Jali Cre­atives to pro­vide space for mil­len­nial women to con­nect

South Florida Times - - METRO - Top row: (left to right) Juana Bethel, LaShan­non Petit and An­gel­ica Sweet­ing. Bot­tom row: (left to right) Kiana Clark, Va­len­cia Gun­der and Ke­nasha Paul. By ISHEKA N. HAR­RI­SON ihar­ri­son@sfltimes.com

MI­AMI – When Juana Bethel took a leap of faith early last year to be­come an en­tre­pre­neur, she knew it would be an in­ter­est­ing jour­ney.

As the founder and cre­ative di­rec­tor of the con­tent mar­ket­ing agency Jali Cre­atives, Bethel has worked with some of South Florida’s most im­pact­ful busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Her client ros­ter in­cludes: The Dream De­fend­ers, Greater Mi­amiYWCA, Cir­cle of One Mar­ket­ing and oth­ers.

How­ever, she is the first to ad­mit that be­ing a ‘wom­an­prenuer’ of color comes with many chal­lenges and she has made many mis­takes along the way.

“I def­i­nitely have made a lot of mis­takes, done silly things and from a busi­ness per­spec­tive I’ve learned a lot in a short amount of time and I’m al­ways learn­ing,” Bethel said.

Bethel also said she met and con­nected with some dy­namic women in her peer group who sup­ported and gave her ad­vice that made nav­i­gat­ing the jour­ney of en­trepreneur­ship that much sweeter.

The more she en­coun­tered and had con­ver­sa­tions with oth­ers, the more com­pelled she felt to cre­ate a space for mil­len­nial women to con­nect and sup­port one an­other.

“I thought it would be re­ally cool to have a very con­cen­trated, very in­ten­tional space for ev­ery­one to get gems from each other,” Bethel said.

En­ter “On the Cusp of Great­ness,” be­ing held Thurs­day, July 6 from 6-9 p.m. at KROMA Art Gallery, 3670 Grand Av­enue in Co­conut Grove.

On its Facebook page, Jali Cre­atives’ in­au­gu­ral event is de­scribed as “a space for mil­len­nial women to come to­gether and dis­cuss how to nav­i­gate ca­reers, busi­ness ven­tures, es­tab­lish gen­uine con­nec­tions with one an­other, and bring women to­gether across in­dus­tries who are very amaz­ing in their own right.”

Bethel said host­ing the event has been one of her heart’s de­sires that was fur­ther in­ten­si­fied af­ter at­tend­ing a “Curly, Curvy, Con­scious” ex­pe­ri­ence where women of color com­mune and fo­cus on self-love and self­care.

But she wanted to do some­thing more ca­reer-cen­tered for women who were im­mensely tal­ented, but still grow­ing in their re­spec­tive fields.

“I wanted to do some­thing like this for a long time … some­thing that is fo­cused on women from a ca­reer stand­point and not you go and you sit and you lis­ten to pan­elists who are wildly suc­cess­ful,” Bethel said.“You’re in­spired but you’re like okay you started a nat­u­ral hair com­pany in 1998 when no­body cared about nat­u­ral hair; I’m try­ing to start one in 2017 when every­body does.”

Bethel said while hear­ing from es­tab­lished pan­elists at ca­reer con­fer­ences is im­por­tant, peer-to-peer men­tor­ing and learn­ing should also be em­braced.

“You can feel em­pow­ered and the sto­ries of leg­ends in your in­dus­try are amaz­ing, con­fer­ences like that are very im­por­tant, but I think a lot of times we dis­credit the idea of some­one be­ing on level with you and the fact that you can find a men­tor and you can find in­spi­ra­tion in a peer or some­one that’s younger than you,” Bethel said.

Stay­ing true to that sen­ti­ment,“On the Cusp of Great­ness” will be mod­er­ated by Bethel, 32, and fea­ture five pan­elists be­tween the ages of 25 and 33 who are ei­ther en­trepreneurs, ‘in­tra-preneurs’ (em­ploy­ees that use en­tre­pre­neur­ial think­ing to cre­ate change or launch new ven­tures within ex­ist­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions) or pro­fes­sion­als in var­i­ous fields.

The pan­elists in­clude: An­gel­ica Sweet­ing, founder of Nat­u­rally Per­fect Dolls; Kiana Clark, PR Spe­cial­ist; LaShan­non Petit, so­cial me­dia spe­cial­ist; Ke­nasha Paul, founder of the Black Pro­fes­sion­als Net­work; and Va­len­cia Gun­der, com­mu­nity ac­tivist and founder of Make The Home­less Smile.

Bethel said she se­lected the pan­elists be­cause they are each great within their own right.Though they are not house­hold names, she said she be­lieves they will be.

“All th­ese ladies are amaz­ing. I think all of them are great. On the Cusp is not to say they’re not great al­ready, ev­ery­one just doesn’t know it yet,” Bethel said.“Th­ese peo­ple are movers and shak­ers in that un­der 40 space be­cause that’s the time when you’re re­ally fig­ur­ing out not just how to make a name for your­self, but what you want that per­sonal brand to be.”

Bethel said top­ics will in­clude: the old guard pass­ing the torch, con­quer­ing fear, be­ing over­whelmed, ad­vice you would have given your younger self, work­ing in and/or on your busi­ness, find­ing a men­tor, whether bal­ance is at­tain­able, the myth of team no sleep and more.

“I want it to be a very open di­a­logue and a very spe­cial level of hon­esty,” Bethel said. “One of my big goals is for ev­ery­one to leave with one new le­git­i­mate con­tact. None of this phony baloney stuff , none of this sur­face net­work­ing stuff .”

She said she doesn’t want women to be afraid of em­brac­ing and sup­port­ing each other, even if they are in the same in­dus­try.

“When you op­er­ate from a place of scarcity, you start to see com­pe­ti­tion as a bad thing and there’s enough coins out here for every­body,” Bethel said. “We’re the fastest grow­ing group of en­trepreneurs, women of color, but we’re un­der­funded, we’re un­der-sup­ported and our re­source is each other. We don’t win if every­body doesn’t win.”

Bethel said this is the first in a se­ries of quar­terly events Jali Cre­atives will host. While the un­der-40 crowd is the tar­get au­di­ence, Bethel said women of all ages may at­tend.

“I’m to­tally open to women that are older com­ing. Though I wanted to cre­ate this space for us (mil­len­ni­als) ev­ery­one is wel­come,” Bethel said.

Tick­ets are $25 in ad­vance and $30 at the door. On Wed­nes­day, July 5, in honor of Woman Crush Wed­nes­day (#WCW), Jali will have a slash sale dur­ing which tick­ets will be of­fered at a dis­count. A por­tion of the pro­ceeds will be do­nated to the Greater Mi­ami YWCA. For more in­for­ma­tion or to reg­is­ter, visit www.jali­cre­atives.com/event.

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF JALI CRE­ATIVES

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