The fourth annual Journal Women of Achievement breakfast is now history. Like the first three breakfasts, we believe it was a success. It was a success from the point of highlighting a group of women who have achieved success in their businesses worthy of magnifying so that the community and the world can look at them and say, “Well done”. They have achieved, and young people looking for or needing role models can say, “I want to be like her when I grow up.”
This year we honored a group of Business and Professional Women who are and have been entrepreneurs making it on their own in their own business for over ten years.
The word Entrepreneur is an interesting one. If you ask ten people you may get ten different definitions. In the end they are people looking for their destiny. One writer from a book entitled, “The Intelligent Entrepreneur” by Bill Murphy, Jr., says, “Entrepreneurs are like time bombs going off. They work somewhere till they realize that it is not what they really want to do and they go off to launch a business that makes better use of their talents.”
Ralph Ellison from his timeless book, “The Invisible Man”, without describing Entrepreneurship, per se, has a young character who describes the spirit of entrepreneurship when he says that he is looking for something you can’t see, smell, or hear the truth of what is happening to you because, in effect, you are looking for your destiny.
Many of the Women Entrepreneurs honored at the fourth Women of Achievement Breakfast said they stepped out on faith. The keynote speaker, Judge Mablean Ephiram, in her powerful speech said, “We step out on faith because we don’t necessarily have the money, but we know God has something better for us than what we are doing”.
One honoree who came from Mississippi said that coming from Mississippi with nothing, she knew that she needed to be away from the hardships Mississippi provided her, and she found it here. Her destiny, like many others, was found in California. Their inspiring life stories tell of different paths to success and destiny, but the common thread was a faith in God and a restless spirit for something better than where they started. They all seemed to look and find a way of life that was necessary and life fulfilling.
Dr. Rosie Milligan invoked the name of Madame C.J. Walker, the mother of African American female entrepreneurs, in her opening invocation and prayer. My own mother, Christine Hopkins, was my inspiration for entrepreneurship. She took the hand-me-downs and throw-a-ways from her job as a maid and, realizing there was a market, opened her own store. At that time (in the 1950’s), they were called Second Hand Stores. Today they are Thrift Stores. Her thrift store became a used furniture store and then an antique store. She, like all entrepreneurs, rarely settle for one thing.
True to form, all of our honorees have a base business but are involved in numerous things, using all of their skills. Morticians sell Insurance, Insurance Brokers sell stocks and other securities, Attorneys may begin practicing in one area of law then move on to practice probate or family planning, Cosmetologists sell hair care products and/or teach Cosmetology, Expert Witnesses act as consultants and also perform training seminars. Educators mentor and then move into the travel business, and Bankers become Restaurateurs.
Judge Mablean said what all entrepreneurs learn is that you don’t always succeed with each new business, but you must take the leap. As an entrepreneur I, like most entrepreneurs, would rather die regretting what I have done than regretting what I have not done.
This year’s event was a packed house at Brookside Golf Club. To those who were turned away because we were sold out, we apologize. Not for being sold out, but because you missed a great event. From the poised and capable hands of our mistress of ceremonies, Dr. Pamela-Short Powell, to the video presentation of the honorees, Candace Lacy’s powerful singing, especially her rendition of “TAKE ME TO THE KING,” to the entertainment by my son, “Brother Yusef”, with his rendition of the Blues and a gospel number made famous by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, all were crowd pleasing and magic.
We thank those who attended and appreciate those public officials who came to honor our honorees such as City Councilman elect, John Kennedy, PUSD Board member, Renatta Cooper, and PCC Board member, Berlinda Brown. Pasadena City Councilwoman, Jacque Robinson came and presented proclamations to each honoree, and Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard sent personal letters to each of the honorees, as has become his tradition. Outgoing Assemblyman, Anthony Portantino, donated a table for guests who wanted to attend the event. Pasadena NAACP president emeritus, Joe Brown, was in attendance to lend his support, as was Altadena NAACP president, Jalal Sudan, who came and made a donation to help The Journal defray costs. We are grateful to you all!
[See Highlights in next issue.]