We had the good fortune of connecting with Crystal Perry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Crystal, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Leaving a career where you have the big title and six-figure salary to build a non-profit would definitely be considered a risky move by most But, what others call risk, I call stepping out on faith. I also feel deeply, much as my “shero” Harriet Tubman, that it is not enough to secure just my own (economic) freedom. Rather, I am compelled to help other Black women get to ‘the promised land’ of financial security as well and operate in their purpose.
Did I encounter skepticism along the way? Absolutely! Unfortunately, the resistance often came from the very people I committed myself to uplifting. If I had $20 for the number of people who told me that a non profit centered on the needs of Black women couldn’t succeed or receive funding, Melanated PEARL’s operating budget for the entire year would be covered! Instead, much like Harriet, I evaluated the risk, assessed the needs, developed a plan and then executed on that plan. In the two years since I launched Melanated PEARL Corporation, we have delivered on our mission, while providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility, with programming that includes:
- The Bridge Fund – provides financial support to Black women-led families who have experienced a loss or reduction of income due to the pandemic.
- The Mothers’ Day Coronavirus Care Packages – celebrated Black mothers with a SuperMom Self Care Kit that included: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ‘SuperMom’ T-shirts, all-natural feminine hygiene products, candles, and other special gifts. This project was even more meaningful because all of the components of the kit were sourced from Black female-owned businesses! Melanated PEARL paid these businesses for their contributions to the Self Care kits, and then paid it forward by promoting the businesses to Melanated PEARL’s 2,000 plus social media followers.
- The Homeless Women Feminine Hygiene Drive – coordinated in partnership with other Black female-owned businesses like Save Our Jewels, to supply feminine hygiene products to more than 100 homeless women throughout Atlanta, including those who receive services at community assistance organizations around Georgia such as Phoenix Pass in Conyers, JC Freedom House in Douglasville, and Gigi’s House in Morrow.
- Meal Delivery for low-income families in collaboration with Metro Atlanta Urban Farm. Melanated PEARL has, to date, serviced more than 45 families in the greater Atlanta area through twice weekly deliveries.
I believe in miracles. I’ve seen too many not to believe. I’ve lived my life, built my career, and now launched Melanated Pearl with the belief that even without seeing it, if I just take that first step, the path will appear. This willingness to take calculated risks to serve and uplift the Black community through the support and empowerment of Black women is not only worth it, but it is fueling more support from organizations like Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta, the latter of which awarded Melanated PEARL with a $25,000 grant to continue our work with Black families impacted by COVID shut downs.
Just like Harriet, I am not content with securing just my own freedom. So is leaving the security of a well-paying job risky? Without a doubt. Was it imperative for me? Absolutely.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Established in November 2018, Melanated Pearl Corporation is a 501c3 non profit organization located in Hampton, Georgia, which is a subsection of Clayton County. PEARL is an acronym standing for Passionate Engaged Activists, Resisting Limitations. We speak to our audiences’ passions, engage them, give them a call to action, and show them how to resist the idea that they are limited in any way. Melanated Pearl plays a vital role in building a healthy community by providing critical services that contribute to the economic stability and mobility of women. Our organization targets services for Black women and girls in the Metro Atlanta area to educate, uplift, and empower Black Women. In fact, I am an educational leader with more than 20 years of experience. So not surprisingly, at Melanated Pearl, we share knowledge, and we strongly believe in the power and promise of Black women. We purposely uplift and empower “PEARL girls” in and around our community by celebrating both the melanin and minds of these females. Finally, we encourage Black women to be authentic – to exist in their own skin and on their own terms.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I believe in supporting small businesses and shopping local! So we would start our day at the Fig Tree Cafe in Jonesboro for some grits, chicken noodle soup, a fresh baked cinnamon roll or a croissant sandwich. If it was the weekend, after breakfast, we’d stop by Escobar Restaurant & Tapas Southside in Morrow for music, drinks and laughs and then engage in a day of self care at the Omni Day Spa in Morrow, which is a black female-owned business.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve had many supporters along the way. I want to shout out Tammary Scott Dowdell, owner at B’Mari Events & Art Studio, and Cas Thompson, owner at BridgeGrounds, for sharing in-kind event spaces to connect with the community. Special shout out to my Board of Directors who keep me focused and motivated.
Crystal Perry, Melanated Pearl Corp