July 15, 2024

Advancing Business Excellence

Pioneering Corporate Success

EFOC 2024: Real Talk – Lessons From The Entrepreneurship Trenches

EFOC 2024: Real Talk - Lessons From The Entrepreneurship Trenches

Chantel Powell, founder of Play Pits, shared her inspiring journey through entrepreneurship’s challenges at the Essence Festival’s Soko Mrkt panel “Real Talk – Lessons from the Entrepreneurship Trenches,” moderated by Arielle Brown. Reflecting on her early days, Powell recalled, “We started in 2018. Nobody was really looking for natural deodorant. Many people rejected our product, but we persevered.”

Her perseverance was tested in 2022 when she received a devastating 3 a.m. phone call informing her that her warehouse was on fire. “Imagine waking up and someone saying your warehouse is on fire, and everything that you worked for has now burned down,” Powell said. Despite the calamity, she found solace in her faith. “God just spoke to me and said, ‘This is just a part of your story.’ Being on a stage like today is confirmation that God put me through that so I could be here today.”

Powell detailed the remarkable growth of Play Pits from its inception in 2018 in her home kitchen to securing a 2500-square-foot facility by 2020. By 2021, they were preparing for a nationwide launch in Target stores, establishing Play Pits as the largest Black-owned natural deodorant company in the country.

When asked about lessons entrepreneurship has taught her, Powell emphasized the importance of protecting your business. “When the warehouse burned down, I suffered a six-figure loss that I couldn’t recover from my insurance company or anyone else,” she explained. This incident underscored the critical need for thorough paperwork and backend processes as a business grows. “Bad things can happen, so make sure you protect yourself.”

Entrepreneurship also taught Powell the importance of tapping into your community. She acknowledged the necessity of finding new friends who understand the unique challenges of entrepreneurship. “If you want a business, you’re going to need some new friends because your old friends are not going to understand the things that we go through,” she explained. Powell also suggested joining organizations like New Voices Foundation, Black Ambition, and the Rice Center in Atlanta, which offer valuable resources for business owners. But Powell says her greatest lesson is knowing her why.

“I think I would say my biggest thing is really understanding your why, so when you get those noes along the journey, that’s not going to stop you from getting out there every day. I had $0 days. If I had stopped on the $0 days, I would have never been able to hit the $20,000 days. So don’t let noes and rejection in the beginning or even on the journey stop you from getting out there and going to get it.”