Alisha Collins

Newark entrepreneurs Alisha Collins and Rhona Vega

Unity is the key to success—especially when you are a woman of color and own a small business or are in Corporate America. Alisha Collins highlights that besides owning businesses, women of color are flying planes, opening stores, running for government offices, and voting like never before. Not to mention being appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Earlier this month, Ketanji Brown Jackson was voted to the highest court–making her the first African-American woman and 5th woman appointed to the high court. “I think it’s dope. Those barriers have dropped, you’re in the Supreme court, you’re a Vice President, so many of us are entrepreneurs, in media, and all these places that they said that we couldn’t and weren’t allowed,” she said. “It sends a big message that times have changed, and yes, we can.” Collins said one of the challenges she and other women of color face are being taken seriously as a businesswoman of color. “Dream big; there’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer, but it takes work, so if you believe in it enough, it will happen,” she said.

Also inspired by the nomination of Brown Jackson, Rhona Vega said the historic appointment is bittersweet. Despite being in 2022, women and Black people are still making firsts. Vega said people like Judge Jackson break color barriers and enforce crucial representation to little girls and young women that “they belong in these spaces and they could do it.” She adds that seeing women of color as the Vice-President of the country and a Supreme Court Justice sends a positive message. “As a {Black}woman, you’ve got to work even harder,” she said. 

Collins also manages an artistic dance group of women called Dance As if UCare. Some of the women are entrepreneurs. The program encourages expressive body movements, forming a nonjudgmental environment where students practice meditation, beginners hip hop, basic ballet, reggae, contemporary, and other art forms. She emphasizes transparency while encouraging her dancers to enhance their emotional health in nonverbal ways. “There is no competition, again; we all have something to offer; we’re supposed to uplift each other.,” she said. “Once you tune into that inner part of yourself, you’ll discover your talent and what makes you happy.”

Vega has an Instagram page called “More Than Enough,” derived from her Delta Sigma Theta sorority line name. She’s also in the early stages of her “More Than Enough” T.V. series on YouTube and podcasting platforms, where she will interview phenomenal women of color. “We’ve got to hang up that idea of being superwomen because that’s not reality. You can’t do it all, you can’t have it all and asking for help is self-care, period.” Internalized misogyny and challenging situations in the corporate world prodded Vega to leave a job in Corporate America, and she vowed never to work for others again. “You should be in a toxic-free environment, and if you’re in a toxic environment, you got to get out of it,” she said. Vega adds that when a hostile work environment begins to affect your health, it’s a sign that it’s time to make a change. 

Rhona Vega

Both women agree that financial support for minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) continues to be the biggest obstacle to the sustenance of businesses of color. “A lot of things work against us in more ways than one, Collins said. For example, she gravitates more toward organizations specializing in crowdfunding for women entrepreneurs and Women of Color-owned businesses by researching the resources, coaching, and funding surrounding those companies. Collins envisions women entrepreneurs of color-producing more foundations that hand out startup grants and promote awareness, something she also plans on doing herself. “If more women of color see more women of color, they’ll start to tap in; that’s the type of generational cycle you want to create,” she concludes.

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