It's Black History Month, and we couldn't think of a better way to spend it than introducing you to entrepreneurs who are grinding today to make history tomorrow.
Today we're honored to expose you to the resilient relationship blogger that is Vernique Esther of Authentically Wed by Vernique Esther & Co.
Share your journey! How did you become the entrepreneur you are today? I became an entrepreneur out of necessity. As outgoing as I am, I always saw myself as a co-pilot. I’m a Social Worker by trade and it’s something I’m passionate about. However, I truly was content with working a 9-5, making good money, and having a stable family while having a few hobbies here and there. I picked up blogging because I needed something to do. I loved being married and wanted to share my experiences with others, but I didn’t have this grand plan -- I simply wanted to see where it went.
When my marriage fell apart it pushed me to 1) find creative ways to get more income because I was new to the job market and lost the stability of a two-income household, and 2) I had God promise me that my pain wouldn’t be without purpose. So He told me I wouldn’t give up my platform and challenged me to trust Him with what He put in my hands. Ever since then, I’ve gotten idea after idea. I've joined with other bomb women for validation, and to give me the premise and tips on my ideas... and VOILÁ! Vernique Esther & Co. was born and I’m excited to see how my baby grows up!
My business sells t-shirts now, but I'm planning to branch out in both products and services. I would like to start a community centered around healing from broken relationships and offer services from there.....but that is in the future.
What do you do? Are you a full-time entrepreneur, or are you balancing a job and a business? How do you feel about that? Balancing a job and business. It’s hard! Some days I’d rather be a blogger than sit at my desk and make calls, BUT I’m so grateful for my job because as a medical social worker I don’t carry the same burdens my peers in other sectors carry and it funds my dreams! There would be no Authentically Wed without my day job. So I struggle a lot with focus and being present 100% at work because I’d rather be writing or learning a business strategy, but that’s why I hired an assistant. She does the things I can’t put my hands on during the day.
The first year of business can be the hardest, but the most fun and educational. How was your first year of business? Well, I’m over a year in blogging but not a year into business yet. I will say though that even as a blogger it’s been tough. Learning social media engagement, spending money I don’t always have so that I can always give quality, the technical side of things, SEO, and so many other things sometimes make it discouraging. I know people who in their first 6-10 months of blogging had 7k+ followers while I struggled to keep 500, however, my engagement and the way people relate to me and what I have to say is representative of the need for what I do. So it’s hard to keep up with all the technicalities, but the fact that I love talking about relationships and the topics concerning relationships that no one else really addresses makes the other stuff worth it.
As the old saying goes, "Never forget where you come from." Where are you from? Has your hometown had an impact on your entrepreneurship journey? Be sure to give a shout out to anyone who has helped/supported you during your entrepreneurship journey. (106&Park style shout-outs are acceptable as well. This is a safe space!) Oh my gosh! So I’m convinced that people who say they came up by themselves are liars! I’m a super independent person and I know for a fact that not only do I need people, but without them, Authentically Wed wouldn’t be what it is. It has taken my inner circle of friends and confidants to push me when I thought this “blogging thing” was stupid. I also am grateful for my business connections who I use as often as possible because of the quality of work they do.
So it’s hard to say names and what all they have done because it would take forever, but Shoutout to:
Bahiyyih Carmella (my assistant), Destiney Gary, Kay Hillman, Lorraine Dawkins, Jasmine Baker, Sidney Troope, Emily Caulfield, Anna Oakley, Will Guy, Alexandria Rogers, Naomi Brisard, and all my friends and family who supported me along the way!
Making history requires making change. How will your business benefit future generations in your family?
The heart of my business is to reach into dark places and pull people out. Broken relationships of all forms can contribute to a host of intrapersonal issues, which cause interpersonal issues, making it hard to have healthy relationships in the future. Unhealthy relationships lead to unhealthy children who create generational cycles of brokenness. I write to encourage and to start hard conversations, but I also do it to shed light in dark areas hoping the truth will set someone free from false expectations and ideologies. Healthy people make healthy decisions and create healthy lineages. I just want to be a catalyst in the process.
Black culture is often idolized for portraying an image of trend-setting fearlessness. How has being Black impacted your entrepreneurship journey? Oh man! Great question. Being Black has impacted me in business because we are natural go-getters. We know what it means to not have enough but make enough anyway. We find ways to survive even when it doesn’t make sense. As a Black woman, I’m tenacious, resilient, daring, and unapologetic and it’s the reason people are attracted to me and my brand. I created Authentically Wed for one purpose at one time, and it evolved when I did. It is now this fun reincarnated version of its former self. That's because my blackness tells me to survive and thrive when the unexpected happens. When things get tough, Black women get tougher, and THAT is what I want to impart to those who come in contact with me or my business.
What advice do you have for Black entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a business? Believe in you first. Decide what it’s worth to you to succeed, then go for it. Expect that things won’t go the way you want, then expect that you’ll get over it and keep grinding no matter what. I could give some 1-3 tangible steps to starting a business but to be frank, if you don’t get over you, your business has already failed. It’s a daily battle but I choose to fight it every day because I have something the world needs, and so do you.
The year is still new! What can we expect to see from your business this year? Whew! More cool products (aside from t-shirts), awesome collaborations, and hopefully some service based things as well. Stay tuned!
Keep Up with Vernique Esther:
Facebook: Vernique Esther