By Ashley Benkarski
MURFREESBORO,TN — Taiisha Bradley has always been a self-starter and she’s using her ambition and creativity to lift up others, offering other local business-minded individuals the opportunity to bring their dreams to life.
Bradley, together with her husband James, created the Rutherford County Black Business
Network Oct. 2017 and has grown connections between black entrepreneurs. Her inaugural business showcase in Feb. brought together dozens of vendors and allowed community members to view and purchase their services with no entry fee. The event was a success and Bradley, at enormous request, is hosting another showcase at the Patterson Park gym in Murfreesboro Nov. 30 on Small Business Saturday–just in time for the holiday shopping season, she said.
From the time she was a child Bradley’s penchant for creativity has been unstoppable. Her first foray into making her own money started with painting outside her grandmother’s house using Q-tips. She needed a different approach so she began face-painting at church carnivals making tips.
But she didn’t stop there. She made flyers for others and developed her skills with computer programs,
Like many, financial security was an important goal for Bradley. She said she majored in biology at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. as an undergrad on the pre-med track with the desire to deliver babies. When she realized she wasn’t thriving on the path to a medical career she switched gears to Integrated Marketing Communications, a new major being offered that included courses in promotions, public relations, advertising, television/radio and photography. Finding a love for community service in fundraisers and drives, she used the new skills she’d learned to become a one-woman powerhouse.
After completing her degree and a promotions internship at Radio One station, she moved to Baltimore and took a public relations manager position with The Maryland School for the Blind where she discovered a love for storytelling through its students.
“Everyone has a story,” Bradley said, and a good story can foster a customer base. That’s exactly what happened to Monique Ivory of Grandma’s Hands when she vendored the first showcase. Ivory, a federal employee, was furloughed during the government shutdown and her story brought a national issue into community conversation, Bradley said. She sold out of her products before the event ended and eight months later Ivory’s delicious treats have only grown in popularity.
Bradley’s next adventure began with Modernoire Media, a service that “genuinely connects African American communities in and surrounding Rutherford County” offering business and social opportunities that’s fine-tuned to the member’s preferences and allows users to network with others who share their interests. The Rutherford Co. Chamber of Commerce is a member, making Modernoire an official Tourism Partner of Rutherford County. A membership is $199 per year or $19.99 per month and includes a virtual country club membership and exclusive member only discounts, perks, and privileges as well as a membership to RCBBN.
Modernoire recently brought together two entrepreneurs for a night of socializing and activities at Liquid Smoke. The event, titled Hemp & Play, took place Sep. 29 and featured Canapa Fiyori’s hemp hookah products and Just Play Entertainment, a marketing and events company that offers games from Uno to Hip Hop Charades.
Canapa Fiyori’s Clarence Darkwa has hosted similar events in Nashville and Atlanta and said he has recently partnered with Music City Hemp Pharmacy to offer their alternative to traditional tobacco hookah products Thurs. through Sun. at the store’s Jefferson St. location. Darkwa’s products are made from the hemp plant, not CBD oil, and are locally grown, he said. You can find events and more information on their hemp products at canapa_fiyori on Instagram.
Getting a business off the ground can be tough, but it’s not impossible.”I’ve found in this process, you have to do a little, look back at what you did, benchmark, and then improve,” she said. “When you’re building something new, it’s all you. Keep pushing through! It’s up to you to blaze the trail.”
For more information on RCBBN or Modernoire, or to apply for a vendor booth at the showcase visit taiishabradley.com or modernoire.com.