We had the good fortune of connecting with Stefa’nie Ross and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stefa’nie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
There were multiple things that aligned during a time in my life when I needed additional support. As a wife, mother and black professional, I was constantly in search a group of women, outside of my close friends, who I could professionally bound with. I was also transitioning between jobs and found my past career did not value me as an employee as much I valued them. I gave myself three months to figure out exactly what I wanted to do in my professional life. I wrote down the top three things I had a passion for- supporting black women, networking and events. After much planning and pivoting because of the pandemic, EBW VA was created!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Empowered Black Women of Virginia’s mission is to highlight, acknowledge, honor and unite the efforts and business ventures of Black women in Virginia through networking events and open discussions. This forum is a space for all black women to connect and advertise their business, career needs and important resources to become and remain successful. We started our efforts back in May 2020, using our social media platforms to interview various women and ask them how they have remained empowered during COVID-19. We encountered a few hiccups because we didn’t really know how to get our name out there without the ability to have in-person networking events. We begin to use our social media platforms as well as created online newsletters to help spread the word and set our foundation. More recently, we’ve held several virtual networking events via Zoom. While our first in-person networking event will be held in Northern Virginia sometime in the Summer or Fall of 2021, our website, social media handles and virtual guest speaker events continue to connect women from all different areas.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Excellent question! Most of my friends believe my city is very suburban and boring; however, there are several things to do in week. The obvious is going to DC, I live in Northern Virginia so DC is only 35 minutes away. In DC, we can visit the African American museum, walk around the National Mall, go to Ben’s Chilli Bowl, attend several brunches, pop-up shops, festivals, etc. In my actual city, there are several wineries, breweries, and distillers within five miles of my house. A winery/distillery tour with a driver would be very seamless. Also, I would take them to my favorite restaurants in Loudoun county because we all love food and good vibes. Last but not least, we would have a huge kickback at our house. Prior to the pandemic, my husband and I would have multiple events and would bring our friends and their children together and still have a great time.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to Stormy Scott for the referral to ShoutOut Atlanta as well as acting as my first black, female focus group during the implementation of the EBWVA website. Also, Desmond Ross, founder of MACT brand, for inspiring me to go out on my own and start a business based on my passions.
Other: Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/empowered-black-women-of-virginia