In 2010, then-President Barack Obama issued a proclamation commemorating the first National Entrepreneurs’ Day, thanks in part to a social media campaign started by two young entrepreneurs. To date, there has been a presidential proclamation each year along with efforts to make the day an official holiday through legislation. For now, National Entrepreneurs’ Day is informally celebrated each year on the third Tuesday in November — also designated as National Entrepreneurship Month. This year’s “holiday” falls on Nov. 20.
From accelerators to conferences, the ecosystem of resources helping to strengthen Black business ownership continues to grow. As a result, we’re seeing an increase in the number of African American small business owners year over year.
We thought it’s as good a time as any to shout out these thinkers, doers and makers by revisiting five of our top entrepreneur spotlights in 2018.
Leslie’s Laundry Care
Domonique and Les Boone didn’t set out to start Leslie’s Laundry Care, but it was a broken washing machine that led to the family business. After her mother’s washing machine stopped working, Domonique picked up her mother’s laundry, washed and folded the items before returning them to her. The idea for Leslie’s Laundry Care was born. The mobile laundry service company — named after the couple’s daughter — also offers dry cleaning and alterations.
Kevin Gatlin is the founder of Playtime Edventures, a toy company that includes children’s bed sheets imprinted with interactive, educational games. Gatlin was one of four businesses featured when Good Morning America visited Charlotte. Not only did he get the national exposure, but Gatlin also received a $10,000 check to fulfill his mission of putting Playtime bed sheets in children’s hospitals and other organizations around the country.
Veltree, vegan soul food cafe
“We Googled ‘vegan soul food in Charlotte,’ and we couldn’t believe that as big as Charlotte is, there was no vegan soul food restaurant here,” said Tre’ona Kelty-Jacobs, one half of the Veltree ownership. Along with her wife, Velvet aka Chef Vel, Veltree is gaining a legion of fans for its plant-based food options. Meat lovers are loving it too. Word-of-mouth keeps customers coming back, and it helps when high-profile customers like singer Erykah Badu gives the co-sign.
Jon’Ric International Massage & Wellness Center
Angela Strother left her career in corporate America after nearly 30 years of the self-described “rat race.” Her next move was a franchise location of Jon’Ric International Massage & Wellness Center. Customers can choose from usual services like massages, facials and waxing. But, it’s the 45-minute session in one of the salt rooms that provides a unique experience offered only in a handful of businesses in Mecklenburg County.
Ms. Elsie’s Caribbean B&B
Cheryl Watkins opened Ms. Elsie’s Caribbean B&B in 2000, inspired by five generations businesswomen and her Caribbean heritage. Watkins didn’t plan to own a bed-and-breakfast — initially, she worked in the commercial real estate industry — but after her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in early 2000, she decided that she would share her grandmother’s memory and love with the world.