We’ve become accustomed to hearing the stories of Black beauty bosses who started their businesses in their kitchens with a few dollars, family hands on deck, and then bootstrapped their way to million dollar success.

This story is true for women like Courtney Adeleye of The Mane Choice, Monique Rodriguez of Mielle Organics, and Raynell “Supa Cent” Steward who launched The Crayon Case.

But one thing that these women can all agree on, no matter how you get your start, you have to know your numbers, and reinvest in your business. That’s where Arielle Loren and her team at 100K Incubator come in. They’re helping women in business thrive and grow, and Black beauty entrepreneurs is one group benefitting greatly from the service.

“I don’t believe in bootstrapping and this concept of, I’m supposed to take a hundred dollars and turn it into a six-figure business. I think it’s just a bit dishonest, and it doesn’t tell the full story of how you get from $100 to $100,000 in sales,” Loren told ESSENCE. “I think it can be intimidating for a lot of Black women, not only to ask for the money, but I think a lot of times, they’re scared to put their ideas out there in fear that someone who has the funding will swoop it from under them.”

My first interaction with Loren was the The Bawse Conference in Miami Beach this past summer where she held a Q&A on strategic moves that women can make to get on track for getting funding for their businesses, and get off the bootstrapping road. The information was tangible and actionable, which can be difficult to deliver at a large conference. I was impressed and wanted to learn more.

It’s likely because Loren herself had been on the other side of the podium. Although she has a Masters in management from Harvard, and studied international business management at Georgetown, she says that it was through her own real life business ventures that she learned how difficult running a business can be, and how many questions a CEO might have when they’re starting out.

So she created 100K Incubator, the first business funding mobile app for early stage women entrepreneurs. They’re on a mission to help 100,000 women get funding for their businesses and to scale to a minimum of $100,000 in annual sales. Since launching, the Incubator has put 1,000 women through their beta program and have gotten those women access to over $1M in total capital.

“The truth of the matter is real life experience is what really prepares you and trains you for running a business,” she said. “But there’s nothing like being in my business, even to this day, where with more money, and more sales, and more customers, and more responsibility, and more staff, comes more lessons and greater heights that I have to grow to as a CEO.”

Along with Loren’s business development agency, 100K Incubator has helped women not only get access to capital but also build their sales funnels, set up their advertising campaigns, and create scalable and sustainable businesses through live coaching and classes. Based on the testimonials on the website, the women in the Incubator are finding success with it. But I wanted to get a sense of the main ingredient in Loren’s secret sauce to business success for these ladies.

So I reached out to some of the women of 100K incubator who’ve worked with Loren and her team to get the real deal on how they’re spreading the magic. Nearly a dozen women wanted to talk, eager to share what they’ve gained from working with the Incubator.

I spoke to Joelle Lynn, creator and owner of Happy Girl Products, Afira Miller, owner of Sugadoo Cosmetics, Dominique Henderson who owns Goodnight Hair Bonnets, Makuyo Nettey of Maninya Afri-Caribbean accessories and wellness brand, Saraa Green, who’s launching a Kickstarter for her product in January 2020, and finally Venise Dixon, owner of Indulgence Massage & Bodywork spa in Bowie, Maryland.

I was immediately blown away by the variety of the businesses that the Incubator works with, hitting almost every beauty category in some way, including wellness and self-care. And the constant for all the rising CEOs was the exemplary educational business tools that they get from being a part of the Incubator.

“I think as entrepreneurs we go through this phase where we’re unsure, like, ‘Is this the right time to do this? Is there an audience for this? Is there a market or community for this?” said Saraa Green, who found the Incubator via Google Search.

Her mother Angela Green created TheBraidReleaser in 1992 out of necessity for caring for her two daughters’ hair. In January Saraa received her MBA, and decided to continue to develop the product after she used it for a required business proposal for school. Even with more knowledge than the self-taught businesswoman, she knew she needed more help in order to turn TheBraidReleaser into a sustainable brand.

“What do degrees really mean. In my mind I was like I have my MBA, let’s do this. But that’s not the case all the time,” Green continued. “Arielle was very real with me. She asked, do you have your business registered? Do your have your EIN? Do you have your LLC? I was like, ‘Oh this is really happening!’”

“It’s been a lot of work. I’m not going to say it’s easy. But I love learning and I think people really need to know the importance of community. Having a circle helps. In my journey hearing these other women’s stories has made me want to grind harder.”

The 100K incubator is available on both Apple and Google app stores. Visit the official website to learn how to start a free 3-day trial or sign up for the $19.99 monthly plan, or $99.99 annual plan.

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