"I want to help. I want to stay in the community and help our people."
Natalyn Randle is an independent business woman in Los Angeles, CA. She owns the home improvement company ‘Ease On Down The Road Home Improvement’. She has been in business for 7 years. After retiring from AT&T, she began to focus on growing her business in an underserved market and has since experienced much success. Her new venture, Black Business Women Rock!, has been wildly successful. I spoke to Natalyn about her business and about the annual Black Business Women Rock! Business conference she created. The next of which takes place Saturday, November 1st in Downtown L.A.
Natalyn’s desire to bring together business people through the Black Business Women Rock conference cultivates connections and offers opportunities for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. Her dedication to this movement speaks to her vision and ability to see the big picture.
POSITIVE BLACK: Tell me a little about the conference. I’m familiar with what’s going on but I’d like to get some info in your own words.
NATALYN: The Black Business Women Rock Conference is coming up November 1st. The conference is about bringing us together kind of as a team women to motivate and step out of the box to new opportunities in our community. I started Black Business Women Rock in 2011. I actually held the first event in my backyard. We had vendors, a fashion show, some powerful speakers and it was a success. I hosted over 100 people and a lot of good information was exchanged. It was all about women who were or wanted to be entrepreneurs. Each year the conference has grown and 2014 looks to be the biggest conference yet.
POSITIVE BLACK: You are a business owner as well so I’m sure your experience brought a lot to the table for people new to the game.
NATALYN: Yes. And it was such a wonderful thing to be able to say I own my own business. I never thought I would branch out on my own after retiring, but I did. And I’m very happy with my business. But in the beginning I stumbled, I crawled I cried, I laughed.. it was hard but I stuck with it. With that, I was able to use my business as one example at the original conferences.
POSITIVE BLACK: Your daughter is partnering with you on the conference, I understand. Tell me about that.
NATALYN: Yes, my daughter Kawai and I are teaming up this year to take the conference to another level. Kawai, in addition to being a celebrity photographer, has her own multimedia company, Air Philosophy, that specializes in brand development and marketing tools. She was the logical person to partner up with to expand on the BBWR conference. Initially, Kawai participated in earlier conferences as a speaker and a vendor. I think she kind of wanted to observe what was going on and how I handled getting the conference off the ground. For this year, she saw that I was making plans to make the conference even bigger and she stepped in and said “Mom, I want to come aboard with you and we can move forward with a plan for 2014. Let me know what it is you have in mind and I will be here with you.” And she has been. And she’s taken it to a whole different level. I’ve got butterflies in my stomach and she’s got me doing interviews… I’m doing this and I’m doing that. It’s thrilling. I’m kind of nervous but still happy. She’s my daughter and also my business partner. I know that she can make things happen with Black Business Women Rock.
POSITIVE BLACK: So where do you see yourself having the most impact? I mean the conference has its own demographic of existing and start up business women. Is that where your main target is?
NATALYN: Yes and no. I know that there are a lot of takeaways for everyone who attends the conference. Personally, I’d love to connect with school-aged teens and to give them the tools to hold their own. To help them understand that there are options and resources for them to have their own business if that’s the path they choose. Especially for our teen women.
POSITIVE BLACK: And to that effect, the fact that this conference even exists sets an example in itself. I think it’s great that you’ve taken the initiative to create a platform for a dialogue of this sort. It lends to the perspective that anyone witnessing this can see what their destination or their journey could be. Hey, I told you I was a fan of this whole concept.
NATALYN: Thank you so much. I’m very excited. Everyone involved in this process is excited from the vendors, to promoters, and speakers on down.
POSITIVE BLACK: At the risk of sounding stereotypical, does the conference address keeping a productive and constructive attitude within business? You know, like “no hating”?
NATALYN: Well, an ongoing theme with BBWR is ‘you won’t get far with negativity’. Don’t entertain it. Just try to stay positive. I know there’s going to be competition out there, but I always say that if God’s going to open up a door for you, make sure you walk through it gracefully. There are enough opportunities out there for everybody. Stay focused on what you want to do and what your mission is.
POSITIVE BLACK: So having a home improvement company seems like quite the leap from working at AT&T. How did you make that transition?
NATALYN: Well, it kind of happened indirectly. I started my business in ’07. I migrated to home improvement through being a real estate agent. I got my real estate license through AT&T, while still working there in ’05. Real estate was great for me until the market took its infamous turn around 2007. I had recently had a makeover done of my home; new floors, painted, masonry work, etc. and a lot of people were impressed with the way it turned out. I would pass on referrals to contractors and make recommendations to friends about how they could update and upgrade their homes, so I thought I’d create a business for myself as a middle-man for home improvement projects. With the state of the housing market, less people were buying and more people were investing in their existing homes. So the timing was great for me to launch a business servicing this market.
POSITIVE BLACK: And things have been going good since, huh?
NATALYN: I’m doing wonderful in the business. I love being hands on with the projects we do. I negotiate contracts with or for my clients, I write up bids, help with makeovers and reimagining rooms or houses, and I oversee worksites, working hand in hand with contractors. This is what I love to do. I have a passion for this, so it’s easy for me.
I love being my own boss and being able to pass on my business knowledge to other up and coming entrepreneurs. If I’m doing it they can do it too.
POSITIVE BLACK: Sounds like you have a completely full plate with your own business, prepping for the conference and all..
NATALYN: I do. It’s very busy for me now, but I’m blessed to have people working with me that are in my corner that want to see me and BBWR 2014 go forward. I can’t do it on my own. I have great people in my corner including my daughter Kanesha and our social media person, Lesha. And, of course, I’m so grateful to have Kawai working with me. I really appreciate her now as a business woman. I’m so impressed to see her business ethic and I really respect that about her. She used to be the baby hanging on to my leg and now she’s an independent black woman that’s making it happen and I respect her for that. Really, I thank God for everyone.
POSITIVE BLACK: You are also a woman of strength. It’s cool that you find the strength to extend yourself and realize your vision.
NATALYN: I’m a work in progress but I’ve learned to stop having conversations with fear and have conversations with God.
Much success to Natalyn Randle. Keep the grind going and your entrepreneurial spirit soaring. Best of luck with the Black Business Women Rock! conference.
Black Business Women Rock! Info:
Ease On Down The Road Home Improvement
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