During Black Women’s History Month, we are shining a spotlight on Magic Makers who are leaving remarkable impressions in business, entertainment, and music, and we believe that Marty McDonald fits this profile perfectly.

Source: Amazon

Marty McDonald, a visionary entrepreneur and creative mind from Dallas, is the chief executive officer of Boss Women Media, a digital space for career-oriented and ambitious women seeking success and a supportive community. Beyond that, she is the brains behind the Elle Olivia lifestyle brand, which was born out of her desire for representation for her eldest child. Now, situated in over 400 Target stores, Elle Olivia is introducing young Black girls to a world of vast opportunities through fashion, literature, interactive play zones, and parental guidance.

While empowering women to pursue their dreams with confidence, she is living out her own as a devoted wife and mother of three.

BOSSIP recently had a conversation with McDonald about her thriving business, the entrepreneurial landscape in Dallas, and her collaboration with corporations like Amazon.

As we continue to spotlight women excelling in their respective fields throughout April, read our discussion with this inspirational individual below.

–Dani Canada

BOSSIP: Let’s delve into Boss Women Media. You are deeply focused on community building, how did this start for you?

Indeed, it all began in 2016 when I was navigating through corporate America, battling imposter syndrome and struggling with the lack of recognition and representation in leadership roles. A friend and I decided to create a space where women aspiring for more could come together. Back then, I was uncertain about what exactly this entailed. I simply knew that I craved change. I aspired to engage with women seeking personal growth. In my twenties, I was grappling with the essence of leadership in the corporate world. I pondered why there weren’t more individuals like me in such environments. Hence, we initiated these brunch gatherings that eventually evolved into a platform that connected us with like-minded souls who shared our visions.

This led me to resign from my corporate job in 2018 and dedicate myself to Boss Women Media full-time. I wholeheartedly delved into this venture, although the intricacies of building a media company were foreign to me. My primary goal was to create a nurturing space for women yearning for more, for connectivity, for resources, and for collective growth.

Not too long after, I attended an event in Los Angeles that ignited a fire within me. I was brimming with energy, motivation, and a fiery drive to connect with other women who embodied these qualities.

My trip to LA proved to be transformative for my business. At this event, I crossed paths with the CEO of Sugarfina. During a breakout session, she shared the story of Sugarfina’s creation of unconventional gummy bears. Prior to this encounter, while still at my corporate job, I had come across a Nielsen data report titled “Black Girl Magic is Real.” The report highlighted the purchasing power of Black women. It projected that by 2022, Black women would be the highest-spending demographic among all ethnicities and races. Yet, brands were not acknowledging this consumer segment or tailoring their marketing efforts towards them.

As the executive discussed the unique gummy bears created by Sugarfina, I felt compelled to approach her with my pitch. I proposed the idea of launching a gummy bear named “Black Girl Magic.”

I introduced myself, “Hello, I’m Marty McDonald, the CEO of Boss Women Media. We are an offline and online community and media company focused on empowering women. Have you heard of Black Girl Magic?” Her reaction was, “Can I say that aloud?” This was before the awakening spurred by events like George Floyd’s tragedy; the world was somewhat oblivious to the essence of Black culture. I was aware of the empowering significance of Black Girl Magic and the substantial buying influence of Black women, who, I believed, were not adequately recognized by brands. As I elaborated on my proposal, suggesting the creation of “Black Girl Magic” gummy bears, she responded positively and requested further contact via email.

Upon returning home, I was immensely inspired and determined to elevate the brand I had nurtured into a prominent media enterprise. I sent her a pitch deck that revolutionized my business approach. It took her six weeks to respond. When she did, we connected via a call, I presented my idea, and she embraced it. Subsequently, Boss Women Media embarked on a nationwide tour in Sugarfina stores across five U.S. locations, hosting an event named Black Girl Magic.

That marked the inception of Boss Women Media’s journey from a local entity to a national presence, fostering connections with diverse women in numerous cities across the U.S., enriching our community outreach and resources.

As the CEO of Boss Women Media and the creative mind behind the Elle Olivia brand found in 400 Target locations, which is a significant achievement. Tell us about the journey of establishing this and how you sustain your motivation amidst the challenges of entrepreneurship.

My goodness, entrepreneurship is undoubtedly a demanding path. Creating a service-oriented enterprise has enabled me to not only”>’.$1’Reflecting on my original vision for the product base, little did I fathom the trajectory that would lead me to establish a children’s brand.

Hence, Elle Olivia emerges as a lifestyle label tailored for Black and brown young girls to encounter reflections of themselves, their potential, mirroring in the apparel they adorn, the narratives they immerse themselves in, and the parental tools we disseminate. We are embarking on a journey that is merely scratching the surface of our capabilities and the influence we can yield.

In essence, the genesis of this brand traces back to the time I found out I was expecting my first daughter in 2020, propelling me into an isolating phase of pregnancy. At 24 weeks, we received the diagnosis of congenital diaphragmatic hernia, where her vital organs abnormally resided in her chest cavity, impeding proper lung development. Subsequently, a surgery post-birth mandated a 35-day NICU stay to mend her lungs.

During the ordeal in the NICU, the absence of representation and advocacy synergy became glaring, compelling me to instill in my daughter the essence of both. The deficiency of individuals mirroring our identity in leadership roles was conspicuous. The scarcity of Black medical professionals accentuated the reality we faced, prompting the need to educate our daughter comprehensively due to the adversities within the healthcare system, rampant disparities, and social injustices. This quest ignited the desire to cultivate a platform where my daughter could perceive herself accurately, reinforcing the significance of her skin tone, her unique traits, laying the foundation for her understanding of her intrinsic worth.

Subsequently, embarking on a quest, I discerned a substantial void in the market, a deficiency in representation models and characterizations for Black and brown girls to relate to. This realization laid the foundation for Elle Olivia’s inception, springing from our tumultuous NICU journey where our reflection was absent, hence steering us to shield our daughter from analogous hardships we encountered, empowering her with the conviction that her aspirations know no bounds, not merely in words but in demonstrable actions.

Motivated by this essence, one confronts the challenges of establishing a brand less than two years old and securing its presence in Target. From navigational hurdles in financial stewardship to a dearth of advocates and manufacturing resources, the journey unfolds an arduous path. Opting out of white-labeling, we engage in meticulously designing, producing, and distributing our creations, a testament to our undeterred commitment. The paramount impetus remains the transformation in a toddler’s self-perception —we must not overlook a toddler’s cognizance of their visibility.

Indeed, they do.

How can we ascertain this? Each instance where a child proudly dons Elle Olivia manifestations, exclaiming, “That’s me. I see myself there,” be it their distinctive hairstyles or the portrayed characters’ attire. These vignettes illuminate the immediate and profound impact on the young girls, fostering a sense of recognition and inclusion. The foundation of this endeavor hinges on reshaping the self-identities of generations of young girls, challenging the prevailing biases concerning Black girlhood, projecting a narrative of positivity, beauty, aspiration, and boundless possibilities from an early age.

One compelling aspect of your narrative is your undertakings in Dallas, Texas. Contrary to common associations of thriving Black businesses in cities like Atlanta and Washington, D.C., how do you perceive the Black business landscape in Dallas?

 

Dallas stands as a hub brimming with concealed Black enterprises, burgeoning with untapped potential. The recent Amazon event bore witness to several Dallas-based innovators, notably exemplified by the likes of Cookie Society, a burgeoning business boasting four local establishments poised for remarkable growth and acclaim. The expanse of entrepreneurial ventures in Dallas is nascent, laying the groundwork for what could evolve into a sought-after marketplace in a decade or so. We, as trailblazers, carve out a path that not only paves the way for future aspirants but also serves as a testament to the commanding presence of Black female entrepreneurs. By dismantling barriers and shattering preconceived limitations, we beckon forth others into the fold, striving to foster a more inclusive and enabling environment. Undoubtedly, Dallas paints a contrasting landscape when juxtaposed with Atlanta and D.C.; nevertheless, we seize the opportunity to redefine norms, inspiring a narrative of possibility and empowerment. In a milieu where mirrors of representation are scarce and resources unevenly distributed, we assume the mantle of architects, leaving an indelible mark and a narrative of resilience for posterity.

 Turning to the Amazon Black Business Accelerator and the Boss Women Media Founder’s Breakfast, share the genesis of these initiatives.

These initiatives germinated from a trial run during last year’s summit featuring Pinky Cole as the keynote speaker. Witnessing the fervor of nearly 2000 attendees, of which 200 sought deeper engagement through VIP tickets, underscored the distinctive motivations propelling women at various junctures of their entrepreneurial voyage. Endeavors in entrepreneurship can be inherently solitary, necessitating connections with kindred spirits traversing similar paths. Providentially, building relationships has been the cornerstone of my journey, a veritable lifeline amidst the tumult of establishing a business. It dawned upon me that assembling a cohort of women mutually vested in each other’s success could herald transformative outcomes. The amalgamation of Black women’s formidable strengths in a collaborative spirit, devoid of petty rivalries, illuminates the potential to transcend boundaries and chart new horizons collectively.

Pursuing this vision stemmed from my personal encounters, fostering a conviction in the potency of cohesive female networks. The essence lies not solely on individual striving but in the collective empowerment engendered through camaraderie and mutual support. Leveraging the unique dynamic of Black women uniting in a spirit of benevolence, we wield an unparalleled force, redefining the prevailing narrative toward one that champions inclusivity, collaboration, and shared success. Witnessing Amazon’s solidarity since 2021 cemented its role as the ideal collaborator, propelling our momentum and cultivating dialogues vital to the narrative of Black women-owned businesses, positioning us at the forefront of an evolving landscape.There exists a multitude of Afro-American service-oriented enterprises. Establishing a business centered around products necessitates a distinct kind of capital. Thus, partnering with others to offer support and imparting knowledge to these exceptional Black-owned businesses that have excelled as sellers on Amazon can prove exceedingly valuable. Envision the event as an invaluable opportunity. Reflecting on this, I pondered, “Who else should be present?” Not solely the sellers, but also incorporating investors, media personalities to narrate stories, and influencers to promote these ventures, creating a mutually beneficial scenario for women striving to elevate revenues from $250,000 to half a million, eventually reaching their first million-dollar year due to the resources shared in that gathering. My aspiration for those women nurtured in that space was to witness the energy fostered and the positive impact it had on their ventures.

Your notion concerning the significance of community and sisterhood in Black entrepreneurship is quite profound. Can you delve into how tribe and sisterhood have been advantageous, both to you and to the women within Boss Women Media?

Initiating Boss Women Media, I navigated a terrain devoid of connections or ample financial resources. Absorbing knowledge and forging ahead with unwavering determination and a clear vision, I braved the unknown. Had I a supportive tribe, my journey might have been smoother. There is value in creating a less arduous path. Uniting together is where our collective strengths lie. An illustrative example: “I know Dani from BOSSIP; let me introduce you.” Sharing such contacts doesn’t cost a thing. It then falls on the recipient to honor the integrity of that connection. Alignment in objectives paves the way for us to leverage shared resources for expeditious progress without detracting from others in a world brimming with potential consumers, allowing us to amplify our collective message effectively.

Last but not least, what is the vision for Boss Media and your brand, Elle Olivia, in the upcoming year of 2024?

Regarding Boss Women Media, our mission is to continue curating unique experiences that empower women with comprehensive resources and foster connections. There is untapped potential in this realm, transforming entrepreneurial endeavors and lives while cultivating a community like never before.

For Elle Olivia, we eagerly anticipate further growth. Our collaboration with Amazon will persist, unveiling a special capsule collection soon. Our aim is to solidify our presence as a household name catering to Black, brown, and white girl allies through our character, Olivia, inspiring young girls to see boundless possibilities. 2024 heralds a period of growth and expansion, paving the way for significant strides as we transition into 2025!

 

  – [Marty McDonald](https://www.instagram.com/martytmcdonald/?hl=en)
  – [@BossWomenMedia](https://www.instagram.com/bosswomenmedia/?hl=en)
  – [@ElleOlivia](https://www.instagram.com/shopelleolivia/?hl=en)