One of the largest conundrums of 2017 is that fact that black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America and yet they get the least amount of funding. According to a Fortune article, written just a few months ago in June of 2016, “The number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322% since 1997, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.” However, this inspiring statistic for black women across the country is harshly juxtaposed against the cutthroat reality of the start-up world. As reported in TechCrunch, “In “The Real Unicorns of Tech: Black Founders Women,” a recent report by #ProjectDiane, you’ll come across several startling statistics, for example, of all venture deals from 2012 to 2014, only 0.2% (24 of 10,238 deals) went to went to black female founders.”
And yet, they continue to rise.
Despite the odds against them, black, female CEOs like Beauty Bakerie’s own Cashmere Nicole continue to push forward and thrive in their respective businesses. I sat down with my fellow girl boss to talk shop (including Beauty Bakerie's amazing branding! Their commitment to the bakery theme is so adorable,) exchange notes, and discuss all things beauty.
Check out some highlights from our riveting conversation below.
On the “beginnings” of their ventures
Cashmere Nicole: I honestly feel as though a company can have several beginnings because in the early stages of going out on that limb and being an entrepreneur, you’re not even sure of yourself. You aren’t even sure if it’s going to become something.
I remember going with my friends on a trip to Miami and we came across a kiosk in a mall for gourmet cupcakes and I think that kind of helped me come up with the name Beauty Bakerie. At the time, I was like “Oh I need to pray on this, I need to make sure this is what I need to do,” and I just remember feeling this confirmation in my spirit where God was like,
And that’s when I chose to tie my brand to breast cancer and I only chose that because at the time I was being shallow. I was like its pink and I like pink. But, later that year, I found a lump in my breast.
(Nicole pushed through the removal of the first lump and a double mastectomy and a revision, while still running the Beauty Bakerie brand on her own.)
Ofunne Amaka: Wow, that’s really amazing that you’ve been through so much and you still feel like you can give, that you have more to give. A lot of people would just be like, “Welp, I’m poppin’ now, so it’s all good.”
CN: Yea and I think it’s easy for people to do that.
On that one time Queen B gave Cashmere life
CN: At the time in my life, I had just gone to my first concert, that summer in July which happened to be the Jay-Z and Beyoncé “On the Run” tour. I was just coming out of a tough time emotionally; I felt like I had gone through a little bit of a depression. This was after my first initial double mastectomy, still trying to recover from the body change. Accepting that, while my friends might say, “Oh, you got a free pair of new boobs,” it didn’t feel like that. They were fake, they were not mine. I didn’t have any nipples, I didn’t have anything.
I went to the “On the Run: tour with my friends and I must say that, it was my first concert ever and it really helped me to get over that emotional hump. When I got back home I couldn’t cry if I tried! I was like, “Shoot, Beyoncé must be some kind of anti- depressant.”
Later that fall, a girl that I knew, (I had no idea she was working for Beyoncé,) ended up reaching out to me and telling me that Beyoncé came across my story and read my story herself, because I had a GoFundMe up at some point. I believe maybe she hangs out on YouTube and stuff like the rest of us, and so she came across it.
When the girl contacted me that day, she said look, not only does she love your story and what you’ve been through, she wants to feature you on the site and we need to do an interview. I’m like OK, even though you know I’m drugged up (by now it’s essentially my second double mastectomy.) For some reason that recovery was a lot harder than my first recovery. I don’t know why but I’m thankful that my mom was there, because had she not come to take care of me, I don’t know how I would have made it through that. It was so tough.
The day they called to do the interview, I was on a really high dosage of pain meds. I had two drains out of both sides of my body stitched to me. So, I’m sitting in bed propped up and my friend is calling me and she said “Girl if you don’t do this interview, you won’t be able to get on the site.”
And I’m like “Oh shoot, this is Beyoncé, let me wake up, I have to do this.” So, they called, we did the interview and then she sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers afterwards. I was really happy and I think what that did was allow me to see to that anyone can come across your story, anyone can see your story and be inspired by your story.
Here’s someone that the world looks up to and considers her like the “Queen B” and she’s an inspiration to many but even she found inspiration in my story that day and that helped me to get the fire started again for myself.
If I can reach her, I can reach so many other people and I need to get up, get motivated again and build up that momentum.
On telling your story
CN: I remember going through this period of time where I felt like I was in a spiritual battle; where God was like, “you need to tell your story.” And I was like “Are you nuts?? I will not go and tell people this story.” And I felt like he was saying “How dare you take something that I’m meaning for your good and make it shameful.” There’s nothing wrong with what happened to you. You’ve been made perfect.” So finally, it took me about 3 months to give in, and make the GoFundMe, which is how Beyoncé discovered my story and Beauty Bakerie.
OO: I can’t imagine going through all of that and still pushing through afterwards. I’m sure Beyoncé was a great incentive.
CN: Yea, Beyoncé was a nice little fire starter. Earlier on, before the brand got all of this momentum, I started putting my personal stories up every now and then, I don’t want to lose that relatable feeling. The cool thing is we have this message that a customer gets after their first purchase, It’s like a message from me and we’ve been seeing people screenshot that and put it on their Instagram and say “Woah, I’ve never gotten a message like that.” and I’m like “Woah, it actually worked. People are resonating with my message.”
OO: Yea, the personalization of brands is definitely important. People want to feel like, “This is brand for me, specifically.” They made this for people like me. And that’s why I focus on black women, not as an exclusion of others but as a focus. Because there are so few platforms uplifting them and putting them up on a pedestal.
While Cashmere has proven the road to success is inevitably a bumpy ride, she is a prime example of advocacy and inspiration to their customers, supporters, and followers. (She is opening a brick and mortar retail store in San Diego! SO EXCITING!)
Keep up with Beauty Bakerie on Instagram.