Please introduce yourself and your business to our community.
I’m Courtney Heywood, founder of Care Blackage. Care Blackage aims to spread love and positive energy to as many people as possible, while amplifying BIPOC owned brands, BIPOC experiences, and BIPOC stories, with an emphasis on Black ones.
Not only do we provide gift boxes that highlight BIPOC owned businesses, but we also have page takeovers where people share their favorite self-care tips, talk about their Black experience, or both. During our first 7 weeks in business, we had 50 people take over the page for 1 day, and viewers tuned in daily to watch and engage.
What started out as a way to bring joy to my peers, grew into the Care Blackage you see today.
At what point in your life did you realize your passion?
I can’t say that there was a defining moment, per se. Wanting the people around me to be happy, and serving/giving back to my community were always values that had been a part of my life.
I’m a 1st gen child of two Caribbean parents, and they were big on the concept “to whom much is given, much is expected.” My parents had me volunteering every holiday. On Thanksgiving, they’d wake me up early to sing songs at an elderly home with some of my friends. Not kidding. On Christmas we’d go to Macy’s, pick up a letter a child wrote to Santa, and my mom would take me around looking for the gifts that person wanted.
Every business venture I’ve ever launched or ideated on, prior to Care Blackage, has had some philanthropic attribute to it and I plan on keeping it that way. Even with Care Blackage, the goal is to begin using a portion of my proceeds from sales to start awarding grants to new entrepreneurs starting off on their journey.
What did you learn about yourself in 2020?
In 2020 I learned that I just need to pull the trigger and go for it. In the past I’d develop a business plan, host focus groups and do all of this other “necessary work” to launch a business. Instead of helping me map things out, it would create more options and more confusion, ultimately making me too overwhelmed to launch.
With Care Blackage, I gave myself less than 24 hours to bring the idea to fruition. I figured out a business name, company logo (honestly, the lack of time is why the logo is so simple! haha), packaging, and products. I sat on the floor in front of my closet, recorded a quick video explaining what I was trying to do, posted it to instagram, put my phone on mute, and walked away. By the time I picked my phone back up, I already had orders to fulfill.
It’s not for everybody, but I attribute that sense of urgency as the thing that has helped me grow this brand into what it now is.
What do you attribute to your success in life and business?
I’d have to attribute a large part of my success to my brother, Sean. He’s nine years older than me, and I’ve looked up to him my entire life.
His work ethic is unmatched, and he truly is the ying to my yang. While there is NOTHING that we have in common, we are also exactly the same person. Present us with the same problem, and we’ll land at the same conclusion, but we would have gone about it in two COMPLETELY different ways.
Having someone that’s a bit further ahead in life, and whose intentions I never have to question is a blessing I can’t begin to describe. It’s hard to explain the value in having someone whose thought process is very similar to mine, but who sees things through a completely different lens and can offer alternative insight.
It is important for us to nurture a community of black women that share, learn, and thrive together. Please share a story of failure that taught you a valuable lesson.
I was once presented with the opportunity to attend a dual degree Master’s program at NYU, and have it be paid for. The caveat was that I would have to apply by the end of the following week and be accepted into both programs.
I had been casually studying for the GMAT during that time, and figured I’d do pretty well on it. I rushed to schedule my exam, but it wasn’t enough. Long story short, I got accepted into one program but not the other.
I don’t “casually” do things anymore. If I’m doing something, I’m doing it 100%. If I miss out on another opportunity, I want it to be because that opportunity wasn’t “for me” (because not every opportunity is!), and not because I wasn’t prepared for it.
Please let us know the woman you were 5 years ago and who you’re becoming?
The woman I was 5 years ago was working full-time, in school full-time, trying to finish Capstone, was a semi-finalist in the NYU Stern Business competition, and was also doing a life class on the side. I was overwhelmed and overworked, but I was making it all happen. In hindsight it’s funny how far you can go when you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The woman that I’m becoming is one who knows that I can’t pour from an empty cup. What’s in the cup is for me, and what overflows I’m willing to share with everybody else. I now know my triggers and when I’m about to reach burnout. I still go on all cylinders until I’m completely fatigued, but I give myself more time to rest- so it feels less like a sprint and more like a marathon in between breaks.
What women in your life have been a source of inspiration?
ALL of the women in my life are a source of inspiration. Period. We clap for one another and we push each other to level up. I’ve never seen a more beautiful thing.
Iron sharpens iron, and I’m extremely intentional about the circle I keep around me. Every woman in my life has a “special something” that pushes me to be better. I can’t think of the last time I got off the phone with a friend or associate, and didn’t feel inspired to do or to become better at something.
Even at what they might consider to be their lowest point, the women in my life are always doing their best. Getting up to face the day when all you want to do is stay in bed is inspiring. Going back to school for a second Master’s is inspiring. Being a great mom to their kid is inspiring. All of my girls are doing their best with what they’ve been given, and I’m working to do the same everyday.
To the ladies in my life, shout out to yall!
Celebrate your wins! Brag, sis. What are you most proud of?
Got engaged! Navigated 2020! New apartment! New job! New business venture! New car! Down about 25-30 pounds!
My mentees. I don’t have children yet, but my mentees are my babies! Even when I do have children of my own, they will still be my babies.
I’m aware that I’m only on this earth for a short time, and that’s probably why everything I do has a larger focus than just me. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be great, but I also want to make the journey for those coming up behind me a lot easier.
I had the opportunity to connect with two of them the last time I was in Atlanta, and to hear them flat out tell me the impact I’ve had on their lives and how it shows up in the things that they’re doing and how they perceive the world took my breath away!! Like, I was (and still am) FLOORED.
They’re the change-makers of tomorrow, invest in the youth while you can.
Quoting Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Please share your self-care routine.
My self-care routine basically involves me not making any decisions or thinking through solutions for any problems. Those are really the only two requirements I have for something to fall under the “self care” category.
When the world was open, I got a massage every Friday after work – my trainer put me on to some low cost options. It was my 1 hour to decompress, to leave work behind, turn my brain off, and to prepare to enjoy my weekend.
During lockdown, sometimes self-care looked like grabbing a bottle of wine and binge-watching television, other times it was going for a run. Tbh, I haaaaaate running. Like, I’ve run two half marathons and NEVER once got runners high. For me, running more about discipline. Sometimes self-care means doing the things I said I’ll do, even if I’m not looking forward to doing them.
You are part of our melanin muse tribe. How can we help you on your journey?
Do you, and do it 100%. That’s the most helpful thing. Shatter glass ceilings. Open Doors. Change the narrative. The best way to help me is to help me make the Black experience a normal one. I want us to show up in so many places that people are just purchasing our products because they’re good. Period. Not because we’re Black AND have a good product. Solely bc the sh*t we’re creating is elite. The same way I didn’t shop “white-owned” growing up when purchasing products, I don’t want people to shop “Black-Owned” to purchase from us.
Multiple households full of Black-owned brands, without having put any intention behind it. Sofa, blender, skincare, cleaning products, television. Allllll of it. Black-owned. That’s the goal. That’s the dream.
Feel free to plug Care Blackage to everyone you encounter though! We’re not “there” yet, and sales DO help the business grow! haha.