It’s no secret that Boss Women Media is all about supporting Woman-Owned Black businesses throughout the entire year. We recently held our first Building Women for the Future tour where we hosted live pitch competitions in three major cities: Atlanta, D.C. and Dallas. Women from around the country gathered together to support and celebrate so many woman-owned Black businesses as we helped create opportunities for women to learn, lead and leverage tools from brands that are making impact within their communities.
We know that when it comes to creating a business and ensuring it is flourishing as women of color, it’s more critical than ever in today’s world that we support each other. This is because we are faced with particularly unique challenges that impact our ability to build long term wealth and entrepreneurial resources.
In honor of November being National Entrepreneurship Month, we’re highlighting our 5 Building Women for the Future pitch competition winners throughout the entire month. Be sure to support these Woman-Owned Black businesses just in time for the holiday season as we continue to do our part in helping solve the gaps for women around the US to be impacted with resources that work and help businesses grow.
This week’s highlight is the founder of Black to the Lab, Kristen Wells-Lewis
Kristen Wells-Lewis, Founder of Black to the Lab
Can you start by telling our readers a little bit about yourself and your background?
I am a Beaumont, Texas native and a two-time graduate of Prairie View A&M University. While at Prairie View I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry but my love for science started early on as a young girl. I‘ve always loved creating things both in and out of the classroom and its sparked my desire for multiple entrepreneurial endeavors over the years.
When and what motivated you to start your business?
I have had an entrepreneurial spirit for as long as I can remember. As a kid from baking cupcakes to designing graphics. In high school, my yearbook teacher taught me how to elevate my design skills and passed me on to all of her clients. From there I launched my first business offering graphic design and photography and it expanded and stretched my creativity to develop more in-depth brands, products, and services. My love for science and creativity combined led to me launching my own skincare and wellness line and that’s where the idea for Black to the Lab was born. I wanted more girls to have the education and resources to create successful brands and products utilizing their academic experiences in STEM. Literally, my childhood dreams in a box.
When you first started your business, what were the 3 initial thoughts that pushed you forward to decide “yes this is what I want to do?”
The first initial thought was sharing the product idea for a young girl’s birthday power. I sourced all of the items myself, designed the activity book, and created a virtual event setup and just the excitement on the young girls’ faces from the experience let me know I was right where God wanted me to be.
What is your business mission?
Black to the Lab is a STEM Educational learning toy designed to expose young girls to science, technology, engineering, and math and STEM’s unique impact on the cosmetic industry. Black to the Lab features an activity kit of hands-on learning experiences that use cosmetic chemistry concepts allowing youth the ability to create some of their favorite cosmetic items such as lip gloss, body scrubs, lotion, and more. Black to the Lab utilizes a fun and creative approach to allow students to explore the following learning components: creativity, inquiry skills, math & science skills, engineering-design thinking, critical thinking, and more. In addition to the hands-on learning activities, Black to the Lab’s goal is to promote career awareness of more women in STEM particularly as it relates to cosmetic chemistry by exposing students to the historical and present-day beauty industry leaders.
With so many businesses within your industry, what makes your business so different and what problem(s) would you say your business solves?
Unlike your traditional girls’ play sets Black to the Lab places an educational spin on the things girls love to use and can now create. We include items that replicate actual science equipment, branding that is Inclusive of girls of color in the cosmetic chemistry industry, and Increase exposure of science careers to the underrepresented audience, underserved communities, and women of color. In addition to the hands-on learning activities, Black to the Lab’s goal is to promote career awareness of more women in STEM particularly as it relates to cosmetic chemistry by exposing students to the historical and present-day beauty industry leaders.
What does your everyday “workday” look like?
No day looks the same, especially with a traditional 9-5. One day may include a lot of email communications, meetings, content development, and contract management. When we visit our warehouse we fulfill our online orders and restock supplies for our group activations. I’m amazed at how much I am able to get done in this season and that makes me excited for the journey of Black to the Lab full-time.
Describe what you felt when you were told you were one of the Building Women for the Future pitch winners?
I felt an array of emotions because I felt pushed into my purpose and had to push past perfectionism as we’d just received a huge shipment and it was my first time sharing everything we’d worked up to with people in person. I actually pitched straight from the heart. No one but God placed those words on my lip reminding me I am right where I need to be, right in time.
What does winning the Building Women for the Future pitch competition mean for you and your business?
It allows us to connect to an additional platform that supports black businesses that we otherwise wouldn’t have access to. We are excited to connect with the Amazon Black Business accelerator, our account manager, and other entrepreneurs who are on the same journey as me.
What’s one thing many people may not know about your business?
People may not know that in addition to our cosmetic chemistry activity kits we offer group activations for more in-depth learning experiences utilizing the curriculums we have developed for large groups, schools, and activity centers. Our in-depth learning experiences allow up to connect with young girls up close and in person.
What advice would you give someone who is currently trying to navigate entrepreneurship?
Take your time to legitimize your business and try not to put the cart before the horse. If you have an idea you truly believe in you have to plan to succeed. Map out your ideas, and get your business documents in order so that you can have access to additional growth opportunities like loans, grants, pitch contests, and more. These opportunities are what take your business from idea to concept.
What’s one piece of business advice someone has told you that’s stuck with you?
Underpromise and over-deliver.
Where can our followers connect with you/your business on social media?
We invite you to join us in the lab at www.blacktothelab.com and via all social media platforms @blacktothelab.
Any additional information you’d like to add?
To connect with us and learn more about Black to the Lab’s upcoming events subscribe to our newsletters via www.blacktothelab.com Help us spread the mission of Black to the Lab with your network. When you come across this article share it with your family and friends and tag us via social media.