Hustle & Heels (H&H) was founded nearly five years ago by Jen Scott and Jamie (Jay) Tavares when they were 27. The success of the business has led to a rising star nomination at the Black British Business Awards (BBBAwards) which takes place in London on Thursday.
Jen and Jay met over 15 years ago when they attended a Saturday school for high-achieving students and attended the same college. They separated and went to different universities but remained friends and started their first business after finishing university. Both convinced their families that becoming an entrepreneur was a viable career path for two black girls from east London. Jen’s dad is from Barbados, her mum is from Anguilla and Jay’s parents are from Jamaica.
I first interviewed Jamelia Donaldson in January 2017 after meeting her at an African diaspora business event. She launched Treasure Tress, a product discovery service in November 2015, now it has grown to become a staple component of the UK natural hair movement.
Treasure Tress caters for people with afro/kinky and curly hair. In July this year, Jamelia was nominated for a Black British Business Award (BBBA) in the Entrepreneur Rising Star category, so I caught up with her to find out what’s been happening since we last spoke.
I found out I was selected as a finalist for a BBBAward… When I was abroad and got a call from the BBBAward team.
Being a finalist is amazing… And being acknowledged for hard work is a huge honour and I’m very grateful.
I don’t know why they selected me over other people, but I guess it’s because… I managed to make my transition from the corporate world in asset management, to the start-up world, have grown the business to where it is now and provided opportunities for others along the way.
The BBBAwards are so important because… When you look at the statistics of the number of black-owned businesses that get funding, it’s embarrassingly low. This translates into the recognition that black-owned business get which often isn’t that great. Having something created by black professionals which recognises black-owned business is extremely vital.
I launched my business… When I was 23 years old. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, even as a child and I’ve always been a natural leader.
I love Twitter! Along with funny memes, it’s become a platform where I consume a lot of my news and find out about cool events. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across the Launch of UK Black Tech, hosted at the very impressive BloombergLondon offices.
The occasion was fitting of the venue.
I didn’t know what to expect, but listened attentively to the UK Black Tech team as they laid out their 100 Year Plan –building an inclusive tech economy and unlocking cultural diversity. The aim is to have a burgeoningonline space, where tech individuals and digital business are given tools they need to thrive, in one of the most dynamic industries in the world.
For most of us, seeing someone we can relate to can be a catalyst for igniting a passion within, that could otherwise stay dormant. The UK Black Teach team, have carved out their own careers within the tech industry and are keen to lend a helping hand to others.
An extension of this ethos is the #FacesLikeMecampaign, encouraging black tech professionals to use the hashtag stating their tech occupation. This increased visibility along with the support UK Black Tech offers to digital entrepreneurs and tech professionals, aims to diversify the UK tech industry socially and economically.
It was an inspiring evening where young (8–16 year-olds) entrepreneurs gave the audience insight into their startups. We heard how Chocoria is taking her chocolate spread to South Africa, FinTech platforms helping teenagers manage money and improve their financial literacy and Roadman Central, a sportswear price comparison site.
Technology is all about interactivity and UK Black Tech is no different! To understand the needs of those they aim to help, they’ve launched a survey. I’ve already filled it out and you can too, right here. There are also opportunities to get involved and offer your own skills; find out how.
Good hair…hmm.. two simple words that have caused controversy on social media in recent times. But what is good hair?!
You can define it however you want; I think it starts with healthy hair, says Oyin, Founder of The Good Hair Club (TGHC). In the black hair community, unfortunately it’s still defined as having a specific (looser) curl pattern, but perceptions are changing with this latest natural hair movement.
What is TGHC?
An online platform with (at the moment) independent British hair care brands, that compliment natural hair. TGHC is about being good to yourself, your hair and the world – while defining beauty on your own terms.
Why was TGHC started?
From March 2015 I lived in Nigeria for a while and decided to shave my hair off. It was just too hot! I came back to London, and chose not to relax my hair again. When my hair was relaxed I didn’t think about the damage these chemicals could cause or even considered how to look after my hair properly.
What was it like for you looking for natural hair products?
I found so many amazing (independent) brands catering for natural hair. However, they weren’t always easy to find, as they don’t always have the distribution channels to reach customers.
We don’t have to settle for products which damage our hair and scalp!
When was TGHC launched?
June 2016, with a photography exhibition showcasing the diversity of black women. Prior to launch I did a lot of research, speaking to friends and family about where TGHC could add value in the market place.
Do you think the UK natural hair market is growing?
Yes! Social media has provided black beauty bloggers/vloggers the opportunity to create a fun space for tools/advice; and visual evidence of what can be achieved with natural afro/curly hair.
There is proof that natural hair isn’t IMPOSSIBLE to maintain. Women are wearing their natural hair with pride.
How do you decide which brands to feature on TGHC?
Along with looking at brand reviews, I talk to the brand owners to understand if their values are in line with the TGHC ethos. I’m not limited to British brands, but this is where I’m starting.
A large proportion of black haircare businesses in the UK are owned by Asian or Middle Eastern men, why do you think this is?
I don’t know. It’s the same in America. Black people need to empower and support each other and build our own establishments. When I went natural and visited these shops, I realised that we settle for an experience that isn’t about us (even though we are the main consumers). I’m a black woman and believe I have a better idea of black beauty needs, compared to an Asian man.
I want to create an experience that is fun, exciting, fashionable and beauty-led.
Most popular products on TGHC?
Moisture is key for healthy hair, so conditioners are popular, especially with the rise of co-washing. Soap bars and oils are also near the top of the list.
Autumn is upon us, any product recommendations?
I recommend them all! It’s about finding what works for your hair type. The natural hair journey is an individual one. Products used in colder months may be different from what you use in the summer.
Exciting developments we can look out for?
I’ve got an international project coming in 2017; I won’t say much at the moment, but watch this space. I’m also planning on bringing more amazing brands to TGHC.
Any natural hair inspirations?
Of course! Solange is the embodiment of the care free black girl. Lupita Nyong’o has challenged western beauty ideas. Most importantly, both have fun with their hair.
Solange scored her first #1 Album (A Seat at the Table) a few weeks ago.
Good hair, don’t care! You can check out TGHC to find out more.
President Barack Obama visited Kenya for the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit (2015) in sub-Saharan Africa; this trip held particular significance as it was seen as Obama’s homecoming, dubbed #ObamaReturns #ObamaInKenya. The son of a former Kenyan goat herder came back as one of the most powerful men in the world.
Obama delivered various speeches, including one where he mentioned Kenya’s anti-gay laws which didn’t go down too well with his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta.
Obama: … “A law-abiding citizen who is going about their business, and working at a job and obeying the traffic signs and not harming anybody, the idea they will be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong, full stop.”
Kenyatta: “There are some things that we must admit we don’t share. It’s very difficult for us to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.”
Kenyatta went onto say that although America an Kenya share certain values, Kenyans are not bothered about gay rights, but rather issues such as healthcare which affect their daily lives.
I think Obama would have expected this type of response. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that their Constitution renders gay marriage legal across the whole of the country, Obama’s stance on gay rights has garnered global attention. Visiting what has been labelled the most homophobic continent in the world, and specifically Kenya where such activities are illegal, Obama would have been judged by the rest of the international community if he didn’t speak on the issue. However, I think it’s fallen on deaf (Kenyan) ears; unlike in America, in a country fighting infant mortality rates, maternal deaths, poor sanitation and other related issues, gay rights will not feature high on the domestic political agenda. After all it was only this year that U.S. Supreme Court made their ruling, which wasn’t really top of the agenda when America was going through the recession.
Although this short trip was designed to focus on the economic relationship between Africa (specifically Kenya; apparently the largest economy in East Africa), many were also interested to see the dynamics between Obama and his family.
After the festivities, the business of African entrepreneurship was back on the agenda with a particular focus on the importance of young and female entrepreneurs in Kenya and across the continent, as women are more likely to reinvest back into their families and local communities. To facilitate this, there was a pledge from Obama to opening three Women Entrepreneurial Centres in Zambia, Kenya and Mali.
In another speech at Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi, Obama condemned the oppression and physical abuse of women, including genital mutilation. Overall this whistle-stop trip to Kenya was a positive one. Obama’s rhetoric on the strides Africa has made to pull herself out of poverty coming to fruition reverberated around the stadium. However, familiar cautions were thrown into the mix: corruption and tribal divisions, which have been obstacles to African development for decades.
After leaving his father’s birth place, President Obama landed in Ethiopia today (Sunday 26th July), where he will again be the first US president to visit the country, and address the 54-member African Union (AU), at its £127m Chinese funded headquarters, on 28th July 2015. According to a report by Ernst and Young (EY), Ethiopia is predicted to be third largest economy in the Sub-Saharan Africa by 2017. Zemedneh Negatu, Managing Partner at EY Ethiopia, mentioned that Ethiopia accounted for a fifth of Foreign direct investment (FDI) jobs in Africa during 2014.
Some may question what Obama has actually done for Africa, especially being (of direct traceable African descent) the first African-American elected president of the U.S. on 5th November 2008.
To be blunt, not much.
Bill Clinton introduced the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and the George Bush administration increased aid spending targeted at HIV and AIDS initiatives. However, this Global Entrepreneurship Summit is a step in a better direction; to really rise from the ashes of poverty Africa needs transparent and accountable institutions and for Africans to develop their own businesses. Championing entrepreneurship and access to global funding opportunities is the way to go.
It’s important to remember Barack Obama is the president of the U.S. therefore domestic issues such as the recession and terrorism (he was able to track down and kill Osama Bin Laden) will take precedence over foreign policy. Despite this, the hopes of many Africans and those of African descent in the diaspora rested on his shoulders. The fact that a black / mixed-race man (which ever term you prefer), could be democratically elected in a country with one of the most brutal legacies of racial hatred, filled black people around the world with hope. As Obama is still just a human being, there are some burdens which one cannot carry alone.
The Sky’s the limit.
Despite not living up to all the expectations placed on this man born in sunny Hawaii, Barack Obama has inspired hope in many of his fellow Kenyans, who regard him as one of their own, and people of African descent around the world. Sometimes, all you need to do is cause a ripple in the water…and the rest (they say) is history.
Barack Hussein Obama II is An African-American ‘Affecter’
Affect (verb): Have an effect on; make a difference to or influence something.