As a community leader, beautician and business owner, Viola Desmond changed the game overnight by creating employment opportunities and mentoring / training young African women from Nova Scotia through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture. After her specialty training in Montreal, New York and Atlantic City, she quickly began expanding her business operations across the province and discovering strategic opportunities for black women in the Canadian beauty industry.
On November 8, 1946, Viola Desmond became a silent revolutionary after defiantly questioning the racial segregation laws of the Roseland Theater in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. After she refused to give up her place in the all-white section of the theater, she was brutally arrested, detained, and charged with tax fraud for lack of legal representation. Such a miscarriage of justice was part of the unwritten Canadian Code of Racism Against Blacks and represents a pivotal historical moment in the struggle to protect the human rights of the African-Canadian population.
Desmond possessed a spirit of service, leadership, and entrepreneurial genius in setting a standard for how the community’s economic development should be. Their struggle sparked a rallying call from the African-Canadian community to neutralize the effects of racism against blacks and to continue the pursuit of justice in this country. Such a historical legacy appeals to the next generation of African-Canadian women entrepreneurs who stand on their mighty shoulders. We have a responsibility to keep their story alive by learning from their pioneering work.
It is an honor and a privilege to introduce three brilliant women entrepreneurs to the York community who exemplify #blackgirlmagic with the right business flair!
Nicole Reid is an aspiring entrepreneur with a vision for social change whose business has grown into Curves Kinks Confidence: an avant-garde monthly subscription service to curated beauty and wellness products from minority-owned companies. In her own words, she believes in the power of togetherness – where black female entrepreneurs adopt a FUBU (“for us by us”) mentality and use their platforms to “portray the misrepresented”.
Reid’s three most important business principles for success are positioning, marketing, personalization – PMP for short. The PMP concept is your competitive advantage, indicating the importance of business branding and understanding the uniqueness of your customer base in order to achieve the ideal user experience.
The art of your personal branding represents your company’s image and strengthens your reputation currency in the competitive world of entrepreneurship. Her journey speaks to the determination of a woman destined to stand up and motivated by a call to action to serve her community.
For Reid, the name of the game is simple, “Take pride in what you do and value your customers in order to make an impactful change.” When your passion becomes your paycheck, all of the pieces of life’s puzzle fit together and draw a beautiful picture of your vision in real time.
As the founder of Tematresses, Temitayo Odubanjo is taking the Canadian black hair industry by storm and showing the importance of running our own business. As an entrepreneur in many hats, Temitayo talks about the importance of the African-Canadian generational wealth and how we as black women “have so much power in this world”. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tematresses was able to quickly set a linchpin by adopting an innovative spirit of resilience and learning great self-sufficiency lessons, in which she understood the business mantra, “I am the secret formula.”
For Odubanjo, African-Canadian entrepreneurship for women means “teaching the next generation how to build wealth for themselves while helping our own community”. In the midst of adversity, there is an opportunity to “keep money flowing in our own community” by building the next generation of African-Canadian entrepreneurs with our dollar. Odubanjo’s business wisdom speaks in favor of taking our wealth into our own hands in order to gain social, political and economic influence and to trigger the change we want to see for the well-being of our community.
A social changer in her own right, Aleah is the proud founder of the clothing brand The Youngest In Charge (TYIC) and offers a message of empowerment “for today’s youth who will become tomorrow’s leaders.” Allah’s source of inspiration was her mother. As she learned from her example, she took a leap in confidence and pursued her entrepreneurship dreams to understand the importance of wealth creation in the community. In times of “turmoil” it becomes important to stay anchored in your vision for financial wellbeing and to take advantage of the opportunity to do business on your terms.
Now is the time for the African-Canadian millennial generation to strategically capitalize on business opportunities, with the black dollar having to circulate to ensure the African-Canadian community can grow. The words of wisdom from Aleah speak of the importance of “keeping the money in our community and working to fill the wealth gap.” Such a powerful statement speaks to the current economic change that requires an entrepreneurial mindset and makes a strong argument that “Black women entrepreneurs are important tools for wealth creation and prosperity in our community, as is work for others for the rest of our lives doesn’t cut. ”
African-Canadian women’s entrepreneurship is the silent revolution that will propel a new vision for community economic development and ensure that we strive to build a legacy of intergenerational wealth creation. I am speaking of a place of humility when I say that the black woman holds the world in her precious hands, with the ingenuity, resilience and creativity to visualize opportunity during crisis.
After all, Toronto is destined to become an internationally respected city with a burgeoning business environment that attracts entrepreneurs from around the world. In many ways, our community is uniquely positioned to demonstrate a spirit of African-Canadian entrepreneurial excellence, and Sistahs are leaders in that regard!
Last word: “Continue the tradition and train yourself for the next generation.” #Blackbusinessmagic