How to Amplify the stories of Black women entrepreneurs | Interview with Malliron Hodge

by | Humans

Malliron Hodge started the Baddies with Business podcast to showcase the unfiltered, unapologetic stories of women in year 0 – 5 of business. She set out to capture the stories of Black women entrepreneurs. Spotlighting their work has blossomed into its own source of inspiration.

Photo Credit:Morgan Crutchfield Photography

It started with the goal of supporting Black women-owned businesses

“The focus of zero to five is because 17% of starting businesses are by Black women. But only 3% are making it out of infancy stage — which is year five.”

“It started small. Each week I would purchase an item from a Black woman-owned business. Then I would post it on my personal social media page. People started to reach out to me and say, Hey I’m looking for this product. Do you know a Black woman-owned business that has this?  I started doing more research. After doing that for maybe two or three months, I started to question how I could take this support to a new level. Also I had done coaching, pitch coaching–which is helping entrepreneurs prepare for different pitches by telling their story. I thought about the skillset I had and how I could use those skills to amplify their stories.” 

“I do coaching for people who have early-stage ventures, specifically in education. When I was with an organization in New Orleans, those who were in the cohort would come to New Orleans. Oftentimes if there were Black women I would flock to them and try to provide additional support. What I found is that they would have incredible ideas they were starting with but it was taking a different toll on them to get their venture up and off the ground. So I would try to provide additional support. So it came from that work and when the pandemic started I knew that I was blessed to still have my full-time job. I had a salary so I wanted to support black entrepreneurs during that time who that was their sole job, their main income they were bringing in for their families.”

“My big dream is that Baddies with Business will serve as a space for storytelling, community building, and access to social capital so that they may make it out of the infancy stage if they choose to. And if they choose not to it would be because they decided and not because the forces are against them not allowing them to make it past five years.”

Malliron’s creative vision came from her supportive mother

“My mom was a really great example for me. She exudes what a Baddie is in a way that isn’t traditionally thought. She didn’t have a business but she navigated the spaces she was in with an entrepreneurial spirit. At my school, she drove the bus and worked in the cafeteria. She was always able to connect with students by meeting them where they were. She was always supporting them.”

“A lot of students saw her as a mom and a friend because she was that person who saw very vulnerable sides of them. She dropped them off at their homes. Saw if they didn’t have any money for lunch. Would put money onto their accounts and never told anybody. Those are the characteristics that I try to bring in on the community. Like checking in on each of the Baddies, celebrating them when they reach a big milestone and making sure that I’m always supporting them.”

“Another influence would be my dad. He was a farmer. We used to go to the farmer’s market when I was growing up. That’s where I learned what it means to have a business.” 

Photo Credit:Morgan Crutchfield Photography

The Baddies With Business Podcast shines a light on Black women entrepreneurs

“One of the earlier Baddies was Carla Briggs, she is a chef in New Orleans who owns Viola Heritage Breads. She’s a Black woman bread maker! There are very few in the country. She also has an organization called Eat Your Words. It’s focused on early childhood literacy. She takes the things that kids love, that’s a part of culture like poboys and gumbo, and teaches literacy through them learning how to make those items.”

“Another was LaTonia Cokely with Adjourn Teahouse. She makes incredible teas! Now she has her own storefront and is in Macy’s. She does a lot of the big festivals, like the Magnolia Fest in Texas. She out of Maryland.”

“Adrinda Kelly, she was the second episode. She is the CEO, Executive Director and Founder of BENOLA. I love her story. At the time Hurricane Katrina happened she was in New York. She said she was seeing and hearing all the things that people were saying about New Orleans and she moved back home and connecting with the community of Black educators. They were the ones who told her they wanted an organization like hers. She always talks about how she didn’t found the organization, it actually came from the community and she is just the person who is making their vision come to life.”

“Those are three of the Baddies that were the first few episodes. I’m extremely proud of them and I’m also proud of the progress I’ve seen over the past two years. June 1st marks two years of Baddies with Business being in existence.”

Malliron talks about dealing with self-doubt and pushing through to launch her dream project.

My favorite project is Baddies with Business. I started this thinking that no-one would really listen. Maybe the Baddies on the podcast would listen and my mom but she didn’t really understand what a podcast was. From that to now dropping episode 92 and people are coming to me saying they want to be on my podcast. This has been the best project to date.

Malliron Wellness Toolbox

“In my wellness toolbox I keep a massage. I try to do it preventatively and not reactively, like something has popped off and I need it. It preps me for what’s to come. A massage is always in my bag! And then music. I try to find a song that will bring me joy. Some good walking shoes are in my toolbox, I love being outside. I also like to work with my hands so it may be a puzzle, coloring or building something –even mopping the floor! Those are a couple of things in my selfcare toolkit.”

“I’m also refreshed by being with my Baddies. I could have an event that’s been really tough and I feel like I can’t make it but then getting to the event I’m reminded why I do it. It fills my tank back up, being in the space with them and just listening to them connect with one another. That is a reminder for me that I’m on the right path and that this dream I have is not a facade. It’s a real thing that other people are grateful for. One of the Baddies messaged me in December, after my first in-person event in Durham, North Carolina: ‘Malliron, thank you so much for creating this community because coming into your event I didn’t have any friends who were women. My only friends were my sisters. Leaving, I actually have more sisters and better friends. I’m so thankful for this community…‘”

“She said that she prayed to find this type of community because she needed to have a support system.”

“I always think of the Shirley Chisholm quote, ‘If there isn’t a seat for you at the table bring a folding chair.’

“I push a little further and say… yes there may be an important moment to bring the folding chair to that table but also think about the table you can create yourself.”

Practical Self-Care Advice

“Check on yourself. I feel oftentimes you’ll see or hear things like “Check on your strong friends.’ or ‘Check on your friends you don’t always hear from.’ but check on yourself. Because if you are constantly checking on other people and not yourself then you could get lost in the sauce. You’ll pour out so much that you’ll be left with an empty vessel. Support and love on yourself.”

Find a way to make an impact with Maya G. Pete

Find a way to make an impact with Maya G. Pete

Impact... It’s the thing that motivates New York based writer and body positivity enthusiast, Maya G. Pete. In her Stanford University honors thesis, she wrote about the influence and weight of the “N” word. She pointed to the ways that one word alone has dismantled...