Whitney Osei-Akintaju Makes Ethnic Products Accessible Worldwide

Have you experienced additional challenges as a woman of color, if so, how did you handle it?

Funding has been my biggest hurdle. When you are a woman of color, VCs just aren’t eagerly throwing money at you. Out of $81 billion in VC funding that was generated last year, less than 1 percent went towards African American women. However, online retail sales are expected to reach $645 billion by 2020. Knowing that the market is so promising, yet ethnic groups are being overlooked, is what pushes me to keep going. I’m going to continue bootstrapping, fundraising and paying attention to the needs of our customers.


“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you have launched too late.”


What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

If you have an idea, just go ahead and make it happen. Launch your MVP with whatever you have, then work out the kinks later. When we started Ethnic District, we thought our customers wanted a marketplace. A year later we have discovered that our customers prefer buying directly from us, not multiple sellers. These are the kind of helpful, time-saving, cost-effective things that you learn only when you get your business in front of paying customers and acknowledge their feedback.

Eclectic Chic Mandala Ankara Pillow Cover by Teni Majekodunmi (Nigeria)

What’s the best business advice you have received and who gave it to you?

“Take it one day at a time, one order at a time.” — Dr. Lola Adeyemi, CEO and Founder Mentoring Her/Magna Carta Health.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in this business, but taking a deep breath and focusing on delighting your customers—one at a time—definitely makes it more manageable.

What is your favorite quote?

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you have launched too late.” — Reid Hoffman

For more information on Whitney or Ethnic District, visit ethnicdistrict.com.

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