Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and a commemoration of the end of slavery in the US. Celebrating the holiday will help us better understand the past and reflect on how we can move forward. Below is an exclusive interview from the owner of the Pink Room, Symone Grady, reflecting on Juneteenth from the perspective of a female black business owner.
Q: What made you decide to become a business owner?
I actually had a close friend of mine who had an online business as a side hustle and she made it seem so easy. She had garnered so much support from her business that, in a way, it almost seemed glamorous. My background is in marketing so in my head I thought, “If I could effectively promote a service or product for a company, surely I could do it for something I’m passionate about." So I thought to myself about all the things I’m passionate about, and fashion was at the top of the list. It was in that moment that I decided to open an online women’s boutique.
Q: What obstacles have you faced being a black business owner, if any?
One of the main obstacles that I’ve faced is just having the “stigma” of having a black-owned business. Unfortunately, a lot of black-owned businesses get a bad reputation for being unprofessional, overpriced, and unorganized. I combat this by making sure that everything from branding, to operations, to customer service is top-tier so that no one can associate The Pink Room with these negative connotations. Every customer no matter race, ethnicity, or age is treated equally, with respect and as a valued customer.
Q: What makes a black-owned business different?
A black-owned business is different in a lot of ways, but I think the main differentiator is the passion, the drive to break through those racial and social barriers to become a reputable business owner. While all business owners thrive to be successful, I believe that black business owners have an edge because there are so many odds stacked against us that we almost have something extra to prove.
Q: What does Juneteenth mean to you, as a black business owner?
Juneteenth is a day of commemorating the emancipation of black slaves and celebrating black culture. Whether its through supporting black-owned businesses, attending a parade, or hosting an event, Juneteenth is vital for us as a community to never forget where we’ve come from, but to also celebrate our successes and future strides towards equality.