Last month I received an email from the National Minority Supplier Development Council (“NMSDC”) inviting me to the BeyGood Foundation’s Small Business Impact Luncheon in New York City. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I was surprised, delighted, elated, and nervous all at once.
How did this opportunity come about? Honestly, I have no idea. Like many small business owners, I have applied for a million different grants, accelerators, and opportunities over the past 8 or 9 months. The HOW isn’t important, I was just grateful to be invited.
The BeyGood Foundation
The BeyGood Foundation commits to serving the most marginalized entrepreneurs and small business owners with educational programs, business support training, and access to grants, micro-loans and venture capital investments. The Black Parade Route Small Business Impact Luncheons are being take place in cities on Mrs. Carter’s RENAISSANCE World Tour. Elevating small businesses and providing them with the tools and access to funding for growth and sustainability is the core goal of the foundation.
The Black Parade Route Small Business Impact Luncheon kicked off in London. New York is one of 10 cities on the route. A total of $100,000 is being awarded at each luncheon – $10,000 to 10 different small businesses.
I’m delighted to share that Effie’s Paper was one of the one hundred New York area businesses invited to attend Beyonce Knowles Carter’s BeyGood foundation’s Black Parade Small Business Impact Luncheon in NYC on Friday, July 28th.
The Morning of The BeyGood Luncheon
I live between New York City and Miami, but Effie’s Paper is based in New York. The day of the luncheon, I had a 7am flight out of Miami. In theory, I would have plenty of time to land, change clothes and get to the luncheon. However, since Summer 2023 is the Summer of flight delays, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. My flight had a slight delayed departure. No biggie. The real issue was the overhead bins were filled to capacity. This meant that I had to check my suitcase. Checking my suitcase meant at least an extra 15 minutes at LaGuardia airport to collect my bag.
Thankfully, the flight itself was uneventful. I made a beeline for the Delta Lounge when we landed and put my makeup on in the bathroom. I grabbed my bag from baggage claim, retrieved my blouse from my suitcase and got in the cab line. Once in the cab, I put my blouse on and began taking calls. If you’ve live in New York for any length of time, you’ve changed clothes at least once in cab. Trust me, cab drivers have seen it all and then some! My cabbie took it all in stride.
The Black Parade Route Small Business Luncheon took place at the One Hotel in Brooklyn. The One Hotel is a stunning venue; it was the perfect location for the event. The luncheon ran from 12-2 pm, but we were encouraged to arrive early to network. Despite my delays, I got to the hotel around 11:45 which was more than enough time to mix and mingle before the doors to luncheon opened at 12:15.
Based on what I’d seen online from luncheons in other cities, I knew the setting was going to be impressive. But, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect because the luncheon itself was shrouded in a bit of mystery.
Then, I bumped into Jamila Wright one of the founders of Brooklyn Tea. We were both vendors at a private corporate event a few holidays seasons ago. We’ve been trying to connect for the past 3 or 4 years, so it was great to see her in a context where we could actually have a conversation. Vending at different events is great because you get the chance to meet other business owners, but because you’re working the event, you rarely have time to really talk and network.
And then I saw Mikaela Pabon of Dressed In Joy out of the corner of my eye. I’ve admired Mikaela from afar (which really means on Instagram in this day and age!) for years, it was great to meet her in person and chat about our respective entrepreneurial journeys.
The doors to the luncheon opened promptly at 12:15. The room was absolutely stunning. I wish I’d taken better photos, but I was trying to soak it all in. I sat at a table with 9 other ladies, all of whom own businesses in and around the New York City area. The room was buzzy and everyone was giddy with excitement.
Ivy McGregor, the Executive Director of the BeyGood Foundation, kicked off the afternoon with a lovely welcome and words from Mrs. Carter.
The keynote was given by Cheryl Creuzot, President Emerita of Wealth Development Strategies. Ms. Crueuzot was one of the first Black female wealth planners in the US and in Houston in particular. She started her company with grit, determination and the desire to make an impact in the world of wealth management. She sits on the board of the BeyGood Foundation and is the Knowles family financial planner. Yes, she is a big deal!
Her formula for entrepreneurial success is a five part one:
- Find your passion.
- Learn as much as you can about the business as you can before you start. Find a mentor if you can.
- Make sure your personal finances are in order.
- Take the time to write up a business plan.
- Build your network.
After lunch and the keynote, was the moment we were all waiting for – the BeyGood Foundation and its partners gave twelve $10,000 grants to twelve different business owners at the luncheon. While Effie’s Paper was not one of the grant recipients, but a woman at my table was. We cheered so loudly for her that you would’ve thought we’d all won.
The Highlight Of The Day
The highlight of the day for me was meeting Ivy McGregor. I came across her Instagram feed a few years ago and have been intrigued by the work she’s doing with the BeyGood Foundation. My goal was to meet her before the day was over. Sometimes you just gotta put things out into the universe! As we were leaving the event, Ivy was standing by the door thanking each of us for coming. She was just a personable and kind in person as she was on stage. I thanked her for including me and chatted about Effie’s Paper and some possible synergies. So stay tuned ya’ll!
The Cherry On Top!
It’s always heartwarming at events like these when you run into friends whose support has made a difference to you and your business. Jessica Taylor is the National Director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program; Jessica’s support has been instrumental in raising the profile of Effie’s Paper. In addition to being a champion for Effie’s Paper, Jessica has become a friend whose company I truly enjoy and whose counsel I truly trust! The road to entrepreneurship is paved with many different people, and the best ones are the friends you make along the way.
Some days are good for the soul and Friday, July 28th on the Black Parade Route was one of those days. The smile on my face says it all.
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