During the Wealth & Power Experience at the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, we caught up with three thriving Black women entrepreneurs who shared their experiences and challenges with building businesses that are not only profitable, but serve specific needs in their respective communities. Hoop York City founder Alex Taylor, Ode to Babel co-founder Marva Babel, and Ode to Babel co-founder Miriam Babel joined ESSENCE Deputy Editor Cori Murray for an enlightening discussion which was presented by Coca-Cola about their unique beginnings as business owners and how they’ve worked to ensure that their companies are seen as safe, authentic spaces in their communities.
Alex Taylor says she was intentional about thinking of her endeavor as a service to the community first and then later, as a business.
“It was really around 2020 when I started thinking of Hoop York City as a more of a business and introducing merchandise and other things that do incredibly well,” Taylor said. “I was really, really lucky to be able to stay afloat throughout the hardest time for most people and I was very aware of that. So, thinking about Hoop York City as a business, I really wanted it to be a business that also gave back just because I was so lucky to be able to fall into so many amazing opportunities.”
Most recently, Miriam and Mava Babel found that making the decision to test out a to-go cocktail service during the pandemic allowed them to maintain safe space in their community during a tough time. “We wanted to show our patrons and people who loved us that the experience isn’t just about being there present, it’s the whole vibe,” Mava said. “It’s the ambiance and the people that create it.”
Miriam also shared one of the many ways they were able to build a new connection with their customer base during the quarantine period. “One of the sweet things about that moment, everything was just so unknown and new and, we had staff that didn’t want to come in and we understood that, and we had to respect that,” she said. “So, myself and our best friends would just deliver a lot of the cocktails to our patrons. I would see them dressed up [before] and now, I’m seeing them in their robes, masked up. So, we just definitely built that connection with the community and it was nice.”
Watch the video above to hear the conversation in full. For more of everything you missed during the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture Wealth & Power experience, click HERE.