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Two Black Women Entrepreneurs Who Changed Their Own Lives First

Nairobi, Kenya -- September 16, 2022 -- This week, I had the opportunity to interview two superstar founders who are doing great work in their respective industries across Georgia and Nevada in the United States. Their stories are so inspiring and show just how far grit and belief in self can take anyone!

In case you missed our previous interviews in this series, you can check them out here and here.

Now, let's get into their interviews, shall we?

Shelice Johnson, CEO of Handful of Pearls Birthing Services | Lawrenceville, Georgia

Casey: When did the idea to launch a business initially come to you, Shelice?

Shelice: It happened for me after I got fired at a young age for hurting my foot at work.

Ruby Russell, Founder / CEO at RR Distinctive Beddings LLC | Sparks, Nevada

Casey: How about you, Ruby?

Ruby: I would just say it happened 50 years ago, haha.

Exploring their stories in detail.

Handful of Pearls Birthing Services - giving families access to quality birthing services

"I launched Handful of Pearls Birthing Services to enable other women have the help I didn’t have during my pregnancy and postpartum," said Shelice Johnson

Handful of Pearls Birthing Services is on a mission to provide support to help alleviate stressors families may encounter during their birthing process, create a safe place for mothers to give birth and render assistance through education and various resources as needed. The business serves families of all demographics, selling Doula services and other services related to pre-pregnancy and the delivery of a child.

Casey: Shelice, can you take us through what a typical day in your life as an entrepreneur looks like?

Shelice: Sure! So I wake up and pray/give thanks, and then I check my emails for a bit before waking my daughter up for school. I'd drop her off and then come home to respond to emails and share some posts on social media. I'd take a few phone calls sometimes but - if I'm honest - I'm still trying to figure out what is that I'm doing. Most times I feel like I’m going in circles!

Casey: I completely understand, Shelice! Being at the centre of all things in your business can make your head spin. This is why I stress the importance of automating, outsourcing, and really 'keeping the main thing the main thing.' I appreciate your transparency, as all entrepreneurs can relate. So tell me, did you have any fears about starting your business?

Shelice: Not making the money to sustain my family was my biggest fear. But

I still stepped out on faith and did it because I felt unappreciated at my 9-5 job.

Casey: Umph! Felt! Toxic experiences in the workplace is the #1 reported reason that members of the Black Women's Network have identified for their reason in stepping into entrepreneurship. I'm so proud of you for taking this bold step, despite how you felt. It takes real courage! My last question - what does your support system look like as an entrepreneur?

Shelice: I'd say I have a good support system. My people are always there for me when I need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on.

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Handful of Pearls Birthing Services is a beautifully named business, and I'm rooting for Shelice with deep admiration. Be sure to connect with Shelice and try her services!


RR Distinctive Beddings LLC - making bed-making easier for everyone

"I’m an inventor and entrepreneur. I use my designs to make everyday tasks like bed-making easier for everyone, especially those with visual impairment or physical challenges. I am following in the footsteps of my hero, Bertha Berman, an African American woman who invented the fitted sheet 65 years ago," said Ruby Russell.

RR Distinctive Beddings LLC's patented designs take the complexity out of bed-making for all people, especially those with visual impairment, physical challenges, and disabilities. The American Council of the Blind has accredited the simplicity of the brand's designs as “accessible beddings”.

The Backstory: In 2013, Ruby's domestic partner injured his back and would toss and turn while sleeping messing up the bed. She hated making the bed but feeling guilty, she could no longer leave it to him. That’s when she invented a one-tuck, self-centering top bed sheet that is guaranteed to stay put.

Months later she had cataract surgery that left her legally blind in her left eye. She began to research the difficulties the blind had in making a bed and went on to invent an easy-to-make self-centering duvet cover that is also guaranteed to stay put. Then she went on to design a complete line of bedding that is so simple and effortless to make that a child can do it. According to Google, there are 298,000,000 search results on making a bed and her designs are definitely a simple and effortless choice.

Casey: Ruby, I love that you've created practical solutions for the very experiences that you and your loved one had to struggle through. Making sure that we are identifying solutions to our target audience's most urgent pain points is so critical. Brilliant! What does a typical day look like for you, Ruby?

Ruby: For now, most of my days are filled with collaboration-related activities as I am currently working with a young lady from Cameroon to introduce African designs to our bedding collections.

Casey: Scale!! Come on, Ruby! I absolutely love this. Do you have a support system that's helping you through your entrepreneurial journey?

Ruby: Oh yes! I have a great support team behind me. I'm very thankful for them.

Casey: Beautiful! I can only imagine the lives you've touched to date and the number of people who are grateful to have you in their support systems. My final question for you - what would you say your biggest fear was when you initially stepped into entrepreneurship?

Ruby: Being flexible and willing to change my strategy was a really big fear for me. I have always been an entrepreneur. I started a Karate studio when my children lost their instructor. With several startups behind me, I continue to believe in myself, moving forward and putting my doubts aside.

Visit RR Distinctive Beddings LLC website

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Ruby has crossed a feet that many Black female entrepreneurs aspire to, but have often struggled to attain. She has scaled her business and she is well aware of the importance of refining her approach as technology, consumer trends, and economics change. Be sure to follow Ruby's journey and take advantage of her solutions for yourself (or those you love most)!


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