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Leveraging Community and Culture: A Blueprint for Black Business Success

With Khary Lazarre-White, Miguel Pittman, Wendy Golding, and Erica Eubanks

39 minutes

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Many Black businesses are rich with culture and a deeply rooted sense of community. These characteristics can be essential components of a small business strategy when it comes to building a strong brand identity and connecting with a target audience. This panel explores how Black business owners can leverage their vibrant community and cultural heritage to boost their own businesses—from becoming a staple of their local community to building partnerships with other businesses and beyond.

Additional resources

Khary Lazarre White
Khary Lazarre-White Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Brotherhood Sister Sol
Miguel Pittman
Miguel Pittman Co-Owner of Sandra’s Next Generation
Wendy Golding
Wendy Golding Owner of The Creamy Spot
Erica Eubanks
Erica Eubanks Atlanta Community Manager at Yelp

Kadecia Ber: So leveraging community and culture, a blueprint for success for black businesses. Erica, Carrie, Miguel and Wendy, please join me on this virtual stage. Thank you all so much for being here today. And now I will let Erica take it away.

Erica Eubanks: Thanks so much, Kadecia. Pleasure to be here today. I’m Erica Eubanks, Yelp’s local community manager right here in Atlanta, Georgia. So honored to be here with our amazing panelists with all of you celebrating National Black Business Month with Yelp. So going into this session, knowing so many black businesses are rich with culture and deeply rooted in community, community and culture can be essential components of small business strategy when it comes to building your brand identity and connecting with your target audience. In my role here at Yelp, I have the opportunity to be boots to the ground meeting business owners, building that community and showing them off around our areas. So, we want to talk about on this panel how black business owners can leverage the vibrant community and our cultural heritage to boost our own businesses from becoming a staple in the community to building partnerships with other businesses, Yelp and beyond. So, knowing that, I just want to get into introducing our amazing panelists and giving them the opportunity to tell us more about their journey. So Khary, if you’d like to start and tell us more about you.

Khary Lazarre-White: Good afternoon and thank you for the invitation to the panel and this discussion today. My name is Khary Lazarre-White. I’m the executive director and co-founder of the Brotherhood Sister Sol, which is a comprehensive social justice youth development organization that’s based in Harlem, New York. We provide services that are at the intersection of educating, organizing, and training. So we provide wraparound support services for children from the ages of eight until 22, helping them to define a moral and ethical code, who they are as men and women, brothers and sisters in their community, leadership development, international study in Africa, Latin America and South America, college guidance, environmental education programming, arts programming. Really wraparound services that include protective services like legal representation and mental health support. So to help children to go strong into adults, to identify the key issues of our time and to be social justice makers.

We also train folks on our model across the country and have formal programming based on our model as far as Brazil and Bermuda, and are training folks from Boston to San Francisco to DC. And then the third area of our work is to organize. We believe in structural change. We believe in creating equity and equality for our people. We see ourselves as part of the continuation of freedom movements, black and brown freedom movements in this country for equity. We are unapologetically a political organization that talks about issues of gender justice and racial justice and class justice and their intersection. And so we work in that space, in that intersectional space of educating, organizing and training. We have about 50 full-time staff, employ about a hundred part-time folk throughout the year and serve thousands throughout New York City and nationally through our approach. And I look forward to the conversation this evening, but that’s a bit about Brotherhood Sister Sol and our work.

Erica Eubanks: Amazing. Thank you. Miguel?

Miguel Pittman: Yes, Sandra’s Next Generation, we started our business in 1989 with a vision of success. When we first started this business, this is really the vision of my wife. We’ve been married now for 39 years and this business, we’ve been in business for going on 34 years. We specialize in southern cuisine. We are about two minutes away from a landmark, which is in New Haven, it’s called Yale University. Our locations is on the outskirts of downtown. It was one of those neighborhoods that was forgotten. But we’ve seen the vision, we’ve seen the direction, how our community can transform, and we wanted to be a part of that. So we are 34 years in and definitely the neighborhood itself has been gentrified. And it’s important when that process is taking part, certain things, you can’t stop from coming in. You have to decide, okay, how would I fit in? But also how would I also educate our neighborhood in terms of what’s going on? And that’s part of the role that we play, but also we use our food as a way of joining people together. Thank you.

Erica Eubanks: I love that so much. Wendy, I’ll pass it on to you.

Wendy Golding: All right, thanks. What can I say, this is such a great session to be in. So, I am the owner and creative behind The Creamy Spot and GOAP, which is a plant-based business. So it’s a plant-based ice cream shop and a popsicle stand. And the mission behind the business was, one, I wanted to bring better plant-based options to my community. So right here to my underprivileged community. I live in Atlanta. I am originally from Florida, but I’ve been in Atlanta for about seven years now. And I live in an area that, as Miguel said, was often forgotten. I live, certain parts of where I am are food deserts, and so I wanted to bring a healthy option, a good option, something with a little bit of my flare and my twist to bring back those happier days. I started the business, I’m a baby in this business.

So I started in 2020 and it was just in the middle of the pandemic and I answered a question that I don’t think anyone asked, but I answered the question of being that more whimsical, that childlike thing that we remembered, the happier days. I brought that back with the popsicle carts. So, the main reason to start the business was also I wanted to be the actual change in my community. So oftentimes we always say we want to be the change, we want to see the change, but oftentimes we don’t either know how to start that change, we don’t have the mechanism to be the change, we don’t have the knowledge on how to make a change. So one of the things that I think is at our core at the business and on all of my team that has been so gracious to work with me is all we want to make a change.

We want to be better in our community. We want to set ourselves up to be amazing for the next generations, not just for us, but for our kids’ kids that are coming down the line. So, The Creamy Spot and GOAP are an answer to that unasked question that provides a little bit more of a community atmosphere, but also without hurting our tummies because as we know, especially as black and brown people, we’re usually allergic to dairy and cheese and all types of things. Most of us are usually lactose intolerant. So, all of our products help with that. So, thanks Erica.

Erica Eubanks: Love that so much, Wendy, I’m going to stick with you. We recently had the opportunity to connect, collaborate, share more of GOAPgang and The Creamy Spot with the Atlanta community, our Yelpers. So, you just spoke about putting back into the community, answering those questions, figuring out the change. So, I know that a huge part of your business model is outsourcing 95% of your produce from local black owned suppliers and farms. That’s amazing. So, I’d love to hear more about why is that so important to you, the impact it has on The Creamy Spot and the Atlanta community?

Wendy Golding: Yeah, Erica. So, honestly, I mean, if you think about it, there’s so many farms all over, right? All over the world, all over Atlanta in general. And so many of them don’t get their produce to markets, to companies. And so half of the time some of these farmers end up having to waste a lot of their food, end up having to, they just don’t get the profits from that food that they wanted to be able to sell and sustain their farm. So one of the things that’s very important to me, and it’s probably one of my biggest things that I hone in on, is sourcing black owned farms. So again, as Erica said, 95% of my fruit and produce comes from black owned farms, but right here in my neighborhood. So I’m not talking down two hours south of Atlanta.

I’m talking right here on University Avenue, which I have to pass every day. I’m talking Ellenwood, which is just outside of the city. It’s very important for me not only to sow right back into these farmers that I’m with day in and day out at these farmer’s markets that we do with GOAP, but it’s also just so important to reduce food waste. We in the US waste so much food and there’s so many things that whether it’s not pretty enough, you’ve got the misfit fruit or the not so pretty stuff, that is just as good. And half the time, at least for fruit, I will tell you, half the time it’s sweeter and it’s better for if you’re cooking or making any sort of thing with.

So, one of the things that is so important is to be able to sow right back into the community that supports me. The other 5% comes from local retailers, larger retailers that have fruit that they’re going to waste, that they’re going to throw out. So again, it’s near and dear to me to not only sow right back into the community and circulate our black dollars, but also to reduce food waste. That’s another big thing that if I can do my small little part in that, I think that that’s a good change for the community and also for Atlanta.

Erica Eubanks: Love that so much. Thank you for thinking about the community, our local farmers. That means everything. Miguel, I’m going to pivot to you. I know that you love nothing more than to speak about your wonderful wife along with your wonderful business. So, you and Sandra have been operating your restaurant in the same spot for over 32 years, and you just spoke about the changes, whether it’s gentrification, whether it’s the community changing, what people are looking for. And in that time your recipes have stayed the same and you stay true to them. Can you talk about how Sandra’s Next Generation has created and contributed to your community throughout the growing changes over the years? Sorry, Miguel, I think you’re muted.

Miguel Pittman: Yeah. So, you spoke about being in business for 34 years. That is a high number, but it doesn’t feel like it’s 34 years. It feel like we just started yesterday. And the reason why I say that is when you’re in business and you’re striving to succeed, time just doesn’t matter. Every day seems like a Friday. Every day seems like a Saturday. Every day seems like a Sunday. You just have that mindset that what you are doing, you just want it to work. But also not only for your family in terms of stabilizing them financially, but also in the way of building generational wealth. Because we all know one day we all going to have to leave this earth. But the question would be what would you leave behind? What impact would you make in your community? What impact would you make in your family? That’s key.

So it all comes down to one of my favorite words I enjoy saying, is keeping your pulse on your business. And it’s so many meanings behind that. What exactly does that mean? That means that you want to be conscious of where you’re buying your products, just like Wendy spoke about supporting your local farmers, supporting your neighborhood, being an example, being a leader. So, I could go on and on, but our time is very, very limited. But yeah, it is just one of the things that, I would say there’s no shortcuts to success. You’re going to have to go through it. You’re going to have to go through the hard times. You’re going to enjoy the good times, and then you’re going to have hard times again. But when you have those hard times again, you should be smarter and wiser in terms of how you address those hard times. How you position yourself. How you share that information as you are building your company or your organization or whatever your goal may be. What legacy do you leave behind? That’s it.

Erica Eubanks: You say that’s it like you didn’t just drop some gems on us. Thank you so much. That’s serious. I love that. Khary, as a nonprofit organization you’re incredibly embedded in the fabric of the community and you’re in a unique position to create impact and change. A lot of business owners want to contribute to the community, but they don’t know how or they don’t know where to start. Can you share some examples of ways you’ve partnered with local businesses to expand your efforts and how they can go about doing the same?

Khary Lazarre-White: I will, but first just a pivot, following up on what Miguel said. So my grandmother, my family’s from Eastern North Carolina and my grandmother considers herself the Muhammad Ali of cooking. That’s what she describes herself as and it’s well-earned. And quite honestly, she turns her nose up at any southern food cooked in the north. She doesn’t even believe they know what they’re doing. And we ended up having a family dinner one evening at Miguel’s restaurant, and my grandmother was so impressed with the chopped barbecue that she demanded that the chef come out of the kitchen and come shake her hand because it was the best chopped barbecue she had had outside of North Carolina. So, I just want to say that. Thank you for the meal and anyone who’s in New Haven to make sure to go by the brothers restaurant and his wife, Sandra. So I just want to start out there and give you your flowers, man. All right.

Miguel Pittman: Thank you.

Khary Lazarre-White: So, I think the issue of partnership is really a two-way street. There are ways that we support local businesses and local businesses support us. We do intensive job placement for our young people. So we try to partner with neighboring institutions to hire our young people and our alum. That helps them. That helps us. Picking up on some of Wendy’s point. We have an environmental education center. We have an urban garden with 35 fruits and vegetables and an aquaponics system and we compost. And we partner with neighboring restaurants and folks in the Harlem area to draw attention to this being a food desert. And it’s why we run a farmer’s market. It’s why we run a community garden, but we also have the composting that, again, works both ways. We collect from the neighborhood juice bar and compost into our space. We look to buy food from local vendors.

And again, to Wendy’s point, to look for black and brown led farms, we’re at least purchasing some of our produce. We provide 250 meals a day to young people, breakfast and lunch. And that’s a big choice of who we’re purchasing from. We just completed a brand new building. We built a 22,000 square foot building here in Harlem. And historically, one of the most segregated unions in our country is about the area of construction. And I was told that we couldn’t build the building overwhelmingly with black and brown hands. And we found a black architect and a black GC and really drove lots of the funding to, again, to local folk. And we ensured that when the GC took the job to build this building for us, we mandated that folks would be hired from the immediate block. And so 10 or 12 folks just from this block helped to build the building that’s on this residential block here in Harlem.

And so I think you want to think on really big levels who you’re choosing to drive your large dollars to. So for us that’s building a building. And then who you’re picking up your compost from or who you’re purchasing your smoothies from for the kids when they want to have something cold on a hot summer day. There’s a wonderful bakery in the neighborhood. And there’s so many different choices, again, of where you can partner and that’s where we consistently order snacks for our staff and for our young people just to contribute in our way to them. And I think that they’re contributing to us mightily because our community is only as strong as it’s kind of interconnected, businesses and schools. And what do our homes look like and what do our green areas look like? It’s an ecosystem. And so, just like in many other economically distressed areas in the country, New York City is a city of 9 million people and people often see the gloss and glitter of New York City, but a third of all residents in the city live in poverty or near the poverty line.

The greatest disparity of wealth of any county in America is the county of Manhattan, New York. Again, people see the glistening buildings. They don’t realize that nearly 15% of the people in this borough survive on under $10,000 a year in an extremely expensive city. And so when you hear that, what you realize is that there are abandoned storefronts all around our immediate neighborhood. There are businesses that have not been able to survive, and so if we don’t figure out a way to partner with each other and to sustain each other, that will just continue. And so I think the key thing when you’re thinking about the intersection of your work with businesses and small businesses is that you realize that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship and that it’s really about developing a strong ecosystem that leads towards a real community. And we have to sustain our own communities, and it’s absolutely essential that we keep our eye on it.

Erica Eubanks: Wow. First, thank you for everything that you do. That’s very important. So, I just want to stick with you and knowing how strong those partnerships are and we always hope that they’ll be longstanding. Can you share some tips for navigating partnerships and collaborations with businesses and nonprofits coming together? What are some red and, or green flags that you look for when it comes to building those partnerships?

Khary Lazarre-White: I think some overarching lessons and ideals to keep in mind are issues of integrity and consistency and thoroughness, you know, who you do business with. You want to make sure that these are folks who, as my father used to say to me all the time, a man or a woman’s as good as their word. We should be able to be in business and know that the person’s going to deliver and to fulfill their side of whatever our partnership is. And if that’s transactional and commercial, that’s one, but it’s also about partnerships. For us as a nonprofit organization, we have to make sure that those we partner with represent themselves well, that they are not companies that while they want to partner with us, they’re doing a whole lot of negativity on the other side. They’re not using us to clean up much of the negative behavior that they engage in.

We want to find partners who really want to be partners. This word, partnership, is broadly used in the corporate sector with nonprofits and it’s often not a partnership. It’s often much more of an exploitative relationship where it’s not really beneficial to the community-based organization in the same way than it’s beneficial, quite honestly, to the corporation. And so I think you want to look for partners who are really about integrity and you want to realize that any partnership represents you. If people go out there and we had a partner recently come and want to do an engagement with us, it just simply didn’t make sense because we felt like it wouldn’t be something we would be proud of. And can I define that and describe that and be proud of that for our young people? Can I tell them why we’re in the partnership? If I can’t, then that’s probably not a partnership we should participate in. So I think you want to look for integrity and consistency, thoroughness and really ensure that it’s aligned with your mission.

Erica Eubanks: Thank you for that. Wow. Wendy, I’m going to pivot back over to you and The Creamy Spot and GOAPgang. Location accessibility has been a huge part of your community building. You’re in the West End of Atlanta in a great location. Can you share what things you keep in mind when you were looking for that location that would serve your ideal customer and bring out the community that you were hoping to serve?

Wendy Golding: Sure. So, accessibility is so important, especially in a city like Atlanta where there is transit within the city, but when you’re on the outskirts of the city, it’s kind of hard to get out there. So, the idea was I wanted to be, The Creamy Spot is located directly behind the West End MARTA station. So, the accessibility from people who take transit, public transit, was very important and I was pretty strategic with picking the area. And I wanted to, like I said, I wanted to be able to, for folks to be able to access it from public transportation. The other piece of it is I really wanted to be with another business that was also doing something for the community. So as Khary kind of mentioned, it’s important when you’re talking about partnerships to partner with someone who you either can get behind what they’re doing or they’re either a good match for you and your brand.

And so I rent from, I’m in the space at La Bodega and I rent from them. And having that space with them is absolutely amazing. I mean, when I tell you that they have been behind me a hundred percent in every aspect, in every way possible, which is awesome, to being able to help with employees that maybe aren’t driving. Because a lot of the time, most of our staff is either high school kids that are out for the summer or college interns and a lot of them are either not, don’t live in the city anymore, but they’re from the city and they’ve gone away for college, so they don’t necessarily have transportation. So being able to be in a space where I’m very easily accessible to public transportation.

Also, there’s a lot of stuff that happens in the West End. There’s a lot of things that are around and people are kind of hustling and bustling throughout. And so it’s an area where, again, where it’s easy to get to. But there’s also in Atlanta, and I’m sure in New York as well, is parking is ridiculous. You can’t find parking and it’s expensive and it deters a lot of people. And so, I mean, Erica, I know you know from being there, there’s so much parking there. It’s open, it’s a big warehouse type of building. So there’s so much space and so much room to park. And that’s important because the last thing I want to do is have this community-based business, this initiative, and have this amazing product that is for my community, but my community can’t access it because they either have to pay $20 to park somewhere or they can’t get to it because it’s outside of the city. So, I really was very strategic about where I was for that accessibility reason. That’s very important.

Erica Eubanks: Love that so much. It is a great location. It is an important thing to think about because if you’re seeking to serve the community and they can’t get to you, what do you do? So I love that. Miguel, so with Sandra’s, soul food restaurant, culture and heritage are a big part of your dishes. It’s a big part of, I’m sure, all of our lives. Black and biz doesn’t end with just one day for any of us. So, can you tell a little more about how your menu items attract the local community, but also bring in other communities and expose them to soul food, which may be their first time. How do you have them walk away with a great experience like Khary’s grandmother?

Miguel Pittman: All right, great. Well, I just want to start off by saying that in 1962, my mother, she was raised in North Carolina and she was part of the era of sharecropper, her and my grandmother. And they moved here in New Haven for opportunities because back in 1962, they had a lot of factories here in New Haven. So my mother just wanted to change her lifestyle. And then I came into play and a lot of times I would spend summers down south with my grandmother. And I look forward to her preparing her dish for the family after she worked in the field all day. And I remember when she used to make the peach cobbler and banana pudding. But also with dinner, we would have baked chicken or might have lima beans that she pulled from the garden. And also she prepared and raised her own collard greens.

So, as I got older and I met my wife and she had a passion for cooking because she comes from a family of six. And her mother came from a family, I think 13. And her mother used to prepare the food for the entire family. And Sandra, my wife, used to sit and stand by, my wife, stand by my mother-in-law side. And when you look at that culture from the south, it’s something special when after the family might’ve worked hard or during the week and then they get together and they all sit at that table and enjoy whatever dish that’s being prepared. And unfortunately, sometime we as a culture, we didn’t have the best of things, but we utilized that time to bring the family together and that’s what we do on Congress Avenue in New Haven. We provide a landscape where a family could come and really enjoy food that might brought back memories when there was a youth. Or brought back memories of stories that maybe their grandmother said or their great-grandmother said.

And we all know that when it comes down to food, we all have that in common. But it’s something about when a black family get together and eat. So, just by talking about that, again, it just reminds me of my grandmother. So, we have that experience there on Congress Avenue, but also we are conscious and aware of over time certain things change. But one of the things doesn’t change with us is the recipes that we have on certain items. We would never, ever change the recipe of our collard greens or our candy hams or our macaroni and cheese. But we are creative enough to add on like a soul food empanada. And that’s geared towards more towards the Latino community, the immigrants that’s coming from Mexico. They are also in our community. We also offer soul rolls. We add our own spin to it. So when you talk about rolls, you think about the Chinese egg roll, but no, no. No, we make a soul roll. We stuff it with Caribbean rice, macaroni and cheese, collard greens. Sometime we might even add a little oxtails to it to add a little spin to it.

And change, and I would say accept the changes that’s going on within our community. When we started our restaurant in 1989, it was just, on Congress Avenue it was almost like a desert. It was a place where it wasn’t necessarily inviting to others. Some people might interpret as being a sketchy area, but we’ve seen the vision there. And we was part of changing that neighborhood to where it is now. And it’s amazing how time moves on. And now we have people coming from the suburbs that now they want to buy property in our neighborhood. They feel like it’s a safe space. So, as I mentioned before, the neighborhood is being gentrified. But we are educating people on the process. We are building certain bridges where certain families won’t have to necessarily be moved out. They could be a part of the process.

Erica Eubanks: Thank you for that. I’m going to stick with you and just ask, in addition to keeping a pulse on the community, you attribute a lot of your success to keeping a pulse on your business numbers. I know that our keynote speakers, JJ actually spoke about that as well. So, can you talk about why that’s important and how it’s helped you navigate the ups and downs? I know that some folks may think that you just wake up and you’re successful in business, but it requires that focus. So, can you tell us a little more about that?

Miguel Pittman: Sure. Well, to make it very simple, numbers doesn’t lie. For example, in 2008, we seen the writing on the wall when the market was about to collapse. That’s the time when banks was just basically just giving out a lot of money, and money was very plentiful. At that point in 2008, my wife and I, we accumulated roughly about 16 properties that we own within a two-mile radius. We was taking the profits that we earned from the restaurant business and we invested in real estate. So we was looking at the numbers and we was looking at the way that the economy was going and we said, you know what? I think it’s time for us to cash out. Because we seen the tsunami that was going to come. To make a long story short, through that transition in 2008, we lost about 94% of the properties that we own. We lost well over $2.4 million. That was hard-earned money that we worked hard for. Sweating seven days a week, open seven days, and the only time we had really off was Christmas and Thanksgiving.

But when we lost that, we didn’t shed a tear. It was a learning experience. As I said before, it’s no shortcuts to success. So what we decided to do is to regroup. We looked at the direction where the market was going. Real estate was very cheap at that point because a lot of people, including us, we lost our property. But we knew that it was a cleansing process. And usually that cleansing process usually takes place like seven years. And the reason why I use the seven years is that if you have anything negative that’s on your credit report, it could be erased after seven years. But also during the process, we saw that the knowledge that we gathered in that transition, we could be able to utilize that to build something even stronger. And we are, as of today, we are in a stronger position that we are now compared to what we was in 2008.

We learned, we adjust, we pivot just like we pivot when the process of the pandemic, when it came. It’s a reason why some businesses didn’t succeed and some businesses thrived. We was fortunate enough that we was one of those businesses that’s thrived through the pandemic. So again, numbers don’t lie. Numbers tell a story. Don’t ignore the numbers. If you need to pivot, you need to pivot because you’re running a business that you have to generate a profit. So you could be able to take care of your family, but also take care of all the people that work for you, all your employees, because they have responsibilities too.

Erica Eubanks: Love that. Pivoting is important. So it’s a good way to notice that. It doesn’t mean that it’s an end to anything, but you can pivot, still make it happen. So thank you for that. I know we’re running a little on time. We’ve got about five minutes left, so I just want to ask you all, if we can just go panelist to panelist, what advice would you give to a black business owner looking to leverage their community and culture to boost their businesses? If you all just want to popcorn off of each other.

Miguel Pittman: Well, if you don’t mind, I could take a shot at that. When you’re running your business, it’s important to be involved with the politics of your city because then from there you’ll be able to know how to navigate and how to make changes. For example, one of the boards that I sit on in the city of New Haven, I’m a Commissioner of Economic Development for the city of New Haven. It’s the type of board where all major projects has to filter through my board. So that means that I have access to what’s the five-year plan, what’s the 10-year plan, what’s the 30-year plan in terms of our city? But also one of the panelists talked about building your network. That is key.

You have to build your network because not only it’s good for the longevity of your business, but also it gives you a platform where you are in a position where you could help someone else that might be in need. You could be able to help another business that might not went through what you went through, but you could be able to navigate them through whatever issue that they might be involved in, and you could be able to share wisdom.

Wendy Golding: Jumping off of that, I think at least for me in my experience, one of the things that’s been monumental to me with starting a business is building that network, is building the people around you who are willing to support you, building those people around you who challenge you, who say, “Hey, that’s probably not the best idea.” Instead of just yes men. You don’t want the people that are just, yes, always, do that thing. People that’ll challenge you and people that will build you, but also people who can pour into you and have been there before and just building that network is important.

The other piece I will say quickly, I know we’ve got two minutes, so Khary, I’ll let you jump in here, is being able to know your why and staying true to that. So my why, I come back to every day, each time that I get stressed out and I’m busy or I’m overwhelmed or whatever, I come back to my why and I’m like, yeah, that’s right. That’s why I’m doing this. These smiles, these things that I’m bringing for my community, these dollars I’m circulating. That’s my why. And just making sure you remember that why and coming back to it.

Khary Lazarre-White: I would just add quickly, I think on top of both of those wonderful pieces of advice that you always have to ensure that whatever business you run continues to be mission aligned. You got into this for a reason. You have to keep focused on that mission and keep focused on what brought you to be an entrepreneur. And that second piece is what it means to be an entrepreneur. It’s an all consuming job. A lot of times people hear it and want to do it. Don’t realize you’ll be thinking about it when you go to bed and wake up in the morning thinking about it. That’s what it means to be an entrepreneur. You think about every single detail. You need to be an expert in all aspects of your business. Whether you were trained for it, educated for it, you better learn. You better learn every aspect of your business, that will do you well. So I think to really be an entrepreneur and to understand all aspects of your business and to ensure that you’re always mission aligned.

Erica Eubanks: Gems. Thank you all for being here with us. Thank you so much for giving us this wisdom and telling us more about you and your businesses. So happy National Black Business Month, and we thank you for being here with us.

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We take a deep dive into Chef JJ Johnson's remarkable culinary career as he shares his journey as a chef and restaurateur and reflects on the challenges he’s overcome.
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Small Business Roundtable: The Challenges Facing Black Business Owners Today

This panel discussion brings together Black business owners to talk about the top challenges they’ve encountered and the strategies and solutions they’ve employed to overcome them.
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