How This Entrepreneur Switched Degrees to Fulfill a Need In The African-American Beauty Industry

Having a lack of representation in the African American community, there was one thing this entrepreneur did to change things for the community and the makeup world around her.

Originally going to school for pharmacy, she turned her sights to something she felt would make an impact in the world she lives in.

Her name is Florence Adepoju, but known as Flo and she was going to school on a medical track, looking to work in the world of pharmaceuticals when she had a change of pace, an idea to be an entrepreneur with a jetsetting start on the world.

 

Looking into the world of cosmetics since 2013, she has a brand known as MDMFlow. Working on the side with a cosmetics company and loving every minute of it she realized that she could make a living doing something she loved and not just making a living to get by. When women came in and wanted something that went with their darker skin tones, the line just didn’t cater to that side of things, so she would have to nicely let them down telling them they just didn’t carry those shades.

MDMFlow ProductsCOURTESY OF FLORENCE ADEPOJU

Realizing that this was something she could work towards and put her full potential into, she developed a cosmetic line that actually caters to these darker skin tones and really makes them stand out. After spending time abroad and changing her major to Cosmetic Science, she realized that so many other brands were facing the same troubles as the first.

As a woman in the field, one of color, she decided to brand herself and her own skin tone. With different shades that fit different women, as well as marketing that was meant for women of color, she was able to grab the market by storm.

Starting the business in her parent’s backyard shed, she created a line that so many women currently know and love.

 

How Their One-Year-Old Son Helped Start Their All Natural Juice and Popsicle Business

A new business is usually birthed from the need to find a solution to a problem. Even the youngest members of our family and friend circle can spark our most innovative ideas. That is exactly what happened for Roots Juice & Pops founders Derek Hardge and Adashia. Read more about their road to entrepreneurship below.

VEU- Give us a little background information on you both
Adashia  & Derek Hardge, owners of Roots Juice & Pops. We met at Georgia Southern University in 2011 and now have two sons, aged 1 and 4. Adashia is a native of Dallas, TX and enjoys cooking and spending time with family. Derek is a Detroit, MI native and loves marketing, spending time with his family, and sports.
VEU- Explain how your kids inspired the concept behind the brand 
We actually began juicing when our oldest son was about 1-1/2 years old. When he was an infant, he would eat almost anything that you sat in front of him. Once he began to explore real foods, his taste buds started changing and unfortunately he began refusing fruits and vegetables. We began juicing in 2015 to ensure that he was getting the vitamins and nutrients that his growing body so heavily relied on. After the birth of our second son, we began making all natural popsicles to help combat his teething pains. When it was time to decide if Adashia would be returning to work, we decided to give entrepreneurship a shot with our juices and popsicles we’ve spent years making. Our oldest son loves to help make our juices while our youngest son loves to gnaw on our popsicles. After setting up multiple tables, creating recipes with mom, and handing out countless amounts of samples, our oldest son was officially crowned the President of Roots. Our youngest son currently holds the title of Quality Analyst (aka product sampler) 🙂 
VEU- What were some of your initial challenges with starting the brand and how did you overcome them ?
6 months before we started Roots Juice & Pops, we relocated to Memphis, TN. It was a city in which we had never visited and knew absolutely nothing about. To be in a brand new city where we have no connections and no knowledge about where to go, the “who’s who”, or how the laws are regarding small businesses was a huge challenge we had to overcome. Thankfully, the people in Memphis were so helpful in guiding us in the right direction and sharing their knowledge about entrepreneurship with us. We started out going to farmer’s markets and small businesses to speak to the owners and employees about how they got started and what advice they had for new business owners in Memphis. There’s also so many non profits in Memphis that began solely to ensure that small business owners succeed in Memphis by offering free classes and resources that we utilized.
VEU- What separates your brand of natural products from other companies?
Yahoo Finance reported that the juice industry is on target to exceed $8.1B by 2024. It seems that there are new juice companies popping up every day now. Like other companies, we promise to source organic ingredients whenever possible and we also use locally grown fruits and vegetables to promote socio-economic growth in Memphis. What sets us a part from other companies is that we don’t believe in “one size fits all” juicing techniques. We let it be known that our juice cleanses and products are customize-able. So many people have allergies and dietary restrictions. We never want to turn a customer away simply because one of our juices contains an ingredient that cannot be consumed by that customer. We take the time to tailor our customer’s needs and truly focus on the customer because no two customers are the same. We’re not about just making the sale. We want to ensure that our customers are happy with their products and they don’t get a “cookie cutter” experience from Roots. 
VEU- What are 3 tips you can give for healthy eating with children and in general?
1. Eating healthy starts early. The earlier that you can introduce a colorful diet to your children, the easier it will be for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are older.
2. Be cognizant of how you respond to food around your children. Children are sponges, especially in their younger years as they look for guidance and wisdom from their parents. When you say things like “I don’t like broccoli” in front of your children, they hear that and automatically form an opinion about broccoli.
3. Make eating healthy fun. We found that when we allowed our children to cook with us, they’re more likely to eat what they helped create. The same thing goes for adults. From gluten free cookies to vegan pizzas, the possibilities are endless!
VEU- What’s next for Roots Juice and Pops?
Oh man! We have so many things in store for Roots and can’t wait to share it with our customers. Right now we are focusing on two major goals for the start of 2019. First on our list is nationwide shipping. Since our products are not pasteurized, our juices must be consumed within a 4 day time frame. We are working on logistics to ensure our products get to our customers in a timely manner without compromising the quality of our products. Second on our radar is a food truck. So many of our customers want to eat healthier and our food truck will combine the best of juicing, frozen treats, and healthy meals.
VEU- What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs about following your dreams
Stay focused! You always hear the “how I got rich” schemes about entrepreneurship and it seems to sound so easy. ITS NOT! Accepting this reality is extremely challenging. It’s very easy to get discouraged and feel like quitting. Our best advice is to stay focused on the goals that you want to attain and set small goals and plans to figure out how those larger goals can be attained. And when those plans fail, remain focused and come up with new ways to attain those goals.

Understanding Financial Literacy with Jean Paul

“I am a man of numbers & a man that stands up for human rights” —Jean Paul

Financial literacy is having the skills and knowledge needed to make educated and informed decisions based on ones income and assets. It has become popular in the developed world over the last fifteen years within countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.  Financial literacy is essential to both businesses and individuals alike in order to obtain monetary security and additionally have the means to achieve both long and short term goals.

Many educational programs in which financial literacy is taught can be found throughout the developed world and some are offered by the governments of these countries.  I personally recommend taking these courses and remaining financially informed in order to make the correct financial decisions for your future. Furthermore, I would conclude by saying when one is financially literate you can bridge the gap between middle class and upper class.

By educating yourself piece by piece on the importance of finacial literacy , and how to manage your own money  you are creating a limitless life of opportunity & service

5 Business Lessons We Can Learn From Sistahs In Business Expo Founder Aisha Taylor Issah

Sistahs in Business Expo, is the country’s only multi-city small business expo, that was created to celebrate the accomplishments of entrepreneurial women of color, the nations fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs. We spoke to the founder of the expo, Aisha Taylor Issah to find out her 5 business lessons that we can learn from her expo, and in general.

Finance- Financial management is key to the success of your business.  If you can’t manage your personal finances, then you won’t do well at managing your business finances.  Your personal spending habits and credit history will have a significant impact on your ability to secure funding and credit for your business.  

Leadership- An effective leader must have passion for the people they’ve been called or appointed to lead.  Skills and experience are important, but they aren’t everything.  If you don’t care about the success and welfare of the people you lead, then something will always manifest itself that threatens your commitment and humility.  Never commit to leading something that you don’t genuinely care about.  People don’t just want to know that you can lead, they want to see that you care.

Team Work- None of us were created to function in isolation. We inherently need one another.  This is true for both personal and professional endeavors.  A great team makes work easier, more enjoyable, and definitely more effective.  Having toxic or unproductive team members can be detrimental to the ultimate goal.  It’s always best to cultivate a team that is diverse in skillset.  You want people on your team who are strong in the areas where you are weak.  

Having Faith- My faith is the foundation for who I am and everything I do.  There is no question that God has been at the forefront and behind the scenes throughout this entire SIBEXPO journey.  There are times when I’ve wanted to quit or felt like things weren’t going to work out.  But God ALWAYS worked things out and gave me enough hope to keep moving forward.  Faith is critical when you are taking on a task that is greater than you are. There will undoubtedly be disappointment, rejection, delays, and problems that make entrepreneurship challenging.  

Staying True To Your Dreams- There will be many people and experiences that make your dreams seem unattainable.  I’ve encountered all types of obstacles while building SIBEXPO.  There have also been many people who tried to alter my dream to fit the mold of what they found acceptable or attainable.  But I knew what God told me to do.  When God gives you a dream or a vision, you can’t allow anything or anyone to deter you.  God will provide everything you need and put you on the right path.  I’m a living witness!  

Meet Entrepreneur Steven Swing, Owner of Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro

The life of an entrepreneur is full of challenges, that many people don’t understand. It takes a strong willed individual to start a sometimes intangible project, and see it through to the end. Here at VEU Magazine, we appreciate those who set out on this journey to make the world a better place. Checkout out our latest interview with entrepreneur Steven Swing, who is the owner of the Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro located in Atlanta, Ga.  Interviewed by Alex Jordan

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW

Meet The 27-Year-Old Nigerian Who Created The Worlds First Gaming Robot

Creating and running a business is no easy task. It can be especially challenging as a young millennial fresh from college, with little to no experience as a leader in your field. That is exactly what this young Nigerian entrepreneur, Silas Adekunle, is doing. He created his company Reach Robotics,  to solve a problem he saw within the classroom setting and the way children were learning. Read more of his story below.

VEU: How did you get started in the engineering field? Was it something you always wanted to do?

Growing up in Nigeria, I was fortunate that both of my parents worked in STEM fields. My father was a biochemistry teacher (and then head teacher) while my mother was a medical nurse, meaning I had ample opportunity to interact with technology and gain scientific knowledge. I’d spend hours dissecting gadgets and developing devices that I later realised were rudimentary robots. I also loved biology and wanted to become an Engineer or Zoologist. We moved over to the UK when I was 11 and there was a little bit of a culture shock in terms of access to technology. I’d never used a computer before so I had to pick things up very quickly in order to feed my curiosity. I also joined an after-school robotics club.

Given my early interests, robotics was a natural next step for my degree. At UWE, in Bristol, I learned to code and it was there that I had the first spark of an idea that would lead to MekaMon.

VEU: Tell us about starting Reach Robotics. What were some of the challenges you faced as a young entrepreneur in technology field?

One of my biggest challenges was self-doubt, given my background and inexperience as I was still a student. But what I lacked in experience, I made up for with youthful energy and the willingness to learn fast

I was also lucky to be in Bristol which has a great technology scene. Bristol Robotics Lab was incredibly supportive and Reach really got its start there – it was a fantastic place to be building a start-up. For every person sceptical that I could do it, there were two who were excited by my idea and enthusiasm.

The key has been to surround myself with people who can bring the experience and connections that filled in any gaps and ensured that we could make Reach and MekaMon a success.

VEU: What was the inspiration behind creating the MekaMon robot. What was the process like?

As a student, I taught in local schools and after noticing a disengagement with the materials of my students’ curriculum, I bought some robotics kits into the classroom. I combined that tech with some gaming principles and the reaction of the kids was just incredible. So, I took it one step further and created a ‘Reaching Robotics’ program designed around the framework of robotics and gaming in education.

I kept building on these ideas through University. I could see vividly how robotics could fuel the imagination of school kids and give a way into STEM to those students that might not have considered that path. I even pitched to The Prince’s Trust – an organisation in the UK that supports young entrepreneurs. But by the time I got to the penultimate year of my studies, I realised that this idea had potential beyond the classrooms. I’d be pairing robotics with gaming as part of my teaching – but what if I could do the same in a new breed of consumer technology?

With a bigger scale in mind, I created the very first prototype – a robot I called ‘Mecha Monsters’. It was built with knowledge garnered from the classroom – that people want and expect more from consumer robotics.

VEU: What is it like running a team of your own at such a young age? What are some things you had to get used to?

I went straight from university to running Reach – the only experience I had of working in an office environment was during my placement years at GE and Infineon. It’s why it was so important to build a team around me who were familiar with the ecosystem of a business. Additionally, from a very early age I’d learnt some important lessons from my father about creating a working environment that place people first and allowed them to do their best work.

So a brilliant office and people manager was pretty high up on the hiring list.

I’m also having to learn how to delegate. From three of us doing everything we now have whole departments running finance, talent acquisition, marketing and R&D… Very different from the early days when we were 3D printing parts in our COO’s garage!

VEU: You also have a distribution deal with Apple. How did that come about?

We were listed on Apple just under a year ago which was a huge step forward for us. Naturally, it’s a real stamp of approval in the eye of potential users to be available with them – and it means people can demo MekaMon. There’s been some great videos of MekaMon stomping about the Regent Street Apple store.

VEU: What was the feeling like for you when your business reached international success. Do you feel like you have arrived yet?

My work is certainly a lot more international – I spend much of my time travelling now!

It’s still quite strange to see people around the world talking about MekaMon – or find myself listed in 30 under 30’s features. V1 launching last year was huge though – seeing the idea I first sketched out years ago become commercially available was quite a moment.

I think with tech, that feeling of having ‘arrived’ comes a bit incrementally. Because we’re dealing with advancements every day – I’ll get back to the office after a trip to find we’ve solved a problem or one of the team has developed an incredible new feature.

I definitely have a lot more of the journey ahead. Watch this space!

VEU: What upcoming projects do you have in the works for your business?

We’re constantly working to improve MekaMon and to this end we’ve just announced the launch of MekaMon V2. It’s going be available from the 16th October so it’s all hands on deck at the moment but we’re really excited for people to see the advancements we’ve made.

VEU: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

The people you associate with will make or break your dream, find people that understand your vision. Quite early on I met Chris Beck and John Rees who would become CTO and COO of the newly founded Reach Robotics. A little further down the line, Dr Jonathan Quinn joined to build up the game team and the company has grown from there. Their experience was crucial to building the business – Reach Robotics simply wouldn’t exist without them. Always put people first.

Learn more at https://mekamon.com

8 Celebrities Who Have Successfully Plunged into Entrepreneurship

Becoming a business owner is not as simple as it sounds. Just ask any successful business person and you’ll see that it takes a whole lot of grit, patience, business sense and even a good dose of luck to turn entrepreneurship dreams into reality. And through it all, you have to battle that pesky little question constantly niggling the back of your mind: Am I really cut out for this?  

The good news is, feeling scared or apprehensive when you first set out to open up a business is totally normal. You could be a highly talented digital specialist, cook, web designer, or (fill in the blank), but running a business centered around your specialty is another beast in itself because it means you’ll be doing less of the labor you’ve worked so hard to become skilled at and more of the managing and oversight, which may be qualifications you don’t necessarily have.  

If you’re a would-be or going-to-be business owner who’s questioning your ability to domineer the reigns of a business, you’re not alone—lots of first timers experience the jitters when it comes time to put their money and talents where their mouth is. But several thousand others with no business experience whatsoever take the leap into entrepreneurship each year—and go on to make a raving success of themselves.

Take celebrities for example, artists who spend years, even decades perfecting their artistic talents for a living—people who you would expect to be least likely to know the first thing about running a business operation. Surprisingly, many of them have ventured beyond the confines and comfort of those talents to dapple in entrepreneurship—and succeeded.  

So if you’re still not sure you’d be a great businessperson per say, because you’ve never run a business before or don’t know the first thing about what a P&L is (or even what it stands for!), shake off your worries and get ready to draw inspiration from our list of successful entrepreneur celebrities. If they can figure it out, surely you can too!

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen

These twins took the 90s by storm with their adorable appearances in the then-hit TV show, Full House. But today, they’re still not a forgotten sensation, having left their imprint on their own lines of fashion and even makeup brands since 2006, when most people their age were still trying to figure out college.

Jay-Z

One of the most prominent names in rap and hip-hop, Jay-Z, also known as Shawn Carter, is an entrepreneur too. As a co-founder of Roc-A-Fella empire, the artist’s company has its hands in everything from movies to clothing. Additionally, he owns a music streaming service called Tidal.

Victoria Beckham

If you know Victoria Beckham, it’s probably because you were around when she was rocking the stage as a Spice Girl, a major British singing group. Known for her talent and beauty, Victoria branched out into entrepreneurship in 2009, when she launched her own boutique. Today, her brand is known throughout the U.K. and across the globe.

Lebron James

He may be known for his prowess on the basketball court, but player Lebron James has taken his passion for sports to another level with his side hustle as an entrepreneur who’s launched his very own sports marketing business. James just proves that if you love doing something, stick to it…and then find unique, out-of-the-box ways to make money off it.

Jessica Alba

This beauty is most known for her appearance in movies like Fantastic Four, but it didn’t take long for her to sprout her entrepreneurial wings and take the world by storm through her all-natural product line, Honest Company, specifically designed for babies. This brand is a raging success because it boasts using only the most natural ingredients in its line of baby products.  

Jessica Simpson

When you think of someone who’s branched out beyond just their artistic talents and done it all, Jessica Simpson fits the bill. Actress, singer and reality TV star are just a few of the titles this starlet has held. But beyond that, she’s also started her own shoe line, not to mention her own clothing and cosmetics lines, diving head first into entrepreneurship.

Jennifer Aniston

This popular blue-eyed, blonde haired Friends actor is more than just a sought-after onscreen beauty known for her amazing acting. She’s also co-owner of Living Proof, a hair care company, proving once and for all that you don’t have to be master of just one trade to find success in others.

George Clooney

America’s heartthrob from his early appearances on the smash-hit series ER, Clooney is just as talented offscreen as he is on. Aside from stealing the hearts of women across America, the actor once owned his own tequila company and sold it in 2017 for just around $1 billion, proving that even those not skilled in the trade of business can make lucrative business moves.

As you kick start your own entrepreneurship dreams and look to fuel your confidence at times when every hurdle seems insurmountable, whip out this list of your favorite celebrities. Yes, they may have the celebrity status and bundles of money that you don’t, but some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs were dirt poor unknowns and still went on to succeed (see our article “How 9 all-time famous entrepreneurs went from rags to riches)—so don’t let that deter you. Instead, focus on the fact that these celebrities, like you, didn’t necessarily come from a business background, but they still succeeded in the name of business—and you can too.  

The Single Biggest Mistake Your Business Is Making—and How to Fix It

Written by Salina Jivani

Most people can only dream of gaining freedom from their 9-5 job. And, unfortunately, a handful of the few who are brave enough to strive for it and try their hands at business fall flat on their faces very quickly.  In fact, according to Bloomberg, about 80% of small businesses fail after only 18 months at the reigns. Although it’s difficult to pinpoint just a single reason for this failure, there’s one that’s most common: problems managing money.  

This can mean a number of things from business owners not knowing how much they can safely pull from their business to their not understanding how and when to allocate funds so that all the bills are paid on time. In any case, you can take some precautions to make sure you avoid this costly mistake for your business:

  • Don’t pull money out of the business for the first several months until you understand how the cashflow works and how much you really have leftover
  • Keep a detailed log of your ins (credits) and outs (expenses/costs); in other words, maintain an impeccable bookkeeping system
  • Be sure to close the month out to see how much you’re left with once everything is paid
  • Create different bank accounts for different expenses, if that helps you better manage your cash flow
  • Consider your tax obligations and make sure there’s enough money aside to pay for taxesLet’s face it; at the end of the day, understanding cashflow is not everyone’s cup of tea. You might be a great at all other aspects of business management, but accounting might not be for you. In that case, proactively owning up to your weakness can in truth translate into a great strength. Consider hiring an accountant before your business runs the risk of becoming a statistic. The extra investment could save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars in debt, not to mention a bruised ego, in the long run.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Wife Create Fund To Fight Homelessness

Named the richest man in modern history, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie recently launched the $2 Billion “Bezos Day One Fund” to help combat homelessness, and assistance with early childhood education. In a statement Bezos tweeted on Thursday September 13th, he stated that the fund will issue annual leadership awards to organizations “doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families. There will also be full scholarships for Montessori-inspired preschools in “underserved” communities.”

Charitable giving and fighting homelessness is nothing new for Jeff Bezos and the Amazon company. Earlier this year, The Washington Post owner partnered Amazon with Mary’s Place, a Seattle nonprofit, to build a permanent homeless shelter in its headquarters. Amazon customers have been able to order items from the Mary’s Place’s wishlist on the site, since 2016. They also previously helped the nonprofit temporarily house 200 homeless people.

The Bezos family also recently donated $10 million to With Honor, which is a nonpartisan organization focused on boosting the number of veterans in politics. The couple donated one third of the organizations $30 million funding goal, to help elect a minimum of 30 American military veterans in November.

 

 

3 Spectacular Website Builders For Your Small Business

Written by Salina Jivani

Nowadays, if you’re a business owner, having a website is a non-negotiable. Whether it exists to help drive customers to your brick-and-mortar store or to make your presence known against those of your competitors, having an attractive, comprehensive website is a must-have. Luckily, building one is now easier than ever before with some great easy-to-use platforms.  

Wix

Wix is popular because it’s free if you use its web subdomain (in other words, your website address would end in websitename.wix.com) and it’s a great drag-and-drop website building solution. Its onboarding assistance tool makes it easy for novices to set up and configure their website with minimal effort. Wix is perfect for people who have no idea how to code or have never built a website and don’t mind having pop-up ads on their site.

Weebly

This is an all-inclusive website building solution that offers you pretty much everything you’ll ever need to build and grow your website. Weebly lets you pick the layout and design of your site, but takes care of the more serious things, like protecting you against hackers and making sure your website speed is up to par. Like Wix, if you use the Weebly subdomain, your site will be free. Unlike Wix, you don’t have to worry about pesky ads infiltrating your site.

WordPress

Perhaps the most popular website building solution out there, WordPress is highly reputed. It allows you more flexibility to build and maintain the look and capabilities of your site than other options because it allows you to actually code your site to your specifications, if you want. Various plugins available to you allow you to add different capabilities and features to your site (like a pop-up banner, fancy comments section, etc.) so that it’s more customized to your needs. But unlike Weebly and Wix, it can be a pricey option.

Whichever option you go with, remember it’s not about how much or how little you pay for your site, but more about whether it meets your needs and represents your business well.