What It Means to Be a Black Entrepreneurial Leader

Renee Edwards ’13, Asa Cary ’13, and Wes Woodson ’20 are the founders of three uniquely different businesses.

At Babson College’s 2021 Black Unity Summit, the trio recently shared their individual stories, perspectives, and advice with attendees and Donna Levin, CEO of The Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership and moderator of the summit panel, “What It Means to Be a Black Entrepreneurial Leader.”

Find Your Passion

As early as age 12, Edwards, founder of NUS Beauty, has had an interest in natural health and wellness products. While she was working toward her undergraduate degree at Babson, she started making her own deodorants and toothpastes, things she would use every day.

Through experimentation, she was not only able to identify a void in the market but also pursue a career in an area she cared about.

“It’s not that I was passionate about makeup, it was that I was passionate about products with good ingredients,” she said.

Go All In

Don’t wait to go after your idea, says Cary, co-founder and executive producer of ArtSea Dance. He still recalls the nerves he felt signing the paperwork for his LLC and opening his bank account, but he became more comfortable with the process as he sought advice along the way.

“There’s this idea that I have to have accomplished ‘X’ number of things, or have to be a certain age, be in this part of the country,” he said. “There’s no right time. If you don’t do it, somebody else will. … You don’t have to make a million dollars in the first week. You’ll never know until you start.”

“This is your life, this is your business, you are the creator,” Edwards added. “Give yourself permission to grow, to pivot, remember you are in the driver’s seat.”

Focus on Yourself

Entrepreneurs live busy lives, especially during and after startup.

As founder and chief storyteller of thehidden company, Woodson has discovered success not only by embracing himself as a person but also by prioritizing his well-being.

“For me, it’s about keeping my mental health a priority,” he said. “We’re so used to the hustle and grind. If your mind’s not right, you can’t accomplish any of those things.

“I make it a priority to make sure my mind, spirit, emotions are right, and then I go attack the world.”

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