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
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 Miami YWCA, 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,”
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.