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Black Women Owned Businesses to Support: The Ladies Behind the Brands

In lieu of Black History Month and with International Women’s Day approaching, I want to highlight two Black businesses founded by two exceptional and empowering entrepreneurs. The support of Black businesses is important but we should remember to support the creative minds behind the brands as well. Black women, especially, do not get enough representation and support when it comes to their aspirations and professions…it is time that changed. I sat down (virtually of course) with two phenomenal women to discuss their inspirations, as well as their trials and tribulations behind the business. 

First I sat down with Ahjane Butler, who is the creative genius behind ClubSoda Accessories: 

Tell me about yourself and your business? How would you describe your brand in three words? 

My name is Ahjane Butler. I am from Rochester, New York. ClubSoda Accessories is an online jewelry and accessories store. Right now, we sell versatile pieces that pair well with a simple jean + tee or with that perfect night-out outfit. If I could describe ClubSoda accessories in three words they would be; fun, inviting, and exciting. 

What made you decide to become an entrepreneur and start your own business? 

I love art and fashion and last summer I found myself scrolling through tons of Instagram and TikTok posts looking for the most fun and interesting accessories I could find. In August, I started ClubSoda Accessories. I realized that I wanted to do more than just shop for the latest trends. I wanted to be ahead of the curve and one day start the trends. I also wanted an outlet where I could explore creative direction. My friends and I love having different photoshoots and this was another way to be able to do that.

What challenges do face as an entrepreneur? How do you overcome them? 

There are a lot of challenges to being a new entrepreneur. The biggest one right now is maintaining momentum. ClubSoda Accessories is completely funded by myself. Having that responsibility can be overwhelming at times. The easiest thing to do is give up but instead, I try to set measurable and realistic goals. This way I can keep track of how far I’ve come. 

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

What keeps me motivated are the messages from loved ones and satisfied customers. It means a lot knowing that someone took the time to buy from my shop and it pushes me to improve for myself and for them too. If there are any aspiring entrepreneurs out there reading this, START! Start whatever project you’ve been wanting to. You’ll only wish you did it sooner. 

Who and what would you say are your inspirations?

 My inspirations are art and the ability to create. The fact that we can create something brand new, something original, for the world to see and interact with. It’s one of the many gifts of life. One of my best friends, Karrington (@shemakesclothes) is one of my biggest inspirations. Since high school, she has been –you guessed it– making clothes! Her vision is just so amazing and I think back to how much she’s grown since then. I also love Megan THEE Stallion! She’s a true artist and her talent/ skill is unmatched. 

Do you think Black women get enough representation when it comes to their aspirations and professions? 

Black women do NOT get enough representation when it comes to their skills and professions. We’ve already done so much for the world! It wild to think about. I do feel like that is changing and, from the music industry to the creatives and corporate offices, black women are getting their recognition tenfold!

Are you working on any upcoming projects? What can we expect? 

Yes! ClubSoda Accessories will be having a HUGE sale so check the Instagram @_shopclubsoda so you don’t miss out! This is to make way for new items and basically a rebirth of ClubSoda Accessories. I’m very excited.

 

Next, I sat down with Cameron Trowers, owner and creative mastermind behind CMRN Swim: 

Tell me about yourself and your business? How would you describe your brand in three words? 

My name is Cameron Trowers and I am a 22-year-old Jamaican-American woman with a swim company called CMRN Swim. Growing up I have always been the friend to uplift and cheer everyone up. With CMRN Swim, I aim to do the same for every person that comes across us! I want to inspire people to wear whatever makes them feel sexy! The three words I would use to describe my brand would be; something for everyone. 

What made you decide to become an entrepreneur and start your own business? 

I’ve always wanted to own something that spread a positive message for people who look like me along with other marginalized groups. I also enjoy taking pictures and creating fun and positive content! Becoming an entrepreneur was just step one. 

What challenges do face as an entrepreneur? How do you overcome them? 

I meet many challenges throughout the week, from sourcing products to updating my website thus learning to add a new code. I overcome these challenges by asking questions and using the internet! My biggest advice is to always ask for help!

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

I would say almost every aspect of my job is rewarding besides bookkeeping! It is such a blessing to be able to let people into my mind, and share with them the love everyone deserves! The sense of community we are creating is amazingly rewarding as well! I feel like my small pocket of the internet is an extremely safe place and I am so blessed to have started something like this. Some advice would be to never stop creating what you want. At the end of the day, it has to be something you’re passionate about for it to thrive. Don’t create to please other people, and lead with love in anything you do!

Who and what would you say are your inspirations? 

Gabrielle from Local Black Child, My mom, Brandon Blackwood, and Rihanna are just a few people that inspire me every day! They are all unapologetically themselves while uplifting others and owning an amazing brand with an inspiring message! If they can do it, then so can I! 

Do you think Black women get enough representation when it comes to their aspirations and professions? 

No, I don’t think Black women get enough representation. I find it very important for little Black girls to be authentically themselves. I feel we are the most quieted down and the most ignored when it comes to our dreams and aspirations.  So often we are shoved into one tiny box. But lately, we’ve been doing extraordinary things and I plan to follow suit.

Are you working on any upcoming projects? What can we expect? 

Yes! I am working on adding swim trunks, swim skirts, and a few accessories in the near future. Expect for us to have more interactive features on our website and for us to grow exponentially!

Please check out ClubSoda Accessories at https://shopclubsoda.com/ and follow on Instagram @shopclubsoda as well as CMRN Swim at https://www.cmrnswim.com/ and follow on Instagram @cmrnswim.

Ashley Baptiste is a junior at Manhattan College double majoring in Communication and International Studies with a concentration in integrated marketing and global issues. Originally from the island of Trinidad and Tobago, Ashley enjoys learning and experiencing the uniqueness of all cultures as well as traveling. Lover of all things zodiac and astrology, she is always down for a conversation about your astrological chart. Ashley is currently Vice President of the Black Student Union at Manhattan College and hopes to eventually create a comfortable and inclusive environment on campus and in her community.
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