By Jennifer Burchette, Senior Account Supervisor
How We Met
While most people spent the pandemic trying to stay as far away from strangers as much as possible, I had no choice but to search for one to live with. At the start of the pandemic, I found myself in a housing situation where my roommate had to quickly flee due to losing her job and ended up spending two challenging months alone in search for a replacement in the middle of a pandemic. Luckily, I finally met Erica Morris. Doubling as new roommates and total strangers, we went from meeting on a screen to now living in each other’s space WFH every day. Both miles away from our loved ones, we were forced to have to lean on each other for support and from that bloomed a life changing bond that would turn us into so much more than just roommates.
How We Started Our Business
As two black women in June of 2020, we were dealing with the mental toll of not only the pandemic largely impacting our community but we were also out trying to be safe while protesting and fighting for the protection of our lives. But if there is one thing I’ve learned in PR, it’s how to shift and recreate a narrative with a more positive, thoughtful and creative outlook. Therefore, like two little girls playing dress up, we started recreating new worlds inside of our apartment as a fun escape to all the places, restaurants, fun occasions and memorable moments we’d typically have with our families.
Once a week we’d look forward to creating themed dinner nights and even changed our routine from eating at a dinner table to creating a unique dining set up on the floor. We learned that in countries like India, Japan, and China, eating while seated on the floor often served as a wellness practice. It made us feel more humble, grounded and sparked a special form of connection with those seated. This experience was something we felt had to be shared and from that the blueprint and inspiration of our business Chateau Collective was created. We wanted to offer a service that provided an intimate space for a positive mental escape that brings joy safely, if even for a brief moment during such a trying time.
How You Can Be Better at Supporting Female Black-Owned Businesses
It’s no secret that female entrepreneurs face numerous barriers on their road to success, but some endure unnecessarily more barriers than others. In addition to learning, listening, and speaking up in support of Black lives, we can do so much more to support not only female businesses but Black-owned businesses in many ways. Here are a few ideas on how to do so beyond Black History and Women’s History Month but all year…
1. Stop Supporting Us for A Moment and Support us in Your Daily Life
o In addition to the challenges of running a business, Black Business owners have to go through more hoops financially when starting out. The injustice within the black community goes beyond the justice system but is heavily impacted in the financial system as well. That’s why it’s so important we encourage the support of Black-owned businesses to help increase more positive change when it comes to providing fair and equal help in aid and opportunities. There are more than 2 million Black-owned businesses in the US and we generate over billions of dollars in the US. Therefore, invest in Black women. We’re not a charity, we’re an opportunity.
2. Why It’s Important to Invest in Us Beyond Women’s & Black HIstory Month
o We’re not a task you get to cross off your social good checklist once a year. We’d love for you to continue to support these businesses well past a time of posting black squares on social media and organized protests. Don’t congratulate yourself, and then head straight back to throwing all your money to Jeff Bezos and other businesses that are already thriving. Don’t just use our service once and/or buy a product once. Let us prove that there is an opportunity of growth. Hire Black Women, Invest in Black women, Promote Black Women.
3. Consider Black-Owned Female Businesses for Larger Opportunities
o According to the Federal Reserve, there were 2.4 million African American women-owned businesses in 2018 and Black women are the only racial or ethnic group with more business ownership than their male peers. Therefore, we’d like to be seen as highly impactful business owners who deserve to get the recognition outside of just the entertainment and sport industries that we most typically get celebrated for. Please start considering us for larger opportunities, partnerships and campaigns outside of the typical scopes, as we have so much to offer in other industries. Examples here: (Black Women in Tech, Black Women in Finance, Black Women in Events)
4. Encourage Women to Have More than One Dream
o I often get asked, how do I handle working a fulltime job as a publicist and run a small business while being engaged(weird). As if I need to just focus on one. But do you think all of the successful male Fortune 500 leaders were asked the same thing when starting out? Or being pressured into sticking to or being one thing? I really enjoy taking the skills of what I learn from all aspects of my life and putting them into all of the work that I do. It helps me develop a well-rounded skill set and bring different perspectives and creativity to the table. We are all so much more than our 9–5.
5. Stop Ignoring the Facts
o As we celebrate the Women’s History Month and admire the pioneers of feminism we have to remember that the movement towards female equality also featured some deeply flawed practices which we still have to acknowledge and accept. Let us celebrate but also not forget the anti-Blackness in the history of the original feminist movements through the exclusion of Black women and people of color. There was a period of time where Black women were not even able to march alongside their white counterparts in the fight for equality and/or if they did they were asked to walk in the back. But as we see time and time again, as Black women we not only show up for ourselves but we also show up for everyone else despite it all. We were always here fighting.
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I simply ask that your support doesn’t. When we relish in the idea of uplifting one another and spotlighting the women in our lives, I ask that you don’t do so just for this month but beyond. Start putting your money where your mouth is, mentoring more women, sharing your stories, sharing resources and most importantly spreading the love, as it truly goes a long way. And to my Black colleagues and entrepreneur friends, life is tough — but so are you. Keep going!
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