Shawnte’ Hernton has expanded her business and is now helping women of color structure their businesses. Shawnte’s mission is to assist in alleviating the financial stress of running a business by helping establish a foundation through grants and building business credit.
She continuously educates herself to enhance and build her knowledge in constructing businesses. When she is not focused on her business, she takes pride in spending time with her family.
Shawnte’ is a mom, business owner, and author from Phoenix, Arizona, and I Journi had the opportunity to connect with her.
Bossed UP Interview with Shawnte Hernton
Thank you for reaching out to me and making a decision or just allowing I Journi to Share your story on our platform. So, to get things rolling, can you tell me what a typical day looks like for Shawnte’?
It starts pretty early, at like 4 in the morning, and I only have to wake up that early if I want to get my personal things done. So, I’m usually up around 4:00 in the morning just trying to do my business-type work because around 6:00 am is when I have to get the kids up and ready for school. Once we get that going, we get everyone ready, do breakfast, and drop them off at school.
Then I have a few hours to myself, so that will either be completing appointments or errands.
I also try to make sure I get some time in with my husband because he works at night, so that’s kind of when I can get some time in with him; that’s usually maybe like four or five hours I get in between the time I drop the kids off and from the time I have to pick them up. From there, I have to go back to pick the kids up, and then we come home, make dinner, try to hang out, and watch TV with them. Afterwords, we do bedtime, and then hopefully, I still have a little more energy so I can go back to doing some more work before bed. So that’s usually the weekday.
If I don’t wake up early or stay up late, I don’t really get anything done because during the day is it. My day is scheduled and structured, so it’s pretty busy.
Let’s jump into your business ventures! So, I know you are a styling consultant, and then you are jumping into becoming a business consultant. Can you tell me a little about the brand you are building?
Sure, the first one is fashion styling consulting, which can be a few different things. I do personal styling for someone: we go shopping together, or I may do a closet audit for them, which is more of the personal side. There’s also the styling for photoshoots. Either a photographer has reached out to me about needing a stylist, or a model has reached out to me and needs a stylist.
A lot of style consulting has been done lately with FaceTime or via virtual because it seems like it’s kind of on short notice, so there’s that.
Then there’s also styling for boutiques that have turned to virtual sessions, where I may be working with a stylist in another state who might need some styling for their boutique to post on social media.
So that’s the styling side.
Then I’ve also got into my books and more of the education of styling so people can learn on their own how to do styling as well.
So, for business consulting which is something new that I’ve started. It began because I wanted to expand the styling business and learn more about what’s available to me. I researched how I can scale it, how I can get funding, things like that, and from that, I found an interest in pretty much what I’ve learned and wanted to teach it to other people, which I love to teach anyway. Therefore, I learned a lot about how to structure a business, get business credit, and what business credit can be used for. I’ve gained many tools and become aware of resources available to black women that we have no idea about. I’m super passionate and excited about it and want to teach and share with other black women because I see a need for it.
With you merging your styling consultant business with your business consultanting, what will you be more focused on?
I want to be focused more on business consulting.
I’m still available to do the styling portion. However, I’m now focused more on the educational part and not physically doing that type of work. I want to focus more on being able to help other people with their businesses and help them get over their financial struggles and not have to pay for things they don’t have to.
I see a lot of great businesses and a lot of great passions out there, but people don’t know what resources are available to them that will help them grow.
I really want to be the one to help them out with that.
How did you go about getting funding or raising funds for your business?
So as far as me getting started, I did have a lot of funds from my current styling business, but I was also awarded a grant that helped me fund the things I wanted to do, like marketing and developing a website.
And again, finding grants was part of my research and self-education of my wanting to grow my brand. Through my research, I learned about grants, such as how to get a business grant and the details to look for, so I don’t have to pay it back. My research is helping me, so I don’t have to come out of pocket anymore; you know it’s amazing. So, the grant has really helped me out.
How have your priorities changed when it comes down to transitioning to adding business consulting to your portfolio and under your belt?
I feel like this is more of a needs-based business. Some styling is excellent, but people don’t really have a need for it. Many people think of it more as a luxury, or it’s not something that’s not required. But, I feel like you would want to have business credit with any business.
I watch these businesses and see they have some fantastic things going, but when I do my research on them, I see they’re not going to be able to write off anything they’ve spent money on because their business is not considered a business. They’re also not going to get grants or be able to get anything because they haven’t established themselves or incorporated themselves into a business.
I feel like I have to share what I’ve learned and not be stingy with what I’ve learned. I’m all about helping people simplify the process. We don’t need to stress anymore, and there’s a solution, and it’s not as hard as people might think.
What makes your business unique compared to other consulting companies?
So the biggest thing I think for me is before I got into styling, I gained over 20 years of customer service experience.
That was the field I worked in, and I hear a lot that the biggest problem with many black businesses is their customer service. I have the upper hand, and that’s like my number one goal. That’s what I strive for because excellent customer service is embedded in me. I live customer service, so I also want to offer it if people need it. Customer service and my sales background is my most significant advantage.
You know, empathy, engaging, and relationship building is what
I’ve spent years teaching and training people at other companies.
What do you think is probably one of the biggest challenges that women face when it comes to landing business funding?
I think we get in our own way a lot of the time. It’s kind of what I do, overanalyze, which leads to talking ourselves out of it in a wrong way.
However, the way I got my grant was just from being my organic self. Prior, I didn’t do any grant writing; I did a little research and watched a few videos. I was told to write from the heart, be honest, be organic, and be very specific on what is wanted and how I will use the grant.
And after I did it, I kind of still second-guessed myself.
I told myself, I should have done this, I should have done that, or that I didn’t do things precisely by the book, I didn’t use a template or anything like that.
But I got the grant, so; It’s just more of believing in yourself and just doing it.
Many people are talking themselves out of doing things and without even trying. So, we just got to get out of our own way sometimes.
We’re almost done with your questions, but tell me what you have enjoyed most about starting your business?
I enjoy being able to be around my husband and my kids. Again, I know the schedule is crazy, but this is what I wanted to do. I want to take my kids to school, pick them up, run my errands and be able to make my own schedule. I’m doing what I enjoy, and that’s all I want to do is hang out, relax and have fun, and not be stressed.
Do you have any other entrepreneurs you look up to or who inspire you to go out there and do your own thing?
It’s funny; that’s actually how I decided to expand my brand and learn about business credit.
I watched Ellie Talks Money, and I learned a lot of everything from her.
Ellie was a single mom, and I remember watching her videos as she had her kids in the bed with her, as she’s attempting to create videos and tell people about business credit and different ways to set up trade lines.
I LEARNED everything I know from her, so I just did a little more research, and I watched many of her videos. She’s much bigger now, she’s been in magazines, and she just got a fleet truck. I remember watching her when she was just in her bed with her kids, and now she’s doing what she’s teaching everyone, and she’s giving a lot of information. I also watched her live videos on the weekends with my notebook and pen.
Is there anything in particular that keeps you motivated?
Just my husband and my kids keep me motivated. I love having the time that I do have with them. Again, financial freedom does help too, and I can do more things like travel and do family stuff so, they absolutely keep me motivated.
I feel like everybody always asks everyone at the end of several interviews: If you had to give advice to anyone trying to either transition into a new career path or build their own business, what would it be?
To just start! That was my biggest thing! I wouldn’t start, or I would start but stop. Sometimes I would second guess myself. So I say, just go for it!
Even if you find someone who’s doing what you’re interested in doing, just do it. You can watch someone doing what you’re doing, take notes, and even ask for guidance.
Next would be to do your research because you can learn many things independently.
Also, I would say reach out for help and don’t make excuses. There are many excuses in people that I see, and there is an excuse for everything, so just start and ask for help if you need to, and no more excuses.
Is there anything, in particular, you want to share with us about the business you have going on?
I really would like to work with young black girls who want to start their business and see what I can do to help; again, I am now offering my services business plans.
I would love to get into public speaking.
I was always scared to do it when I was younger, but I’m so interested in doing it, probably because I’m passionate about it now. But I would just love to help out kids. And even maybe women that are in shelters or any woman of color looking to educate themselves on starting their own business who may not have the resources or don’t know where to go.
Connect with Shawnte’
Instagram @ shawnteherntonconsults