Part-time entrepreneurship provides options to traditional employment, especially for women of color.
As work trends have shifted toward side hustles and the gig economy, so, too, has female entrepreneurship. From 2014 to 2019, growth in the number of women who work fewer than 20 hours a week on their businesses, has increased nearly twice as much as the overall growth in female entrepreneurship—39% compared to 21%, according to a widely-cited 2019 report on the state of women-owned businesses by American Express. It was twice as high for minority women-owned businesses (65%) than all sidepreneur businesses (32%). By far, the highest growth rate in the number of sidepreneur ventures has been among African-American women — triple that for all businesses.
One sidepreneur who has created a thriving brand is Dayton native Te’Jal “TJ” Cartwright.
For Dayton native Te’Jal Cartwright, her media side business is a chance to use her passion for storytelling to advocate for and invest in Black business excellence.
“What’s The Biz with TJ” is a digital platform that focuses on highlighting education, community, and economic sustainability for Black and Brown individuals and businesses, Cartwright says. Through its web series, digital marketing, and social media community, What’s the Biz has interviewed over 50 business owners and has created a community of 2,000+ supporters committed to investing in and building black-owned businesses.
“It is a unique production partnering with businesses and organizations to tell their stories in a new, real, and entertaining way.”
Launched in 2019, What’s the Biz covers a number of topics, including highlighting other minority-owned businesses, mental health awareness and more. As COVID-forced people indoors and online,Cartwright’s business began to take off. “My team and I were able to thrive because it is a digital platform,” Cartwright said. “People used social media even more during that time.” The largest surge for Cartwright came after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police sparked worldwide protests against racist policing and rallies for businesses, governments and people to combat anti-Black racism. Due to What’s the Biz’s reputation for covering minority-owned businesses, many people looked to the platform to figure how they could become involved in the movement. “People wanted to know how to support Black businesses,” she said. “I was looking for something I can consistently contribute to the advancement of our community—how I can mix my passion with advocating.” As COVID-19 cases began to slow, Cartwright went back to working full time as outreach director for a local non-profit. She is still passionate about her business, but balancing the two can difficult. “It is hard. Haven’t mastered it yet,” Cartwright said. “You’re constantly working and have to be in creative mode. You go to your job and have to create for them and then put on a hat at night and be creative for your business.” Paige Scott is another sidepreneur who is making great strides in the Dayton area. Paige and her twin sister, Tiffany, own Beautique 143, a brand that provides high quality clothing for curvy women. “I had been shopping online and I was irritated that there was nothing for plus-size women,” Scott said. “My sister Tiff and I started doing research on what we needed to start a boutique and become a legal brand.” Scott and her sister officially launched Beautique 143 on July 10, 2019—their birthday. The line aims to give curvy women more options as well as promote body positivity. “We learned so much about how plus-size women tick,” Scott said. “We push the women with our brand to go out of their comfort zone. We have bright colors and patterns. We don’t only provide black because it is viewed as slimming.” COVID-19 led them to focus more heavily on social media, creating videos to showcase their clothing and make sales online. “We had all this inventory and we had no idea what we were going to do with it,” Scott said. “We took all the inventory we had and would showcase it on Facebook live. We would talk about what occasions were best for each look.” Though both of these brands are doing well, their owners expressed how more support is needed for women in their respective industries. “We need more spaces for networking and learning how to get business credit,” Scott said. Cartwright added, “We need money and investments. Access to capital. We need feedback so our teams can learn how we can improve.”
By Malik Keith, Elevate Dayton
Elevate Dayton's entrepreneur and small business coverage is powered by Launch Dayton, an organization that seeks to connect entrepreneurs to peers, resources and supporters while telling the story of the region's thriving entrepreneurial community.