Tuesday, November 17th was the 10th anniversary of National Entrepreneurs Day. Because of this, we wanted to make sure we celebrate those putting their stamp on the world through private industry!
A Little History
The term Entrepreneur finds its origins in the French language, first appearing in 1723. Richard Cantillon, an Irish-French economist, began studying entrepreneurship in the late 17th, early 18th century. Cantillon was the first to highlight a willingness to take on risk and uncertainty among entrepreneurs, thereby distinguishing these bold individuals from investors. By 1800, the term entrepreneur was coined by one Jean-Baptiste, a French economist.
Today, when we think of entrepreneurs, the words driven, innovative, bold, and intelligent may spring to mind. Not only are entrepreneurs equipped with these qualities and more, they support our nation’s economy on a scale much greater than the larger corporations we are all so familiar with.
Small businesses – companies with less than 50 employees – make up 95% of all U.S. companies and account for over 20% of jobs created across the nation. David Hauser and Siamak Taghaddos, co-founders of Grasshopper, sought to encourage national policymakers to acknowledge the overwhelming contribution entrepreneurs make to underpinning the economy after the 2008 recession. In 2010, they started a Twitter campaign aimed at gaining 1M signatures for a petition to create National Entrepreneurs Day. Obvi, they were successful!
Ten years ago, President Barak Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation creating National Entrepreneurship Week capped off by National Entrepreneurship Day. Aimed at renewing national commitment to supporting small business owners, President Obama’s proclamation recognized the all-important role entrepreneurs fulfill:
Entrepreneurs embody the promise that lies at the heart of America — that if you have a good idea and work hard enough, the American dream is within your reach. [. . .] These intrepid individuals translate their vision into products and services that keep America strong and competitive on a global scale, and build opportunity and prosperity across our country.
The Line Up
For the 10th anniversary of National Entrepreneurs Day, it’s only appropriate to celebrate diverse millennial originators who not only support our national economy but contribute their unique gifts and talents to our world. Without further ado, take a look at these two amazing talents who are truly making America great:
Lesley Bryant, The Lady Clipper Barbershop
Known as the Lady Clipper, Lesley Bryant has carved out a niche area of the market and reinvented the traditional barbershop experience. “Women in the barbering field sometimes aren’t recognized for their work or influence,” notes Bryant. “I wanted to create a space that embodies our voice and style in the work we do every day.”
In May 2017, the Lady Clipper Barber Shop was born! Four badass lady barbers serve clients from all walks of life in the District of Columbia. The shop emotes a friendly, lively, trendy environment donning red leather barber chairs that make every guest feel like a star.
Entrepreneurship is worth it but it’s not easy. When she was initially starting out, Bryant had to push aside fear to embrace growth. Today, she embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship through a fearless and resolute view toward the future of her business. “I plan to expand the Lady Clipper Barbershop nationally,” she explains with hopeful certainty on a mission to continue bringing people of all backgrounds together in a safe, inclusive, and healthy space you normally don’t get in the traditional barber shop experience.
“The best investments we make are in ourselves and in our dreams. Those investments have been the best decisions I ever made.”
As an entrepreneur, Bryant’s biggest challenge at the moment? You guessed it, COVID. “The pandemic has played such a major part of how we operate and at times it can be discouraging,” she reports. But Bryant, like many other business owners during this time, has found a way to maintain safety without compromising the inviting atmosphere and precision-like service that keeps her guest coming back. It also hasn’t hindered Bryant’s dedication to the community. Despite having to suspend open mic nights supporting local area nonprofits, Bryant’s shop is a mini art gallery displaying and selling creations from local artists.
Rabia Kamara, Ruby Scoops
Rabia Kamara is the owner of Ruby Scoops, a boutique ice cream shop specializing in handcrafted, small batch desserts located in Richmond, VA. A first-generation American born to parents with a mix of Sierra Leone, Egyptian, and Mauritian heritage, Kamara was expected to become a lawyer. Instead, she enrolled in culinary school, began working as a pastry chef, and developed a passion for ice cream making as a part-time hobby.
“I hated working for other people,” Kamara recalls. “Being a pastry chef is hard but being a black pastry chef is hard. It was emotionally and physically exhausting not being accepted within the industry as a black person period.” She looked around and rarely saw herself represented in leadership positions in many of the professional kitchens she lent her skill to. “No one would respect the [amount of] work I was putting in more than myself,” she admits. Soon after that realization, Kamara took the bold leap toward entrepreneurship.
“Take care of yourself – eat regular meals, get sleep – or it will catch up to you.”
As a newly minted entrepreneur, Kamara wished she would have taken better care of herself by saying ‘no’ more often. As a first generation American with an African heritage, she fully adopted the “can’t stop, won’t stop” hustle mentality. “I initially said ‘yes’ to every opportunity [to sell my product and grow my business], inevitably driving myself into the ground,” Kamara reflects. “Today, I’m not a sleep when I’m dead kind of person, I’m a take a nap when I can kind of person!”
Despite facing various barriers to entry, Kamara notes money was the largest hurdle to clear. She made the tough decision to move her business out of her hometown of Washington, D.C. to avoid astronomical rent prices poised to eat her profits. Seeking the financial freedom to evolve into the savvy businesswoman she knows is at her core, Kamara is gearing up for the grand opening of her first storefront located at 120 West Brookland Park Blvd Richmond, VA.
You can support Kamara by following Ruby Scoops on IG @rubyscoopsic where you will see updates on their grand opening. Not local? You can still support by donating to her dream through Venmo or CashApp @rubyscoops/$rubyscoops.