3 founders share how they found power on the path to success


Empowered women empower women – and that includes sharing lessons learned along the way, even if they aren’t always about the best times. It is often in the most difficult times that the clearest path really emerges.

To celebrate this spirit of continuing to move forward, Combs Enterprises and CÎROC turned to Culture Creators – a women-led organization that began to honor and amplify the cultural avant-garde that helped shape the vision of the world of black culture – to spotlight 50 extraordinary luminaries across the social impact, tech, business, entertainment and the arts and style industries. The annual Empowered Women Campaign (first launched by Combs Enterprises and CÎROC in 2016) kicks off Women’s History Month by celebrating 17 game-changing visionaries and will continue to honor a new collection of incredible female awardees each. months until May.

Here, three of the winners realize how some of the lowest points of their journey have helped propel them on the path to success.


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Iman rejected the idea of ​​failure.

Nowadays, Somali-American entrepreneur Iman is best known for her nearly 20-year career as an internationally renowned model. Behind the scenes, however, things weren’t always as glamorous as they seemed. When she arrived in the United States as a refugee in 1975, black models weren’t making as much money as white models.

iman, model, entrepreneur, creators of culture

Model Iman founded IMAN Cosmetics for women of color.

Creators of culture

This realization only made him see obstacles on the road ahead. “We tend to overthink as women and not really step into our power, our light, our worth,” she said. But what was missing in the market was clear to her: “A beauty company for us – for women of color”. Still, it seemed intimidating.

We tend to overthink as women and not really step into our power.

So she turned to friend and beauty mogul Robin Burns-McNeill for advice. “She mentored me from the start on creating cosmetics, but also on how to walk into a business room and own my own power and what I brought to the table,” said remembers Iman. In 1994, she founded her own company, IMAN Cosmetics, the first line of skincare and cosmetics for women of color.

Now the CEO, author and philanthropist understand how it’s only her own thoughts that hold her back. “Get out of your way,” she said of the advice she would give her young self. “Most importantly, really trust your instincts.” And she took this bold thinking a step further: “Everything I failed at … I learned a lesson [from] to improve myself for the next time, “she said.” I don’t believe in failure. “

Alencia Johnson has learned to turn criticism into support.

As the founder of 1063 West Broad, a social impact agency that works with organizations to create events and strategies with purpose, Alencia Johnson always thinks of inclusiveness and the collective good. His past work at Planned Parenthood, as well as Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaigns and Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, further illustrate his relentless passion to make the world a better place.

alencia johnson, 1063 west large, founder, creator of culture

Alencia Johnson created 1063 West Broad Social Impact Agency.

Creators of culture

But these roles certainly came with their share of obstacles. Johnson remembers joining Obama’s campaign without much political experience, calling it a “trial by fire” where she felt like she was continuing to disappoint her team. “There were a lot of times I got it wrong, forgot to brief the right way or get back to someone, and just kept fumbling,” she explains. “I felt like an underdog the whole year, and really had to learn on the job.”

It was as she faced the repercussions of these mistakes that she began to hear the comments in a different way. “It made me sit there and say, ‘Let me stop being so defensive and really listen; and don’t take that as a criticism of my ability to get there, but take that as support,” said -she.

This change in perspective made her realize how many people had her back – which helped her move forward. “Every setback is preparation for a comeback,” she says now.

Each setback is a setup for a comeback.

Today, she is eager to pass this kind of advice on to young women, in the form of a dose of confidence. “Little girl, that white man coming up for the same job as you? He doesn’t know what he’s doing,” she laughs. Thinking about the times when she was hesitant to go for what she wanted, she says that she “allowed what the world was telling me as a young black woman to dissuade me from going looking for certain opportunities.” But now Johnson keeps moving forward, raising others with her.

Yvette Noel-Schure has remained true to herself.

“I was very happy to be a journalist,” says Yvette Noel-Schure of the career she had before becoming a major player in public relations and founder of the Schure Media group. “When I had the opportunity to become a publicist, I actually said no, because some of what I saw didn’t appeal to me.” She cites the high stress levels of the PR job along with its inherent exclusivity as two reasons she was reluctant to change gears.

yvette noel schure, publicist, founder, schure media group

Yvette Noel-Schure is the founder of Schure Media Group.

Creators of culture

But instead of letting the industry devour her, she decided to take control of it with the skills already learned. I said, ‘Bring some of you – actually, bring all of you – to this job. Bring your kindness, your love for people, “” she recalls. “I asked questions. I’m a journalist from start to finish. And I took notes. I’m never without pen and paper.”

Since this career change, Noel-Schure has found his place, working with the biggest names in pop music during his many years in the business. Yet as she pushed her to climb the ladder of success, she struggled mightily with self-doubt and impostor syndrome, which saw her literally working around the clock to prove herself.

You have to work hard, but you have to work hard to stay alive.

“I wanted so badly to be on top of everything, and I was completely crushed, you know, I made a mistake on something or I forgot a deadline, completely messed up,” she recalls. Pushing herself to a breaking point, she knew she had to make a change. “You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You have to work hard, but you have to work hard to stay alive, ”she says.

This hard-earned ability to draw boundaries between work and the rest of his life is a skill that contributes to Noel-Schure’s sense of empowerment. “The freedom to be exactly who you are, at the kitchen table, in the house and in the bedroom,” she says. “It’s power.”

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