“I think its very important for me to speak on it because, my whole entire foundation was built from a Black woman,” Bolden explains. Together the pair have launched a series of videos conversing with two recipients of the Tory Burch Fellowship Program–Ericka Lassair of New Orleans’-based gourmet hot dog joint, Diva Dawg, and Carolina Contreras, owner of Miss Rizos Salon in New York City. In 2009, Burch created the foundation in support of women entrepreneurs.
Throughout the designer’s 15-plus-year run in the industry, her mission has reveled in the support of underrepresented designers, creating the resources that help them succeed. When selected for the fellowship, recipients will receive one year of mentorship, a $5,000 grant, a community of contacts and workshops at the Tory Burch office. “To highlight extraordinary women is something I never get tired of! ” the designer exclaimed.
This year, specifically for Black business owners, has come with a unique responsibility. Due to the recent large number of incidents of—and media spotlight on—police brutality within the community, along with the pandemic crisis, Black businesses have reemerged in the spotlight, and the outpouring of support has continued to grow within the last few months. “When you’ve had hard times yourself and you see people struggling, you have to reach out to let them know it’s going to be all right,” Lassair says. The Diva Dawg owner was a 2016 Tory Burch Fellow. During the height of the pandemic, she was part of a group that delivered over 300,000 meals from more than 70 restaurants to 10,000 residents in New Orleans.
“As a Black Latina Entrepreneur my strongest muscle is that of resilience,” says the 2020 Tory Burch Fellow, Carolina Contreras. “I was able and fortunate to exercise it in a time of crisis. Contreras opened Miss Rizos, a curly hair salon that helps women and little girls love themselves just as they are. Offering curly hair services and products at a competitive price, the salon owner recently reopened her doors in the Bronx and has seen an outpouring of support from customers and the community.
Check out more of the conversation above.