BLACK GIRL VENTURES: Through building community, I change the world. I do this for the cause, the culture, and the coins.
“Fearless Leader” and “Soul of a Serial Entrepreneur” are among the many engaging attributes of Black Girl Ventures founder and EnrichHER advocate, Shelly Bell. Needless to say, nobody puts Shelly in the corner. Entrepreneurship and the grit required to put an idea into action comes second nature to Shelly who gave birth to her first child at age 17 while beginning her first semester at college. “I will not fail”, was always her mantra. Because of this carried belief throughout her life, she has launched multiple successful business’ while also focusing on the importance of investing in other women-led business’.
Through fearlessness and consistent determination, Shelly took full time work in computer science and teaching during her twenties. While the full time work kept her bills paid and food on the table, Shelly scratched the creator itch by always having a side hustle. “I sold vacuum cleaners, lingerie, became a nanny and a bartender. While working my full-time job, I always had a business opportunity on the side.”
Fast forward to age 34- while miserable in a stable patent job that her fiancé at the time pushed her to take, Shelly was fired. She was devastated and her ego was bruised. Unsure of her future but fueled with endless potential, Shelly consulted California Psychics on a whim and was told that her current relationship with the fiancé would not last and that if she followed her passion the money would come.
Driven by creating her dream life, Shelly ended it with the fiancé who was limiting her potential, and decided from that day forward to create her own destiny. She cleared space in her living room and started building things. The first business she created was a TeePee built from scratch which she then rented out on Airbnb in her house. While many friends and family doubted her business plan and thought she was crazy, “TeePee BNB” was open for business and became an instant hit with travelers looking for adventure within someone’s home. While this crazy idea was successful, Shelly realized quickly she did not want to be sharing her home on a regular basis so she began to pivot.
Her future entrepreneurial endeavors included a branded clothing line: Made by Black Women and a custom merchandise and apparel shop: Ms Print USA. While Shelly experienced wins and losses, the overarching theme she experienced as a woman business owner was loneliness. There wasn’t a community for women of color to go and get access to resources, comradery and capital. With black women starting businesses at 6 times the national average and receiving less than 1% of venture capital, Shelly decided to create her own solution to this multi-faceted problem. Black Girl Ventures was born.
“I wanted to create a grassroots environment where everyone was included and black and brown women were able to get access to capital.” Women of color sign up to pitch their ideas, the community votes and one woman walks away with seed funding for her business. Along with funding, she receives an accounting consultation, a legal consultation and 12 free t-shirts for her business. As Shelly continues to build the Black Girl Ventures brand in Washington, D.C,, she has established other chapters in both Philadelphia and Baltimore. As stated earlier, Shelly refused to fail. If failure finds her, she makes sure to fail forward.
As an EnrichHER advocate and fellow founder, we feel so fortunate to have Shelly and the Black Girl Ventures community in our tribe. She has provided EnrichHER to pitch in front of influencers and investors at SXSW 2018 and the DC Black Girl Ventures pitch event also in 2018. It is imperative for all of us women founders and funders to work together to close the racial and financial gap while empowering each other to create positive change. Keep disrupting Shelly!
Do not wait until tomorrow to start working toward your dream. Whether you want to contribute to making a social impact by investing in the future of women-led companies, or if you have an exciting business growth strategy for your company, EnrichHER is here to help. Join our investment funding platform today.
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