Aleia Trufant, a 24-year-old black college student from New Orleans has been achieving her goals of selling her own line of beauty products against the odds. She has become an inspiration for many through her hard work and determination.
Aleia started her business in 2017 when she was staying on campus at Southeastern Louisiana University, “I wanted to make extra money while being a full-time student. I couldn’t actually work a 9-5 job with my schedule, so I worked on branding and marketing myself,” she said.
Fortunately, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship, The number of businesses in minority communities continues to grow, adding to competitive advantage. Over the last 10 years, minority business enterprises accounted for more than 50 percent of the two million new businesses started in the United States and created 4.7 million jobs. There are now more than four million minority-owned companies with annual sales totaling close to $700 billion.
Yet, despite that growth, there is still a disparity when it comes to access to capital, contracting opportunities and other entrepreneurial development opportunities for minority-owned businesses.
“Race has always been challenging not only in my business but in my career field as well,” she said. “I had to talk to people differently and alter my whole approach when selling my products to people who weren’t African American. I had to be more relatable in certain aspects of beauty because there are differences in beauty between races. I basically just went for it. One of the hardest things for me was trying to get investments for my business. I didn’t qualify for a lot and there aren’t a lot of resources out there for black business owners.”
Still, Black business ownership is on the rise. However, the proportion of black or African American-owned businesses account for 9.4 percent of all firms, which is still below the 13.1 percent black or African American share of the U.S. adult population (according to the Census Bureau’s July 1, 2012, population estimates).”
Despite her hardships, Aleia is able to sell inventory at a local Nail Salon. “I just drop the items off and get paid from them directly using Zelle, and I push myself to be as consistent as possible, ” she said.