This past week, I was invited to attend the Bosses in Heels Fresh Start for Your Business Workshop at the Houston Museum of African-American Culture that showcased powerhouse guest speakers Temi Siyanbade and Jokotade Adeniyi. The primary focus of the event was centered upon the importance of starting a business, the essentials in choosing the right business and the legal steps necessary to set up, refresh and grow a successful business. It was also a great session for women to be educated, share resources and (of course) network.
The ambiance was loaded with playful, light-hearted vibes and there was also an underlying professional feel that illuminated the room. When I first walked into the gallery, I was taken back by the gorgeous colors and the beauty of the Latino exhibit; yet, it was the wide variety of black female entrepreneurs that left an imprint upon my heart.
In addition, there was also an empowering energy that, literally, surrounded the presentations. Each of the dynamic speakers poured their hearts out in hopes of enlightening the anxiously awaiting audience. I learned quite a bit regarding business taxes, the significance of ‘getting everything in writing’, the power in ‘adding value’ to another individual’s life and the lasting impression of a personal website. The commentary was brutally honest yet uplifting. And, I relished in every moment.
My high school friend/North Shore Scarlet alumna Jasmine even made appearance (hey girl!)
Mrs. Jokotade (seen with me below) urged workshop attendees to look past the idea of coining yourself as a “businesswoman” or a”businessman” and striving towards becoming prominent “problem solvers”. The Nigerian-American author, thought leader and design extraordinaire made it clear that, in order to be successful, you must learn to make an impact in the lives of others by adding value. Whether it’s through a specific service (i.e. – providing beauty consultations, editing wardrobes, picking up groceries, etc) or on a more emotional level (i.e. – motivation, self-empowerment), you have to be able to accurately pinpoint the skills you can supply to others.
This charismatic orator even took things a step further by challenging audience members to take the time out to cultivate their craft, no matter how much effort it may take. She made it clear that sacrifice is necessary for any kind of success. I’ll never forget one of Jokotade’s most influential quotes throughout her speech; she simply said, “I was never a 4.0 student. Never! But, guess what? I had a 4.0 in determination and that’s all you’ll ever need!” Yes!
With a full stomach (and a full mind), I finished out the workshop prior to wandering down to the first floor art gallery. The vast space was chock full of black art, brochures and flyers that gave museum visitors a heads up as to which future events were in store. And, then I ran into Houston artist Rodney D. Butler! It turned out that he had a live exhibit on-site and he was gracious enough to stop by to describe a few of his favorite pieces. Talk about humble! He was sooooo down-to-earth! It was an honor to meet him.
The final leg of my HMAAC experience was spent viewing the jaw-dropping work of legendary artist Ted Ellis. There was a sprawling walk-through exhibit that held some of his best pieces; with that, each painting was also placed in chronological order as an attempt to tell silent stories of the past. From the onset of slavery to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to the 1960s Civil Right Movement to the inauguration of President Barack Obama, our tour guide took us on a painful (yet motivating) journey.
We witnessed the ups and downs of African-American history while coming to terms with the sacrifices that our ancestors made so that we (as a people) could be successful. As I made my way through this memorable exhibition, my heart was touched in so many ways. Honestly, I got the feeling that everything I’m doing in my life is the product of the lives that were taken in efforts of finding some type of racial equality. This, in itself, was a harsh realization that still sticks with me to this present day. Seeing the face of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. plastered along the wall only motivated me to go harder for what I believe is just and right. It was a subtle reminder that greatness lives on within your legacy.
If you’re ever in the Houston area, I highly recommend taking a couple hours out of your day to check out the Houston Museum of African-American Culture. Not only did the exhibits render me breathless, but the amount of knowledge and Black history that was revealed throughout the tour were absolutely unforgettable! Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
And, that about wraps everything up!