2021: The Year of the Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Stefanie Smith, owner of Alpha-Lit Detroit, a marquee lighting company showcases her letter and number signs (top row).

Photos provided by Stefanie Smith

Local entrepreneur Tia Regular started her company, Milk Pimp, which sells clothes and other accessories catering to babies and children (bottom row).

Photos provided by Tia Regular

 

 

In 2020 they brought it.

 

New businesses popping up, Black entrepreneurs springing forth with beauty bars, clothing lines and virtual companies, giving consumers what they didn’t even know they needed but are thankful they now have.

 

It was and still is, the year of the entrepreneur and in metro Detroit, especially, it has been evident that if you build it, they will come back time and time again.

 

According to a Forbes article, Black women represent 42 percent of new women-owned businesses—three times their size of the female population—and 36 percent of all Black-owned businesses.

 

Local hair care guru Gwen Jimmere knows a thing or two about that. The founder and CEO of Naturalicious sells hair products and developed her business several years before the pandemic and said that she has seen billion-dollar companies created during the pandemic.

 

“Now’s probably a really good time … to start a business,” Jimmere said.

 

Jimmere added that she recognizes it is easier to get one’s foot in the door for their new business than it used to be.

 

“Research it and see if it makes sense,” she said of starting a business. “if you can afford to do it jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.”

For more information visit https://naturalicious.net/.

 

West Bloomfield resident Stefanie Smith works full time at the Detroit Police Athletic League, a non-profit organization in Detroit that serves young people. At her job, she helps bridge the gap between residents and police officers.

 

When the pandemic hit last year, her fundraising job responsibilities were slowly being taken away due to events shutting down and the public sheltering in place.

 

“Everything I worked on was canceled,” she said, adding that in the meantime, she started figuring out what to do to supplement her income. “That is how Alpha-Lit Detroit was born.”

 

Alpha-Lit Detroit, https://alphalitdetroit.com/, is Smith’s marquee lighting company. Customers can rent out her lighted letters and numbers for the duration of their party for various fees based on how many numbers and letters they use.

 

“I can spell your name in lights or age or anything you want to say — short phrases. You spell it I can light it up really cool,” Smith said, adding that the events are mostly outdoors and her personalized signs, and color lights, can add the right touch.

 

“I started the company in June … and I’ve done probably over 300 events since then,” she said, adding that she has capitalized on the ingenuity of celebrations. “People have found a different way to celebrate. I think that because of the pandemic people didn’t want to cancel their plans but knew they wanted to be safe so they figured out a different way to plan.”

 

Smith, who has already earned six figures from her rental business, even learned how to make intricate and elaborate balloon displays to accompany her letters and numbers. Her clients can be found all over metro Detroit and they include the spouse of a Detroit Lions football player and gospel artist Kierra Sheard. She’s also done corporate events, weddings and more.

 

“After she [Sheard] posted it [Smith’s creations on her social media page] my business blew up after that,” she said adding that she thought outside the box and many people thought she was crazy for starting an event rental business during the pandemic. “Everything I learned I found a free tool for doing the research and figuring out how to get it done.

 

“It’s been amazing.”

 

Local entrepreneur Tia Regular is anything but regular. The mother of five children ranging in ages 19 months to 14 years old started her company, Milk Pimp, a children and mother apparel company in 2018, but didn’t do anything with it until the pandemic, she said.

 

“I thought of the name and used it as a hashtag then decided that it would be a great name for a business because it’s inspired by my journey as a breastfeeding mother.”

Regular added that when she became a mom again there was also a new need for face masks that could fit small children properly and comfortably. So, she put Milk Pimp to work and made kid’s masks a priority item during the pandemic. Milk Pimp is an acronym for my innocent little kid precious in my possession.

 

Regular, who has an 18-year background in freelance makeup artistry, said that her business is to help new mothers and mothers throughout different stages, know that they can accomplish whatever they put their mind to. She added that new breastfeeding moms can sometimes fall into the comparison trap where they see other moms having a more robust milk supply and might feel inadequate about their own.

 

So, Regular created a slogan for her company, “My milk game’s strong,” as a reminder to mothers choosing to breastfeed that they have exactly what they need for their baby.

 

“You have to encourage yourself and in your self-motivation that can help to get those endorphins going, your feel-good hormones can help your milk production,” she said.

Regular added that she is looking forward to adding more apparel and products in 2021.

 

For more information visit www.shopmilkpimp.com.

 

 

 

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