The global web-hosting company GoDaddy recently launched a new edition of its digital series Icons, and this time, it’s showcasing Cincinnati’s small business owners. Six entrepreneurs from a wide array of industries and practices are featured in the series, which kicked off on July 23.
Hosted by beauty expert and Cincinnati resident Anna Mae Groves, founder of the lifestyle website AnnaMaeGroves.com, the show chronicles the experiences of business owners who are flourishing in the Queen City.
Rebecca Gibson, owner of Empire Beauty Bar, says that when GoDaddy contacted her, it was clear that the company was inspired by her story.
After two-decades in healthcare, Gibson’s goals center on helping others to feel beautiful and to succeed in their careers.
“I like to change the stereotype that a lot of African American women have, as far as not helping other people to succeed,” she notes. “I can kind of plant some seeds around the city and hopefully help people realize that at some point, we need other people to be great.”
In addition to running the salon with a staff of experienced cosmetologists and braiders, Gibson also serves as the facilitator of the Empire Ohio braid license course. In connection with the Ohio Board of Cosmetology, she has offered courses in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton, licensing more than 100 braiders in the last two years.
The Icons series provided Gibson with additional reassurance that her mission of education and mentorship for her students is worth it. “It was an honor to share how I use their website to connect with people not just in Cincinnati, but all throughout Ohio,” she adds. “It’s beautiful. That means I’m doing something right.”
Blu Cauthen, owner of InoarG Yoga studio, also felt deeply supported.
“That media coverage is so important because we’re one a small business, a new business, a Black-owned business, a woman owned business, and we need to reach our community,” she says.
After she began doing yoga, Cauthen noticed a lack of Black people in yoga studios and classes, and was inspired to open her own studio, where all people could feel welcome. “I wanted to output yoga to my community, especially like the Black community,” she says. “We don’t have any Black-owned yoga studios. It’s just great to see the support that I’m receiving from the community.”
The next episode of Icons drops this Saturday, August 6, featuring Sweets & Meats BBQ. The restaurant is the only business from the food industry highlighted in the series.
For owners Anton Gaffney and Kristen Bailey, the opportunity will have an impact after years of trials and hard work.
“We’ve struggled for literally like seven and a half of our eight years open,” explains Bailey, who called the Icons appearance “a blessing.” “We started the company with no money, we had 500 bucks.”
Over the course of the pandemic, the pair’s passion and patience has paid off, as the business now flourishes with carry out options from its brick-and-mortar restaurant, a substantial catering business, food trucks, boxed meals, and delivery options.
“We just felt like if we kept doing the right things, kept our food quality up, we kept building in our community, and kept hiring the right people that eventually people would take notice,” Bailey says. “And now they’re taking notice.”
In the last year alone, the business has grown 37 percent, a testament to the constant grind and diligence of all those involved.
For all those featured in the series, the Cincinnati community has been instrumental to their successes.
“In the Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem, there’s so many resources and so many organizations that want to help,” Bailey says. “Now more than ever, there’s so much opportunity for an independent business to thrive.”
The Icons series continues through August 27.