Updated: Jan 23
This post right here was written to boost your insight on what it is you need to know as an intersectional entrepreneur in 2022 and beyond!
I want to let you know in advance that the information presented here is meant to be taken as action steps to move these conversations off paper and into reality.
Let's get right to it …
So... you're probably thinking - who are you to be writing about such heavy and complex topics like: intersectionality, entrepreneurship, racism, disability, sexism, classism, and socioeconomic inequalities.
And you know what, that's a damn good point to bring up. So... let me unpack my heavy ass suitcase for you as you read this post mirroring the lives of intersectional beings - leisurely.
I am... Articulate Tee. An Afro-Canadian 80's baby, single head of household, spoonie, mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, volunteer, professional chef, nutritionist, human resource professional, entrepreneur, lover of anything food-related with a cherry on top of a mildly worrisome music and organizational obsession.
Here's my story as to how I ended up here as an intersectional entrepreneur with an incorporated start-up at 32 years young.
I was accepted into a scholarship program in 2016 that was valued at $80,000 CND (after being in a family shelter for nearly 6 months). I choose to study Human Resources and fell in love with training/development, workshop facilitation as well as entrepreneurship.
Fast forward to near graduation and I was pushed to my limits physically, emotionally, mentally to graduate (I had failed micro economics and it was the last course I needed to earn my fast-tracked diploma).
I graduated in August of 2019 and was offered an internship in all 5 of Canada's top banks. I ended up choosing RBC as it was the best fit for me however my mind and body was not fit to work.
I had put extreme pressure on myself to be on the A's list for every semester in order to receive bursaries, grants and awards of recognition (a goal I did accomplish) and had burnt myself out on both ends. Why did I do that? Because we weren't able to work during our scholarship and I was in need of overdue dental work that was causing dental pain daily.
I've been through having chronic crying episodes, mood swings, sleep deprivation, disordered eating, lack of concentration and many other symptoms due to being under extreme stress for three constant years of the scholarship program.
During my college career I was registered with disability services and was constantly advocating to professors, program case councilors and family doctor of my symptoms and how it was impacting me- mostly psychologically, mentally, emotionally and physically. As a black woman and single mom to a toddler (at the time) my cries for help were falling on unempathetic ears.
I was told "you are strong and smart Tara and you'll get through this - said the case councilors" or "just get more sleep and you'll feel better tomorrow- said family" and the one that really made me feel hopeless "stop complaining at least you're not in a wheelchair- said my ex-family physician".
In December of 2019 I applied for a spot with a program called My Start-Up through Elizabeth Fry. I was interviewed and successfully accepted into this four month entrepreneurship program in partnership with Ryerson University. I couldn't wait to apply what I've learned in college and convert the knowledge into viable business plan. The program began in March of 2020 and I couldn't have been more excited to finally pursuit my passion.
That was just the tip of the iceberg though. In March of 2020 Canada shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic and everyone was now on a stay-at-home order. I had to do virtual school with my then 5-year-old son who has multiple disabilities. As well as complete my entrepreneurial program. Through that experience I realized that I wanted to become an online entrepreneur in order to have the flexibility to WFH and still mind my child.
So has my backstory resonated with you? Does the details of how my life snowballed into one giant representation of struggle, oppression, and hopelessness open your perspective?
I successfully graduated from My Start-Up in June of 2020 and officially registered Articulate Tee (now Articulate Tee Inc.). I have now been a tiny business owner for over 1.7 years and have learned the following lessons thus far through personal experience, shared experiences and research.
Here are sixteen tips that have helped me navigate these choppy business waters as an intersectional entrepreneur...
Tip #1 - Leverage relationships w/ other businesses supporting diversity.
Tip #2 - Take care of your own happiness & well-being and help others after.
Tip #3 - Be okay with the uncomfortable. Rooms will not be use to your power.
Tip #4 - Your story is POWERFUL, use it to connect with others like you!
Tip #5 - Apply for funding for your business through grants micro loans
Tip #6 - Design accountability within your work and don't let it slip
Tip #7 - Seek mentorship from other intersectional entrepreneurs
Tip #8 - Create products & services that address the pain points of your communities
Tip #9 - Monitor your mental health on your entrepreneurial
Tip #10 - Have confidence in your skills, products. services & business
Tip #11 - Understand that you are under multiple layers of oppression.
Tip #12 - Race, class, gender, ethnicity limit access to capital and economic success
Tip #13 - Your journey will be mixed with extreme highs
and extreme lows
Tip #14- Have a strong social circle who you trust as being the boss gets lonely
Tip #15 - Devote time to sleep, leisure, exercise, that can reduce depressive symptoms
Tip #16- DO NOT tie your self-worth to your net-worth
Be proud in how far you've come on your entrepreneurial journey. It's not an easy thing to wear multiple hats while passionately trying to get your business off the ground. Success may happen overnight for the few but many of us have to fight and claw our way to success.
The most important thing on your journey is to practice self-care, compassion and kindness towards yourself before you can help another human being.