On February 15, 2021, YWCA Greater Charleston will begin its fourth WE 360° workshop series for women entrepreneurs of color.
The WE 360° program, which the nonprofit offered three times last year, including the inaugural series, sold out each time in less than a day and generated additional waiting lists. Free to women entrepreneurs of color due to scholarships provided by individual donors and corporate donors—this edition of the program is sponsored by Bank of America—it is specifically designed to help women of color overcome barriers in entrepreneurship, and provides them with tools to start, grow, or sustain their businesses. Participants also often form a supportive network among themselves.
To again be held virtually, the class of women entrepreneurs will meet twice a week for four weeks at 6 PM on Monday and Thursday evenings.
Past participants have given high praise to the WE 360° program, crediting it with helping them in their business efforts.
One recent success story to come from the WE 360° program is Donna Mungin, who graduated from YWCA Greater Charleston’s third WE 360° series in November. On January 4, she opened the women’s boutique she had planned during the course, an expansion of her business of the previous few years and her first physical location.
Her new shop, Distinctively Mod Boutique, opened at 946 Orleans Road in 2021, providing a new alternative to help the everyday woman save money and time by offering personal styling, shopping services, and versatile women’s apparel in sizes from small to 3X, fostering confidence and authenticity in their wearers.
“WE 360° catapulted my thinking,” said Mungin. “The course not only guides you, but sets you up for success. The knowledge and tools are simple but effective, taught in a clear and concise manner. Having the opportunity to glean from the other participants was another great experience. WE 360° provided us with a safe zone to share our successes and failures. Often we question our abilities or the trajectories we’re on, and being in the course built my confidence. It gave me the boost I needed to take my business to the next level.”
A graduate of the nonprofit’s second WE 360° series, held in the summer of 2020, Nakia White-Hazel will soon open the store she planned during that course. Scheduled for a Valentine’s Day 2021 opening, You Grow Girl will provide women educators with items that make them feel good from the inside out, helping them along their journey as educators. Products will range from classroom décor to tees.
“The WE 360° course literally took us step by step through composing a business plan,” said White-Hazel. “I reflected on things I had never thought of before. I felt like there was an awakening happening inside me; so many ideas were flowing from me.”
Business growth coach Keisha Smith will again lead the workshops. A gifted teacher, trainer, balance coach, and business coach, she uses her experience and expertise to design specialized life plans and business solutions. She is also the CEO of The Business Office of SC, where she provides customized business support to business owners. For 20 years she has designed processes and methods that have been used by organizations to better serve their communities and customers. In 2019, she was instrumental in managing the process by which her son made history when he opened his own clothing boutique, Birch & Pen, at the age of 19: according to ABC News 4, he was the youngest business owner to launch a brick-and-mortar shop at Northwoods Mall, a feat recognized by a South Carolina House of Representatives resolution sponsored by S.C. Representative Krystle Simmons. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Virginia College, where she also teaches college-level business courses.
YWCA Greater Charleston’s next WE 360° program is already in the works. Space will again be limited. Women entrepreneurs of color can find out more and sign up to be added to the list for the next series at www.ywcagc.org/we360.
For more information about Distinctively Mod Boutique, see the enclosed photos of models in apparel and visit distinctivelymod.com, and for more information about You Grow Girl, visit yougrowgirl.store.
ABOUT YWCA GREATER CHARLESTON
For 113 years, YWCA Greater Charleston has worked to eliminate racism and empower women in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties. Among its initiatives to eliminate racism are its 10-day MLK Celebration, one of the city’s longest running events; its annual Stand Against Racism; and its Racial Equity Institute trainings equipping local leaders to address racism. It empowers women with its annual What Women Bring event, attended by hundreds to empower South Carolina’s women in business, community, and culture; WE 360, helping women of color overcome barriers in entrepreneurship; Own the Room public speaking workshops empowering women’s success; and Choose Well, reducing unintended pregnancies. It brought the first Girls Who Code club for middle school girls to Charleston, and its Y Girls Code program includes female students of all ages. It also hosts SheStrong, empowering high school girls to develop as leaders and changemakers. For more information, visit ywcagc.org.