Checking in with The Shade Room

Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed

On May 28th, 2015 we invested $100,000 into Angelica Nwandu’s business, The Shade Room.

18 months later, that $100,000 is still in her bank account. Untouched. Only now, it has many more zeros to keep it company.

“I never spent the money, but it gave me the confidence that I could take some risks without the company failing.”

In the last 18 months, Angie has grown her revenue and audience by 20x. She’s grown her team from 2 to 20. Most importantly, she’s grown into a founder with a clear vision capable of scaling her business on her terms.

Angie never touched the money we invested and she credits the networks, insights and resources she was able to access through being a part of

We recently caught up with Angie to talk about how her experience with has affected her and her business.

You Become Who You Hang Around

“Prior to I didn’t know many other business owners. Most of my the people I know work 9 to 5 jobs. At our first quarterly retreat I was able to meet the team at Fohr Card, another company, who connects brands with influencers, and hear how they and their clients price their work. I had no idea I was so far under market. Just that advice and insight alone allowed me to double my revenue the very next month. And we’ve continued to grow it every month since.”

Your Seat at the Table

Those quarterly retreats not only created opportunities to learn, they provided her with a sense of belonging.

Angie and Candace hatching world domination plans at our Chicago retreat
“Being a black female founder is so lonely and most people don’t expect much from you. They certainly don’t want to take a risk on you. So, to step into a board room and see Candance (CEO of Mayavana, another company) who looks like me was like a lifeline. I wasn’t alone and I had a seat that the table. Not just as a black founder, but as a founder. In the group, we’re all equal. We talk about the good and the bad, the success and the struggle. When some of us are up, there are others who are down. That perspective and those learnings have been invaluable to me”.

Your Company on Your Terms

How has being a part of changed Angie and The Shade Room?

“ has helped me to truly value ownership. Ownership of my business but also ownership of my voice. So many of the partners we may have said yes to in the past would have made us sell out or compromise the voice of our community. I have leverage and confidence now that I didn’t have before. I get to do deals on my terms and that gives me the freedom to be true to our community and our culture.
It has also taught me how to test and validate instead of jumping on every opportunity and new line of business that comes along. I research more. I have a circle of media execs and entrepreneurs I can use as a sounding board. With that new framework and context, I’m making bolder moves, investing more aggressively and diversifying our revenue streams.
I’m also learning to be honest with where we are and where we’re trying to go. We are making moves, but we are taking time and testing to ensure we’re making the right moves. We are setting out to build the biggest black media business in history. We owe it to ourselves and the culture to move at the right pace. I’ve come to internalize that slow and steady is how we’re going to win this race. Being surrounded by other who value that same path has been invaluable.”

And where does she think she’s be without

“Oh that’s easy! Without I would’ve run this business into the ground.”

We seriously doubt that.

But we are grateful to be a small part of The Shade Room’s team.

If you’re looking to scale your business on your terms, like Angie, we’d love to have you apply to join us at