Last Thursday, author, salon owner and now restauranteur Gocha Hawkins, along with Hennessy VSOP Privilege,hosted a festive grand opening celebration for Atlanta’s newest cafe Gocha’s Breakfast Bar. VIPs flocked to the upscale restaurant, located in Atlanta’s affluent Cascade neighborhood, and cheered on as Gocha – along with City of South Fulton Mayor Bill Edwards and South Fulton Chamber of Commerce President Dyan Matthews – cut the ceremonial grand opening ribbon. The party continued inside with music by DJ Roots Queen, complimentary cocktails by Hennessy and a lavish buffet of Gocha’s Breakfast Bar specialties such as shrimp and grits, “Krunch-Tastic” French Toast, “Better Than Yo Momma” Biscuits, and Candied Maple Bacon.
Special guests included Rasheeda Frost (“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta”), author Monyetta Shaw, Malaysia Pargo (“Basketball Wives”), Khalilah Abdul-Baqi (Ego Entertainment), WNBA athlete Angel McCoughtry, R&B singer Sammie, Je’ Wesley (Cocktail Chronicles), Merlin Knight (VP of Membership Services, South Fulton Chamber of Commerce), Dr. Catherine Foster Rowell (Councilwoman, City of South Fulton), restauranteur and consultant Greg Cole and more.
In 2015, Tuskegee University graduate Pharoah Kirk announced the creation of the CHRISTIAN HENRY brand. Headquartered in New York, designer and founder Pharoah Kirk brings a dynamic approach in men’s suiting by pairing classic Italian and English tailoring techniques with modern silhouettes. Kirk scours the globe each season and finds innovative materials to experiment with, providing designs for the modern, successful man who loves to make a bold statement in every room he enters. Read more of his journey below.
1) Tell us how you got started in your field
Bigger named brands and businesses may have swept the country of every professional dressed across the country, but there has been a need of extra care and quality. After bootstrapping the business with $25,000 in personal capital, I set out to create an international luxury brand that would help to not only educate those about custom suiting but to meet the needs and wants of every man internationally. After noticing that there was a lack of Blacks within the fashion industry of custom clothiers, it has become a mission of mine to revamp the spectrum of how the world sees designers.
Raised under parents that were entrepreneurs of dry cleaners in Detroit, Michigan, this helped to shape my entrepreneurial spirit at an early age. The setting provided a foundation for me to not only learn but also for me to gain tutelage learning how to service customers. From an early age, I aspired to present the confidence and uplifting self-esteem to others that I knew clothing could provide.
2) Talk to us about the initial startup stages with your business
I’d be dishonest if I painted a picture of happiness and say that this was me at all times. The initial stages were a tad bit challenging at times. But there was perseverance. There was determination. I knew that I had a burning fire like no one else simply because I wanted to be successful. Like any other startup company with no investors, startup capital, or funding, it can be an overwhelming feeling at times to wonder where sales were going to come from or how revenue should be spent to continue growing the business. There has been a great process of internal business maturation, but also a self-reflection, prioritization and a firm understanding that not everything needed to be tackled at once.
3) What is the most rewarding part for you about what you do?
There is no greater joy to see the excitement and smile on a man’s face once he is trying on his new suit that he helped to create, design, and be apart of as far as the decision-making process. A client once told me that, “I had low self-esteem previously, but knowing that I have on clothes that actually fit my body properly, and it helps that random strangers give me compliments as I walk down the street. It’s so uplifting to my spirits.”
That compliment along with other similar compliments that I have received over the course of my business career has helped me to know that business is not just about how much you’re profiting, but it’s about how much you’re making an impact to the individuals that you service.
4) What has been the biggest lesson about overcoming obstacles and failure that you have learned throughout your business journey?
Overcoming obstacles and failure is monumental. It’ll either make or break you as a person. The biggest lesson that I have learned is that you cannot allow yourself to have negative emotions in the world of business. It can be detrimental or catastrophic to your business if you allow these emotions to be seen, heard, or assumed. I operate with a strong level of positivity. Positivity is infectious because it allows the world to witness vibes that genuinely make someone beautiful inside and out.
5) Tell is about upcoming projects you are working on
Currently, there are two focal projects that I am currently working on. 1. Because we have recently entered into the “red carpet” season (Oscar’s, Grammy’s, etc.), my team and I are working diligently on making sure that all of our clients look their best on the red carpet and after-parties with never seen styles and designs before. This means that we are partnering with celebrity stylists and professional agents to make sure all provided clothing is prioritized and perfect for every signature event. 2. We are creating educational curriculum for the symposiums of the NFL that will help to educate rookies on the importance of their attire. This is extremely important to the building of their brand but also to the adherence for their employers.
6) How did your experience at an HBCU prepare you for your current entrepreneurial endeavors?
While attending Tuskegee University, the institution and student life helped to prepare me for battles of management of personal funds, proper etiquette of business meetings, and punctuality of time management. A lot of HBCU graduates often share stories of their unique experiences, but after all stories are told, there is a sense of “togetherness” in the air. It’s a feeling that individuals whom have never attended an HBCU can feel. No matter what HBCU you attended, that bond is truly something unique.
7) Leave us with some words of advice you can offer to aspiring and current entrepreneurs?
There are three key elements for aspiring and current entrepreneurs that are critical to their success.
1. Organization – Without this, your business will fail. Look into utilizing all resources that can help you to stay on top of organization. There are various apps and software that will be your best friend during your journey.
2. Education – Look into your local cities for programs that are offered for aspiring and/or current entrepreneurs. These programs may be in the form of incubators, workshops, and seminars. These are a wealth of knowledge not only from the material that is given, but to the individuals that you will meet.
3. Networking – This is a key element. Putting yourself out there to meet individuals whom you may or may not know is extremely important as it helps to bring awareness and future services or sales to your business.
We all know so many people who don’t enjoy working their 9 to 5. We know so many people who say that one day they want to work for themselves and have their own business. But then why isn’t it that we see more people actually walking the walk and being self-employed?
The answer? They’re fearful. Fearful of what, you may ask?
There are quite a few reasons people are afraid to take the leap from corporate to entrepreneurship. Here are some of the biggest reasons below:
1)They’re afraid of taking a risk.
Corporate life is seen as being more secure because more is guaranteed. You have a set salary, health benefits, etc. and not all of those things are set in stone with owning your own business. The average person likes things to be dictated to them rather than having to figure out how to make all those things work for themselves.
2 )They’re afraid they’re not smart (or knowledgeable) enough.
What if I make a mistake with recording my income and expenses? How do I take care of self-employment tasks? Who would be the best partners or employees for my business? Again, having to figure things out is an essential part of entrepreneurship. The best way to succeed is to know a little bit about everything, but most people are used to being specialized in one skill, because that’s what corporate life teaches us we should do.
3 )They’re afraid to change their lifestyle.
We perceive big changes as intimidating, when many changes can be very good for us. You won’t know unless you do something different.
4 )They’re afraid of selling.
Running a business means constant promotion and constantly making connections. You need to be able to say why your product or service is worth spending money on and why it’s better than other competitors. The sales aspect turns a lot of people off, because they’re afraid of coming off as pushy or aggressive.
5)They’re afraid of letting others down.
This is especially true if you have a family that’s dependent on you. Many people wishing to have their own business are afraid of not being able to provide for their spouse, children, or anyone else that may depend on their income and benefits.
Regardless of the reason you may be afraid, while some may have merit in certain situations, many of these fears are exaggerated or just downright wrong. For many people, becoming an entrepreneur is the best decision they ever made.
The former First Lady Michelle Obama is still winning even after her tenure with her husband at the White House . Crown Publishing told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” has sold more than 1.4 million copies in print and digital formats in the U.S. and Canada in the seven days since it was released Nov. 13.
Her book sold more than 725,000 copies on its first day, making it one of 2018 biggest debuts. Crown also stated that “Becoming” is currently the No. 1 adult nonfiction title in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Holland, Spain, Denmark and Finland. 200,000 copies have been sold in Germany, prompting a second printing of 100,000 copies.
Salute to Mrs.Obama and congratulations to all of her current and future success.
Many are familiar with the snacks, but not the man behind the brand. We had the opportunity to speak with business mogul, and serial entrepreneur James Lindsay, on the beginning stages and growth of his multi million dollar Rap Snacks empire. “It is important to really build a team and have those good people around you as much as possible, especially when you are in the initial stages of starting your company,” he stated.
In this issue, we also feature articles on Health and wellness by Roots Juice and Pops, business, fashion, and more.
CLICK HERE to Read More of his story in the Nov/ Dec 2018 Issue of VEU Magazine.
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.
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.
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.
“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
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!
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