Black girls rock


Dawn Dickson is breaking boundaries! Over the last few years, crowdfunding has proven itself to be one of the most popular routes to take when it comes to starting a business. Friends, family, investors and those alike can support your entrepreneurial dreams with just the click of a button. Today, $34 billion has been raised globally through crowdfunding.

According to Startups, the average successful crowdfunding campaign is around $7,000. However, Dawn Dickson has raised a much more substantial amount of money and has shown us what it truly means to be a BAUCE in the world of crowdfunding.

Dawn is the founder of Flat Out of Heels, comfortable and rollable flats small enough to fit in your new Telfar, and the CEO of her software company, PopCom. She has done the work to place herself in a position to pull others up as she sails to the top. In 2019, Dawn became the first black woman founder to raise over $2 million via crowdfunding. Her go-getter spirit, love for business, and desire to create generational wealth amongst the black community has driven her to make history.

On Her Passion For Crowfunding

I learned about the JOBS Act in 2013, which allowed people to raise money from the public. After we raised our first round, we raised $1 million dollars from venture capitalists and angel investors, but I wasn’t a fan of the process. I wanted to be able to give my friends, family, and people close to me an opportunity to invest in my company. Many of them were not accredited investors but in order to invest in the company, you have to be accredited but under crowdfunding, you can raise money from anyone. I am really passionate about building and helping to create generational wealth. I feel like this was a great opportunity to do that.”

How Long It Took To Get Her Business Started

Dawn: For Flat Out of Heels, I raised $100,000 from friends and family within the first 4-6 months, and then I raised the other $150,000 after that, so $250,000. Pop com is a tech and software company, so I’ve raised about $3.3 million since 2017.

Dawn Dickson

For Those Who Don’t Have A Network 

Dawn: I wasn’t born with a network, it wasn’t inherited by a family member or anything. I had to go out and build it and I did that mainly by attending conferences and events, really networking online, doing everything possible to put myself in rooms. I was very, very, very active, going to every tech conference I could find!

On Her “Why”

Dawn: I love solving problems, building businesses, working with teams, being innovative. I’m definitely driven by creating generational wealth and changing the trajectory of my family. I have a daughter, I have nephews. Creating wealth for them, making sure that they have something, and I have something to pass down…it continues from here. Historically, we weren’t even allowed legally to own property, make investments, and have wealth. It’s so important to start to shift that pattern.

Moving To Nigeria

Within the next 10 years, Dawn plans to sell her companies and move to Nigeria, where her husband is from. She would also like to start working with startups around the world and create a global network. As far as her bucket list goes, “I travel a lot but, that was put on hold because of COVID, but I definitely want to go to Machu Picchu, and then I want to go to South Africa. I’ve been a lot of places but I just want to continue to travel the world. I would love to visit as many countries as possible, I was trying to visit one every other month but things got halted!”

Source: Bauce Mag

Despite many career strides, encouraging Black girls to pursue STEM careers is still greatly needed. For example, in 2019, Edutopia published an article written by Carly Berwick about how stereotypes and cultural norms dampen girls’ interest in STEM. However, educators could counter the disparities with small changes to their practice. Additionally, Nicole Joseph, assistant professor of mathematics and science education at Vanderbilt University research, was quoted as stating that research has shown that Black girls view themselves as outsiders in mathematics, and teachers view them as outsiders, too.

But solutions are at work, to close the gender and race gap, with the help of companies and organizations, in addition to educators. Tech leader Microsoft, and Beverly Bond—who is founder and CEO of the award-winning women’s empowerment, lifestyle, and philanthropic brand BLACK GIRLS ROCK!® — just announced ‘a strategic partnership to build technology infrastructure and empower more Black girls to become leaders through access to culturally relevant programs, leadership development, and STEM skills.’ Black Girls Rock Inc. has been devoted to the healthy, positive identity development of young women and girls by providing programs that support critical thinking, leadership development, sisterhood, innovation, civic engagement and career exposure. Now, more goals can be achieved in some of these areas.

The press release stated that the goal of the alliance is to strengthen the transformative work of BLACK GIRLS ROCK!® with the technology and scale of the Microsoft’s ecosystem.

“It’s remarkable to be championed by a towering institution like Microsoft to propel the work we’ve been doing at BLACK GIRLS ROCK!® to educate, empower and inspire the next generation,” Beverly Bond said in the announcement. “This partnership gives BLACK GIRLS ROCK! the support necessary to expand our work to help more girls find their voices, define their truths, and forge the futures they envision.”

Marcie Nymark, director of Strategic Partnerships for Microsoft, added that Microsoft shares BLACK GIRLS ROCK’s commitment to empowering women and girls.

“We also recognize the challenges facing women, especially Black women, are complex – no one organization can solve them all. That’s why we’re excited to partner with Beverly and BLACK GIRLS ROCK! to bring together our efforts to educate and inspire the next generation of innovators,” Nymark also stated in the press release.

Resources, programs, and tech solutions will reportedly support three key initiatives, which include a BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Book Club launching this month, BLACK GIRLS ROCK 15-year Anniversary Fundraising Gala in June, and a BLACK GIRLS LEAD Leadership Conference in July.

Further details explained that the partnership will officially kick-off with the launch of the first BLACK GIRLS ROCK!® Book Club and workshop April 14, at 12pm EST/9am PST featuring Bond’s book BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Owning Our Magic. Rocking Our Truth!, and facilitated by BLACK GIRLS ROCK alumna Kathie Duperval. The virtual event will be free and open to the public. Registration should be completed through Microsoft Store events.

Additionally, Microsoft Store will host each book club event which will be followed by an interactive virtual workshop designed for students and inspired by the book’s core themes and motifs. Microsoft will be the presenting sponsor of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK 15-year Anniversary Fundraising Gala. Musical performances will include Chaka Khan’s. It was also announced that the BLACK GIRLS LEAD conference, powered by Microsoft Teams, will bring together teen girls to participate in workshops, panel discussions, and lectures led by world-class educators, artists, business moguls, scientists, entertainers and other influencers.

Source: Blackenterprise.com

The highly anticipated BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Award show is back for another year with even more unapologetic Black girl magic!

The annual award show highlights the exemplary achievements of Black women and girls, past and present, across the globe. 

This year’s award show is hosted by Emmy nominated actress, Niecy Nash, and will tape in Newark, New Jersey at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). Honorees include THE Angela Bassett who will be receiving the much deserved Icon Award, Regina King (Star Power Award), Ciara (Rock Star Award), Academy Award nominated producer Debra Martin Chase (Shot Caller Award), two-time Grammy award winning artist H.E.R. (Young Gifted and Black Award) and activists and heroines, “The Mothers of The Movement,” Sybrina Fulton, Geneva Reed Veal, Gwen Carr, Lucy McBath, Maria Hamilton and Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley who will all be receiving the Community Change Agent Award.  

The BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Award show was founded by celebrity DJ and model, Beverly Bond. Bond created the show to celebrate women of color who are breaking barriers, trendsetting and trailblazing in their chosen industries.  Since 2006, the award show has been dedicated to empowering women and girls through media, leadership, education and pro-social programs. “I am thrilled to host this year’s BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Awards. We are celebrating Black women who serve the world with style, grace, class and sass,” said 2019 host Niecy Nash in a statement.

Past honorees include  #MeToo Movement founder Tarana Burke, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige, dance legend Judith Jamison, actress Issa Rae and Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  Founder and executive producer, Beverly Bond said that “BLACK GIRLS ROCK on BET is the mecca for Black girl brilliance. This show is the preeminent annual celebration of Black women and girls influence across sectors and this year’s cohort of celebrants are stellar examples of our illustrious contributions to the world.”

The award show will air on Sunday, September 8, 2019 at 8pm EST on BET. And of course, we’ll be watching!

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Born in the 90s, beauty entrepreneur, media personality and actress, Iheme Faith Uloma, a.k.a Ifu Ennada, is no stranger to the limelight. Bursting into our consciousness as a Big Brother contestant last year, she is also an event host and speaker and has moderated several panel discussions in various fields. Shortly after leaving the #BBNaija show, Ifu launched her beauty brand, beautIFU Ennada which debuted as a haircare line for natural hair girls. BeautIFU Ennada turns one today and, in celebration, she is launching a wig line, a line of pre-stretched braiding hair extensions called E’Zee braids, a state of the art salon, a beauty academy and store. She has also announced a reward program for everyone on her beautIFU Ennada train, 5millionaday, a platform for teaching entrepreneurs how to grow their business. In 2017, her self-produced and written short film, “Tears of A Broken Virgin”, which premiered at the In Short Film Festival won her Award for Best Actress. In 2016, she was nominated for AMAA Awards best young and promising actress for her role in O Town by CJ Obasi and has since featured in top TV Series like Tinsel, Ebony Life’s HM Travel and Tours, MTV Base Shuga and movies like Obsession by Judith Audu, The Quest by Dabby Chimere and Hire A Woman by Chinney Love. Passionate about women and a strong advocate for women who have gone through abuse, she sits down with GuardianWoman to talk about being in the eye of the storm, how poverty pushed her to do well, her soft spot for women and her plans to take over the beauty industry.

Your stage name is very interesting. Tell us how you came about it? Did you always have it or you coined it for BBN?
Ifu Ennada is actually also my official name, just not what I have on my passport, but it is recognised legally as my name and I have also trademarked it. Ifu Ennada is simply my name creatively rearranged, it’s the initials of Iheme Faith Uloma and Ennada is Adanne spelt backwards. I created Ifu when I was 17 years old and added Ennada when I was 19. I was a newbie TV presenter and needed a name for TV. I wanted something catchy but original, so that was how Ifu Ennada came to life.

Since leaving the BB Show last year, you have been in the eye of the storm severally. Is this deliberate?
Everything I say or do is deliberate, but how people react to it is not my responsibility. I’m very expressive and bold. I am also kind and respectful, so I’d never do or say anything to hurt anyone, but the media has a way of twisting one’s words and action to make great headlines that’ll bring them more traffic.

Tell us about your beauty brand in detail? 
My beauty brand, Beautiful Ennada turns one today. It debuted with a line of haircare products inspired by the hair loss I suffered about two years ago. My hair wasn’t growing and I had lost my edges and every product I tried had failed. So, I started doing research and taking mini courses online and finally came up with some of my recipes. At the time of this discovery, I didn’t have the resources I needed to launch the business, but going into Big Brother changed that. We have helped a lot of women get back their hair including popular celebrities like Mercy Aigbe, who endorsed us publicly after our super hair growth oil restored her hair. We’ve also been publicly endorsed by American-Nigerian celebrity hair blogger, Naturally Temi. Since we launched, we have gradually expanded and are now set to introduce more products into the line while launching a new look. Also these products will cater to people with different hair types, natural and relaxed, textured and so on. We’re also set to launch a state-of-the-art salon, beauty store and a beauty academy.

You launched a product this week, tell us about it; what impact do you think it would have?
This week, I launched a first-of-its kind fashion accessory called the Wig Hat. It solves the problem of bad hair days by providing a fashionable Wig Hat covering. Wig Hat is basically a wig sewn to classy Fedora hats and baseball caps. We introduced it with six different styles. Everyone can preorder till August 7, when the Wig Hats will become physically available.

The beauty industry as we know is well saturated. How are you managing to break through and be seen?
In my corner in the beauty industry, it is saturated with mostly products that are hardly effective and give no value for money, but that can’t be said for my products. A lot of my sales are based on referrals and testimonials. This is what has made me successful in a short period of time. In everything, I always strive to give value even if it means making little or no profit. I’ve spent almost a year working on two major projects I want to launch. The new and improved recipes for my products and a hair extension line called beautiful Ennada E’Zee braids. Any other person could have launched quickly and made it available to the general public, but not me. It has to be 100 per cent and my conscience must be at peace with me before I can put it out for sale.

Tell us, what does 5millionaday mean and what does it do?
5millionaday is an online platform where I teach entrepreneurs how to grow and make money with their businesses. The name was inspired by a statement I made on TV. I was talking about the power of sales and how I made up to N5 million during a sales period, but people twisted my words and said I claimed I make N5million everyday. The small mindedness of these set of people led me to start 5millionaday. I wanted to teach young entrepreneurs everything I know in business and also motivate and inspire them with my work. I’ve been doing that since we started. I’m currently teaching my first online course on the platform titled, “How To Secure The Bag In Your Business.”

As someone firmly entrenched in both the beauty and entertainment industry, how are you marrying both worlds and making it work?
I am very passionate about beauty and entertainment. When I have a very demanding project in my business, I don’t take on any demanding acting jobs, but I do a lot of MC work because that is easier to execute.

You revealed that you suffered abuse in the past, how are you using your experience to help other women?
I counsel and speak to women when I can. I try to be there for them and help them get through it all. Also I connect them to some of my influential friends who take up the case and try to bring the abuser to book.

If you hadn’t gone down this line, what do you think you would have been doing now?
If I wasn’t in my line of businesses, I would have still been a creator in another capacity. I’m a creator and I love to bring things to life.

What do you think of mentoring for women, is it important especially for women-owned businesses?
Over the years, the society we live in has constantly dragged women to the back of the line and made her feel she’s not enough when she’s the very giver of life here on earth. Women are so powerful, but we live in a world that has been made to feel like it belongs to men. A lot of ladies have been brainwashed into thinking that only men have the capacity to make wealth. This is why it’s important to continuously mentor women in business, especially the young ones just starting out and to make them understand the limitless power in them. I truly wish more women would be supportive of women. It’s truly sad that when you look around, you find out that there isn’t much unity amongst women, but I’m here to change all that in my own capacity as a public figure and celebrity entrepreneur.

Both industries you are presently in are billion dollar industries all over the world. In your opinion, what can Nigeria do to become a major player?
Reduce the taxes paid by businesses in these industries and invest in these industries. Make very low interest loans available and generally just give us a survivable environment to operate in.

Doing what you are presently doing cannot be easy; what are some of the challenges you have faced and how did you pull through?
Getting the right staff, people who share your energy and goals is a challenge. Also, not being able to control certain factors, which are just beyond control, is another challenge. Business can be very frustrating, but the joy of fulfilling someone’s need by giving them good value makes it worth it.

Tell us something that has influenced your life and career positively today?
My past, growing up in extreme poverty, watching my sibling die in front of me due to lack of money to get good healthcare, reading other people’s stories and so on; all these have influenced me positively and made me the woman I am today.

How are you using your voice to help and encourage other women?
Everyone who knows me personally and follows me online knows I have a soft spot for women. A good number of my following online are women who are inspired by me. I try to be there for them when I can and if there’s a cause that needs my voice, I lend my voice to it, by all means.

If you could influence change, what change would you effect for Nigerian women?
I would change the way the average Nigerian woman thinks; how she sees her fellow woman as competition. I would make them know that wealth is not exclusive to men. We women are so powerful but we don’t even know how much power we have and possess.

What does your typical day look like?
My typical day starts with me not wanting to wake up from sleep because I barely sleep for three hours and have a lot of work to do. After I get ready for the day, if I’m working from home, I dive right into work and also monitor my staff. Sometimes I forget to eat till late into the night. I always end my day with prayers and thanksgiving to God Almighty who made and makes everything possible. I usually go to bed by 2:00am or 3:00am, sometimes even 4:00 am.

Wow! So how then do you relax and de-stress? What is your guilty pleasure?
I haven’t had time to do anything for pleasure or leisure in a long while. For now, I just sleep when I can because I’m always working, so I spend time resting my body and mind when I can.

Who and what inspire/drives you?
My past inspires me to work hard. My father inspires me. He’s my biggest cheerleader and supporter. When I have no faith in myself, my father has faith in me and never gives up on me. He tells me that I can do anything if I believe I can.

Tell us what the next five years would look like for you and your brand?
Growth, growth, growth; that’s all that’ll happen. Having more business partners and taking over the world. I’m presently partnering with a Kenya business woman, Nasieku Ellein who’s also the CEO of The Merakii beauty salon and studio and jointly, we’re taking over the East African market. I’m also partnering with the CEO of Adaora Beauty Supply, Los Angeles to take over the US market as well. I have a number of key partnerships that have been executed and more to come. In the next five years, my businesses, my business associates and myself will be regulars on the Forbes List.

What last words do you want to leave with those that have been inspired by you?
Less than two years ago, there were days when all I had on me was just N100, some days I had nothing, but today my story is not close to that. Keep pushing and never give up, always know that nothing is impossible, this I believe is the meaning of Ifu Ennada.

Interview by Tobi Awodipe  for Guardian