Ladies, today you will have the opportunity to read a conversation that I had with two wonderful, driven and ambitious women. Allow me to introduce you to 24-year-old Janet and 20-year-old Jennifer Martin. They are the founders and creators of Beauty and Brains, a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, IL that serves young women through various educational resources and opportunities. It aims at assisting young women navigating through college, graduate school, and their professional careers. These sisters were raised in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Currently, Janet is a medical student at Southern Illinois University and Jennifer is a sophomore at Cornell University. First, off #blackexcellence. We absolutely love seeing women doing their THANG whether it be in school, in business, or in the workforce.
Janet enjoys videography, blogging, meditation, reading, astrology, and yoga. Jennifer enjoys cheerleading, reading, and movies. One thing that I love about these sisters is that they have different interests, but a passion and drive to serve their community and pay it forward. They are actively involved on and off-campus. Jennifer is a cheerleader on Cornell’s campus (although she has stepped back for this semester) along with holding an executive board position with a pre-professional women’s org on her campus. BTW, they are in the beginning stages of partnering with an organization that works to combat food insecurity. Janet enjoys attending Thursday Bible studies and Sunday service. These are well-rounded women that enjoy pouring their heart into their passion.
Janet and Jennifer have been in business for a little over a year now. However, they have been giving their annual scholarship for nearly 2 years in a row. These women are scholars and businesswomen. Not only is Jennifer heavily involved on her campus she also holds a part-time job on Cornell’s campus.
Ladies, before we dive into today’s conversation I want you to know that you do not have to do it all, but getting involved and active whether it be in your community, church, work, and/or school is important to finding out who you are, what your interests are, what you don’t like, and more importantly, reveal your life’s work and purpose. God sends people, places, things, and situations to reveal what He has called you to do, but it is up to you to lean in and accept your calling.
So, let’s hear exactly what God has called Janet and Jennifer to do.
Q: Janet and Jennifer, what inspired you to get started?
A: Growing up and attending school in the suburbs, but also having strong familial ties to the city allowed me to see the educational differences between the two sides of town. Recognizing how blessed we were to have the access that we did, we only wanted to share that with the women out there that truly aren’t aware of the opportunities available or don’t recognize the potential in themselves to achieve their dreams.
Gem #1: Count your blessings & practice gratitude
Life is about practicing gratitude and counting blessings. We all have got this far and that is a blessing in itself. There may have been challenges, roadblocks, and trauma, but we have found our way to this very moment.
Continue to heed the blessings that God brings your way. Keep in mind that our situations can be different in a matter of seconds and things like proper access to education and tools can be taken at any minute. So, it is up to us to utilize our resources and give back to our communities to reap even more blessings. If you are a woman wanting to pursue entrepreneurship or even a career it is about serving your community in a way that is effective and where you are solving a problem. Look to your own experiences to find what ways you can give back and solve that problem.
Let’s hop right back into the conversation…
Q: Have you taken classes or attended workshops to develop your skills? If not, what ways have you developed your skills? Please list the classes, workshops, etc. so that the women may be able to utilize those services as well.
A: Just recently, we attended a workshop hosted by the Midwest College Project that was extremely helpful in giving us direction on what our next steps should be. Jacqui Crittle has been a tremendous aid to us on our journey and she can be contacted @mcpwithme on IG and at midwestcollegeproject.com.
Q: How were you able to hone in on your niche and meet a specific need?
A: We grew up in it, so we tailored it to our community & what we needed as we were going thru the process ourselves
Gem #2: Look in your own backyard
I am sure there is a problem that needs to be fixed, solved, and addressed in your own neighborhood, whether it be drugs, incarceration, education, transportation, pregnancy, etc. There is an issue that is waiting for you to solve it. Now, I am not saying to go out there and solve every problem. 1. That is not productive and 2. It just might not have your name on it. First, find out what drives you. This is something that you do not mind doing day in and day out. Then, attack the problem head-on by researching and getting in touch with your community and people.
Keep reading to find out how Janet and Jennifer have been able to touch their community.
Q: What are some ways that you have utilized your business and platform to challenge systems that may not look like you?
A: We challenge the natural state of the educational system. Whether its outwardly stated or not, educational resources are more available for White Americans. So, we’re trying to bridge that gap of inaccessibility, and make the playing field equal for Black women from all backgrounds
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship?
A: Jennifer: In my opinion, the most rewarding part has been seeing our work in action at our events. Seeing everyone utilizing the services and fostering this community of strong, driven Black women is just like our dream coming to fruition… and this is still just the beginning for us. Crazy.
Q: What has been the most difficult part of entrepreneurship?
A: As we said before, balancing school and work and the organization have been no easy task. What’s so difficult though is that we are so passionate about Beauty and Brains and have so many ideas we want to carry out and opportunities that we want to say yes to, but more often than not, we can’t do everything at once or say yes to everything because we are at a point where the school does still need to come first. So, it’s just been difficult for us to pace ourselves and trust God’s timing.
Gem #3: Trust God
It is so easy to get caught up in saying yes to everything and not even thinking about whether or not it is your calling and God’s timing. It is all about patience (I am still working on this) and practicing discernment. Not everything has your name on it. It is about recognizing what season you are in and owning that season.
Q: Janet and Jennifer, what is one thing that you would tell women pursuing entrepreneurship?
A: During our Beauty N Brunch Scholarship Brunch, one of our panelists received a similar question, so I want to share her answer. Do it scared, Do it now. The timing will never be “just right” and nothing will be “perfect” you just need to start.”
Whew, this one is GOOD! You must do it scared and do it now. You just never know what tomorrow may bring. Life is not promised to any of us, so it is important to go after your dreams each and every day without looking back and with a clear and open mind. You ask and you shall receive.
Did you enjoy our two lovely ladies? Loved what they had to say? Want to connect with them? Well, make sure to follow them on Instagram at @beautyandbrainsorg. You may also contact them via email at email@example.com. Do not forget to visit their website as well at bbgirl.org.
If you or someone you may know that would like to be featured on the blog, then please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to share your story! Every story is worth being told! Make sure to follow us on Instagram at @shetalksmovement. Until next time ladies!