products and to expand our diversity efforts at the same time,” she says.
The historical moment should not be underestimated, says Brooks of Nxt Horizon magazine. “Minority businesses, if they are proactive, can use green to level the playing field,” he says. “This will not last forever, but the door is now wide open for small minority-owned businesses.” Brooks considers the cause so important that he joined with the Arizona Minority Business Enterprise Center and others to organize an inaugural Minority Green Business Conference at Arizona State University in January. The event, which drew 138 business leaders, explored green business opportunities as well as the case for businesses adopting environmentally friendly operating models in order to reduce costs. Brooks says that they are planning a second such conference in Phoenix in June–at a bigger venue because the first time around they ran out of room.
Preparing for Launch
Many successful green entrepreneurs have found that their personal social concerns can point the way to a successful business venture. “If you’re feeling a certain way, or passionate about a certain issue,” says Bianca Alexander, “recognize that it’s probably because there’s a greater need in society for it, and, as a result, that’s where the business opportunity lies.”
Still, you should be prepared for some possible road bumps. Witness that initially the Alexanders found they were ahead of their time. It was in the summer of 2005 when the couple began to shop their idea for green programming around Hollywood, meeting with production companies, show runners, agents–as many people as they could. But the interest level was “slim to none,” says Michael. “Intellectually they got it, but Hollywood is full of some of the most creative and alternately, the least creative people there are.” The problem, he says, was that their idea wasn’t hot at the time and didn’t fit within a proven formula of what’s worked in the past.
This was in their first year of marriage, and the couple was already at a crossroads. Bianca had left a job as an attorney with Paramount Pictures to open her own entertainment law firm in 2002, and the couple was now operating Conscious Consulting Inc., which targeted companies offering eco-friendly goods and services. Unfortunately, the consulting firm lost its biggest client that same year.
It was a confluence of events that prompted the couple to relocate to Sedona, Arizona. There, in the process of sorting out what their next step would be, the Alexanders began volunteering for various community boards and Bianca started to appear as a “conscious living” and green expert on local TV stations. Ever the entrepreneurs, they started to think about how to generate revenue from producing the segments and in time drew corporate backers, such as Safeway and its line of O Organics products.
Yet the Alexanders soon faced a dilemma: Should they stick with a reliable source of revenue and shape their green messages to fall in line with a sponsor’s interests, or should they create their own media outlet in order to