Women's History Month: Lansing's rising entrepreneurs discuss business, motherhood and success

Posted at 12:39 PM, Mar 24, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — For Women's History Month FOX47 sat down with four of Lansing's brightest female entrepreneurs.

Najeema Iman, Bianca McCastle, Nyshell Lawrence, and Lorin Cumberbatch have a lot to talk about.

They're all women, all Black, all mothers, and all mid-Michigan business owners.

Iman is the owner of YouShine Events and Consulting, which creates unique experiences for local entrepreneurs.

"As women, we bring people together. And so that's like, I think at the heart of all of our businesses, it's really bringing people together," said Iman.

McCastle is the owner of Thrd Generation, a space that offers fashion, home goods, toys, and accessories that represent African culture.

"Everywhere you look, you see more and more women stepping out and stepping onto their own, and really owning their space," said McCastle.

Lawrence is owner of Socialight Society, a bookstore that celebrates Black women and Black literature.

"My five year old asked me one day, 'So mommy, who's your boss?' And I'm like, 'There is no boss.' 'So who's in charge of the bookstore?' 'Mommy's in charge of the bookstore.' And she's like, 'Oh, you don't have a boss? Good for you!' Even at five, to be able to understand that mom is like pretty much running this herself? That's important. And for her to think that that was a big deal? I'm a superstar!"

Cumberbatch is the owner of Skin Studio Spas, which offers facials, lash services, and more.

"We literally juggle everything! Like all of us are moms, but we still own businesses. I think some of us still have a second job. Like we do literally so much, and you will never see it. And I think that's the best part. You will never see us sweat at all," said Cumberbatch.

According to the United States census bureau, women like Iman, McCastle, Lawrence, and Cumberbatch are on the rise.

In 1972 female business owners represented 4.6% of all U.S. business. In 2019 they represented 42%.

There are lots of factors leading into that fact. Cumberbatch credits the multi-tasking ability of women.

Lawrence credits the necessity saying, "I think a big part of it for me is knowing how resilient historically Black women have been in general."

"I can't afford to lose. I'm a single mom. I do co-parent, but I have two children. I can't afford for my business not to work. It has to work for my babies. I have to be able to leave a legacy," said Iman.

From 2014 to 2019, the number of businesses owned by women of color increased by 43%, doubling the growth rate of women-owned businesses.

"I think has been great," said McCastle. "And I think the support, to see other people like me, my color, women, has been something that has been long overdue."

Just like at home, these women say they succeed in business because they know it takes a village and they're not too proud to ask.

"I’ve called Nysehll for stuff. I’ve called Lorin for stuff," said Iman. "There are a lot of women that are both in front and behind the scenes that are changing the landscape of Lansing."

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