I genuinely respect anyone who transforms a dream into a tangible business. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, especially for Black small business owners as we typically have to navigate more obstacles than our counterparts.
In retrospect, I’ve realized that the journey is just as important as the final destination, and we shouldn’t be afraid to celebrate our wins and relish the memories we make during the process. Kensington Grey was established in 2019, before the pandemic, but our company exponentially grew in the height of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. Those experiences taught me it’s important to find support within the Black community and allies to gain knowledge that propelled our business forward. I was grateful for how Kensington Grey’s network galvanized and changed the trajectory of our generation’s contributions to the civil rights movement.
I’d also recommend other small business owners take a moment to stop and dwell on their journey beyond dreaming about that big exit. While the process is challenging, I often think of words from Ari Emanuel, an Endeavor Talent Agency founding member, WME CEO and entrepreneur I admire, “Know when you’re on the field. And know when you’re not.” Business owners should learn when to focus on the business and when to check in on their family, spouse, children, and even themselves. We have to remember to enjoy life with people who matter the most to us along the way to building successful businesses.
Also, you must constantly innovate and take risks if you want to stay ahead of the curve. That means hiring people who are smarter than you— investing in new technologies and starting strategic partnerships. In hindsight, I’ve realized that our openness to innovation and change has often saved our business from heading down the wrong path.
Lastly, as a small business owner, you have the ability to be nimble, this is a strength and trust your intuition to lead you where you need to be, even if it scares you. Frankly, if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. I believe in you!
Shannae Ingleton Smith
President & CEO of Kensington Grey
Kensington Grey President, CEO and Co-Founder, Shannae Ingleton Smith, is a creator, strategist, and multi-hyphenate entrepreneur conquering the media space. With a background in sales managing a multimillion-dollar portfolio for Rogers Communications, one of Canada’s largest media conglomerates, she eventually set her sights on social media. Ingleton Smith has built an agency that represents 90+ creators in the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle spaces and has expanded the agency’s global footprint across Canada and the United States.