12 Black, Queer Entrepreneurs Share The Secrets You Need To Succeed

This article is more than 3 years old.

Our national conversation about race has reached an inflection point, as peaceful protests continue in all 50 states and cities large and small.  People who may never have considered topics like police brutality, incarceration and deep seated inequality are talking about it more than ever. They’re joining the masses of people who have born direct, personal witness to these inequalities in advocating for change, both through protests and via social media.  Businesses have noticed.  Many of them are supporting Black Lives Matter publicly for the first time ever. 

In her recent town hall, Oprah Winfrey said that in 35 years on television talking about racism, she doesn’t recall a moment quite like this one. She believes this is a true tipping point that will lead to true and lasting change. 

Many of us are looking for ways to support and uplift the black community now and going forward. As Forbes recently pointed out, “voting with your pocketbook is one of the best ways to effect change in a capitalist society.” To that end, in honor of this tipping point and in celebration of Pride Month, which was started with the help of a black, trans woman, I want to highlight 12 Black-Owned, LGTBQ Entrepreneurs who we can celebrate, support and uplift.  

As a black, LGBTQ entrepreneur myself, nothing excites me more than seeing powerful examples of people who look like me doing amazing things, beating the odds against black and queer success in America. So, I’m not only sharing stories about these entrepreneurs but also asking them to talk about their experiences, strength and hopes on specific topics: 

  1. What has been your biggest challenge in being an entrepreneur?
  2. What would you tell your younger self?
  3. What are you most proud of? 

If you’re looking to support black and queer communities, you can directly support them as well as share their stories with others. 

Miguel Antoinne

Fashion Designer & Creative Director

miguel Antoinne

Facebook/Twitter/ Instagram 

Miguel Antoinne is a direct-to-consumer, designer fashion brand. They design four collections a year (Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter). These collections are made in New York from the finest fabrications & components in the world. They are a customer-centric & focused organization, and they have a very strong commitment to design and quality. 

Your biggest challenge being an entrepreneur: Accepting that it’s totally okay for not everyone to understand your vision. Understanding this early on is how to discover and develop our deepest connections to the people, places, things and experiences that inspires our work. This is community. Second to that would be surviving economic downturns. I started my company six months before the housing crisis of 2008. Now we are navigating our way to recover beyond the implications of COVID 19. 

What would you tell your younger self? Stay curious. You will never have all of the right answers. Don’t hide. It’s in your absolute, best interest to always be your authentic self, even when it scares you and makes the people around you nervous. 

What are you most proud of? I am proud to be a black gay man. I am proud of the work that I do to develop and maintain meaningful, loving, devoted relationships with family & friends and in my work.


Jazzy Baptiste 


Baptiste Beauty


Baptiste Beauty is an indie makeup brand that specializes in lip colors made for women of color.  The Jazzy Baptiste Headwrap Collection headwear was inspired by African culture.

 Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur I had to learn pretty much everything on my own.  I’m a first generation entrepreneur.  I come from working class folks. No one in my family has ever been a business owner So, I took a few online business courses and taught myself the rest. 

 What would you tell your younger self? It’s going to be really rough, but you’re going to discover something so powerful in you, and it’s going to be the burning force to propel you forward to make it through these journeys. It’s going to be worth it. 

 What are you most proud of?  I’m most proud of launching my business and seeing it thrive in a way that I hadn’t imagine on top of being black I’m queer/ non-binary identifying. I didn’t believe that there could be a space for me, being where I’m from a subpar neighborhood where I didn’t see people evolving.  So, I’m proud to see myself selling out launches and collections. I’ve released and sent a message that this is possible.  

Tre Borden

Principal and Owner

Tre Borden/Co.


 Tre Borden /Co. is an art-consulting, production and media company committed to lifting up creative voices and advocating for resilient and equity-centered communities.  The company produces public artworks tackling inclusive themes, curates art in private and public spaces, organizes events to exchange ideas and produces media content that centers progressive thought leaders. 

 Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur Not having a clear template when I began for how a business like mine should operate. It has been hard to find a mentor who could guide me professionally and relate to me personally.  I instead have developed a network of peer-mentors who share strategies and help one another bring projects to fruition. But it definitely felt like I was making it up on my own in the beginning.  

 What would you tell your younger self? Don’t change yourself for anyone. Actually do your Mandarin homework. Invest in Apple.

What are you most proud of? I am proud of the artworks I’ve produced that have started difficult conversations about equity and justice in this country and lifted up creative voices making change happen. It hasn’t been an easy road, but I am proud to do something that makes a difference and keeps a roof over my head. I hope that my platform shows that you can be outspoken, community-minded and still run a compelling business.

Kelsey Davis 

Founder & Chief Executive Officer 



CLLCTVE is a digital platform connecting college creatives with brands targeting Gen-Z consumers. Their exclusive direct-to-consumer access enables brands to connect with Gen-Z consumers and Gen-Z content creators directly. 

Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur My biggest difficulty as an entrepreneur has always been maintaining the disproportionate speed of the exponential learning curve inflicted on most “underrepresented founders.” However, this has also been the catalyst that has generally set me up for a greater capacity to discover untapped growth opportunities and exceed preconceived expectations. 

 What would you tell your younger self? Google James Baldwin, sooner. 

 What are you most proud of? At only 23, I’m the Founder of a venture-backed startup. I’m the first in my family with a Masters degree. And I’m able to now move my venture across the country to build a product that will change the lives of millions of creative students like me. I’m most proud of being able to create new spaces when it comes to economic inclusion and equity for a diverse America.

Khaliah O. Guillory


Nap Bar™


Nap Bar™ was curated to provide rest sanctuaries for sleepy humans to rest, relax and rejuvenate. The first of its kind, white-glove napping experience offers communities and companies onsite and ensuite rest stations to help reduce sleep deprivation and increase productivity. 

Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur:  Protecting my creative energy. I’ve adopted the mindset to stop sharing my vision with people who don’t have the capacity to understand my greatness.  I’m beyond grateful that my current team is saturated with dope humans who support one another, encourage uniqueness and innovation, and understand there is more than enough “pie” for everyone. 

What would you tell your younger self?  YOU are the answer to a 400 year-old prayer spoken by your ancestors. Generational curses will die with your parents, and you will birth a generation of wealth. Operate in the sweet spot where your passion and purpose align.  Also, why duplicate mediocrity when you can borrow genius? Sit at the feet of many teachers and learn as much as you possibly can. Let go of the past, plan for the future, focus on NOW. Give yourself permission to extend an abundant amount of grace to yourself. Lastly, GO! Chasing perfection will paralyze you, excellence will catapult you. 

What are you most proud of? Firstly, having the unmitigated gall and courage to walk away from a 14-year cushy corporate job as a C-level executive at a Fortune 500 company to solve the $411 billion-dollar US economic loss due to sleep deprivation. Also, the City of Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner declared October 29th as Khaliah O. Guillory Day! This is still a bit insane to me considering I am just a girl from a small town (Port Arthur, Texas) who was taught to dream big and not play small. 

La Juana Chambers Lawson 

Owner and Principal Consultant

Tacit Growth Strategies, LLC

Facebook/ LinkedIn/Instagram 

Tacit Growth Strategies is a project management firm dedicated to growing successful ideas, people and organizations by harnessing the incommensurable strength and power of tacit knowledge or understanding.

Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur Diversifying my portfolio. The novel coronavirus disrupted about 35% of my revenue streams and totally halted a lot of my recently awarded contracts. In order to stay afloat, I have had to revisit my business plan quite often, be more intentional about nurturing relationships with my clients (better known as Tacit Growers) and surrender a lot of the pro bono projects that brought me a great deal of joyful headache and purpose. 

What would you tell your younger self? Make fewer assumptions and ask those stupid questions. I think that curiosity and being risk tolerant, really more accepting of risks, are incredible strengths that shatter glass ceilings in our own minds and force us out of our comfort zones and into spaces of compassion, love and unity. Through pain and struggle is how we learn to care and share with no need or expectation of reciprocity or support back. I place high value on being a perpetual learner and that requires an open mind and an open heart that’s free of expectation and uninhibited by society’s many boxes. 

What are you most proud of?  Through Tacit Growth Strategies, I am able to actively redefine business as usual. Our tendency is to transact business as usual, actively dehumanizes and harms people who are differently able, who lack access to what may be perceived as basic or fundamental resources and/or services and who are otherwise different from us. I am also able to unapologetically place higher value on the human or people side of business via project management. 

Asa Leveaux 


Leveaux Group

Facebook/ Twitter/ LinkedIn/Instagram   

Asa is known as “America’s #1 EntreQueerNeur Coach.” He founded the Genius Academy, which is a training and development agency along with Queer School which is a non-profit initiative that offers master classes in personal development to the LGBTQ+ community.

 Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur: Gaining clarity on what exactly I did for my target audience and the proven results for those clients. I’ve learned that when you are not clear as an entrepreneur you will spend your time “marketing to everyone.” However, if you market to everyone you are essentially marketing to no one.

 What would you tell your younger self? There will be individuals that do their best to offer evidence that you’re not amazing, not worthy of love or their time. Rather than focusing on changing their minds, focus on everyone that is clapping for you. Focus on the feelings that make me smile and understand that you are your ancestor’s wildest dreams…even if you desire to kiss a boy.

What are you most proud of?  The aha moment that every client I have coached and trained. I am addicted to this aha moment because it is the true start of their journey of not expecting a different result from doing the same thing that they have always done.


Ernest Owens 

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Ernest Media Empire, LLC


Ernest Media Empire is a media company that specializes in multimedia production, consulting and communications.

Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur: Navigating the differences between opportunity and exploitation. Black LGBTQ businesses are often sought after for increased visibility and attention, but sometimes this can fall within the trap of tokenization and/or just being empty promises. I’m forever learning to pronounce my value upfront and not falling too easily for the illusions of grandeur. 

What would you tell your younger self? You are doing just fine, darling. All of these obstacles will be the foundation for the brilliance you’re going to produce very soon. No need to worry, it’s going to come at you fast. 

What are you most proud of?  I’m most proud of being able to be my full true self every day. It is indescribable. Being able to be out and thriving as a proud Black queer man with a loving fiancé, supportive friends and an encouraging family is something I don’t take for granted. Growing up, all I ever wanted to be was successful in my own skin, on my terms — that’s a reality now that I’m grateful for. 

Natalie Patterson


Natalie Is Poetry


Natalie Is Poetry sits at the intersection of art, education, social justice and mental health. For the last 18 years, she has used poetry and art as a tool for the transformation of individuals and also brands/businesses through poetry, workshops, and professional development. 

Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur: My personhood is so directly linked to the business itself. I am the brand. What I find time and time again is that the deals and projects that would allow the most financial freedom and growth possibility compromise my integrity and values. Capitalism is a vulture and I have no intention of being eaten.

What would you tell your younger self? Dream even bigger. I fulfilled my creative dreams by the time I was 23 and had to come up with more.  I was always capable of more, but my particular set of identity markers limited what I was exposed to, thus my dreams where the size of my ability to imagine. 

What are you most proud of?  Still being a working artist 18 years later. I reject the notion that artists must starve and live impoverished. I have continued to find ways to reinvent myself and my work on my own terms.


Jason Primrose 

Founder and Storyteller

The Cluster Chronicles LLC 


 The Cluster Chronicles, LLC is a media, technology and publishing company. They develop literature, music, visual art, XR experiences and animation. Their mission is to champion unheard voices, particularly those of color, by nurturing and amplifying their stories across platforms and industries.


Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur: Trust. Trusting myself. Trusting the process. Trusting that I’m where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there. It’s gotten very easy to compare myself to other companies, other storytellers, whether they are traditionally published or independently published, and think, “I’m so behind!”

 What would you tell your younger self? I would tell my younger self to hold on to your courage, hold on to your imagination and trust your intuition. The first are two things people can try to take from you but are so intricately woven into the fiber of your being, they will never go away. The last is something special because intuition might have you go against fear or what’s comfortable, and that’s where the growth is.

 What are you most proud of? My first novel Zosma. It’s a Dystopian novel following a young, African-American man on his heroic quest to rescue an alien refugee. In addition to that, I am most proud of getting clear on my vision for myself, my passion and the world. Once I knew what I wanted to create and share, and what I wanted to inspire others to create and share, everything became so much easier. 


Andrew Roby 


Andrew Roby Events


Andrew Roby is a Washington, DC event and wedding planner. They pride themselves on building experiences that exceed your imagination. 

Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur: Making sure that we have a steady stream of income and that my team and I can continue to sustain ourselves while being profitable. At any moment a client can cancel, COVID-19 can strike or an Act of God can occur that removes income from the table. As an Event Planner, I can’t rely on crowdfunding or selling stocks when cash flow is down. Targeting my ideal client and hoping nothing hinders that is essential. 

 What would you tell your younger self?  Be fearless. Don’t focus on how other people feel about who you are becoming. Don’t give up on what you know to be right. Take advantage of every door that opens for you and be sure to never close it behind you because someone else may be walking through it due to your help.

 What are you most proud of? My team. They motivate me, encourage me and push my creativity so that we may be better than the last event we executed. Having and keeping a team can be a challenge. But when your team is always there for you, it’s hard for me to not be proud of them and the work they do for our clients. 


Adrienne Williams 


Life Epiphany LLC 


Life Epiphany, LLC is a boutique mental health practice that specializes in sex therapy, individual, and couples counseling. Life Epiphany, LLC provides a combination of traditional, innovative and leading-edge treatments for individuals and couples who are struggling with emotional, relational, and sexual challenges.

 Your greatest challenge being an entrepreneur:  Taking the leap to walk away from the security of my 9-5. In preparation to launch my business, I held multiple jobs for two years to save enough capital and support myself while simultaneously working on my Ph.D. 

What would you tell your younger self? You do not have to have it all figured out. Life is a series of connecting events and unavoidable curve balls that are thrown in. Also, have fun. Change is our only constant. In a blink, the moment will change. Lastly, be present. Stop and smell the roses. 

What are you most proud of?  Having the faith in myself to start my private practice that provides a space of healing. We all need care from people who understand our unique “lived experiences.” I am honored to offer a safe setting for everyone I serve, including, and especially, minoritized people.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website. 

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