Diverse Entrepreneurs in Action
March 7, 2022
Kimberly started the discussion by talking about her background, growing up observing her father and gaining inspiration from life experiences. One piece of content that really struck a chord with her, is Netflix's documentary, 13th. The documentary discusses the emancipation proclamation, which had a clause in it that allowed states/governments to use incarcerated people for labor. After seeing the documentary, Kimberly started thinking about the horror of the situation and what life is like for people after incarceration. She thought… What happens to those people? Even though Kimberly was a teacher at the time, she knew she could make a difference; she’s passionate, hardworking, and possesses the right mindset to excel as an entrepreneur. Using her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for fashion, Kimberly decided to start Grant BLVD as a way to create jobs for disenfranchised people and those who were previously incarcerated. With a business based around community and inclusivity, Kimberly and her team set off to make a real difference in the community.
As an entrepreneur, being passionate about your business is important. For Kimberly, her passion has always been based around sustainability, community, and fashion, so combining the three was important for her. While Kimberly had past experience working in retail when she was younger, she excelled in identifying talent and putting together a strong team. Teamwork in entrepreneurship is crucial to building a good business and being able to identify your own strengths is just as important as identifying your weaknesses. For Kimberly, identifying her weaknesses helped her realize what she brought to the table, and helped her to put together a team that is not only strong where she is weak, but a team that is deeply diverse and made up of people of all ages and backgrounds.
Shortly after putting together the right team, the pandemic hit. Kimberly was faced with challenging decisions about operating her business, but was dedicated to making it work. She and her team showed resiliency and a strong entrepreneurial mindset, working through the pandemic and finding creative solutions to the challenges that came as a result of COVID-19. For instance, instead of hiring models and photographers, she and her team pivoted to using friends and family - in April they began making masks with a buy one give one initiative to help the homeless community, and as more stores started to open, Kimberly followed suit.
Community matters when growing a business or a brand, but how do you reach your community? For Kimberly, identifying as queer, black, and female, presented a significant learning curve as she has fewer people like her to look up to; but this also gave her a unique opportunity to connect with a lot of different people. Although she had less access to capital, the way she chose to navigate the business environment has helped lead her to success. While growing up, Kimberly was able to learn how to communicate with people from all walks of life, and as an entrepreneur, this skill would help her evolve and network with others. Being able to walk into any situation with ease has helped grow her network and community, which have ultimately helped lead her to more success as an entrepreneur.
As shown through Kimberly's story, there are many factors that go into making a successful entrepreneur. 6 key factors include:
Identifying your passions
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses
Building a strong team
Staying resilient and pivoting in challenging situations
Maintaining an entrepreneurial mindset
At the Close School, students not only learn these principles but they also have plenty of opportunities to put them to the test. Whether that’s through the Entrepreneurship Co-op, events like Future Fest, or through their own business ventures, the Close School is the place to be for anyone that wants to grow as an entrepreneur.