Beyonce’s hit song “Diva” defines the term as a female version of a hustler. This cultural reference and meaning gives literal context to New Orleans, LA, native and entrepreneur Britni Ricard.

Her journey hasn’t been easy, but she has turned all her “Ls” into lessons. This holiday season, Ricard is paying it forward by covering the rent of all the tenants in a 10-unit apartment building she owns.

A critical point in Ricard’s story begins during her time as a waitress at Harrah’s Casino, she told AFROTECH in an interview. With a desire and passion to do more, Ricard regularly visited the New Orleans Public Library to learn more about entrepreneurship and how to get her business off the ground.

Without a computer of her own, Ricard used the library resources to learn more about skin care and what it would mean to enter the beauty industry. Her research would pay off as she launched Cota Skin Care in honor of her late brother, Chev Off The Ave (C.O.T.A.).

Ricard saw an opportunity when many people started facing skincare challenges while wearing masks at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a growing interest in a way to sooth their irritated and dry skin, consumers tapped in to her products quickly, and Ricard says she earned about $150,000 within the first five minutes of launching her business in 2020.

Currently, she says Cota Skin brings in an estimated $16 million in revenue. This success led to Ricard becoming a real estate investor and purchasing her first property in 2022.

When she acquired the 10-unit building about 50 miles outside of New Orleans, it needed upgrades and repairs. Leveraging the skills of her fiancé, Ricard was able to renovate the building and provide housing solutions to those in the area.

During a regular check-in conversation with her property manager, it was brought to her attention that 80% of the tenants were single moms. As the holidays approached, she saw an opportunity to help them because it was a situation that hit home for Ricard.

“My mother raised three children on her own. So, I know what this time of year does for us, especially right now with the economy,” she told AFROTECH. “I wanted to make sure that I gave from the heart. This situation resonated with me.”

@1beemarieMERRY CHRISTMAS. Im so grateful to God for putting me in the position to be able to give back. Gifting my tenants with FREE RENT is something ive always wanted to do.♬ GRATEFUL – DJ Khaled

Now armed with this information about the demographic makeup of the tenants, Ricard decided to cover the December rent for everyone in the building.

“I just felt like that was, if I’m going to do anything or any type of givebacks or community service or community work, I just felt like that was the best way for me to do it and give that type of break,” Ricard explained. “While I’m not a single mother, I am a mother, and I’ve rented and wished my landlord would’ve at least said, ‘Hey, I’ll take $200 off your rent this month. Merry Christmas.'”

In addition to paying December’s rent, Ricard will offer free financial literacy classes to prepare tenants for future homeownership.

“What they are paying in rent, they could be paying in a mortgage,” she said. “That’s really where I stem from. I want to make sure that I give them not only a class for it, but I’m also going to make sure that they have the people there, the resources there to obtain it.”