A group of ten women entrepreneurs are featured in the documentary “Shot of Influence,” produced by independent filmmaker Gabrielle Reece, which previewed at Icon Theater in Saint Louis Park in May. The one-hour film offers snapshots of the motivations, the frustrations, and the solutions proposed by women especially energized since the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
The documentary concludes with the insights of Shawntera Hardy. She is co-founder of Civic Eagle, which uses technology to promote better democratic outcomes, and is the former commission of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
As co-founder of Fearless Commerce, which offers visibility to Black women entrepreneurs, Hardy says she is “on a mission to ensure that Black women are seen, and that Black women are able to build thriving businesses from the start. Black women are the largest starters of business.”
She sees the value of companies with diverse teams. “Inclusive businesses are more innovative. Success comes when you have folks at the table who come with different lived and learning experiences … No business would ever say safety is an option. Being inclusive should not be an option either.”
A few women in the film noted that the reckoning that began after Floyd’s murder, and the subsequent global protests against police brutality, has not necessarily led to systemic management and consumer shifts that are needed.
Hardy says: “It was very touching to see folks provide this national stage in particular for Black business. But now the receipts are due. What did you buy? What did you invest in? Because for Black business, this is livelihood. This is not numbers on a spreadsheet. This is not social media likes. This is generations of continuing poverty cycles when we are not invested in. And so, it’s not [simply about] going to your Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity training to see where your biases are. It is more than that. … The responsibility to raise your hand to do more and to do better is so important. And that is very serious to me. It’s not a game.”
Jasmine Stinger, lifestyle expert and Chief Seizer of Carpe Diem, says: “After George Floyd’s murder there was a shift in support for POC [people-of-color] women. I am not sure if the commitment is there today at the level it was in 2020. Which is a little disheartening. Was it not genuine, or is it because some people like to say we are ‘getting back to normal.’ I don’t believe in getting back to normal. People have returned to the status quo.”
She created Share the Mic Minnesota, which is “aimed at to amplify the voices, the lived experiences of Black and brown women,” and was “born out of my despair. The Black experience is not monolithic. We have so much power when we tell our stories, because our stories are our greatest connector.”
Nancy Korsah grew up in Italy, where she and her family were the only Black family in their suburb for about 11 years. Her skilled mother had trouble getting work because she was Black. This inspired Korsah to build her own business in adulthood, so that she was not dependent on someone else recognizing her talents. Her Facebook group for Black Business Enterprises has a network in 50 states and 32 countries. One of the business owners in the network was on food stamps and housing assistance; she received $600 to start a business, which turned into a company worth $900,000. Her children are able to go to college.
When Arielle Grant founded Render Free, Minnesota was in the midst of the pandemic and “we were grieving a public murder. We were participating in unrest in our streets. Wellness was so far off at that point.”
She says wellness is still under threat today. She talks in the film about coming home from a full day at a corporate job feeling tense. “We stay stuck in that place of defensiveness. There is no time to check our wounds. Our day-to-day lives — feeling constantly equated to production and performance — has its foundation in slavery.”