Opinion/Ranglin: Now’s the time for investment that works for all of us

COVID-19 has laid bare the racism that has always existed throughout the US and right here in Rhode Island. For 400 plus years, Black Americans have been shut out of accessing the essential resources and opportunities needed to reach their full potential.

The Rhode Island Black Business Association has continued to work tirelessly since our inception 10 years ago to create a more equitable business environment.  RIBBA helps businesses and professional with access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, advocacy, and workforce development.  RIBBA, like other Black-owned or led small businesses, has been undercapitalized to the detriment of the Black and brown business communities.

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Business Highlight: “All About the Hustle” – All About the Look Eyelash Studio Profile

RIBBA’s mission is made possible by a stellar community of businesses, staff, volunteers, and supporters. We’d like to place a spotlight on one of the members of this incredible network: All About the Look Eyelash Studio.

The story of All About the Look Eyelash Studio is one of four letter Gs: grit, grace, grind, and growth. Hollee Freeman-Nunes, owner of the studio, is a woman with an honorable mission, an admirable resiliency, and an unwavering commitment. Hollee’s journey to entrepreneurship is equal parts unique and inspiring. Despite always having an interest in cosmetology, she began her career in K-12 education, and specifically inclusion; having a background in Special Education, Multicultural Education, and English as a Second Language (ESL), and served as a teacher for over 20 years. While teaching at Hanley Career & Technical Center toward the end of her teaching career, Hollee worked directly with students in the Cosmetology program, where her interest in this field continued to grow as she saw her passion in action with the students. Despite some resistance from others along the way and questions about the viability of cosmetology as a career path, Hollee pushed forward, with some personal encouragement to open an eyelash studio despite not having a formal business background.

All About the Look Eyelash Studio is all about empowerment and confidence. Hollee, together with her daughter, Geiana, and family friend, Carolina, have not only weathered the storm of Covid-19 as a relatively new business, but also have found ways to innovate and create community within the industry. Services offered by All About the Look include: eyelash extensions, lifts, and tints, brow shaping, microblading, and tinting, facial treatment, collagen induction treatment, chemical peel, microdermabrasion, body waxing, full face makeup, and temporary tattoos. Some of the aspects that set them apart from other similar businesses include the educational component (lash class), and attention to detail whether it is innovating their existing craft, prioritizing cleanliness, and sharing educational opportunities. At this point in their trajectory, All About the Look Eyelash Studio is focused on strengthening their foundation and resources in order to move into the next phase of growth which could include expanding staff, services, and scope.

Although All About the Look has made a name and reputation for itself, they have faced and continue to face some significant challenges. Covid-19 has unfortunately shaken the foundation of many small businesses, and All About the Look is not exempt from this. From a decrease in customer patronization, to a need to shift elements such as capacity and protocol in order to comply with local and regional guidelines, to increased competition and decreased resources, All About the Look Eyelash Studio has had to seek additional support, take some risks, and redefine success in this unprecedented time.

It takes a special kind of person and a unique type of place to be the business owner, and business, respectively that can weather a storm of this level. One aspect of many that particularly shines about Hollee and her studio is a combination of brave and deep honesty, as well as courageous and inspiring hope. Hollee is not a stranger to resistance and growth mindset as having been an educator for over 2 decades, and that foundation has served her well along with her commitment to and passion for the field of cosmetology. Her relatability, authenticity, drive, and talent come across in all that she does. Her advice to emerging and prospective entrepreneurs, even as she charters new territory, is to “be ready to make mistakes, it’s ok if you go backwards for a time, if it’s time to let go, do so, and don’t overthink but just do it”. Not only does she say it, but she lives it—the only way to know is to try just as the only way to gain is to risk. Although there are some things she has had to learn in practice along the way, it is clear that Hollee leads with purpose and acts with intention, all with the welfare of her team, customers, and community in mind. In fact, another aspiration that Hollee has is to find a way to serve formerly incarcerated women by helping them re-enter the workforce equipped with an updated wardrobe. It nicely complements the mission of All About the Look Eyelash Studio, which is to: “We promise to efficiently and safely take care of all your aesthetic needs with our knowledge and our expertise!” To Hollee, and to All About the Look Eyelash Studio, giving back is a priority.

As Hollee and All About the Look Eyelash Studio navigate this next stage of growth and development, some areas that are of priority include financial support, operational strength, capacity building, and network development. Fortunately, these are all areas that RIBBA specializes in with regard to business and community development, and Hollee looks forward to further collaboration with the Association. As a member of the Advocacy and Policy Committee, and as a business owner in the RIBBA network, Hollee is active in both helping build and benefit from the advocacy, investment, and development that RIBBA is committed to everyday with respect to businesses in the Ocean State, and particularly those owned and operated by members of marginalized communities.

To learn more about Hollee, and All About the Look Eyelash Studio, please visit their webpage.

To learn more about RIBBA, and how to get involved, please visit our webpage.

About the author: Stephanie Mireku is RIBBA’s volunteer Content Writer and works with businesses, volunteers, and community members to highlight their and RIBBA’s work. Her passion for writing of all kinds, and background in English and Business Administration fueled her interest in combining these areas through the Content Writer role. Stephanie first became involved with RIBBA through the LEAP Mentoring program as a mentee in the 2021 cohort. She is enthusiastic about relationship building, mission centric creativity, social impact, and philanthropy, and puts this into action through various outlets including her work as an Assistant Director of Alumni Relations at Providence College.

Data Research Project Volunteer

The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses in Rhode Island through access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, business advocacy, meaningful investor services, and workforce development.  

RIBBA is made up of individuals and businesses of all sizes and membership is open to the public. The organization strives to build a purpose-driven Association where people unite and take actions to create lasting change. RIBBA values diversity and celebrates the contributions of people of all backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, abilities, socioeconomic status, culture, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

About the Data Research Volunteer Position 

A researcher and data specialist is needed to help the Rhode Island Black Business Association dissect state and national data to better understand the needs of Black businesses.

Key responsibilities 

  • Supporting quantitative and/or qualitative analyses, including cleaning, organizing, and analyzing data  
  • Creating a database of studies and research that can be utilized in various communications 
  • Creating business surveys as needed, analyzing, and presenting that data 
  • Producing high-quality visuals to be used in a range of deliverables 
  • Assisting in writing sections of reports, briefs, memos, and other research and policy documents 

Job Competencies  

  •     Strong knowledge of quantitative and/or qualitative research methods 
  •     Excellent organizational skills 
  •     Highly motivated and self-directed, with strong interpersonal skills 
  •     1-2 years of relevant experience preferred 

To apply, please email your resume to getinvolved@ri-bba.org.

RIBBA Launches ‘Leadership Speaker Series’ to Commemorate 10 Years in Business

Series will launch with a ‘The State of Rhode Island’s Black Economy & Business’ panel event on Tuesday, April 27th from 6-7:30 pm

Providence, RI – April 13, 2021 – The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), a 10 year-old non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned businesses in RI, announces a virtual event series to commemorate the important role RIBBA has played in supporting and growing Rhode Island’s Black businesses over the last 10 years. The series will bring together outstanding leaders from the private, government and nonprofit sectors to discuss economic recovery and development.

The series will launch with a panel event on Tuesday, April 27th from 6-7:30 pm on ‘The State of Rhode Island’s Black Economy & Business’. The panel will discuss the Black-American recovery and the importance of Black business development efforts.

The panel will offer insight from the following economic, business, and investment experts:

  • Melissa Husband: RI Deputy Secretary of State/Director of Administration – RI Department of State
  • Anthony Rust: Impact Fund Manager, BEI Business Equity Fund; Chair of the Investment Committee, Warren Wilson College
  • R. Anthony Rolle: Dean, Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies – University of Rhode Island
  • Angela Ankoma: Vice President Executive Director of Equity Leadership – Rhode Island Foundation
  • Moderator: Robin Gibbs: Regional Director, Office of International Advancement – Brown University; Board of Director Member at RIBBA

RIBBA’s vision is to create a more equitable business environment where all businesses and professionals can grow and thrive. Their founding, in March of 2011, came after community and local leaders mobilized to tackle issues affecting small businesses in underserved cities. This group conducted both community input sessions and random sampling to fully understand the gaps and priorities for effectively fostering minority small business efforts. RIBBA has worked over the last 10 years to provide Black and minority businesses with access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, business advocacy, meaningful investor services, and workforce development.

“We are proud to launch the Leadership Speaker Series with a panel event highlighting the future of the Black Economy, the role Black businesses can play in the economic recovery, and the need for a transparent and equitable playing field,” said Lisa Ranglin – Executive Director of RIBBA. “Black businesses are the backbone of the Black community, but for far too long have had minimal access to investment and opportunity due to historic oppression and structural racism.”

To register for the event, click here. To learn more about RIBBA membership, programs, or services, contact amanda@ri-bba.org.

About RIBBA The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses in Rhode Island through access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, business advocacy, meaningful investor services, and workforce development.

Our vision is to create a more equitable and sustainable business environment in Rhode Island. Our purpose is to leverage the region’s core assets to find solutions in the areas that matter most to the business and community: quality jobs, quality growth, and quality of life for all.

RIBBA – Gala Event Committee Member

RIBBA is currently looking for community and business members to take part in organizing RIBBA’s 10 year celebration Gala! To learn more about this opportunity, please contact: getinvolved@ri-bba.org.



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