For some, the idea of quitting a stable 9-to-5 to take a blind leap of faith is terrifying, but for Mandy Bowman, a Brooklyn native and the founder of Official Black Wall Street, the largest digital directory for Black businesses, it was liberating. Shortly after receiving a degree in Entrepreneurship and Global Business Management at Babson College, Bowman decided to pursue her passion: Empowering the Black community overall by becoming a driving force of the #BuyBlack movement.
In 2016, Bowman created Official Black Wall Street — a digital platform that connects consumers to Black-owned businesses in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom. In addition to alerting users whenever they’re near a Black-owned business, Official Black Wall Street also provides Black entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to thrive. Bowman named the website and its corresponding app after the Black Wall Street Massacre that occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921.
In hopes of shedding some light on her venture and to prove that your dreams are worth following, we were lucky enough to ask Bowman a few questions. Watch the full video right here:
Or read on to see what Bowman has to say about finding inspiration, cultivating the courage to pursue your entrepreneurial mission, and supporting the Black community in 2021 and beyond.
Mandy Bowman: I nourish my creative self by prioritizing reading and taking breaks to rest and recharge. Reading especially helps in making sure [that] I’m still learning and growing along my entrepreneurial journey. Most of the books in my collection are self-help in some nature, usually spiritual or business-related. The book I'm currently reading is called ‘Profit First’ by Mike Michalowicz and was recommended by so many fellow entrepreneurs that I couldn't pass it up. Next on my list is ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg, and as a self-proclaimed ‘outgoing introvert’ I absolutely need to take time away from work to recharge. I usually find the most inspiration when I’m in recharge-mode or after.
Mandy Bowman: My mom inspires me a ton. She’s one of the most selfless and caring people I know and I believe that’s where my desire to help others came from — also Tope Awotona, the founder and CEO of Calendly. Given the stats about the challenges Black entrepreneurs face when raising capital, I’m always amazed when I see fellow Black entrepreneurs push through those limitations. They recently raised $350M on a $3B valuation. Inspirational is an understatement!
Mandy Bowman: The first is that your entrepreneurial journey is literally a series of trial and error. An error doesn’t mean you pack your bags and quit — it just means you need to pivot and continue testing until you find something that works. It makes the journey less scary. Fail quickly and pivot quickly. The second lesson is that you are the most important member of your company. Be kind to yourself and remember to pay yourself!
Mandy Bowman: I actually have a ‘Good Morning’ playlist for this reason. My two favorite songs for getting pumped in the morning are ‘All Aboard’ by Atlantik and ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley. Both of these songs are oldies but goodies. They always put me in a positive state of mind.
Mandy Bowman: I’m actually really hopeful when it comes to the future of Black businesses. The world is finally paying attention to the systemic challenges we face as a whole. There was a major surge in the number of companies and allies pledging their support to Black businesses since last year. This was a major turning point for the Buy Black Movement. Our job now is to make sure that it is effective and lasting change.
Interested in hearing more from Mandy Bowman or looking for more tips on how to fuel your entrepreneurial drive? Join the Parsons Entrepreneur Academy Network to view the full interview, exchange ideas, listen to stories, and learn new strategies so that you can make a meaningful impact on the world.
Meet the author:
Tabitha Britt is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to writing for Parsons Entrepreneur Academy, Tabitha is also the founding editor-in-chief of DO YOU ENDO — the first no-BS endometriosis magazine (by individuals with endometriosis, for individuals with endometriosis) in America. She earned her Master's degree in Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism from The New School of Social Research.
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