and it was a legacy to pass down to our families. To him it was our “reasonable service.” He dedicated his life to this cause.
I talked to him often of starting a business. He would tell me to don’t talk about it, but harness the resources and tools you need to be about it. I told him I would, but never did.
At the culmination of Women’s History Month and at the threshold of April, which Nassardeen established as Black Business Month, I kept my promise. I produced a product and took it to market. It’s called Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning is the product. It’s a mildly savory, slightly spicy, sassy blend of over 20 premium ingredients touched with a hint of velvety sweetness. It’s a small foray into the market place but I’m in it. I did it.
The launch of my product into the market place has been a journey. Have I encounter the challenges many of the women I interviewed spoke about? Absolutely. But like them I have the same passion and prowess to succeed despite the obstacles along the way.
Now when I interview women in business I will have more context and subtext. Hopefully, the pieces I write will have added insight and depth. And perhaps you might find inspiration and tap into your inner “business baby” and give birth to it. She’s longing to be born.
I will never forget the words of encouragement spoken to me by Nassardeen. My entry into the market place pays homage to him and the many women who have shared their stories with me over the years. The access they have given me has been life changing. They all have helped me keep my promise and make my dream come true. F
or more information on Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning, visit www.bromontavefoods.com.
(If you have comments about Veronica’s View, email them to [email protected].)