(BPT) - Two rising, women entrepreneurs - Jena Holliday and Kalilah Wright - have found their voice and are using it to spread Black joy, solidify Black representation in retail and shine a spotlight on what success looks like. With the help of Target, Holliday and Wright's stories are being told via the retailer's Black History Month campaign, celebrating the creators building Black economic vitality and leaving a strong legacy for future generations.
With just a bit of faith, illustrator and author Jena Holliday walked away from her mainstream marketing job to embrace her passion for art. What started as a hobby eventually evolved into a full-time commitment of spreading kindness and hope through her drawings depicting Black women. That commitment blossomed into a blog, aptly named Spoonful of Faith, and has thus become not only a successful business but a cultural beacon.
'Authenticity is the most valuable quality to me,' said Holliday. 'Portraying Black women as raw and honest is what I know how to do, and I feel it shows other aspiring creators to lean into who they uniquely are. We are all unique and not meant to be like everyone else.' Holliday's parents taught her that from a young age, which she feels freed her creative spirit and drives her to positively impact the Black community.
Holliday wants her journey and her illustrations to motivate others, especially young Black women, to face fear and find their voice. 'Your voice matters, your culture matters, your background and experience matter,' she said. 'You matter because you are here.'
Her business, started in 2014, took time to emerge into what it is today. For those looking to emulate Holliday's journey, her sage advice satisfies both the emotional and professional ambition it requires to take that leap of faith and start paving a new path.
- Start small: 'A start is a start. Remember to accept and work with what you have and create the best version of you and your talent that you can right now. A spoonful is all you need to start."
- Be honest: 'If you understand yourself 100%, including what you can and cannot carry, you'll produce great work. And, be honest with your support team and let them know where you need help.'
- Trust your uniqueness: 'Believe you are creative and listen to your heart. Creativity shows up in so many ways, so don't be afraid to try things that fall out of your wheelhouse.'
- Live life: 'Try new creative outlets to help nurture your personal spirit. Read books, watch movies, draw, write poetry, dance, sing, laugh or listen. Find the joy in living by nourishing your soul.'
Unafraid to use her words to send a message, activist and apparel designer Kalilah Wright bottles authentic and unapologetic phrases about being Black in every clear canister from her company Mess in a Bottle. Printed proudly across the front of her tops, declarations like, 'A Black Woman Created This' and 'There Are Those Who Will Change History, And Those Who Will Be Sad They Didn't Try' give a voice to the voiceless and allow people to express themselves without having to say anything at all.
'My messages are about love, life, career and current events - they are depictions of my life and things going on around me as a Black woman in the Black community,' said Wright. 'I want people to be able to walk past each other and stand in solidarity with each other, that's why I chose apparel.'
Like her clothing, Wright offers no-nonsense insight for others striving for Black success.
- Find your authenticity: 'Success looks different for everyone, so march to the beat of your own drum - people will listen.'
- Embrace the courage to keep going: 'Fear can handicap you but only if you let it; always be moving forward.'
- Utilize the tools you have: 'Resources and money don't have to be abundant but be resourceful and budget concise every step of the way.'
- Stay business minded: 'Keep focused on business first and know that if the business succeeds, then you will have another platform from which you can speak your truth.'
Holliday and Wright credit much of their success to strong Black female mentorship. With guidance and support, Black voices can rise up. Both Holliday, a middle child of seven with four sisters plus a mom always telling her to 'go for it' and Wright, mentored by savvy businesswoman Cici Gunn, understand that being part of Target's Black History Month gives them the opportunity to uplift other Black women.
Holliday and Wright are two examples of the many success stories of Black entrepreneurs and products Target is highlighting during Black History Month and all year round. Visit Target's Black Beyond Measure Shop for more information.