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10 Black Female Founders Who Dominated 2016

01/05/2017 11:22 am ET | Updated Jan 05, 2017
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2016 was dubbed the year of #BlackGirlMagic. We witnessed Black women be phenomenal at every turn. From Beyonce getting us in Formation at the Super Bowl to Deshauna Barber being crowned Miss USA, from “The Simones” taking the Gold at the Rio Olympics to Misty Copeland landing the role in Nutcracker, there were countless examples of Black girls sprinkling magic all over our computer screens and into our hearts.

After a few weeks of reading ALL the #BlackGirlMagic articles, and watching ALL the PopSugar videos, I noticed there was a magic we didn’t much hear about in 2016, The Black Female Founder.

So on this #TBT, I want to take a minute to acknowledge 10 Black female founders who dominated in 2016.

1. Grace Eleye - Founder, Satin Lined Caps (SLAPS)

SLAPS was born in 2012 after a trip to Africa where Grace noticed her hair was directly exposed to harsh conditions, like that of the Kenyan heat and the constant bouncing against a headrest that was sucking the moisture out of hair. When she returned home to the States 3 weeks later, the entire middle section of her hair had broken off. Satin Lined Caps was the solution to this problem. These versatile, stylish caps were designed to combine style, comfort and functionality. The satin lining keeps the hair moisturized, protected, and even tangle-free when resting. With the help of a few well targeted Facebook ads, the popularity of SLAPS exploded in 2016 and the fans have nothing but great things to say. You can get yours HERE.

2. Mikaila Ulmer - Founder, BeeSweet Lemonade

Makaila Ulmer and her BeeSweet Lemonade first came to national attention when she appeared on Shark Tank, taking home $60,000 in venture capital for her BeeSweet business. Her company’s main priority, other than making delicious lemonade, is to help save the global bee population by utilizing honey as sweetener instead of sugar. In 2016, the 11y/o landed an $11M dollar deal with upscale grocer Whole Foods! Her flaxseed lemonade, sweetened with honey, will now be available in 50 Whole Foods across the United States, and her brand will now be distributed by United Natural Foods, the leading natural distributor of natural, organic, and specialty foods in the country. Now that’s what you call a sweet deal!

3. Kathryn Finney - Founder, Digital Undivided

Located in downtown Atlanta, BIG is the first innovation center focused on investing in the success of Black & Latina women founders. In 2016, Finney’s organization, Digital Undivided completed a study known as #ProjectDiane to assess the state of Black women entrepreneurs in Tech. The study uncovered that while 80% of new women led businesses are founded by Black and Latina women, these businesses only receive .2% of Venture Funding. The BIG accelerator is part of Digital Undivided’s efforts to get financial resources to female founders of color.

The program will provide startup training, access to more than 100 mentors and up to a year of office space at the BIG Innovation Center in Atlanta. The SBA Growth Accelerator Fund, Surdna Foundation, Wells Fargo and Echoing Green are sponsoring the accelerator. Maya Ventures syndicate Harriet Angels is also providing seed funding. The first class began in September 2016. Continue to do it BIG!

4. Catarah Coleman & 5. Shoneji Robison - Co-Founders, Southern Girl Dessert

You get two for the price of one with this dynamic duo. Southern Girl Desserts was born in 2007 out of the need to bring a taste of Southern hospitality to the West Coast streets of L.A. Each dessert has story and highlights flavors you can only find in the South. In 2013, SGD got an extra boost and a claim to fame when they won The Food Network’s ‘Cupcake Wars,’ crowning them the nation’s top cupcake bakers, and there has been no slowing down since. In 2016, they became the official dessert sponsor for the WBNA National Champion’s The LA Sparks, the video of their sweet potato pie recipe went viral on Cooking Panda garnering over a million views.

They were selected to participate in the Goldman Sachs Small Business Program, were the featured business on Staple’s app Quick Wins, Catarah was the keynote speaker for the Florida Minority Week Business Conference, and together the ladies won yet another Food Network tv show, ‘Cupcake Cage Match.’ There is no doubt they are the best in the biz and show no signs of slowing down, and this black girl is here for ALL of it. Oh, and they deliver! Go ahead and grab yourself a taste of southern comfort, you deserve it.

6. Pamela Booker - Founder, Koils by Nature; Co-Founder Black Biz Scope

The minute Pamela opens her mouth to speak, people are eagerly awaiting what she has to say. As a powerhouse Periscoper she has amassed over 15,000 followers who always show up when she hits “Start Broadcast.” An early adopter to the live chat platform in 2015, Pamela immediately saw the power and exposure it provided small business owners and she, along with 2 other phenomenal women Adeaa Rogers and Christine St.Vil, founded Black Biz Scope, a weekly live scope that showcase Black businesses from all over the world. Periscope immediately recognized her as an influencer and asked her to speak at the 2016 SummitLive Conference on Live Streaming.

But her rights as a powerhouse did not begin or end with Periscope. She is also the founder of Koils by Nature, a veteran owned company, created in 2009 to answer the call for an all natural and organic hair and skin care product line for brown girls. After years of success, the company has expanded its line to include grooming products for men, like that of the very popular Beard Butter. In 2016, Booker secured distribution with one of the largest distributors of multi-cultural products and launched into 500 beauty stores in the South...YOU GO GIRL! She was also named CentricTv and Upscale Magazine’s 16 Women to Watch in 2016 and has been nominated as a Master Pioneer for 2017. Pamela is a force and a guiding light for Black girls all over the world. Get your shine on!

7. Evita Robinson - Founder, Nomadness Travel Tribe

You may have noticed an increasingly high number of African Americans taking to the airways in recent years. Some are keeping it domestic and embracing the many majestic wonders America has to offer, while others are collecting passport stamps from countries most have never even heard of. Chances are, if they’re young, Black, and they’re traveling, they are a member of Nomadness Travel Tribe. In 2011, Evita founded Nomadness. She wanted to have a safe place to talk about how travel affects us all uniquely and couldn’t find anywhere like it online, so she created it. Nomadness is an online social community for travelers who share the similarity of an urban background and are looking for like-minded travelers to connect with around the world. It has grown exponentially over the years, with more than 15,000 members today, this Family by Choice can be found on all 7 continents representing the brand with pride.

In 2016, Robinson announced her new business branding online course, ‘Face Your Brand’ and sold out in days. She was also selected as an Influencer to attend SXSL at the White House. And if we thought she would slow down there, we were wrong. She was also the Community Keynote Speaker at AirBnB’s NY Host Day Conference. Evita has created a community where no traveler is left behind, while also inspiring a new generation of travelers to embrace the world beyond what their eyes can see.

8. Jessica Matthews - Founder, Unchartered Play

Jessica O. Matthews is a lot of things: a Harvard graduate, an American, a Nigerian, a black woman, an inventor, and a CEO. Matthews is the founder of Uncharted Play, a company that makes kinetic energy-harnessing products in order to "democratize energy access worldwide." Uncharted Play first made headlines for its energy-harnessing soccer ball, called the Soccket, that could power a lamp after a few hours of play. Kids were already playing with soccer balls every day, but this one could provide enough light to help them do their homework once it got dark out.

The seemingly simple idea was an instant hit even President Obama tried to juggle one. Matthews was invited to the White House and Uncharted Play began selling the balls to charities and corporations that distributed them to impoverished communities. The company also invented a jump rope, called the Pulse, which shares a similar concept of motion created energy. Here’s the best part, in 2016 the company raised a $7M Series A round, the largest amount ever raised by a Black woman, EVER. This also made her the 12th Black woman to raise more than $1M. Now that is how you keep the lights on. Keep Shining!

9. Tiffany O’ Aliche - Founder, Live Richer Academy

Tiffany “The Budgetnista” O’Aliche, where does one even begin to talk about her global impact. During the height of the recession, Tiffany lost her job and her credit score dropped from 800 to 547. Unemployed and making very little money she was determined to get her financial life back on track. In just over a year, with precise planning and execution, and a salary of roughly $39k, she was able to bring her credit score back up to over 800 and save $40,000. Realizing she may be onto something big she began to share what she learned with other women around the world, and in 2012 she created the FB group, The Dream Catchers.

Today there are over 180,000 Dream Catchers learning about budgeting and finance and over 4,000 women as members of her signature school, the Live Richer Academy, which launched in 2016. But wait, there’s more...Tiffany has been seen EVERYWHERE. In 2016, she spoke at FINCON, the largest financial content conference in the world, appeared on the ‘The Real,’ partnered with Ford, became a Brand Ambassador for IKEA, appeared in countless publications and on every major network, had a financial literacy bill named after her (I mean really)...the list goes on and on and on. There wasn’t a single moment in 2016 she didn’t dominate. If you don’t know her, I’d suggest you look her up...your bank account will thank me later.

10. Luvvie Ajayi - Founder, Awesomely Luvvie

Luvvie, founder of Awesomely Luvvie began her hilariously funny, will call you out but keep you on your toes while only mildly shaming you, blog 13 years ago...yep, you read that right. Her immense success wasn’t hatched overnight. And to be honest guys, there are So. Many. Things. she accomplished in 2016. So in order to save a little space, I’m just going to start listing them below. Here goes:

She spoke at the White House, not once, but twice. In May, as part of the ROOTS Remake Day and again last month at the White House Council on Women and Girls Forum. Oprah handpicked her as one of the 100 leaders who are using their voice and gifts to elevate humanity. There was a party, and a photo shoot and her group included names like Jesse Williams, India.Arie, and Ava DuVernay. This was no small honor. Two months later she was invited back to OWN to interview Oprah!!! She released her very first book, ‘I’m Judging You:The Do Better Manual,’ which made the New York Times Best Seller list less than a week later.

And if that wasn’t enough, she also won a few awards:

  • Influencer of the Year – Mom 2.0 Summit
  • The Root 100 – TheRoot.com
  • Person of the Year – Applause Africa Diaspora Awards
  • Most Awesome and Inspiring Women of 2016 – Good Housekeeping Magazine
  • America’s 50 Most Influential Women – Marie Claire
  • Rockstar Award - ADCOLOR

Honestly, she does a much better job of sharing with us all a recap of her dominating year. Go and check it out.

Whew! 2016 was indeed an exciting one for Black women everywhere. As we continue to sprinkle our magic around the globe, I look forward to highlighting the many more awesome female founders as 2017 begin to take flight.

Donteacia is an American inventor and innovation strategist. She helps women all over the globe, build, fund and launch their incredible ideas. If you’re looking to start a business and want to talk it through, schedule a free breakthrough session today.

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