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This Black History Month we will lend our platform to our Black founders. Today, we hear from Nathalie Cadet-James, founder of Luxe Fête and participant of EndeavorLab Cohort One. Below is her unedited story, as told by Nathalie herself.
At Endeavor, we believe that support networks are essential to help entrepreneurs scale and thrive. Tell us more about your experience with support networks. Was there a time in your entrepreneurial journey when someone helped you overcome a big challenge? Who’s the most important mentor you’ve had?
I don’t believe there is anything in life, that is great, that can be achieved alone. Humans by nature are wired for connection and this inertia is what helps us thrive. I count eight support networks that have been critical to my growth as an entrepreneur in different stages of my journey:
Family – It would not be possible to be on this journey without their sacrifice and support.
Childhood Best Friends – They remember the young confident you and never let you forget it. They also share every contact they have.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority – A sorority and public service organization that boldly confronts the challenges of African Americans and therefore all Americans. This was my first time being a part of a group that collectively and strategically had impact. We empowered each other to succeed in all missions.
My Personal Advisory Board – A hand-selected group of remarkable individuals that I have sought throughout the years as mentors. I speak with them monthly on a scheduled basis. They find joy in sharing their wealth of knowledge of building successful companies.
Babson WINLab Accelerator – A cohort of women entrepreneurs, led by Babson College, who constantly and rigorously pushed innovative thinking in our business models. The only way to explain a group of female entrepreneurs working together is iron sharpening iron.
Endeavor ScaleUp Accelerator- A cohort of women entrepreneurs, led by Endeavor, with the sole mission of how its powerful global network can help your business succeed. [Editor’s note: Nathalie was a participant of EndeavorLAB Cohort One]
Women on Fire – A peer group of women that helps me with inspiration for my passions.
The Strategic Forum – A small group of top business leaders in South Florida and New York who exchange ideas, resources and opportunities.
I learned in each of these groups the power of community and the power of shared knowledge. It is up to you as an individual however to be open to learning, to take what you learn (from the good and bad advice), and create something from it. That is the hard part, but also the most rewarding – that push, ultimately alone as the CEO.
My greatest mentor is John Kozyak, a man who showed me the power of flipping a Rolodex (we met 20 years ago when I was a law student) and making connections. I learned from him that relationships and trust are the most important currency in life and in business. What feels impossible to get done – can get done with the right relationships.
How has Miami shaped your business and your entrepreneurial journey? What are the best parts and the challenges of starting and scaling up a business in Miami?
I love Miami. My parents, both Haitian, came here when I was two years old. The fact that this is a young city, makes it accessible, and honestly a city you can shape. I am seeing friends that I grew up with now as mayors, congresswomen, major developers, business leaders, and social activists. As a result of growing up here, I view myself as one who can shape – that is a very important mindset as an entrepreneur. Aside from being a black female entrepreneur, the challenge of starting and scaling a business in Miami, is that it is not starting and scaling a business in Silicon Valley or New York City. But there is a palpable shift that is happening right now and Miami will likely be one of the most exciting places to be a start-up. I am grateful for the leaders in Miami who are the catalyst for this change. While there is a lot of work to do in our communities to make this a great city for everyone, I am here for all of it.
If you could leave one piece of advice to other entrepreneurs, particularly minority entrepreneurs, what would it be?
My advice, particularly to minority entrepreneurs, is to not let anybody write your story. I am often asked, “How do you do it when you are in the room?” I have noticed that “in the room” women, even more so black women, are faced with questions that are laced with bias. On the other hand, our counterparts are given questions filled with more promotional outlooks. At this point – I no longer wonder why – I simply don’t allow anyone to reframe my thoughts, my goals, my knowledge, my vision. Write your own story and never be afraid to do so with a positive outlook and confidence.
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