GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - After suffering the tragic loss of her daughter, one Gulfport woman found light through entrepreneurship. Now, she manages a Facebook page that is giving other black business owners on the coast tools to help them succeed.
As an entrepreneur, Alexis Williams spends a lot of time on her computer.
“I started the Black Owned Business page to have a platform for other black-owned businesses and consumers to find each other," she explained.
She uses social media to make stronger bonds in the community she calls home.
“I’m originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Turnkey to be exact.”
There are more than 3,000 members in the Coast’s Black Owned Businesses Facebook Page. Alexis says the timeline is always buzzing.
“People looking for landscapers. They’re looking for people to fix their AC units because its hot, boutiques, hair stylists."
Alexis owns Aloha Glamour, a clothing boutique inspired by her time stationed in Hawaii. She says the struggles that come with starting a new business made her seek help from others with similar issues.
“I didn’t start a business to make money but when I started one, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to figure this out.’”
Her boutique is a way to soothe the painful memory of losing her daughter seven months into her pregnancy..
“I feel like my situation could have buried me. It literally could have taken me out.”
But something clicked when she saw the bright, colorful pu’a skirts in Hawaii.
“Instantaneously, I felt - I don’t want to say I felt alive again when I put the skirt on - but I didn’t feel like the world was as dark.... I started this business for my mental health but in turn, it turned into something bigger than me.”
Forbes Magazine reports black women are the fastest-growing group of entreprenuers but still lack access to capital from investors.
“Most of us when starting a business, we’re getting money from our parents, our grandparents," said Alexis. “We don’t have access to $100, 000."
Alexis says the goal is to connect minorities to resources so their businesses can boost the coast’s economy.
“Putting ‘black’ in front of an organization can almost feel like reverse segregation but it’s not to segregate us at all," she explained. "I think it includes us in a conversation that we’re so often left out of.”
You can find more information about future events and more on the Black Owned Businesses Missisippi Gulf Coast Facebook Page.