10 Questions with Tanya Walker, Founder of Black Women Who Kayak+

 

During Black History Month, I’m interviewing Black business owners and founders to help bring more eyes to their products and services and also to celebrate them. Today, I’m featuring Tanya Walker, the founder of BWWK+ (Black Women who Kayak+). I asked her 10 questions. These are her answers.

 

How did your business come to be? What was your motivation?

It was never my intention to start Black Women Who Kayak+ as a business. The idea for Black Women Who Kayak+ came from me trying to get a couple of people to come kayaking with me. There were rarely any people of color I saw, especially women, when I was kayaking. My former fiancé is the one that encouraged me to start a Facebook group to see if anyone would join me.

There was only one woman who showed up at each event I created. I initially considered closing the group page because I was discouraged, but the lady encouraged me to keep it open. Therefore, I created another event. Initially, I did not realize I was up against one of our barriers (which I later addressed by partnering with The British Swim School), the discomfort associated with large bodies of water.

So, this time kayaking, I reached out to Whirlpool Caverns to create the BWWK+  Cave Exploring/Spelunking event. I still didn’t think anyone would attend. However, each lady who RSVP’d came, making it one of the most memorable events we have ever experienced. We did something that people of color typically don’t do. At that moment, I realized that this platform could serve much more purposeful purposes.

My motivation came when I realized that there is nothing that people of color can’t accomplish with the right opportunities, access, supportive environment, and knowledge. In an effort to change those myths about what people of color can and cannot achieve, it became my mission and vision to use my platform to break down those barriers and more. 

 

Did you face any adversities or obstacles in the beginning?

I get asked this in every interview. I always say the same thing. There’s a higher being that chose me for this journey. That higher being has aligned me with some of the most influential people and organizations. Those experiences have not only shown the importance of creating an environment that welcomes all people of color. However, they see that implementing more diversity, equality, and inclusion in their work environments is essential. 

I wouldn’t say this journey has been easy. It hasn’t been. But God has never promised me that my purpose would be easy. My biggest challenge has been learning business skills. Many of us have a general understanding of how to run a business. However, building a successful business takes more than general knowledge. It is imperative for you to acquire more than common knowledge, or you will end up working harder than smarter.

 

Did you have a support system starting out?

Just getting started. No. I had to build it. I had to be able to demonstrate that my vision and determination were genuine. Eventually, my community joined me in this movement after people noticed I had something here. Now I have a strong support system. It makes the challenging days less painful and more manageable. In the context of the support system, I am referring to my family and my team of ladies. My vision and the rewarding feeling of making such a positive impact on so many women and their children keeps us growing and going strong.  

 

What void would you like to fill in the Black community with your business?

I was exposed to all of the things our chapters do now when I was pulled out of my environment. In a Christian youth group, a Caucasian woman noticed an opportunity and purpose where she could serve. Many times, white people come into black communities and expose them to things they would normally not see or experience. These encounters are known as The Great White Hope. I am grateful for my Great White Hope. Because she has saved me in many ways, and the Birth of BWWK+ would not have even existed without her. 

However, the truth about the Great White Hope is, generally speaking, they couldn’t relate to me. They can’t understand why there are barriers and myths that are ingrained in our culture. No. It isn’t necessary to be in poverty to relate to someone who is. Nonetheless, wouldn’t it be nice for the brown or black children to be rescued by someone who truly understands their plight? The intervention would be more impactful if brown or black people were to introduce kids and their mothers to activities that we don’t typically see ourselves in. Also letting them know that we can do those things, too. By providing that level of access, knowledge, and a welcoming environment. It is our goal at Black Women Who Kayak+ to make the mother feel comfortable enough to not only step outside her comfort zone but also bring her family and children.

 

How do you keep yourself motivated to keep going?

What a great question. Watching the looks on the faces of our members who have taken advantage of our partnership with British Swim School to learn how to swim for the first time. Watching kids and their mothers holding space within the community of rowers. Our partnership with The Texas Rowing Center has given them this opportunity. Whenever members who were considering not coming to one of our events tell me how happy they are that they did attend. They did something that we aren’t used to seeing us do. They stepped outside their comfort zone and now feel accomplished and empowered, with other ladies who look like them and possibly felt the same way.

Who, if anyone, has inspired you during your journey?

The woman I call mother. She’s my biggest supporter. She was a single parent whose first priority was feeding, sheltering, and educating her children. It was a difficult task for her to raise two kids on her own, but she did it! I want to target women like my mom and myself and expose them to something outside of their priorities. Something outside of their norm and what you typically don’t see us doing.

 

How can we, the community, help you exceed your current level?

In all established chapters, we still need more volunteers. In addition, we need ladies who want to open local chapters of Black Women Who Kayak+ in their area. More sponsors and donations would also be appreciated. There is definitely interest in partnering with businesses that offer sailing lessons, skiing lessons, wakeboard/surfing lessons, and flying lessons. Provide transportation for members who require it. Any donated gear for camping, hiking, kayaking, golf, tennis, and more would be appreciated. The plus with Black Women Who Kayak is that we can explore our possibilities beyond what a kid or mother desires, and perhaps provide something extortionate as well. It will be a memory and experience they will never forget.

Do you have any announcements or good news you’d like to share?

Definitely! It is always a pleasure to share the great news about BWWK+. We have recently partnered with NOLS. It is a global organization that offers a once-in-a-lifetime type of excursion to those who can afford it. Part of our partnership with them included a 2,330 sponsorship for one of our members to experience an 8-day backpacking trip to Alaska this year. We raffled off this amazing opportunity and one of our faithful members won. However, we’ll be doing a GoFundMe to assist with covering airfare and the opportunity for one of our admins to attend this trip with that member. One of the barriers we face is that we want to embark on these amazing adventures but the cost and there is no other brown or black person participating. So, we don’t want this member to do this trip alone or feel as if she can’t relate to any of the other participants.

Furthermore, if there are any Kentucky residents, on April 15th, 2022, our Kentucky Chapter will hold its first event at the Mammoth Cave National Park. The cave has a rich history. Attendees must be members of BWWK+. 

Last, for any Arkansas residents, our Arkansas Chapter will be kicking off their first event in June at the 50th Buffalo National River Anniversary. Attendees must be members of BWWK+. 

 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone starting the business owner/entrepreneurial journey?

No matter what, don’t give up. Giving up is easier than keeping going. There is a big difference between taking a step back to evaluate and adjust your approach or how you approach your plan versus giving up completely. Set realistic goals. Browse all free resources for small businesses. Get started with Score. Score is a really handy resource that’s free. Also, capitalize on what makes your business different. Create a strong support system. Learn to delegate when needed. Understand that you can’t do it alone. You need people to help you and don’t be shy about asking for help. Learn to apologize when you’re wrong. Be willing to be taught. Learn to be and do better. Remember, there’s always a bigger picture. Never allow someone’s negativity to change your direction. Keep your head up and pray… pray for guidance, strength, wisdom, courage, humbleness, and for the right people to be aligned with your purpose. 

How can we find you to give our support? What’s your website and social media info?

Facebook, Meetup, IG, and TikTok are our social media platforms! Alternatively, you can search for Black Women Who Kayak+, and you will find us. Furthermore, we have a website at www.blackwomenwhokayak.com.

Currently, our aim is to target women and their children of all social backgrounds, not men. However, we do have events that encourage women to bring their significant others and additional families. Everyone can still keep up with our progress by liking our Facebook Business page, website, or following us on Instagram. 

 

 

 

Thank you, Tanya, for taking the time to do this interview! Everyone, please make sure to check out the BWWK+ website and social accounts to find a chapter near you.

10 Questions with Majestic Adult Living Home Agency

 

Welcome back to the next interview from my 10 Questions series, where I interview Back owned businesses at different stages in their career. Today, I’m asking Aries Maxwell, owner of Majestic Adult Living Home Agency the same 10 questions. These are her answers.

1. What is your business, and how did it come to be?

my business name is Majestic Adult Living Home Agency. We are a residential in-home care, adult family home agency provider that provides 24 hour supervision, medication, administration, transportation service, respite care, etc, in Milwaukee, WI.

My business was inspired by my grandmother and mother, brother, and niece. My grandmother passed in 2015. She has always been known as a person to put a smile on someone’s face while dealing with her own challenges. When I was growing up, as a teenager, my grandmother lived with us. We used to see her talking to herself, but didn’t fully understand what was wrong with her, but we loved her anyway. Later we found out that she had schizophrenia and dementia, a mental health disorder. We didn’t know what mental illness was or even talk about it in our home. We just lived with it and loved on her despite her condition, and she loved on us back.

Another person who inspired me was my brother, who was born with cerebral palsy and a developmental disability, and his fight to not allow his disability determine his limits to living his best life. Lastly was learning my niece was born with a hearing impairment and watching her grow up as she excelled in school and listening to her plan her future. She has inspired me to understand how important it is to develop an environment where people need to feel love and acceptance from others whether it’s a mental illness, a developmental, or physical disability. They are still people who have learned to do things differently.

 

2. What’s your proudest moment so far?

My proudest moment when one of my resident thank me for being apart her life.

  

3. Do you notice any specific struggles or issues due to your business being Black owned?

Yes, financing and resources.

 

4. Who would benefit most from your business?

Families who are looking for a place for their grandmother, brother, aunt, uncle or child, also a Social Worker or Case manager who is looking to place someone into a good home.

 

5. Do you have someone you look up to in the professional world? If so, who and why?

Tyra Banks, because of her poise and business savvy and modeling. Also, Oprah Winfrey because of her heart for philanthropy.

6. Since it’s Black History Month, what Black icon do you relate to most, be it a civil rights leader, celebrity, etc.?

I want to say Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.

 

7. What’s your next goal for your business?

Our next goal is to open 3 more homes within the next year to service more residents. Our long-term goal is to expand to other states, like Texas, Michigan, Georgia just to name a few. Our ultimate goal is to expand across the border to Ghana, Africa, where we plan on building our school and homes for women and children.

 

8. What’s your most popular service?

Personal Care Service and Pet therapy

 

9. What’s one non-monetary way someone could support your business right now?

Send referrals or like our social media pages on facebook and instagram to stay updated on what we are doing.

 

10. How can we reach you to work with you?

You can reach me at 414-253-6355 or you can visit us at our website www.majesticlivinghomeagency.com

Thank you!

I would like to thank Aries for participating in this series and for the great work she does. Thank you all for reading and  getting to know Aries and her story. If you’re in the Milwaukee area and are in need of her services, please contact her.

10 Questions with PrettyGirl Miinks

Hey y’all! Welcome back to the blog! For Black History Month, I’m asking Black owned business owners, from newly established to industry veterans, the same 10 questions to document the differences and similarities in answers. Follow along to read the various responses and to discover new (to you) businesses to support.

 

Today I’m interviewing LaQuisha Evans, owner of PrettyGirl Miinks and Creations. I asked her 10 questions. Here are her answers.

 

PrettyGirl Miinks


1. What is your business, and how did it come to be?

My business is PrettyGirl Miinks. It originally came from my desire to help ladies feel pretty. It later expanded to my new desire of ladies’ safety.

2. What’s your proudest moment so far?

I would have to say it was getting my first out of country order! I was more than excited to ship my products to Canada!

3. Do you notice any specific struggles or issues due to your business being Black owned?

Thus far in my business venture, I have not had any issues.

4. Who would benefit most from your business?

My products are mostly geared towards the ladies. However, I do offer versatile products as well.

5. Do you have someone you could look up to in the professional world? If so, who and why?

Rihanna because she has her hands in many different things.  She makes music, is an actor, sells makeup, and lingerie. I do have a goal of being into multiple things at one time.

6. Since it’s Black History Month, what Black icon do you relate to most, be it a civil rights leader, celebrity, etc.?

Madame CJ Walker. I can relate to her struggle of perfecting her products to be worthy of her customers. Even though there were other products on the market, she put out her own products.

7. What’s your next goal for your business?

My next goal is to grow my audience and product list.

8. What’s your most popular service/item?

My most popular item, I would have to say, is our safety keychain. The first version contains a window breaker, mini flashlight, lip gloss, wristlet, a fur ball, and lip gloss holder. The second version has the same items as version one with pepper spray added.

9. What’s one non-monetary way someone could support your business right now?

Non-monetary support I could use the most right now would be to promote business on a social media platform with a large following in order for me to gain more exposure.

10. How can we reach you to shop with you?

I can be reached via email at prettygirlmiinks@gmail.com, Instagram at @prettygirlmiinks, Facebook at PrettyGirl Minks, and Etsy at PrettyGirlMiinks.

Thank you!


I would like to thank LaQuisha for being my first interview in this series. I sent her the questions, and she sent the answers and pictures back no more than 30 minutes later. 

I would also like to thank you for reading and hope you stay tuned for all the other interviews to come!