Lashawn Dreher: An Entrepreneur Teaching Other Black Businesswomen to Value the Hustle
If being a business owner is hard, being a minority, a woman businesswoman is even harder. If you think differently, clearly you have not asked the many Black female entrepreneurs that have launched new businesses in the last five to ten years. But hard does not equate to impossible, and Lashawn Dreher, Digital Marketing Strategist and Founder of BlkWomenHustle, is one of those reasons why.
A well-known networking maven, Lashawn is teaching black women entrepreneurs how to grow their businesses with creative marketing strategies and campaigns. She has established herself by providing support to thousands of black businesswomen and creatives around the globe.
It is Women’s History Month, and she is indeed making her historical mark when it comes to understanding the value of the “Hustle”. Lashawn is someone you not only want to know; she is someone you need to know.
Dr. G: I am so glad to have this opportunity with you and thank you for taking the time for this interview. I have to first ask, what inspired “BlkWomenHustle”?
Lashawn: Black women from all stages of my life were the inspiration behind BlkWomenHustle, but primarily those I had connected with prior to transitioning from a 9-5 to entrepreneurship. I know who we are, what we accomplish daily, how much history we continue to make with minimal recognition, and how powerful we are when we work together. However, it was rare to see it displayed in ways that let us make these strides freely without restraint, judgment, stereotypes, and expectations to fit everyone else’s ideas of who they expect us to be. I wanted a space where black women could inspire, elevate, collaborate, and network while being themselves and bringing fellow black women along for the journey to success.
The expansion of the company took me back to my early beginnings in media with the launch of The BlkWomenHustle Podcast. During each episode, I interview some of the world’s most innovative and influential black women entrepreneurs, like actress Kim Coles, Claire Sulmers of Fashion Bomb Daily, and journalist, Pauleanna Reid. With each episode, black women are encouraged to tap into their passions, monetize, and make a positive impact on the world.
Dr. G: It is women’s “HERstory” month, and your platform represents representation. What does this month mean to you to have positive representation and how are you shaping the conversation for those who feel different through your outlet?
Lashawn: This month represents all that BlkWomenHustle embodies as it pertains to our mission to serve current and aspiring black women entrepreneurs, professionals, and creatives. Black women have been misrepresented for as long as I can remember. The real eye-opener came in adulthood when realizing how much people held on to the stigmas of our inability to work together in peace without competing.
The development of BlkWomenHustle has proven to me and others that those are merely assumptions and such a space does exist. I can recall women coming to me at the end of our events expressing how they stopped attending live events because it held no value, or it didn’t serve black women and they didn’t feel like they belonged, but with us, it felt different. Even in digital spaces like Clubhouse, the feedback is the same. Black women continuously express their gratitude for having a space that embraces them as they are, unapologetically, with no expectations to be anyone else other than a bold, beautiful, educated black woman with her own style and grace. Not only do they hear it from me, but they feel it– it’s a part of the BlkWomenHustle experience.
It feels good to represent these women and to be represented by them. Black women come to the platform knowing they will be acknowledged and appreciated at any stage in their careers. Everything they’ve done is an accomplishment and BlkWomenHustle is going to celebrate it– we’re going to meet them where they are and make sure they are represented well.
Dr. G: Why do you find it important to advocate for the need for diversity in media?
Lashawn: Many of us grew up not knowing what it was like to see ourselves in positions of authority– especially black women. Everything from radio shows, to commercials, to television broadcasts, was filled with faces that did not look nor sound like us. Something as simple as applying real diversity in these roles could have changed the perspectives and expectations of young black women everywhere. It never crossed anyone else’s minds to consider what differences it would make in our lives to see ourselves represented in these spaces.
Much of what we’ve seen and experienced in our youth has shaped who we are today and what we believe we’re capable of achieving. Our inclusion will shape the next generations to come and it’s not something that “would be nice”– it’s necessary. With the talent, knowledge, and skills we possess, it’s only right that we are represented well in all areas of the media, as both the distributor and consumer.
Dr. G: What is next for you?
Lashawn: When it comes to what’s next, I trust that there will be lots of growth, more connections, and initiatives ahead that will continuously elevate black women in all areas of their lives. I’m just grateful to have a front-row seat to witness it all come to fruition.
Dr. G: How can ppl connect with you?
Lashawn: Black women can connect with the platform by visiting blkwomenhustle.com, following @BlkWomenHustle on Instagram, or emailing [email protected] to pitch and connect. To work directly with me for marketing, they can visit lashawndreher.com or follow @LashawnDreher on Instagram.