Higher Purpose Business Fellowship Expands Across Mississippi: Hosts Pop-Up Graduation and Business Pitch Competition

by Jarquita Brown

The Higher Purpose Business Fellowship launched statewide this year. Now entrepreneurs from all across Mississippi can apply for the business fellowship through Higher Purpose Business Membership. Higher Purpose Co selected seventeen passionate Black business owners who fall within HPC’s seven high-priority sectors for the Spring 2021 cohort. The fellowship is now an intensive seven-week program where the fellows learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship to become successful in their business.

Each week, the fellows learned about personal leadership, creating a business model, protecting, securing, and managing funds for their business, leveraging technology, and branding and pitching. Many said the fellowship was a life-changing experience, and they learned things that will take them far in their personal and professional life. The fellows’ favorite moments were learning how to schedule an email through Google, simplify their brand with a simple logo design, and learn how to pitch their business to a broader audience.

Higher Purpose Business Fellowship Coordinator Angela Williams said the 2021 Spring fellows brought a fun and exciting energy every week.

“Expanding the Higher Purpose Business Fellowship statewide was the best thing we did,” said Williams. Williams added, “Last year, the program was geared toward only the Mississippi Delta counties, so we were excited about this year’s expansion. This group of fellows was such a joy to work with each week. The fellows creativity, spark, and just willingness to learn and take in all of the information given to them was just refreshing, and it made everything so much easier. I truly enjoyed working with this cohort, and I am so excited about the journey ahead for them.”

At the end of the program, HPC surprised the fellows with a pop-up graduation in Clarksdale and Jackson. The fellows received a swag bag filled with Higher Purpose products, a plague, and a $1,000 grant for their business.

The Business Fellow Pitch Competition streamed via Facebook Live, and the winners, Hugh and Alicia Robinson, owners of Lush Health Drinks and Vegan Eats, won an additional $2,500 grant and a free web design.

With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Higher Purpose Co expanded the Business Fellowship for entrepreneurs, farmers, and artists all across Mississippi. The fellowship is anchored by HPC’s culturally relevant curriculum, business growth support, and funding network.

For more information about the fellowship, contact the Business Fellowship Coordinator Angela Williams at angela@higherpurposeco.org.

Here, the business fellows share their experiences as Higher Purpose Business Fellows.

Alicia and Hugh Robinson, owners of Lush Health Drinks and Vegans Eats in Greenville

Lush Health Drinks and Vegan Eats is a vegan eatery specializing in health detoxes, smoothies, fruit, veggie juices, and vegan meals founded in 2018.

“The Higher Purpose Business Fellowship experience has been absolutely amazing. The staff, mentors, and peers shared vital insight, overviews, and strategies that were crucially important to the structure of a successful business.”

Dr. Laura Stubbs, owners of Body in Balance Healthcare in Jackson

Body in Balance Healthcare is a chiropractic, rehabilitation, and weight loss clinic that focuses on the natural and holistic approach to maintain or increase a person’s quality of life without drugs or surgery.

“Being a part of the fellowship has been uplifting, inspiring, and a revitalizing experience for me. This program has encouraged me to refocus and refuel my purpose. It felt extremely good to be chosen to be a fellow. Higher Purpose Co is a blessing for black business owners here in Mississippi.”

Candace Chambers, owner of Educational Writing Services, LLC in Pearl

Educational Writing Services, LLC provides college coaching and editorial services to students and professionals. It also provides editing for professional manuscripts, college prep workshops, and individualized and group college coaching programs.

“My experience as a fellow has been rewarding. I have learned more about the logistics of business, and I have been able to enhance my business model as a result of my participation in the fellowship. I will continue to stay connected to Higher Purpose and build upon the lessons I have learned while being a fellow.”

Kamien Thomas, owner of Perfect Elements Event Decor in Cleveland

Perfect Elements Event Decor, established in 2016, is a full-service event and design firm specializing in weddings, baby showers, and other intimate special events located in Cleveland.

“Being a business fellow has been the best experience thus far. I’ve learned so many things each week. I’ve learned things that will take me a long way in my business. Everything has been so informative, and I want to thank Higher Purpose Co for allowing me the opportunity to be in this fellowship.”

Tanisha Jenkins, owner of Nikki’s Home Cooked Delights in Horn Lake

Nikki’s Home Cooked Delights prepares healthy meals that are not only good for you but good to you.

“This experience as a Higher Purpose Business Fellow has been great. It provided me with knowledge that is essential to the growth and development of my business. The modules grabbed our attention and did not let go. They were so informative that we engaged with the speakers and even stayed over late sometimes.”

Deroll Barrett, owner of Wilbar Services, LLC in Jackson

Wilbar Services, founded in 2018, is a workforce education and training company based in Jackson.

“The Higher Purpose Business Fellowship changed my life. The information shared by the presenters and cohort members was very helpful and will help me to grow my business. Shoutout to Angela and Breeanna for doing a great job at facilitating the fellowship. There were so many great moments. I really appreciated the insightful presentation about securing and managing business funding.”

Brittany Hart, owner of Halo’d by Hart in Jackson

Halo’d Beauty & Braiding Bar was founded in March 2019 and is located in the Jackson area. It specializes in custom wigs, protective styles, as well as growth and retention of natural hair.

“Being a business fellow with Higher Purpose has been such a rewarding experience. Each and every week I learned essential information to grow and expand my business. You can tell Higher Purpose put forth a real effort to select mentors to speak and assist with our development as entrepreneurs.”

Dr. Jasmine C. Hollinger, owner of Integrative Skin Care of Mississippi in Vicksburg

Integrative Skin Care of Mississippi, established in 2020, takes care of patients seeking a holistic approach to their skin, hair, nail, and wellness needs by marrying traditional and alternative medicine.

“My experience as a Higher Purpose Business Fellow has been invaluable. As a new business owner, it is imperative to have a business foundation and develop connections and have access to resources. Being a fellow has made all of this possible.”

Henry Green, owner of Tasty Smoke, LLC in McComb

Tasty Smoke, LLC is a barbecue catering company founded in 2018 that offers traditional and non-traditional barbecue menu items. Items range from smoked chicken egg rolls to birria tacos made with smoke brisket.

“My experience as a Higher Purpose Business Fellow has been exactly what I needed to help push my brand to the next level. It opened doors and ideas that I need to turn Tasty Smoke, LLC into a thriving company. My favorite moment by far was having the opportunity to create a pitch video. I watch Shark Tank as if it is the most talked about show on TV, but this opportunity also proved not to be an easy task.”

Bianca Foster, owner of Girls 2 Women Academy in Jackson

Girls 2 Women Academy is a private school for minority girls. It was founded in July 2020.

“My experience with Higher Purpose has been enlightening, empowering, and informative. Hearing testimonies, learning new skills and knowledge, and being a part of a fellowship with many resources has been beneficial. My favorite moment was learning about how to make the pitch and actually making the pitch videos. Completing each module was very exciting as well.”

Chadrick Odie, owner of G. Rivers Enterprise, LLC in Jackson

Founded in 2019, G. Rivers Enterprise, LLC focuses primarily on making sustainable and eco-friendly homes available for single-family and multi-families to address the shortage of attainable housing in our location, surrounding cities, and states.

“My experience as a fellow has been wonderful. HPC has wonderful customer service and great resources for business owners starting out. Every opportunity I had to call and ask questions was so insightful. They provided so much information, and if they didn’t have the answer, they knew the person to contact for it. I was able to learn from the power points and different presentations that was offered.”

Oberlin Marshall, owner of Pearlfect Locs Industry in Southaven

Pearlfect Locs Industry is a hair and beauty salon located in Southaven.

“Working with Higher Purpose has been a phenomenal opportunity. Learning from the different modules has been a great asset to my business. My favorite moments as a fellow was being able to meet different business owners and finding ways to rebrand and network with other businesses.”

Dr. Angelia Clerk-McDowell, owner of A Clear Mind in Clarksdale

A Clear Mind offers remote outpatient care to mental health consumers in Clarksdale.

“Being a Higher Purpose Fellow has given me the opportunity to network with various professional cohorts, as well as become familiar with different types of products and services that fellow Mississippians offer. This experience has given me a great sense of accomplishment both personally and professionally. I have learned valuable lessons in branding, marketing, and leadership.”

Jaqueline Hannah, owner of Elise’s Place Adult Daycare in Indianola

Elise’s Place Adult Daycare serves adults ages 21 to 100. At Elise’s Place Adult Daycare, we offer social skills, independent living skills, and employable skills to the participants.

“Being a member of the Higher Purpose Business Fellowship has been an awesome learning experience. The staff has been very helpful in assisting me with the needs of my business. Without such loving and caring staff, I would not have been exposed to the valuable information that was given by the professional speakers chosen by Higher Purpose Co, and for that alone I am truly grateful.”

Sharon Brown, owner of Happy Foods On-the-Go in Horn Lake

Happy Foods On-the-Go is a personalized food brand specializing in healthy food options.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity of being a Higher Purpose Business Fellow. This entire journey has been worthwhile, and I learned so much throughout the fellowship.”

Christopher Lewis, owner of Part-Time Gamers in Greenwood

Part-Time Gamers is a retail gaming store that was established in 2020.

“I am thankful for everything Higher Purpose is doing, and I am thankful for being selected to be a part of this fellowship. The HPC staff are amazing people, and I love what they are doing for black businesses in Mississippi.”

Denesha Brown, owner of Art and Nerds in Columbia

Arts and Nerds offers affordable and accessible art classes and events for the whole family. Arts and Nerds offers children and adult paint parties, paint and sip parties, and photography classes.

“Higher Purpose Co has changed the way I think when it comes to being a business owner. Each module presented each week gave me new insight into what I should incorporate in my business.”