The following conversation was conducted over email and edited for flow and clarity.
Jasmine Black is the founder and CEO of the boutique consulting firm Brainchild. They provide support in business planning and consulting. She is also a part of an all-female football league. As a former banker and competitive athlete, she is determined to help black and brown entrepreneurs build and sustain their businesses.
Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): Jasmine, thank you so much for talking with the Wealth Noir family today. I’m excited for you to share your dynamic story with our readers. Can you share a little bit about your career journey, essentially what led you to choosing entrepreneurism?
Jasmine Black, Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Brainchild: I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and started multiple small businesses when I was younger. I walked dogs, babysat, gave swim lessons, I was always figuring out ways to create income because I was too young for a job and my allowance wasn’t cutting it.
I continued to work at my “side hustles” into my professional career, but I always knew being stuck in an office wasn’t for me long term. After 15 years of working with entrepreneurs and business owners in my corporate job, I knew I was ready to go out on my own.
WN: You are the founder and CEO of Brainchild, a consulting firm. What’s the story behind the name Brainchild and why did you start it?
Jasmine Black: The word brainchild refers to an idea or invention created through an individual’s creative effort. I’ve always loved the idea that you could create a sustainable, profitable business based on your own ideas, effort, or intellectual property. The name Brainchild reflects that path in my own life as well as the fact that our agency’s mission is to help other entrepreneurs and business owners build brands that reflect their individual strengths, values and identities.
WN: That’s incredible. I love the intention behind the ethos of your company. Okay, so one of things I learned about you is that you’re an athlete, specifically a football player, which is so unique because we don’t hear about female football players. How has your athleticism shaped you as a business woman?
Jasmine Black: Currently I’m an injured football player! Athletics have always been a huge part of my life and football is one of my favorites. Sports give you so many great lessons – endurance, resilience, teamwork and perseverance – those are skills that are vital to entrepreneurship. I tore my Achilles twice last year, so along with building my business, I’ve been recovering from surgery and rehabbing.
Pushing through tough physical challenges can give you the confidence to push through mental challenges as well. Knowing that I had the ability to grow my business exponentially during the events of 2020 while also working to recover from experiencing one of the most devastating sports injuries – twice – gives me the confidence to keep going and keep growing.
WN: It’s incredible that you have been able to maintain success despite the pandemic. Also, I’m sorry about the injury but kudos to you for being able to keep going. I want to continue on this topic of sports and how it has benefited you in business. How does the way that you show up on the field translate to the way that you show up when you’re supporting your clients?
Jasmine Black: A coach’s role is to help player’s optimize their competitive advantage to achieve a goal, and I really take the role of ‘coach’ to heart. As a coach, I work very hard to help highlight my clients individual strengths as well as to look out for gaps and skills we need to improve and design marketing campaigns. I’m there to provide the strategies, support and knowledge my clients need to win.
WN: You mentioned last year being challenging but still overcoming those challenges and succeeding. How did you help your clients maintain their financial goals and continue to thrive?
Jasmine Black: 2020 was the year of the pivot. For my clients, the most important thing was to remember not to panic, but instead evaluate available options and then create a plan to move forward in the most profitable way. We did a lot of brainstorming and thinking outside of the box to create and improve virtual and remote product offerings and to continue existing in-person operations safely.
WN: The year of the pivot is a perfect way to describe 2020 for business and honestly everyone. You’ve shared how your athleticism has impacted your career, but many people don’t know you were in banking for a while. This pandemic has shone a brighter light on the realities of systemic racism in our country. It makes me think of the disparity for Black and brown business owners in terms of financial aid and support during the pandemic. What has your 15 years in banking taught you about systemic racism and inequality when it comes to financial access in this country?
Jasmine Black: Lack of access to equitable financial services has had a tremendous impact on the African American community. As an example, redlining, the practice of denying mortgage loan access and other financial service products to certain neighborhoods based on ethnic or racial groups, was only formally outlawed in 1968. To know that this practice was legal when my parents were born really shows how close the generational impacts are.
The Community Reinvestment Act was passed in 1977 to encourage banks to serve low and moderate income communities. This was a start, but, in my opinion, more needs to be done. Not all African Americans live in low-to-moderate income communities. In today’s highly targeted, customer-centric environment, we deserve curated marketing campaigns, individualized service offerings, and educational opportunities that reflect the range of our experiences.
We are bankable, we are profitable, we are capable of achieving financial success, and we are deserving of equitable access and expertise.
WN: I love the historical context you provided in your response. I think that it’s necessary for our community to be informed and start to understand what resources exist, especially since they’re not being shared openly. In your experience, as a coach and consultant, how has a lack of financial literacy played a role in small businesses not succeeding? Can you share an example(s)?
Jasmine Black: Knowledge is power, so small business owners who don’t understand their finances or how they impact their businesses are at a significant disadvantage. Small businesses need capital to run – in fact, lack of access to funding is one of the primary reasons small businesses fail.
Many entrepreneurs are not aware that most lenders consider the personal credit of the business owner when reviewing business loan applications, so it’s really important that they know how to keep both their personal and professional finances in order.
And speaking of professionals – don’t be afraid to consult one! Resources like your local Small Business Administration (SBA) office or chamber of commerce are great places to be connected with one. Organizations like SCORE also provide free mentorship and advice. Just make sure to do your research to ensure the person you choose is the best fit for you and your business.
WN: I think the obvious common theme here is that we have to do our research, know the facts, and seek out the right support. What advice do you have for our readers who may be interested in starting a small business this year or in the near future?
Jasmine Black: The hardest step to take is the first one. I would say, don’t be afraid to take action. The past year has been incredibly challenging, but these challenges have also brought opportunities for entrepreneurs to launch their businesses in new ways.
Write your goals down, make a plan and then take action. The beauty of entrepreneurship is that you can go at your own pace. So whether you want to start with a side-hustle or move into full-time business ownership, the choice is yours.
Also remember there are tons of free resources to get you started. I’m a huge fan of YouTube – it has all the answers!
WN: Yes, YouTube University is most definitely a viable learning tool. What is one thing you want our readers to know when we’re thinking about building a business, owning a home or investing that is not often shared or discussed?
Jasmine Black: I think the impact of emotions on our decision making process. Studies show that emotions are a huge part of how and why we spend our money. Brands use emotion to influence our purchasing behavior, so before making a large purchase, it can be helpful to take a step back and analyze why you’re making it.
As an example, luxury brands (think cars, clothing, watches) attempt to appeal to feelings of self worth, acceptance, and status and use our subconscious feelings around those and other areas to entice us to purchase their products. Is there anything wrong with buying the products? Absolutely not. It’s just a reminder to step back and make sure that we’re making decisions based on our true desires and / or that are in our best financial interests.
WN: Getting your emotions in check is incredibly powerful and necessary advice. Shifting gears, in a recent article, you talk about your love of Clubhouse. In what ways has the social platform helped elevate your business?
Jasmine Black: Oh my gosh, it’s been amazing. I can’t say enough about the connections that I have been able to make and the exposure my business has gotten through the app. Even more, the knowledge I’ve gained from listening to experts in different industries from around the world have been invaluable. It’s completely different from any other social media platform I’ve been on.
I love having the opportunity to connect and engage off the platform.
WN: By being an active participant on Clubhouse it’s clear you are always keeping up with the latest trends in the digital space. Can you provide our readers with tips on how to stay focused on their work while staying connected to what’s happening in the industry they work in?
Jasmine Black: Yes, two tips. First, be intentional. Social media is great at holding our attention, sometimes to the detriment of other things we need to do. People have definitely mentioned being glued to Clubhouse for an hour at a time. If you’re intentional about your social media usage (for example, are you using it for promoting your products and services, doing some market research, or just having fun?) and the amount of time that you intend to spend doing that activity, you’ll be less likely to lose focus. I definitely set a timer any time I look at TikTok to remind myself to get back to work.
Second, always seek to be a student of your craft. Be proactive in seeking out information, solutions, and skills. If you are able to connect with a coach or mentor, that might be beneficial for you. If you’re not at that phase yet, don’t forget YouTube University and my personal favorite, Audible, to listen to books on how to keep your skills sharp.
WN: Thank you again Jasmine for taking the time to share your story, tips, and just overall knowledge of entrepreneurship, business, and finance with the Wealth Noir family. You can find Jasmine on Instagram at @brandsbybrainchild and on Clubhouse @brainchild.