The following is an article featured during Black History Month. We are pleased to be selected to speak on the community, our company, entreprenuership and personal strides:
SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio -- Newsnet5.com talked with a local African-American entrepreneur to get her perspective on what Black History Month means to her and the problems facing the African-American community.
Laeh Wilson, 32, owner of LT Squared, a candle and invitation company
Why do you think Black History is important?
Black history is important because it is often the part of history that is overlooked. Black people have made great strides in our history and should be given the credit for it, while at the same time recognized for the differences that we have made in this country. It is also very important that this generation knows the past that is a very credible part of our present. Many of our values and traditions have been lost and will be lost unless we continue to tell the stories, the history, and share the traditions.
How do you celebrate Black History Month?
As young female African-American entrepreneurs, we are often called upon at this time of year to either give speeches to young women, high schools or those aspiring to follow their dreams as entrepreneurs. So in celebrating black history month, I do my part in giving back to the community.
Who in black history did you look up to or thought set a good example for how much African-Americans can achieve?
Definitely, Madame C. J. Walker. She was the first to design her own beauty products and become a millionaire at her craft and talent. I admire her for stepping out and believing that the gift God placed in her would be needed by others and inspire business owners like myself years down the line.
What part of current news events as it relates to black history will you be most proud to discuss with your children or tell people about when you are much older?
I believe it will be seeing an African-American running for president. I wasn't sure that I would see it in my lifetime. What will be even more impressive is him winning. That will definitely be a mark in Black History.
Which problem plaguing the black community do you think is the worse?
I believe the root of many issues facing our black community stems from our values and the lack of mentoring and "giving back" to those who are younger.
They are growing up misinformed, lost and searching without a map to follow. Generations before us would take the time to teach ladies how to be ladies and men would teach men how to be men.
They would instill values of the community raising a child and that it was important to honor your word. The church was also a pillar in the lives of our people. Over time, we have lost our faith, and have forgotten the need to spend time with those who will follow our footsteps. Often times, we "make it" and get successful and then forget that their is a legacy that needs to remain.
How do you propose that problem get resolved or fixed?
We should definitely be more involved in organizations that get involved with our young at tender and impressionable ages. I still remember my kindergarten teacher, who in my late 20s I became re-acquainted with and I was able to show her through my life endeavors, the impact she made as a black female teacher in my life.
If we can get programs started and keep them operating in our churches, neighborhoods, and in segments of our businesses, that let our youth know that they are important, that their dreams can become realities and that they too can make black history, then I believe we will see less statistics that point toward the negative.
Who was your role model growing up?
My dad was and will always be a role model for me. He taught me how to persevere through the worse of times and to be independent.
The reason that I am an entrepreneur today is because of him. I've always admired the fact that he has been his own boss while at the same time, helping people and the respect that others have for him. He has a great amount of wisdom.
He and my mom are influential in the success of my company. Without them, their prayers and their words of wisdom for me to stay grounded in the word of God, I would not be where I am today. I also greatly admire my aunt and uncle, Drs. Darrell and Belinda Scott, who are the pastors of my church, New Spirit Revival Center. They have great strength, character, integrity and anointing that is beyond words.
How did you get interested in making candles and designing invitations?
My twin sister and I initially saw that there weren't many invitation companies out there that offered a wide selection of invitations to accommodate the different styles of wedding, parties or gatherings that people have. Our world is filled with very diverse people, and we each have our own style. So we wanted to make sure that when a host wanted to entertain, or a bride planned her wedding, that their invitation would set the tone for their event while at the same time, expressing their own personal style.
The candle division grew from a request from one of our brides. She wanted to have candles as favors and wondered if we made them. Without hesitation, the answer was yes and the research began.
After many hours of testing, her favors were created and accolades were given at her reception. The guests enjoyed the candles so much, they began to call in their own personal candle orders. Not being able to turn away the demand, we simply began to fill the orders and from then on it became a division of LT Squared offering over 1,000 fragrances in any size, shape or color.
Tell me about your biggest project? Something that you are really proud to have done?
It may not necessarily be the biggest, but definitely the most interesting. That is the request we received from Africa in which we designed an invitation for a ceremony celebrating a young boy becoming a man. We not only learned that we were in demand on another continent, but it also gave us a history lesson about traditions and the celebration of life.