Living A Legacy: Women Entrepreneurs Share How Faith, Family And Community Shaped Their Journey

True wealth is not simply the sum of our cash and assets, but is also the relational capital that exists in our families, communities and society — especially if you’re a Black woman. These relationships not only help us thrive, but also serve as our backbone and support through the good times, and the bad.

During a conversation at the 2021 Essence Festival of Culture Wealth & Power experience, several Black female entrepreneurs discussed how having support from family can make a difference when starting a business and why it’s important to be transparent when encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs. Essence Senior News & Politics Editor Malaika Jabali moderated the conversation, which featured Personal Finance & Career Expert Mandi Woodruff-Santos, Founder of the Ayars Agency, Inc., Ashaunna Ayers, McDonald’s Owner and Operators Stephanie Oliver-Parrish and Chelsea Miles.

Woodruff-Santos kicked off the conversation by discussing how her family and her community has helped support her entrepreneur endeavors.  

“I really believe that the life partner that I chose, my husband, was such a blessing, I didn’t know that when I was 24, I met him that he would be so important to my career, but he has in his own way been extremely supportive,” Woodruff-Santos said. “Every time I had a big idea or I came to him with the big next career move or I’m going to leave this amazing job and go to an even more amazing job and I’m going to ask for this much more in salary, he was always the one to say ‘are you sure’, I know that sounds like he’s not supportive but it challenged me. It made me explain to him and defend myself and articulate why I thought I should earn more, why I should make that move and he was always just a constant pillar of support for me.”

Ayars says her faith in God has helped her through her journey as an entrepreneur. “I say all the time that my faith is my business partner,” she says. “I pray about every decision, every deal that I’m looking to explore, every opportunity that comes my way. I really rely on my faith as the thing to guide me into or out of certain decisions.”

Watch the full conversation above.

The ‘Living A Legacy: Women Entrepreneurs Reimagining our Future’ panel is presented by McDonald’s.

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