Celebrating Black Business Month With Rae Chesny

Accomplished author, and Johns Hopkins University Literary consultant, Rae Chesny’s commitment to honoring Zora Neale Hurston extends to the realm of children’s literature. She has launched her own children’s book titled “Zora’s Garden,” which tells the story of a young girl who finds solace and inspiration in nature, mirroring Hurston’s own connection to the natural world. Chesny’s book introduces young readers to the life and spirit of Zora Neale Hurston, fostering a love for literature and empowering children to embrace their own creativity.

During the 33rd Annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, she served as the keynote speaker for the Zora Neale Hurston: The Storyteller and Her Town series hosted by the Eatonville Public Library and funded by the Florida Humanities Council.

As we celebrate National Black Business Month, we are overjoyed to spotlight Rae Chesny.

Do you believe in work-life balance? If so, how do you maintain it?

I do believe in work-life balance, but I don’t think it applies to everyone’s life. In fact, if you are creative of any kind like me, your work is so much of your life and your life informs your work there can be no true balance. So, I strive for synergy. I seek ways to have full-bodied experiences that inspire my work. Then I allow my work to inform how I live my life. I am fortunate to love what I do so much as both a Zora Neale Hurston Scholar and writer that every stride enriches every area of my life and vice versa.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Aspiring and new entrepreneurs should know that it is a journey that will be filled with ebbs and flows and ups and downs. Success is a matter of resilience, endurance, and timing. Entrepreneurship is also a marathon, so when the moments get hard use your “why” to fuel you forward. In the good moments, no matter how small, be sure to celebrate yourself and the accomplishments.

What is your proudest business accomplishment?

My proudest business accomplishment is being recognized as a Zora Neale Hurston Scholar by both Zora’s family and beloved hometown. Both entities are very selective and having them both reach out to me, while also hiring me in some rare capacities makes my heart skip a beat. The best part is I get to do it all as “The Zora Girl,” a name affectionately given to me because of how lovingly I talk about Zora. The best part of that is having my young son along for the ride. His birthday happens to be two days before Zora and he knows a ton about her. It’s amazing having the two most special people in my life so closely connected to my work.

It’s Black Business Month. Name 2 Black Business Owners who inspire you and why.

  • Egypt Otis owns Comma Bookshop in Flint, MI. She is the first Black woman to own a bookstore in the area. She works tirelessly to provide resources for historically underrepresented groups such as literacy programs for incarcerated individuals. Egypt is also a big supporter of indie authors such as myself. I love how she shows up for the community. Her new children’s book, My Mother is a Superhero, is a beautiful reflection of her own activism.
  • Susan Charli Small is the owner of Small House which is a boutique publishing company that offers robust packages for indie authors. Susan also happens to be the author of Princess Nylah and the Magic Window, as well as a playwright. Susan is such a visionary and one to watch. She is always pushing the envelope to curate the most beautiful outcomes for her clients. Her work is astonishing.

Keep up to date: Visit www.raechesny.com. For Zora’s Garden and Junior Storyteller, visit www.juniorstoryteller.com.

Connect with Rae on Instagram @raechesny and Facebook: Rae Chesny

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