What is the “Black-Owned Spotlight Series”? The Women’s Business Development Center is proud to celebrate the great business owners we work closely with. As part of our commitment to advocating for and amplifying diverse voices, we launched the WBDC Black-Owned Spotlight Series, where we periodically will highlight the experiences of our Black business owner community.
Meet Pamela Jones: Today we celebrate Pamela Jones, President and CEO of Charboy’s, a supplier and manufacturer of low-sugar and low-sodium sauces, rubs, and marinades. Charboy’s products aim to serve those seeking healthier condiment options with great flavor.
We asked: Please discuss your experience as a Black business owner and share any challenges you have faced.
Pamela shared: I found that as a black business owner, you have to work twice as hard to prove the credibility of your business, which makes it that much harder to scale your business and obtain procurement opportunities with major corporations.
I have personally faced many challenges in developing and expanding my business. For example, securing enough capital to start was a major hurdle for me. At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I was using my personal credit cards until I was able to secure a small business loan through A4CB, an organization formerly called Accion. Eventually, I needed more capital to sustain my business, so I paid off the initial loan and took out another small loan to help manage the purchase orders and production levels.
Slowly but surely, I grew Charboy’s to a level that allowed me to work with major companies and institutions, which came with a brand-new set of challenges. Many major corporations were reluctant to do business with a minority vendor based on their concerns about the business’s capability to perform well. This made it very difficult to secure contracts and procurement opportunities with Big Box Companies. However, having Women, Minority, and Veteran certifications helped me obtain resources and opportunities to grow my company. I’m grateful to the WBDC, as they played a very significant role in helping our company obtain an opportunity to have Charboy’s products in Whole Foods stores. Our company started out at the Englewood store location and eventually expanded to all Whole Foods stores in Illinois.
We asked: What advice would you share with new business owners? What lessons have you learned since growing your business?
Pamela shared: It is important to have a solid business infrastructure. This means taking the necessary steps to get incorporated, such as identifying your business trademark, building your brand with uniqueness, knowing what your business represents, knowing your profit and loss (P/L) numbers, knowing your target audience, and most importantly, obtaining your WBE and/or MBE certification to ensure you are positioned to do business with major corporations. It’s also important to believe in yourself and your brand. Don’t be afraid to network, who you know is key to success. My last piece of advice would be to not put all your eggs in one basket. To sustain your company, it must be diverse with multiple funding streams to ensure its success.
We asked: How do you support or serve your community?
Pamela shared: As a local business owner, our company is committed to using quality ingredients and supporting local communities in Illinois where we source many of our ingredients. We support the community by partnering with organizations, schools, and churches to hire employees within the community to allow them to work closer to home. Also, we’ve donated our products and time to support community efforts. Most of all, our products provide the community with healthier condiment options they can enjoy.
Thank you, Pamela Jones, for participating in the “Black-Owned Spotlight Series.” We are proud to have you in our WBE network!