Ms. Inc. Midlife: Side Hustlin’ to the Off Corporate Ramp

Me at Notre Dame (in the yellow coat) with a few of the ladies whose hair I did in my early “doing hair” days.

The pursuit of entrepreneurship hits different when you’re 47, corporate secure (or insecure, depending upon how you look at it) peri-menopausal, co-parenting (a high schooler and a college student) and planning to move your aging Mom in with you. I know all too well as I navigate these uncharted waters.

I guess I have to start with a few other details to give you the full context of my story and my life. I’m divorced and my income is the only money that supports our household. But let’s not discount…


Chef Liesha Barnett

I had one person in my social media tribe recently ask me what I do after I posted a message saying I wanted to retire from corporate to get back to entrepreneurship. Then, I had another exchange with one of my book club members in which she said to me that she thought I was a therapist. This was a huge compliment to me, especially, since she is a therapist herself! Anyone who knows me knows that I definitely make space for people and am genuinely interested in them as a person.

That’s what I bring to my work. And…


I‘ve shared some details of my Mama’s life. She’s my example and inspiration. Anybody who knows me knows how proud I am to be her daughter. I’ve also talked about how my Dad (officially my step-father but, in reality, the only father I’ve ever had). He was my Mom’s protector, provider and partner in love and business. He helped raise the two children my Mom had before he came into her life and helped rear her siblings. They, then, added my L’il sister to the clan. And apparently, he was the person that gave her the push she needed to…


So I decided to start the Ms. Inc. reviews with a recent Black woman-owned brand purchase I made and loving! I bought a Lorraine West jewelry piece, y’all! And in these times of rightful turmoil and unrest, it’s just what I need to remind myself to stay lifted and that I am a reflection of love. This ring is my version of Wonder Woman’s cuff bracelets, shining my intention, shielding me from ill-will and attracting love and light from others.

What I Bought: The Heart Ring. At this time, the piece is not available but, she may bring it back…


Mignon Francios

Entrepreneur: Mignon Francois

Business: The Cupcake Collection

Started Business: 2008

Locations: Nashville, TN and New Orleans, LA

Instagram: @thecupcakecollection

Revenue: $10 Million

Instagram and the curated world of the interwebs show you the glory of Black women entrepreneurs but, that’s only a part of the story. I believe it is just as important to share the tough parts of the entrepreneurial journey. The hard starts and challenging parts like that of Mignon Francois’ journey as CEO of The Cupcake Collection. In Mignon’s interview, we learn about the start of it all for her — speaking life into her goals; getting…


Photo from Unsplash stock photography.

Thank you for shining the spotlight on Black women entrepreneurs.

Thank you for your commitment to saying the names of the amazing Black women behind brands we are proud of and love.

Thank you for answering the call on your life to create ‘She Did That’ film.

I’ve known Renae Bluitt a long time now. We were both fresh-faced college graduates in the mid-90s finding our footing in Chicago and on our new career paths — she in PR and communications and me in advertising. I eventually made my way to an Atlanta ad agency as soon as I realized…


BJ’s Hair Care and Nails tshirt circa 1989.
My Mama’s business tshirts circa 1990.

I love Black women entrepreneurs! When did that start, you ask? Well, my mother was a Black woman entrepreneur in New Orleans in the 80s and early 90s in a city where Black entrepreneurs still find it challenging, today, to start and sustain. Her beauty salon, BJ’s Hair Care and Nails, was was the foundation of our family finances from my Jr. high school days until she closed her business doors. Then, pre the 2008 recession, I made a great living as a marketing teacher, coach and consultant to entrepreneurs as my full time business. Now, I side hustle in…


You may or may not have seen my social media recap of the first ATLCollegeSigningDay. It happened Friday, April 27, 2018 at Cristo Rey Atlanta where we celebrated their 125+ college-bound seniors! To be clear, this group represents the full class (that’s 100%) that has been accepted into a college or university. In addition, the Class of 2018 is Cristo Rey Atlanta’s first graduating class. That’s a lot of factors that make it even more exciting that they chose to participate in and host the first #ATLCollegeSigningDay at their school.

My relationship with the school began through my day job…


I’ve declared Friday, April 27, 2018 as the day metro-Atlanta will celebrate 500 high school seniors committing to the colleges of their choice. Me and my team are making it happen and I couldn’t be more proud!

I’ve watched other major cities like Philadelphia and New York host major events and, I thought, “it’s time for metro-Atlanta to celebrate our students’ achievements loud and proud, too.” To that end, we’re inviting seniors from more than 150 schools throughout nine metro-Atlanta counties to celebrate their choice to pursue higher education. …


Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

I wrote this Facebook post on 2/16/18: So, my communications degree focused on a critical study of film and television. In addition, my first English course in college was a study of Sci-fi, where I was introduced to Octavia Butler’s work. So, it’s no wonder that I am totally nerding out on Black Panther, (film and sci-fi)! I am still a reader, writer and story nerd at heart, always listening watching and studying those that do. Forever the student, I am always interested in learning and still curious and full of questions.

The addendum: For no other reason than I…

Rochelle Valsaint

Black women entrepreneurs biggest fan | daughter of a Black woman entrepreneur | NOLA’s finest living in Atlanta.

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