Gwen Jimmere, CEO and founder, Naturalicious (Image: Gwen Jimmere)
“It is not the destination that solidifies you, but the things you learned along the way.” Credit this nugget of wisdom to Bishop TD Jakes, the key speaker at this year’s 19th annual Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference which wrapped last month in Columbus, Ohio.
From one-on-one sessions with some of the biggest and brightest names in the business world today to an open casting call for the ABC reality show Shark Tank, the conference is a three-day business bonanza and a chance for aspiring and fledgling small business owners, veteran entrepreneurs, celebrities and business moguls to network, exchange ideas and connect with potential investors.
A major highlight is the Black Enterprise elevator pitch contest. A one-shot opportunity of a lifetime offered for small business owners looking to climb that extra rung on the ladder to success.
We’ll get into how it works later. First, meet 2014 Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Contest winner, Gwen Jimmere.
Jimmere is CEO and founder of Naturalicious. Her company sells an all-natural all-in-one hair care system designed specifically for curly, “kinky,” wavy, hair textures.
She emerged from the “strongest class of Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch finalists in recent memory” to win the $10,000 grand prize and six one-on-one mentoring sessions with Alfred Edmond Jr, Senior Vice President and Chief Content Officer at Black Enterprise.
The judges this year were serial entrepreneur, investor, author and innovator Rodney Sampson, respected former journalist and founder of Mopwater Social Public Relations, Amanda Miller Littlejohn, and Earl G. “Butch” Graves Jr., president and CEO of Black Enterprise.
“My mission is to help women love their God- given beauty,” Jimmere says. “So many of us have grown up not really knowing what our real hair looks like or not feeling beautiful because our hair either wasn’t straight or because our hair was ‘kinky.’ ”
She says she recognized her opportunity and snatched it. “I have a big thing about gut feelings. And I felt deep inside this was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.”
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