My name is Neusa Francisco, and I, alongside Aisha Francis, are in the business of creating the next Black beauty entrepreneurs through our company RAERE Beauty & Education. RAERE is a Toronto-based beauty & education center specializing in cruelty-free strip lashes but our most important focus is beauty business development. We currently teach women how to start their businesses through skill development and the principles of knowledge sharing, sisterhood, integrity, and transparency.
Our inspiration to start RAERE began while being immersed in day-to-day salon work and wanting to do more for the salon but having limited controls. We eventually branched off and started this scary, crazy, and rewarding journey. As the journey progressed, we wanted to do more for our community and decided to pitch a program called AEM (Alternative Entrepreneurship Movement) to a Toronto based community housing organization.
AEM is our love letter to our youths bursting with untapped talent and potential. We are tired of seeing our creative micro-entrepreneurs dismiss their natural-born skills without learning how to leverage them. Creatives in the beauty industry don't realize there is a massive market for their services. I can't tell you how many times my friends and I traveled for hours to visit our hair lady Linda to get the styles only she could bring to life.
The central premise of AEM is to create opportunities by building on and monetizing creative beauty skills. We want our community to monetize the trends they begin by creating their own companies, YouTube channels, and even jobs. To do this, we've created a safe space where participants can explore or acquire beauty skills such as makeup artistry, hair design, or eyelash extensions training at no cost. Our classes don't only focus on the practical aspects of the beauty trade but also business and marketing. Together, Aisha and I have created a curriculum that teaches each participant important and high-level business and marketing tactics and strategies.
The program took on a life on its own, exposing us to great dialogue and insight on how to offer better opportunities to our upcoming generations. The program taught us that we needed to create more opportunities to come together and build meaningful connections. One cohort has already created jobs, businesses, and lasting camaraderie.
After the program's conclusion, our students went on to create many opportunities for themselves. Like Stacyann Orr who came into the program intending to simply learn lash extensions so she could get a job at a salon. But Orr ended up taking more of an interest in the business and marketing aspect of the program and started incorporating what she was learning on her YouTube channels. As days and weeks went by her confidence grew and she put her full attention into growing her channel. She created content that viewers were interested in like beauty, reaction videos and candid conversations around hot topics, and has now monetized the channel, earning monthly income from it.
Jyzzelle A, has created a beverage and skincare line which she will announce later in the year. Like Stacy, she utilized the skills and information learned during the business and marketing side of the class to create her own products.
And Trishawna S, a beauty expert in hair and makeup, was able to secure a job at a renowned Lash studio shortly after the class ended. Now she’s in the process of launching her own salon with a full range of services.
I believe the entrepreneurial aspect of the class pushed many of the participants to think deeper and motivated them to build their own empires. We covered concepts like business names, business plans, colour psychology, social media marketing, traditional marketing, digital marketing, business types, pricing strategies, customer service, and more.
After the conclusion of the program we had a soirèe where we invited some keynote speakers to tell their stories of entrepreneurship. We also invited them to many networking events to get comfortable speaking about themselves, where they want to be, and the businesses they may want to create or have created.
RAERE program participants Stacyann Orr and Jyzzelle.
We are incredibly proud of this program because our mission was always to empower and propel entrepreneurship amongst women through our commitment to knowledge sharing, transparency, and, most importantly, support. We believe equipping our young women with the right tools and skill sets will help them navigate and change some of the negative narratives thrown our way. My exposure to the entrepreneurial aspects of the beauty industry helped shape my vision for not only my future but the future of those who share my likeness.
Although the program is focused on youth, we encourage everyone interested in starting a beauty business empire to enroll. You are never too young or old to take control of your destiny. Head over to RAERE.com to register. Those interested in helping us touch more lives send us an email and help us create opportunities for our community.