BLKWOMENHUSTLE: THE APP YOU DIDN'T KNOW YOU NEEDED
When I graduated from college (#TUMF), I accepted an internship at a publication working under two Black women, which I was initially excited for. The experience was crazy, like the hood version of The Devil Wears Prada and definitely had a lasting effect. It would be almost 20 years before I had the melanin magic mentorship from another Black woman that was indeed beneficial for my career development. Stories like mine, are unfortunately not unique to many professional Black women, which BlkWomenHustle founder, Lashawn Dreher, discovered. “(Black) Women would share that their ideas were stolen, or that (other Black women) took ideas and tried to turn it into what they wanted for the vision,” Lashawn remembers.
“I wanted to create something to combat that, to give people a safe and trusted space where they can connect with other women."
Lashawn Dreher, Founder of BlkWomenHustle
Before the South Carolina native began her entrepreneurial journey, Lashawn was a seasoned accounting professional seeking new opportunities, which led her to Charlotte, NC with her young son in 2017. Unfortunately, the job didn't pan out and Lashawn had to hustle to make ends meet for the rest of the year. “I quit the job in March and hit a rough patch. I ended up working contract jobs and was literally down to my last dollar in December,” Lashawn recounted. “During that time, I was having a lot of conversations about what was transpiring in our communities with each
other as Black people, and eventually I decided that I was going to start the space.”
In 2018, Lashawn landed a permanent gig as an accounting analyst at Sola Salons Headquarters, but continued to cultivate the seeds for what would become the start of BlkWomenHustle. In addition to giving visibility to professional Black women on the website, she hosted events, workshops, mixers and essentially created a collective that thrived over the years. When she left her full time job due to personal reasons, the tech savvy, marketing creative, kicked into high gear to extend BWH to an all-in-one platform where women could consistently connect and support each other.
Last month, the subscription based app ($9.99/month), BlkWomenHustle, was introduced to the world with rave reviews.
“I've heard phenomenal like 10 times,” Lashawn shared excitedly. “Even in beta, I heard phenomenal. This is what we need. People are already using the resources.”
As someone who navigated the platform in preparation for this interview (and am now a member!), I can attest that the resources are indeed plentiful. BlkWomenHustle doesn’t just offer a community of Black women for members to access and network with, it includes job postings, e-courses, business solutions, grants information, fundraising campaigns and the ability to chat in real time. BWH also eliminates the uneasiness of “cold” direct messaging (you know, that LinkedIn feeling) because you have access to everyone and can feel confident that they share values of collaboration, support and empowerment. You also won't need to worry about your posts not being seen by the community you're trying to reach. Lashawn thought about all of that! "When you've been on these other apps, you have an algorithm to fight. You post with a 10% chance of being seen," explained Lashawn. "That's not the case here. These are Black women who are actively, proactively, building, communicating, making moves in their businesses and in their careers. It's not a race of maybe it will, maybe it won't be visible. You get to be visible in all ways and in all spaces."
Perhaps, most importantly, even if you’re not necessarily in need of something, you have a chance to be the kind of mentor you may have needed earlier on in your career.
“BlkWomenHustle is made for everybody,” added Lashawn, who also founded the digital magazine, EMOIR, as an extension of BWH.
“I want to hear the stories of (Black women) securing partnerships with someone else, or them collaborating with women they've connected with in the community. That's the primary goal. To have BlkWomenHustle live, people subscribing, promoting, and recommending it to others…that's already success to me.”
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