“The future is femme” is becoming less of a trend and more of a fact as more and more women-owned businesses launch across the country. Even as an underfunded demographic of the U.S. population, Black women entrepreneurs are leading the charge for launching the most start-ups in America.
According to Fast Company, last year women of color accounted for 89 percent of the new businesses opened every day and that number has grown faster than the overall rate of new women-owned businesses in the past five years.
Starting a new business isn’t easy, which is why The Access Project wants to help women entrepreneurs get access to the resources and funding they need to succeed.
The Access Project is a non-profit, seed-stage startup accelerator for women-owned businesses that leverages the expertise of the fashion and beauty industries, namely branding, marketing, and design.
Their mission is to meet women entrepreneurs where they are and lend their expertise by providing mentorship and funding so these businesswomen can go forth to lead the future of business.
“We believe that building your brand—and not just a product—is a way startups can be more resource-efficient and increase their probability of success” founder, Naomi Coleman, said.
Coleman created the Access Project as “an active space to empower women entrepreneurs at any stage they find themselves.”
“I noticed a lot of brands in the beauty and fashion industries fall off shortly after launching as they are uncertain how to navigate such a saturated market with little capital or marketing knowledge,” she shared.
The 12-week accelerated program includes a mentorship board of dynamic Black women who are artistic directors, professional communicators, and executives responsible for pivotal campaigns. So far, their mentorship board includes Stephanie Powell, Jamé Jackson, Cierra Jaye’, Jasmine C. Green, and Valese Jones.
“As a mentor, we’re there to offer support to the brands as they work through projects, next steps in their brand exploration, and to offer guidance/advice for them to succeed,” Jackson, senior beauty editor of In The Know and fashion director & founder of TheBlondeMisfit.com, said.
The Access Project is aiming to create a community for women entrepreneurs to both find their own voices and have a network of industry professionals to reach out to if needed.
“As someone who has benefited from mentorship, I know first hand how it can exponentially accelerate your growth,” said Stephanie Powell, a Public Relations & Marketing Consultant. “We’re living in uncertain times due to COVID-19 and an opportunity to be a blessing to women entrepreneurs is what inspired me to join forces.”
The mentors involved in this project want to not only encourage others to invest in women-owned businesses but offer helpful tips and tools to women entrepreneurs to educate them in business development.
“The early stages of development look different depending on your mentorship and capital,” said CEO, founder, and entrepreneur Jasmine Green. “I vowed that if I were to be successful, I would help those looking to work hard and reach their full potential.”
She added, “It is my purpose to help women become the best version of themselves daily and feed them power. I knew that joining the Access Project was another way to continue that mission.”
As the CEO, Head Designer, and Creative Director of Thrilla Seven, Jaye’ is passionate about the message The Access Project is sending to the world about supporting women in business.
“The Access Project is creating a space that encourages empowerment on not only a business level/aspect, but a personable one as well. Progression oftentimes starts from teamwork and the ability to learn from the answers you receive from questions you asked. The Access Project is providing ample space for women entrepreneurs to show up as themselves, to transparently ask questions, request direction, create better businesses, business plans and systems to best succeed.”
Jaye’ embraces the “you can sit with us” narrative that The Access Project is promoting because it shows that “Black women in business aren’t mean girls and we are eager to help grow those who need seeds sewn into their vision.”
As a Black women-owned business, The Access Project is working to break the stigma around capital funding for women-owned businesses. Their inspirational initiative sends a positive message about women entrepreneurship and community ties that will pave the way for other women in business to lend a helping hand to fellow moguls in the making.
“Independence and ownership are very important in creating something unique and personal, but also an understanding of how true support and a community can be a defining factor in growth, longevity and creating the best version of your brand,” Coleman said.
To learn more about how you can get involved in The Access Project, visit https://www.accessbynkc.com/access-project.