One of my favorite social media experiences is seeing Black People excel. Especially Black Women who are emerging as leaders in entrepreneurship. The leap from traditional occupations to girl boss is rising and I’m not mad about that. I have been completely inspired by their stories and they’ve been completely forthcoming with information about the ins and outs of the process. There is a level of transparency and “imma get it done regardless” attitude that stirs within me when I see how they level up each and every time. We are in a different era for Black people and it’s a refreshing and welcoming change.
I want to tell those stories of triumph. It doesn’t matter how many times they tell it, one more time will never be too much. We all know a friend or two that has taken this step. Black business owners are in fact changing their family legacy by creating their own streams of income, improving their economic and social standing.
This month, I am honored to bring you the owner of Mess in a Bottle, Kalilah Wright. Kalilah is a Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-raised, mother, architect turned business owner. Her T-Shirt company combines her love for fashion by giving a voice to the voiceless.
She is celebrating five years in business this year and I’ve watched her from a distance unapologetically, juggling motherhood and boss lady. Kalilah is not afraid to talk about her business, she willingly shares the ups and the downs. Despite being committed since the onset, she would’ve loved to learn more about making her business legitimate especially when it comes to the financial side of things.
She has been one of the top black-owned T-shirt companies in the country with a growing list of notable collaborations including, Target, Warner Brothers, Roc Nation’s rapper Rhapsody, and Youtube. She has also been recently featured on BET Her and is loved by numerous celebrities including Serena Williams, Mark Cuban, Luvvie Ajaye, Lena Waithe, Bozoma Saint John and Yvonne Orji.
Though no longer an unconventional career choice, Kalilah said her parents were concerned about the instability of entrepreneurship; nevertheless, her family and friends understood that she was a dreamer and supported and encouraged her on the journey. She believes that as Black people we are no longer seeing entrepreneurial pursuits as hobbies and more and more we are breaking the employer-employee hold by understanding that we could in fact create our own corporations.
Kalilah is a perfect example of persistent consistency and staying true to the call. Birthed during the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore, Maryland, Mess in A Bottle continues to get messages from current events from around the world. Kalilah is also inspired by women, especially the Black women who proudly wear her designs and their reaction to each creation.
She recently celebrated being featured on Smile Jamaica TVJ, a homecoming of sorts, and is considering taking the business home, whether in manufacturing or customer service as things expand.
The COVID-19 pandemic has surely changed the way we do business and many small businesses experienced difficulty staying afloat. Despite the challenges and the thought of closing Mess in a Bottle, Kalilah kept going. She said that the greatest lesson the pandemic taught her is that she had to be willing to pivot, be quick on her toes, be fearless while making plans, and still be prepared to transition.
Most people shy away from entrepreneurship because they are afraid. Even if they start, there is always that looming fear of unprofitability. The promise of profits is easy, but most customers are looking for value and impact. “If you are impactful the profits will always come, so always lean towards impact”, says Kalilah. A profound but important message for entrepreneurial hopefuls.
She competes in marathons and runs at her leisure to create a sense of peace around her. She hopes to become a lifestyle brand in the next five years and is already making strides in our community. I look forward to where her journey takes her.