I’ve been reading about trailblazing black women in business and it struck me how much we know about our American counterparts but precious little about the long history of badass businesswomen right here in Canada.
From a recent post by @pitchbetter, I learned about Beverly Mascoll, a pioneering entrepreneur and community leader who created a multi-million-dollar hair care empire in Canada.
There’s so much we can learn from her life, which was cut tragically short by breast cancer in 2001.
- Dream big, right from the start.
Ms. Mascoll spent $700 to incorporate her fledgling business Mascoll Beauty Supply Ltd. in 1970. This gave her the security and reputational boost she needed to confidently fly to Chicago to successful convince industry behemoth Johnson Products to have her become their first and only distributor in Canada.
Can you imagine the strength, courage and self-belief Ms. Mascoll would have had to convince a huge corporation such as Johnson Products that they should do business with her and only her? I am awed by her confidence and ambition. She saw herself as a CEO and saw her business as a big business, even when she was selling products from the trunk of her car.
- Value your intellectual property
Ms. Mascoll built a chain of retail outlets and amassed an arsenal of beauty products, but she didn’t stop at selling products. She leveraged her knowledge and her reputation in the beauty industry to organise beauty demonstrations, conferences and seminars and, in 1984, become the first person to host a Black Hair trade show in Canada. These savvy decisions around her knowledge-based assets amplified her brand and increased her revenue.
- Money gives you the power to help your community.
I believe we have a duty to make things better for the next generation. A thriving, profitable business gives you economic power and allows you to fund education and support Black excellence now and for generations to come.
Beverly Mascoll was loved and respected as a committed community leader. She was involved in the creation and/or promotion of the Harry Jerome Scholarship Fund (awarding excellence to Black-Canadian achievers), Camp Jumoke (a camp for children with Sickle Cell Anemia) and the Ontario Black History Society. There are also several scholarships in her name to support black students in business studies and social work.
The last year has been challenging for everyone. Even if you’re healthy and your business continues to do well, we’ve all had to deal with being away from friends and family or interruptions to schooling for our kids or the mental health challenges of being alone and isolated. There have been times when it all feels too hard but, wherever I think of the path blared for me by the sacrifices of the ancestors, such as the late Ms. Mascoll, it renews my commitment to make their sacrifices worth it. I hope this inspires you too!