I’ve learned that in order to have a successful business orchard, sometimes you have to break through the tough ground. Breaking that ground may require discussing uncomfortable topics and bringing awareness to controversy. As women in business, this orchard we desire is impossible to accomplish without first pruning. The beauty about pruning is that while it may seem painful, it yields so much good. We get rid of all the things that would keep us from yielding the best fruit.
How does that relate to business? One of the things Tallahassee is becoming known for is a large number of minority and women-owned businesses. But in that great achievement, there is a huge issue, racial inequalities. As a minority business owner, I have experienced both welcoming arms and the cold shoulder concerning my business. While I have always had a position of leadership, it wasn’t until I owned a business that these racial issues really came to the forefront. So I felt compelled to shed light on this issue of racial stereotypes of minority-owned businesses. It’s unfortunate that in 2021, this is still an issue, but it needs to be addressed.
I can assure you; this is not an assumption or speculation. I want to share one of my many experiences. I had a visitor tour my childcare facility, pay it many compliments, and say while sitting in my office, “ I didn’t expect you to be black.” Then they followed their statement with a list of personal questions that exceeded the parameters of childcare. I have spent more time answering questions about my personal background than my programs.
Understand, this treatment has come from all groups of people. So I want to ask you a few questions. When a business is black-owned, do you have preconceived ideas regarding the product or service you will receive? I’ll speak from my business area; when you see an advertisement for childcare and all the children or the teacher in the ad are black, what do you think? What do you think if you see an ad for child care and all the children are white? Now, compare and contrast the two. Race should be irrelevant, but is it?
As an owner of a Christian childcare facility, I desire to have a student population that reflects the depths of my belief. Which is, we are all created by the same God. Does that mean I am oblivious to the racial issues that plague our society? Certainly not! Hence, the reason for this article. But, I believe that in order for Tallahassee’s business community to advance, we must address this racial elephant in our conference room.
Some of the things I have heard other business owners and consumers assume about minority-owned businesses are that they lack excellence, professionalism, and quality. Many approach them with the assumption that they provide less expensive products and services or question their qualifications compared to their competitors.
I recognize that addressing this issue head-on may not immediately eliminate the problem. My purpose for writing this article is not to create racial tension but to bring to the forefront an experience that many minority business owners are facing. While unfortunate, it is the truth for some, especially minority-owned businesses located in specific parts of the city. I’ve had conversations with other minority business owners, and this experience is common, and it should not be. So let’s affect change in all the right places.
I hope that you evaluate yourself. Believe me, self-evaluation is necessary for EVERYONE, including me. We can affect change with individualized awareness. I desire that we advance as a community of women business owners. I challenge you to allow each business to make its mark in our city. Despite stereotypical ideas, there will ALWAYS be someone who defies it.
Kristina is the owner and operator of the Little Lambs Children’s Center in Killearn Lakes, here in Tallahassee, Florida. As a mother of six, her desire was for the creation of a facility suitable not only for others but also one that she would want for her children. Kristina is also a Christian author, writer, and minister. For more information and to reach her visit, Facebook @littlelambscc. For childcare email: director@