yab_2017 headshots_lauren

Lauren Bealore is the co-founder of Young Ambitious and Beautiful (Y.A.B), a non-profit organization that operates as a venture conglomerate for businesses owned by women of color. Since launching Y.A.B., Lauren has entered into politics with professional experiences ranging from being the Assistant Finance Director for the Congressional Campaign of the 14th District of Michigan to her current position as the Events Manager for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

Women of Excellence Series: You are one of the three co-founders of Young Ambitious and Beautiful (Y.A.B.), a non-profit organization that operates as a venture conglomerate for businesses owned by women of color. What inspired you and your co-founders to launch Y.A.B.?

Lauren Bealore:  All three of us were surrounded by networks of women at the time that were recent college graduates embarking on their careers but many of them beginning to create separate ventures, whether full time or part-time, that brought a unique aesthetic to their professional endeavors. At this time, the year being 2012, there were not many social media outlets or news publications focusing on entrepreneurial growth for women of color or millennials, two demographics that all three of us represented. We wanted to see an immense change in those statistics so that future generations could see representation that gave them a vision of the plethora of professional opportunities.

Women of Excellence Series: To go off my previous question, each of you run different aspects of the organization. How did this breakdown of responsibilities come about? Did it develop organically or has Y.A.B.’s structure always been a part of the founding vision?

Lauren Bealore: Response: It definitely developed organically. When first starting any business or organization, there is certainly a foundation of organizational structure when it comes to your mission and target clientele or demographic; however, if you want it to remain authentic, you have to provide fluidity for those involved to grow in their roles as the organization and/or business grows. From our experience, we have found that this is something that you will not discover until at least 2-3 years running. We were 22/23 years of age when we first started Y.A.B.; each of us were growing from young women to adult women and with that growth personally and professionally in our careers comes the growth of what we can contribute to the enhancement of our collective vision for Y.A.B.

WS: You focus on the business and development entity of Y.A.B. What drives your passion for helping women of color develop businesses and supporting businesses owned by women of color?

LB: Statistics and breaking down stereotypes that operate as socially constructed barriers is definitely what drives my passion for working in this specific entity of Y.A.B. From working in politics, specifically with donors who are predominantly business owners at large levels, I have seen the impact and influence that business has on so many industries and unfortunately, historically women of color have not always been allotted the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat on the road to global decision making yet culturally, we have possessed the greatest impact on society and business marketing. I feel that there is a way to bridge the gap between those two spectrums and that begins with resources, social enterprise, and opportunity, which is ultimately what we try to provide through the business development entity of Y.A.B.

WS: Before launching Y.A.B., your past professional experiences ranged from being the Assistant Finance Director for the Congressional Campaign of the 14th District of Michigan to your current position as the Events Manager for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. How have those experiences influenced how you run your division of Y.A.B.?

LB:  I actually launched Y.A.B. before beginning my career in politics. Having been a Co-Founder of Y.A.B. at the age of 22, I had just graduated from college and was just beginning to embark on preparing for graduate school. Y.A.B. has been a part of my life throughout my career, from completing my Masters in Public Policy to internships, fellowships, my first campaign of my career on a city council race to other federal and state level campaigns to Commissioner to Precinct Delegate as well as now working in the lobbying realm with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. If anything, Y.A.B. must be accredited as the experience that is the leading influence to my career in politics because it was the first step of professional leadership that I took in my postgraduate life. It has brought about so many opportunities that I have used to network within the political sphere and it is truly the thread within the fabric of my career.

WS: As a rising junior in college, I love to ask college graduates like you, how your undergraduate education, in your case Social Relations and Policy, has impacted your career so far?

LB: My undergraduate education certainly has impacted my career. For starters, many people in politics, both in Michigan and nationally, went through the residential program, James Madison College, that my major of Social Relations and Policy was housed in through Michigan State University. Since it is such a strong alumni base politically, it’s an ongoing alumni network that is beneficial to my career and the name recognition and reputation of the program has been advantageous to leverage as well. From working on campaigns to the legislature to now at MLCV, I always work with at least 5 people from James Madison. Outside of the scope of education, I also like to include to college students that socially, leadership experience while in my undergraduate education also contributed to my career and helps with navigating work environments in the future.

WS: You have garnered much success along the way (not to mention you’ve been in over 95 publications: #blackgirlmagic for sure!); however, I’m assuming you’ve had some challenges along the way. So, what advice would you give to your younger self as you were navigating your career?

LB: Awww, thank you so much for that! It is truly appreciated. Most certainly, definitely, absolutely, I have had challenges along the way…and honestly, I have learned that the challenges are really stepping stools to your professional and personal growth. Without them, there is no opportunity to know the magnitude of your capabilities. The advice that I would give to my younger self is to let moments of disappointment be a fragment in time, not a memory. Your vision of success is a series of photos developed over time.

WS: Last but not least, my go-to question: What advice would you give to young women of color interested in pursuing careers in politics as well as starting their own non-profits?

LB:  The advice I would give is a saying I created that I use any time this question is asked and that is to never dull your diamonds to let rocks shine. In politics or in business, you cannot let others define your career for you; you must define it for yourself. We are now in a tech-driven, innovation hub of a society and many things have already been created. In order to not re-invent someone else’s wheel, it is important to stick to the vision that was given to you and not a watered-down version of that vision.

If you enjoyed reading about Lauren Bealore, consider checking her out on the following channels and look out for next week’s interview featuring another co-founder of Y.A.B.:

 

 

 

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