The latest panel from the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit featured two black women who are the walking definition of the word entrepreneur.
BLACK CORPORATE Vice President/Deputy Director of Content Alisa Gumbs sitting with Miss Diddyfounder of The Brand Group LA and Milan Red, founder of clothing store Milano Di Rouge and hair and fashion brand to discuss Leveraging Your Brand to Grow Your Business hosted by Comcast RISE. The women talked about what made them take the leap and start their own business during the conversation.
“Being a promoter is 100% entrepreneurship,” Miss Diddy told the audience. “Building from this place is what took me to the next level and saying I really have to start my own agency, my own business. I was working with my boys and my promoters who I still love at this day, but I knew that if I wanted to be recognized for the hard work that I did, I would have to create something that belonged to me and that should look like mine coming from me for people to identify with.
They also discussed strategies that helped them become who they are today and leverage the internet to become an entrepreneur. Rouge opened up about her debut on Instagram and social media.
“Instagram has helped me a lot, it’s really changed my life because I got to see the Miss Diddys, the Karen Civils and others making money and building businesses, and I knew that if they were doing, I could do that too,” Rouge said. “So I would literally say I’m selling shirts if somebody wants to meet me and people place an order online and I’d just travel to the three region states and sell them shirts.”
Rouge added that she was eventually able to rent a warehouse and open a store in Philadelphia, but she didn’t stop there.
“I knew I didn’t want to work at my store, so I stopped paying myself and built a team,” added Rouge. “In March 2016 I wrote my last check for myself and put it in the Bible and focused on growing my team and paying them and a year later we earned enough money to move to LA and really grow the brand and from there every day I worked hard.
One of the most impactful topics the women discussed was not being taken seriously as black women and how they turned things around. Milan said she always had the approach of asking questions but at the same time demanding respect, adding that she was not afraid of being underestimated as her work speaks for itself.
Miss Diddy took a different view on the matter, warning the public that what she had to say might make some people uncomfortable.
“What I learned as a woman is that men don’t have the capacity to see women as equals; not because we’re not capable or we’re not amazing people all of those things,” Diddy told the audience. “It’s because they’re born men and that plays a part, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like us or respect us in any other way, but I don’t believe they have the innate ability to see us as equals So what we have to understand as women is that sometimes the system is kind of what it is so what you’re doing is just do what you want I learned that I am also known for my work so all I can do is do my job and no matter how you perceive it I have nothing to do with that.
Building an audience was also a topic of the hour-long discussion and the duo provided several tips for building an audience and creating one by doing something authentic.
“First, really find out what would make you happy and what you would do without getting paid for it,” Rouge said. “Once you figure that out, google different ways to make money, even if your goal is to be the best mom you can be. I just had a baby, so I want to learn from moms, so create a YouTube channel that teaches different strategies or techniques to be a better parent.
Miss Diddy told the audience that instead of worrying about your audience and who needs to hear from you, focus on doing your best and the rest will come.
“I think people spend too much time trying to understand the audience instead of just doing their thing,” Miss Diddy said. “For me and my career, I had an edge because I didn’t have to look left or right, I just did my thing and built my business around that same kind of concept.”