Boss Women Media’s Marty McDonald Is Making An Impact

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For Black Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting Magic Makers who are leaving indelible marks in entrepreneurship, entertainment, and music, and we think Marty McDonald is a perfect fit.

Source: Amazon

The Dallas-based entrepreneur and designer is the founder and CEO of Boss Women Media, an online hub for career and business-minded women who want to succeed and create a tribe to lean on. Not only that, but she’s the creator of the Elle Olivia lifestyle brand that was inspired by her need for representation for her oldest child. Now found in over 400 Target stores, Elle Olivia is immersing little Black girls into a world of BIG possibilities via apparel, books, experiential play centers, and parental education.

All the while she’s making an impact and encouraging women to go confidently in the direction of their dreams, she’s living hers as a dedicated wife and mom of three.

BOSSIP recently chatted with McDonald about her bustling business, the Dallas entrepreneurship scene, and her experience working with the likes of Amazon.

As we continue highlighting sistas slaying in their respective fields throughout April, see our chat with this Magic Maker below.

–Dani Canada

BOSSIP: Let’s dive into Boss Women Media. I know this is all about community building for you, how did it start?

Yeah, absolutely. Really it was 2016, I was in corporate America trying to navigate the spaces of imposter syndrome, not being seen or shown in leadership. And so me and a friend decided that we wanted to come together and create a space and a place for women who want more. At that time, I wasn’t even fully sure what that meant. I just knew that I desired this change. I desired to be around women who wanted growth. I was in my twenties. I was navigating what it meant to be a leader in corporate America. Why was there not more of me in corporate America? And so we created these brunch series that really allowed itself to catapult into us being around the synergies that we desired.

With that, in 2018, I decided to quit my corporate gig and pursue Boss Women Media as my full-time. And so I put all my efforts in and really what that meant for me at the time … Because I did not even understand what it meant in full transparency to build a media company at all. I just knew that I was diving in to create a space and a place for women who wanted more, who wanted to connect, who wanted to be resourced, and who could grow together.

And from that, I remember attending an event actually in LA, and I was really in this space of super energized, super motivated, super hungry to hustle, and so I was putting myself in spaces and places where I could connect with other women who was doing just that.

I flew out to LA, went to this conference that really transformed my business to be honest. At this conference, I met the CEO of Sugarfina. We were in a breakout session at the time, and the CEO of Sugarfina was talking about how Sugarfina created these taboo gummy bears. Well, rewind a couple of months while I was still in my corporate gig, I had read this Nielsen data report called “Black Girl Magic is Real.” And it talked about the buying power of Black women. And by 2022, Black women will be the highest spending consumer out of any ethnicity and race, but brands were not paying attention to her. Neither was she the main target audience for brands.

And so as this lady is sitting on this panel talking about the gummy bears that they create at this high-end confectionary store. I thought at the end of this conversation, I’m going to go up to her and I’m going to pitch to her this idea where she should create a gummy bear called “Black Girl Magic.”

And so I go up to her and I go, “Hey, my name’s Marty McDonald. I’m the CEO of Boss Women Media. Boss Women Media is an offline online women’s empowerment community and media company. Have you ever heard of Black Girl Magic?” And her response to me was, “Can I say that out loud?” Now, this is pre-George Floyd and the world was naive to what Black culture was really, right? And I know Black Girl Magic is a rallying call. There’s a buying power in the behavior of Black women, and I bet you don’t even have her as a target audience. And so as I continued to share, I said, “Hey, you should create this gummy bear called “Black Girl Magic. “I will bring all the Black women to Sugarfina across the US and we could host and create events.” She goes, “Send me an email. It’s contact@Sugarfina.”

And I go home, I’m so inspired and I’m so incredibly motivated to really take this brand that I’ve created and make it a media company and take it to the next level. I sent her a pitch deck that really transformed my business. It took her six weeks to respond. She responded, we get on a call, I pitched her the idea. She agreed. And that following year, Boss Women Media went on tour at Sugarfina locations at five across the US and we hosted a tour called Black Girl Magic.

And that was really the start and beginning of Boss Women Media, and we were no longer this local brand. We had created a national footprint in space and people showed up for us, and we connected with all of these women in so many different cities across the US and that’s really what allowed us to expand our connection and our resources for our community.

You’re not only the CEO of Boss Women Media, you also have your Elle Olivia brand in 400 Target locations, which is huge. Talk to me about building that from the ground up and how you stay motivated with building because I know entrepreneurship is not easy.

My goodness. Not at all. And so as I’ve created this really service space enterprise, it’s allowed me to really think through what I wanted my product base to be, but never in a million years did I think I was going to go create a children’s brand at all.

And so Elle Olivia is a lifestyle brand for Black and brown little girls to see themselves, their possibility, to see the representation of the clothes that they wear, the books that they read, and the parental resources that we share and we’re really just getting started. We’re just tapping the surface of what we can do and the impact that we can make.

But long story short, the brand was created from me getting pregnant with my first daughter in 2020 because it was such an isolating time to be pregnant. And when I was 24 weeks pregnant, she was diagnosed with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which basically meant that her spleen, her liver, and her intestine were in her chest and her lungs were not fully able to develop. And so we had to have surgery when she was born that led us to be in the NICU for about 35 days for her lungs to heal properly.

During that time of our NICU experience, we saw that representation and advocacy are not synonymous with one another and that in order for my daughter to see herself in this world, I have to show her and teach her both because simply we didn’t see a lot of people in the NICU in leadership that looked like us. There were not a ton of Black doctors; as a matter of fact, we didn’t see one Black doctor. There were not a ton of Black and brown people that really could lead the charge. And us showing our daughter that anything was possible because we experience so much in the healthcare system, there are so many disparities and social injustices. And so it led me to want to create something so my daughter could see herself, that her skin matters, that her hair matters, all of the things that really allow her to understand her full worth later on.

And so I went out on a quest and I saw that there was a huge white space in the market and there wasn’t a lot of Black and brown representation models and characters that little girls could lean into and see themselves in. And so that’s how Elle Olivia was formed. It was formed out of us having this really hardship experience in the NICU of not seeing ourselves, but then also on the flip side of that, ensuring that the challenges that my husband and I face, that she would not have to face that because she would know that she could be anything she wanted and we’re not just saying it, but also showing it to her.

And so that’s really been the motivation behind it. Have I experienced challenges of building a brand that’s less than two years old and getting it in Target? Absolutely. The list goes on from not being  able to financially steward this company to not having advocates and spaces and [initially] places of manufacturing to call on. Black people are in the space of manufacturing. We’re not white-labeling a product. We’re designing this product, getting it manufactured, cut and sewn. This isn’t a licensed brand, we’re doing every single thing, we’re shipping everything in. But the motivation behind it is, if I can transform the way a toddler sees herself —And you better believe a toddler understands how she’s seen…

They absolutely do.

How do we know? Because every time we see somebody post their little girl in Elle Olivia, the little girl says, “Mommy, daddy, she looks like me. That’s me.” Whether it’s the two puffs in the hair or the braids and the beads that she has in the clothes of the character. These little girls see themselves quickly and they see themselves now. And so that’s the motivation behind it. That’s the thing that keeps me going is that I’m transforming the way generations of little girls are going to see themselves. I’m helping to really go against the stigmas of how Black little girls are seen in this world. And I’m showcasing it in a way that’s positive and beautiful and aspirational and showcasing big possibilities at a very young age.

One thing I  appreciate about your story is that you’re doing this in Dallas, Texas. When people think about Black business, they think of cities like Atlanta or Washington, D.C. What is the Black business scene like in Dallas?

 

I think that it is a city with unseen Black businesses, [a lot of] untapped Black businesses. We saw that with Amazon. Those women that were in that room mainly represented Dallas. And when I think about some of the brands that were there, like the Cookie Society, she has four locations in Dallas. She’s an untapped business owner whose story is just going to continue to blow up and people will know her name. There were just so many incredible businesses in that room. And so the Dallas entrepreneurial scene, I think it’s just getting started. I think that Dallas will be one of those marketplaces 10, to 15 years from now that people will want to tap into. But we’re the trailblazers that are making the imprint for the possibility of others to come along. We’re showcasing to this city that Black women are the leading force in entrepreneurship. Pay attention to us, give us the resources, give us the funds. We’re tearing down the doors, breaking the glass ceiling so that we bring others along and we can make it a little bit easier. I think that the landscape is different than in Atlanta and DC for sure. But we’re the ones that get to write the history and get to showcase to others that it’s possible. In a city that doesn’t necessarily always look like us, and the resources are not fairly dispersed, we’re getting to write the rules, and I think it’ll be an incredible story to read along the way.

 Let’s talk about the Amazon Black Business Accelerator and Boss Women Media Founder’s Breakfast. How did it come about? 

We tested this program last year when we hosted our summit in September, and we tested it with Pinky Cole as our keynote speaker. And we had a summit of almost 2000 women, but 200 women bought VIP tickets to go deeper on their business. And I thought, “These women in this room, they’re motivated differently. They don’t have an idea. They’re in the middle and in the thick of their business, so they need to be with people who are on the same level.” As an entrepreneur, it can be hella lonely. And as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to tap in and call and connect with people who have been or are on your journey with you. I think that’s what makes the landscape a little bit easier and things a little bit smoother. You can do it by yourself, but it’s much better when you have a tribe that you can call and lean into.

And so for me personally, when I saw and experienced that, I knew that this is what we needed to create in a very bespoke manner. I knew it because I also experienced it. The most valuable part of my business and the thing that I hold is the people that I can call on. And you better believe I have some people that I have built relationships with along the way that I can tap into and that I can call that has helped make it so much easier than me doing any of this by myself.  And I thought that if I could create a room and stack a room with women who could do that for each other, that would be game-changing. Then also tapping into the fact that there’s such a superpower with Black women doing it together, and in a way that’s not mean girl. In a way that wants to really help lift you as you rise. I think that we can show the world so much more together.

That’s why it was created and how it was created. And then Amazon has been a partner of ours since 2021, and so they were 1000% the right partner for us to continue to create this momentum and to create these conversations with, especially as we think about Black women product-owned businesses. There are a lot of Black service-based companies. It takes a different type of capital to create a product-based business. And so them being a partner to lean in and say, “Hey, we have all of these other incredible Black-owned businesses that have been incredible sellers of Amazon. Let’s bring them into a room and teach them how they can also do the same. Make the event just invaluable.” Then as I thought about it, I was like, “Who else also needs to be in the room?” Not just the sellers, but if we could get some investors in the room, some media in the room to tell the stories, and then influencers in the room that will help promote these businesses, it will become a win-win opportunity for these women who are standing and trying to go from $250,000 in revenue to half a million, from half a million to a, they meet their first million dollar year this year because they were planted in that room and they were given resources that really made impact for their business. And that’s my hope for those women that were in the room, and I felt like that was the energy that was created in the room as well.

Amazon

Source: Amazon

I think you made a great point about having a tribe and having sisterhood in Black business. Talk to me a little bit about tribe and sisterhood and Black business and how that’s been helpful to you and helpful for women who are in Boss Women Media.

I started Boss Women Media, and I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have any connections. I didn’t have a ton of dollars or funds. I didn’t have some rich person that was funding me. I literally learned everything along the way with grit, determination, and a ton of vision. And if I had a tribe my pathway would’ve been a little bit easier. There’s nothing wrong with creating an easier pathway. You don’t have to get everything out of the mud, And so I think that if we all unite together, that’s what we can do for one another. I think that there’s so much power in being able to say, “Hey, I know Dani from BOSSIP. Let me call her and she if she’ll be interested in covering your story.” That cost me absolutely nothing. But then as I’m connecting and sharing my contact of Dani with that business owner, then you have to do your part too, right? You have to understand the integrity of what I just shared with you. You have to show up, and if we’re all speaking the same language and desiring the same thing, then let’s use the same resources to get there all faster together because we’re not taking away from anybody with the billions of people in this world that can be our consumer. We’re helping amplify and really propel forward the messaging of what we can do as a collective.

Absolutely. Lastly, what is next for Boss Media and your brand Elle Olivia? What do you see for 2024?

For Boss Women Media specifically, I see us continuing to create these bespoke moments for women to be resourced in such a thorough way and to connect together. I do not think that we’ve double-tapped on that enough. Resourced in a way that transforms businesses and lives of entrepreneurship to building enterprises and connects it in a way that allows us to create community like never before.

For Elle Olivia, we are so excited to continue the expansion. We will be continuing our partnership with Amazon and what that looks like for a special capsule that we will announce soon. And then just continuing to build our footprint of being a household name and in the household of Black and brown little girls and white girl allies from the perspective of this character, Olivia, and the work that she’s doing to transform how little girls see their big possibility.

We’re excited for what 2024 is going to bring. It’s going to be a growth year for us, and it’s going to allow a ton of expansion as we gear up into 2024 and expand into 2025!

 

@MartyMcDonald 

@BossWomenMedia

@ElleOlivia 

 


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