Photo courtesy of Nia Perry
Interview by Editors
Nia Perry is Founder and CEO of Gradient Global™ Collective, a new media and event production company that offers original and curated content and experiences geared toward the global community of black women entrepreneurs. The mission of the company is to spotlight the innate brilliance and moxie of black women entrepreneurs globally and add incomparable value to their lives and businesses. Nia speaks with the magazine about the strides her company is making to “be the change” for women who absolutely deserve the recognition.
What is Gradient Global Collective?
Gradient Global Collective is a media and event production company that spotlights black women entrepreneurs globally. I wanted to do this because there was no platform for women of color around the world to get their ventures noticed and to showcase their businesses and the amazing work they do in and around the world. It is an honor for me to be able to do so by way of my podcast as well as more traditional media efforts that are coming down the pipe as well. I’m really excited about it!
A platform where accomplishments are celebrated and commonalities are discovered
Why is it so important for you to highlight the innate brilliance and moxie of black women entrepreneurs globally?
I have always had this desire to support black women with my career in some fashion. I was just never really sure how that would manifest. I did not want to be pigeonholed into being anti anything so I struggled for some time with how to build it; questions like, “Do I say multi-cultural or women of color? You know those general terms used. For me, I had to get out of the shadow of protection and believing people would think negatively of me for saying I want to support black women but we deserve it. And it’s an honor for me to do so.
The reason why I say we have this innate brilliance is because black women for so long have been conditioned to follow the rules and go along with things. As a result of that, we are passed over for promotions in our careers or we don’t get the funding as black women entrepreneurs and I wanted to be a vessel and step into that space of media. I had experience in public relations some years ago but this is a completely new opportunity for me to highlight women who absolutely deserve it. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with women around the world and nation who have become pioneers in the things that they do and the fact that I have not read about them in Inc. Magazine or Fortune or some of the other major media outlets that cover businesses and entrepreneurship, in particular, was really disheartening for me. I decided to sort of be the change and start something on my own.
Tell us more about your podcast?
Every week I release another interview of a woman I literally scour the internet to find. As I mentioned we (black women) don’t have a lot of our stories out where there is a symbolized platform for it. So I literally for months took time reading articles and digging and finding women who were doing amazing things who did not have a huge following or a platform where they were given the opportunity to have their story told. So for me, the podcast is a way to literally put a voice to these women that can pour into other entrepreneurs who may be just getting started or early in their entrepreneurial journey…because it’s a tough one! Though we have much in common as black women I highlight it as a “platform where accomplishments are celebrated and commonalities are discovered,” because we all have our own unique journey and cultural experience based on where we’re from in the world. It’s really a layered sort of approach to the podcast but it is the first product I released where everyone can walk away with a nugget or a gem to help them in their journey.
I speak with entrepreneurs who happen to be black women where their stories provide something that others can implement now in their businesses
What has been some of the feedback from the women you’ve featured on the podcast?
The feedback from these women is what has pushed me to do this every single day. These are women who are accomplished, educated with many degrees or from the school of hard knocks. They are so humble and have thanked me profusely for me saying, “Hey, I see you, recognize you and you’re worthy of the visibility that I’m hoping to bring to you.” Women who are honored that I would reach out them; and many of them are in different nations who don’t get the exposure that black women in this country get. It’s really been an honor for me…it’s truly humbling. I speak with entrepreneurs who happen to be black women where their stories provide something that others can implement now in their businesses.
What is a similar message can we all relate to as women globally?
There are so many commonalities; fear, starting businesses and failing, insecurities that we all face…am I smart enough?…am I worthy enough of this challenge? I think fear would be the most common storyline that I’ve gotten from everyone but the fact is they feel fear but still push forward. That is something that has really resonated with me to help me personally.
Why do you think it’s still hard for black women in our society to be recognized for their wonderful achievements?
Sigh…If only I knew the answer people would get the recognition they truly deserve. I think we’ve been conditioned like I mentioned before to follow the rules…to be subservient. In past history, there were the Jim Crow laws that were systematic in saying we were not seen as people like that of our white male colleagues. It goes really deep so that’s just part of it but we as black women, again, in spite of that shine. We set trends without always getting the acknowledgement. But my intention with everything I do by way of media, by way of in-person engagement is to be a platform where we can shine on our own; where someone is going to walk away saying, “she did it I could do it!”
What do you love most about entrepreneurship? How do you balance that part of your life with family?
I posted something recently on my Instagram where it said, “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” For me I wasn’t getting the big jobs or the promotions so entrepreneurship was an opportunity to have ownership in my life; to really put forth efforts that I knew would be hard but that’s a component of entrepreneurship and I’ve been doing it for a few years now. It’s not sexy or easy. It’s very challenging. I’ve lost…I’ve gained, but I know the big picture and I’m pushing toward that. There is a certain grit and sticktoitiveness that make entrepreneurs a little different because they understand the challenges and are crazy enough to push forward (laugh). Growing up I’ve always been enamored by business. I would watch the “Big Idea” and every business show you can think of. Interviews in “Inc. Magazine” always fascinated me about business and how they got their start. That was always the most interesting thing to me is how people overcame their challenges and pushed forward. This is what I wanted and here I am putting one foot in front of the next.
How do I balance it with family? Fortunately, I am so blessed! I can’t thank my husband enough because I come from a relationship where my husband 100% believes in me more than I even believe in myself a lot of the times. There’s so much to be said for that. Many entrepreneurs tell you if you don’t have that support it can be even more challenging. You have to at least have one cheerleader in your corner. Again, I’m fortunate to have that. When it comes to meetings I have to take…he’s there; he’s there to hold on to the kids. I also have my mom who helps with the kids when need be. It does take a village. There are women making it happen. Single moms who are entrepreneurs I definitely raise a glass to them. I cannot even imagine the challenge that comes with that.
What’s next for Gradient Global Collective? How do we stay connected?
I have some new and exciting things happening. There are two television shows in pre-production that will also spotlight black women entrepreneurs. And then there’s an event component I’m looking to do as well for more in-person engagement. In the meantime, people can listen to the Gradient Global Podcast through my website and live on iTunes and Stitcher.
Visit www.gradientglobalcollective.com for more information!
Nia Perry, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gradient Global™ Collective, LLC is a champion for women. With over 15 years of well-rounded and award-winning experience in traditional & digital marketing strategies, public relations, event management, and sales, Nia answered the call to serve the marketplace in a new way.
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