Successful Black Women You Should Definitely Know

Inspiration for this article is entirely based on the successful people I know specifically the black women that I have met online and in real life. These are women quietly succeeding and pushing their best selves forward every single day. Their stories are inspiring, their success is deserved and their struggle to push forward and become better versions of themselves is destined despite breathtakingly hard circumstances and barriers they’ve over come. Here they are anyway, inspiring and succeeding in their business and personal lives every day.

These are the successful Black Women I know

Nichelle Young

Nichelle young is not just a photographer. Nichelle is someone who has yet to see her vision of herself come to fruition because that person is a powerhouse and a great person. Becoming who she envisions will take time but she is fearless in reaching her goals along the way.

Nichelle would never be the one to tell you her achievements. Her humble nature and strong work ethic shine from her personality first and foremost. Nichelle is someone who achieves the goals she goes after and since 2018 she has been working to become her best self. And that started with Photography. Nichelle’s life was not lived without struggle, however and her upbringing taught her to keep pushing through.

Here is my interview with Nichelle Young – Owner of Gypsie Images

Check Out Nichelle Young’s Story

Let’s start by asking you about your life and background.
Where did you grow up?

I was originally born in California and I spent time in Belize, went to school in Belize because I had family there and then I moved to Arlington then moved to Austin in 2019
I was in California for my formative years: until I was 8 and then Belize until 13 then Arlington – Austin for College. At that time I went to Houston-Tillotson and then moved to Texas state and I was a math major then. I realized that goal was something I wasn’t that passionate about. So I took time away from school and spent some time with myself and figure out who I was through all the trials and tribulations I went through. I had pursued photography as a hobby before and it became something I could use as a stepping stone to get where I wanted in life.

When I was younger I ran into family troubles and that threw things off track for awhile. I’ve actually lived on my own since I was 16. I’ve gone through some relationships that weren’t good for my health and that led to me taking time off again because I lost my identity in those relationships.

A turning point in her life

Nichelle lived through struggle on her own since she was 16 living through a very tough situation ” it didn’t feel like an option and I had to make tough choices” Nichelle was on her own and was struggling to stay housed. A significant change for her was when she asked a friend to stay on her couch. Her friend said yes and Nichelle was asked and eventually convinced to goto church. She found something that she felt she was missing in church and still goes to the same church today. Nichelle is empowered through God and her journey to fulfill her purpose.

Who is your inspiration?

My inspiration currently naturally and currently is my pastor because I have seen the things he has gone through and the things he has trusted god for or the holy spirit and that is a big inspiration. I also believe in him professionally as well. In the photography world I really like this photographer named Lajoy because she tells her story of where she started and I really like her brand.

Would you say remembering your trials and tribulations are important?

Struggle is always important but I look at it like how can I use my trials and tribulations to get better and be more prepared for the next trial.

Not just A Photographer

When did you realize that you were successful?

Personally, I am hard on myself, and I didn’t come to that realization – I don’t feel I am successful because I am not at the end goal, but when I put myself in other’s shoes I can see that, but I’m not there yet.

What does that end goal look like?

It’s not just photography. That is just my way in to help people not feel lost and help them grow that is my mission in everything that I do. In my trials and tribulations I was working so hard to get things done but I failed a lot and felt alone in those decisions. So I want to change that with others going through the same thing. I want to help people connect with a community of lawyers and other resources to help them. I know there is a community behind me rooting for me and my greatness and I want others to know that truth as well.

Nichelle’s Current Life and Success:

So talk about your photography life how is that going?

I am the proud owner of Gypsie images I like to describe it as a lifestyle photography group based in Austin, Texas and my company is committed to the best looks and feels for brands so they can have imagery that they can engage in. So I want to be able to help people engage in and achieve the look they want as accurately as possible. I am also one of the main photographers for the City of Kyle, Texas and I do some work for other companies in Kyle as well as the city of Buda, Texas. So my main goal is to navigate my company the best I can since I started in 2020. I keep striving and seeking out help and I learn a lot by following people rather than a book or a video. So I strive to be that person for others as well.

Talk about your photography

I am a portrait photographer at the end of the day. I love taking photos of couples. I love seeing people in love and encouraging them to keep that love going. I love celebrating companies and there work and I would love to get into supporting small businesses as well.

What are you most successful at?

Honestly I don’t think I’m successful at anything. It’s a character flaw (laughs). I have to be reminded that I have accomplished things. I am always striving for more and I envision a version of myself that I haven’t become yet but I see who that is and I am striving to be that person.

How did you get good at photography?

I don’t think I’m good at photography! Photography has come naturally to me I have an eye for it that others haven’t seen yet. Only people are the subjects that are interesting to me – I just see things that others may not. It’s not for everything though! It’s just with people. It’s essentially allowing them to shine. So picking that up on camera and allowing people to see themselves as the world sees them. Also I try to learn the technical side of it which is important. Each couple and each client brings out something in me and I feel like my identity and empowerment is boosted in photography and I love it.

Why did you choose this over other career goals?

I filed for my event planning company in 2018 at that time I was going back and forth between that and photography. I was gong to school for event planning. And you know I am a faith filled person I asked god how to move forward and get new clients. He guided me and said do photography first and build your clientele and then open your event planning business so it will be easier to gain client’s trust. Photography is a doorway into everything I want to accomplish.

What are some experiences you think about that help you overcome obstacles?

There isn’t really and option to not overcome obstacles because of how I was raised and I refuse to become stagnant. I have gone through roadblocks and I know I can dust myself off and try a different way next time.

Future Goals and life

How are you planning to be more successful in the future?

I have a goal, I have two goals to accomplish – My ambition is to get featured on Forbes magazine as a serial entrepreneur under 35. I want to be recognized by my community and help people that are struggling or forgotten about.

I want to be on Black enterprises 40 under 40 that article that they have every year.

How will you achieve them?

I’m working on it! (laughs) I know if I continue on the path that I am going on that I will get there. I know the timeline may change and I won’t quit. If I don’t get it by that age I won’t quit but I will keep striving to work at that level of notoriety regardless if I don’t get it because I believe in God.

Anything to add?
For me this is important – I would not be in this interview if it wasn’t for my relationship with God. I believe I would be completely lost and not have the confidence to achieve anything. Above all else God comes first and he is my number one. My company and my career is not as important as God. I was given direction when I couldn’t find where to go.

Naomi Bray

Naomi Bray is a young professional filmmaker who’s imagination stands out. Naomi has been cultivating her creative energy since she could walk and she continues to lead with that and create beautifully crafted films and videos. Naomi has gone through a lot and she has earned her success and her story is ultra- inspiring. Here is my interview with Filmmaker – Naomi Bray

life and background.

An Imagination To Be Reckoned With

I was born in Boston, MA and moved to Grand Rapids, Minnesota at a young age. My parents are actually in Bovey, MN. It is the most boring place on the face of the earth (laughs). Like I wanted to do more socializing I wanted to got the mall and movie theaters I didn’t want clothes that were from the 80’s (laughs) I wanted to experience city life. Bovey is great in all honesty it’s really quiet and nice but there isn’t anything new there. I will say though the pits the can of steel pits are really beautiful. It was a nice place to grow up on the outskirts there were a bunch of old buildings we used to play pretend around. There is a scenic hiking trail up there and our favorite thing to do was dress up in all black and get fake swords and jump out and scare hikers (laughs) we were doing YouTube stuff before it was cool! That’s where I got my love of acting

First movie I ever saw was when I was 2 years old. I was sick and at home with my dad and he put on a movie called “7 dads and 7 brothers” and he said he’d never seen me so infatuated with something. I was homeschooled in a very religious household. I wasn’t allowed to watch a lot of movies like Disney movies and other movies. I watched them all when I got out of the house though!

Who is your inspiration?

It’s a combination between my dad and numerous people throughout my life. My dad instilled in me a drive to work as hard as possible and to keep going until you get where you want to be and that is how you get places. That is what he did for 27 years and supported a family of 9. All of us were homeschooled until college and we were taught by my mom everyday. She wanted to be a part of our lives from start to finish. My dad did manual labor which was really hard on his body and he is still going and his sacrifice is a huge drive for me.

Naomi sees that sacrifice and takes that to drive her goals further.

Interviewer: “That sounds like a lot of pressure

I come from a military family and I think its kind of bred into us. In intense situations and pressure that is when we do our best work. We just need that intensity to laser focus and get the job done and move on to the next. Everyone has their own path obviously and I look at where I am and where they are and I really believe I’m on the right path with working under pressure!

How did your way of growing up impact your life?

It’s a unique way to grow up because I was sheltered. I wasn’t allowed to have friends over. Only church group or neighbors. It helped me because I had a lot of time to grow up and I know that’s not very common. I wasn’t allowed to play video games or watch too many movies so I had a lot of free time to use my imagination. All of my freetime was using my imagination and it is still that good now and it helps with writing scripts or imagining shots today.

Some people think it’s a downside to not have socialized, but at the same time I learned how to socialize in college.

I love working with kids too! I can work with kids really well on set and I love writing adventure stories.

When I went to college a lot of black people thought I was snooty. They asked me all kinds of questions and said I talk like a white girl. I was confused why does how I talk have to be a certain way? I just wasn’t acclimated. I don’t want to fit in a box of black or white I am me. Not everyone should fit in a box.

Struggling In The Big City

When did you realize that you were successful?

Some people think I’m not successful, because I’m not making money from filmmaking yet. But I think I am successful because I set out to tell visual stories and that’s what I’m doing. I got my gear and I am telling a story.

I had to stop college twice due to financial issue but I did graduate. I think that counts as successful because I finally did it. I realized I was successful this year because I am making movies!

Down But Not Out

College struggle: January 2016 I knew I couldn’t afford the next semester. I was depressed and unsure what to do. I was told to get a bunch of jobs and save up. At the time I didn’t really have a job I was only doing school. So in 2016 I had to get another job. I couldn’t go back home because I need to find be independent. For a while I was living in my car and I would look for a park or parking lot and crash there. I spent about 8 months in my car in the cold. It sucked majorly but there is always someone who is going to have it worse and I made it. I did end up joining the army in June 2016. I enlisted and everyone thought I was crazy. I saw it as doing something different and I liked that idea. I was never physically in shape and that was crazy to go in the army. One way or another you will get hurt during training in the army. I remember doing a ruck march in Missouri – it was so hot! I got dehydrated or something and I passed out. Next thing I know I woke up in the duty truck and I was told I broke a bunch of bones. I kept going to the training classes though I just couldn’t do the physical stuff! Around February of 2017 – I was called by the captain and I was medically discharged and sent home. I wasn’t in long enough to get benefits and I was sent out without a job or school and now I had broken bones and everyone around me said “I told you so” and that angered me. I always give way more effort when someone thinks I can’t do it. I was able to find a job eventually pressure washing garages and I worked super hard and saved up $60k to go back to school. And in 2019 I went back to school and worked a job while going to school. I won’t be controlled. It’s just me and God.

All of that was extremely hard I did cry I did complain. And I went through it and I made it and I consider that successful. I am on top of things now. Because of that I can go through anything now.

That was the hardest and most difficult part of my life. “ I can’t wait to see what comes next and if it’ll be harder because I can’t wait to tackle it!”

Your current life and success

Talk about your career

Naomi recently produced a music video called “The Willow Maid” which at the time of this writing has over 100k views! No small feat!

A Talented Director

Naomi also directed this award winning film titled ” The Washing Machine”

Right now, I am preparing. I have my degree and what I’m working on now is experience. Right now, I’m working on creating a reel of things I’ve worked on with other people and another reel of things I’ve done entirely by myself. I’m working on a website for myself, and I haven’t done that before. My confidence on set is well received I am good at making good decisions on set under pressure. But for the most part I am trying to get myself out there. I also want to branch out to other things like commercials and music videos and documentaries. I am aiming to do more stuff like that. I have a friend in CT, and he has been awesome. He is giving me a camera and two lights and a few lenses!

A Natural Leader

What are you most successful at?

Communication. That is one of the best traits I have. I am good at getting people together and making things happen. And that stems from my childhood because I am the oldest of 7 and I was responsible for getting them in line. I have learned how to be firm and focused and direct in a leadership position. I have gotten good at leading without being like “ I’m better than you” it’s more like I make the right decision and I can delegate decisions to others.

Why did you choose this over other career goals?

I got asked that a lot! For most of my life I was extremely music focused and I was really interested in being the girl with the violin. When it came to performing I hated performing and being judged and compared to other musicians and any change to the music was “bad”. I didn’t like that type of art. If I like a song, I want to play it the way my emotions want to play it. Music felt very confined and strict, and I wanted to do more expression. I love writing too and I have been writing my entire life before filmmaking was even a thought. Writing was where I felt safe, and I could do whatever I wanted on that page. Those two things are still important. Film is different because I love it in all situations because I have the best time of my life on set.

Naomi works as a security officer in Minneapolis, MN

What are your most important experiences that helped you overcome obstacles?

Joining the army was one. The army slogan is never give up and leave no one behind. Growing up with my siblings, I learned early on that sharing is just a part of my reality (laughs) Need someone on your set? I’m there. Need some gas money? I got you covered because I want to help people. I don’t want to end up like a stuck up Hollywood nutcase.

FAITH: I grew up very religious – There was sometimes I can’t live up to the perfect Christian standard. I do the best I can and read the bible. It all comes down to faith. In college I studied a bunch of different faiths. My faith has made me confident in the way I am and who I am. This is what God wants me to do and I’m not sure what comes next but this is where I need to be. I’ve gotten through a lot of things that would break a lot of people.

Future Goals and life

How are you planning to be more successful in the future?

Being open minded about what projects I want to do. Before I was only into narrative film and now, I am looking to be more flexible. I keep learning and studying different languages because you never know!

What are some goals you have yet to achieve?

Have one of my movies gain distribution or played in a theater. I would love that. Another would be filming in another country. And I would love to cameo in the films I make. Stan lee is one of my biggest inspirations! My biggest goal is I want to inspire others. No matter how impossible it seems you can always get through it. It will get better it may take awhile but it always gets better.

How will you achieve them?

Just keep making movies! Making sure I listen to people making sure I see what I see and making movies that people want to watch. Quote “I am an ordinary guy who knows what ordinary guys want to see”

Naomi you are an amazingly talented filmmaker and successful person keep going!

Madeline Fleming

Madeline Fleming

Madelinekarita has a incredible story. I will let her tell her story as it is because it is jaw-dropping, inspiring and absolutely a story to know and keep in the back of your mind when you feel down. Madeline got through so much and is monumentally successful.

Let’s start by asking you about your life and background.

Madeline as a young girl

Where did you grow up?

Youngstown Ohio, It’s the ghetto it is one of the worst ghettos in America. I happened to be born lucky because I was very smart in the ghetto. It starts early like 6 or 7. I was born to a single teenage mom who was in high school. The ghetto was built to make sure people cannot get out of it. Bad food bad water. People who graduate at 14 don’t come from there. I have had depression since I was 9 years old because if fully hit me that I was born in a system that wasn’t meant for me to get out of. By the time I was 15 I was able to graduate college.

When I was 13 my stepdad kicked me out of the house… one night my step dad threatened my little brother and I stepped in and they kicked me out. He also spent money I had worked for underage to go to Gilliard. He kicked me out in the winter in February.

It was a really sad day for me and I have been able to get through some really tough situations since then.

Who is your inspiration?

It’s myself right now. Maybe Oprah? She came from a bad background… People who have not gone through something difficult always behave different. And they don’t work as hard. They are always convinced they have gone through hardship and it’s odd.

How did your way of growing up impact your life?

I’m not afraid of anything. Nothing. I do have episodes of depression it’s also that I was born into a system of oppression that we are not worth it. The brainwashing that has impacted me and the ghetto is still there I still have to deal with that. My family still lives in the ghetto and I’ve never wanted to embrace the mentality of that. When I was 14 I tried to commit suicide because I couldn’t see a way out of my situation and I remember waking up to everyone around me crying and I found out my heart stopped. It left a physical scar on my arm and it reminds me how far I’ve come.

I didn’t get serious about my life choices until about 7 years ago. I tried to get out of my situation all I could think about is how to get out of the ghetto.

I pushed through hard times because I thought there was no other way to get by.

An Explosion of successes

Madeline has been featured in several publications and is a multi-talented model and actress.

I am living in a luxury apartment, and I still struggle with the impact of my past life. I went to college in Yellow springs. The town I went to school in was an outpost for the underground railroad. It connects underground to people’s houses. I have a lot of great friends there! After that I went to Columbus Ohio. There I met an underwear model, and we traveled the world together.

Do you still feel young?

Most of the time I feel young but I haven’t felt young since I was 13 I had to be an adult since I was that age. There are moments I feel young and happy. I’m a lot less wild now. My family all has anger issues and that person I was at 13 has kept me alive in every stage of my life. But that person was angry she was protective, but I tried to distance from myself from that person. Therapy has really helped me reconnect with that power and energy of who I was because that person is really powerful. Then I became a real beast because I had that emotional discipline and control. I was able turn that energy that wasn’t just rage.

I could talk really well since I was a toddler I wrote my first little book when I was 5. My father has the gift of gab and I naturally have it too. I knew I wanted to make movies and T.V shows since I was a toddler.

Why did you choose this over other career goals?

I only had one career goal my whole life and that is being an entertainer. I am an entertainer now.

What are your most important experiences that helped you overcome obstacles?

The difficult things in my life have shaped me. The time I came back from the dead was the biggest one. I realized the grim reaper couldn’t stop me no one else could stop me.

How are you planning to be more successful in the future?

I did my first movie in April so I plan on doing a lot more in the future. I’m working on a script right now called ” Children of the First God” and I plan to pitch it to a production studio and when I do that I think it’ll change my life drastically.

What are some goals you have yet to achieve?

Getting married. Having a healthy happy family. Going to the moon! I want a ride to the moon.

How will you achieve them?

It’s really luck for me. There is no way you can genuinely get a connection besides luck. You meet them and connect with them by luck there is no genuine connection with someone besides luck. So I will rely on luck and hope to make lots of money making movies!

What is most important thing to you right now?

Stabilizing my life.

  1. Anything to add?

I am a pheonix and I rise from the ashes and I become a better person every time.

Rhonda “Reese”

Rhonda N Reese

Rhonda “Reese”

Talk about your story of success and between now and where it started. Your story is amazing, and you will be the featured story in this article. Tell me your story however you feel to do so. Let’s start by asking you about your life and background.

Where did you grow up?

Columbus Ohio, I spent some time in Reynoldsburg until I was about 6. We were the only black people on our street. In the 80’s and 90’s there were no black people (laughs).
Did your parents grow up wealthy?

My parents owned a few nightclubs in the city.

Who is your inspiration?

My dad and my uncle. My dad was a hustler back in the day and he broke a rule with my mom, and they separated. He took that opportunity to get clean. And in that process, he experienced a lot of difficult things, and he always tried his best to be greater. Dealing with addiction and drugs is very challenging so to overcome that and be happy and successful was really inspiring for me. My uncle has always been the type of person to not make any excuses and treat people with kindness. His values were important to me. My people wanted me to be successful. I was pressured to go to college, and I rebelled during my senior year of high school and got pregnant with my first child. I also left home at 16. My mom got laid off. I lived with my sister, and she had issues I didn’t realize she was struggling with, and life was a lot different for my siblings.

How did your way of growing up impact your life?

I don’t think it changed my life much. My family has always been a cultured class of folks. I grew up in a white neighborhood. My best friend was a little red haired white kid named Alan. I grew up with black friends, but I had to travel across town (laughs) I had a regular life growing up roller skating listening to Michael Jackson and new kids on the block normal.
When did you realize that you were successful?
I realized at an early age that I wanted to be a business owner. In my early 20’s I wanted to be a serial entrepreneur and I was influenced by my uncle who was the same thing. I looked up to a lot of businesspeople like Oprah and others and it was my goal to become successful in the same way.

Current life and success talk about your career

I went to college, and it wasn’t for me I switched my major a bunch of times. I got a taste of just being a hustler and being an independent contractor in my early 20’s and I really enjoyed that. So, for a while I would get gigs in the creative world in music and art. I learned how to graphic design, jewelry making, and photography I also got into event planning as well. I also started dating a guy who was a rapper and producer and I built up his brand as well. At the time my business was called Mind-riot entertainment which was started in about 2010 or 2011. It was my take on graphic design and event promoting.

What are you most successful at?

Staying focused with my goals despite what I’ve experienced.

How did you get good at it?

Making mistakes and losing everything I’ve had multiple times. That put a lot of things in perspective and helped me focus on what I really want to do.

What are some of those experiences where you’ve lost everything?

I’ve had relationships that have either been really dramatic or violent and dealing with that while children are involved. In most cases women have to sacrifice everything for their family and I struggled with that when the relationships ended. Like experiencing homelessness. I was groomed to get with a partner and have a relationship. I wasn’t taught that to be a single parent and that impacted how I was when I was alone, and I struggled without having someone to support me and my kids. The first time I was homeless was at the age of 24.

What happened then?

I had 3 children already and I lived by myself for a little while and I met my other kid’s dad but that got really dramatic, and I had to leave that situation which led to a lot of difficult relationships and domestic violence. And that is when the lights came on in my mind (laughs) and I realized I had to get out of those situations. I ended up being in a state of significant turmoil. I was laying on the floor in my living room at the time and had an epiphany about how to get out of my relationship and heal myself through eating better and making art.

Reese’s breakout business “Stems & Stone

The Stems & Stone story

I had lost my apartment in 2018 and I had been let go at my job and that didn’t pan out very well. My kids had to stay with me, and my maternity leave wasn’t good enough, so I left my job and ended up staying with a family member. And left there and then the pandemic hit, and I moved in my friend’s guest house. I started doing research into different things and I connected to the idea of selling plants and tried to support that and I did. I presented it to a business association without any kind of product made yet, but I got 6 orders just like that. After that I was invited to the Columbus black owned business page, and I went from 6 orders to over 200 in two days. It blew up! It got to the point where I couldn’t take any more orders. So, I filed all the business paperwork and rented a cargo van put my kids in there and did our first plant haul. It took us about 3 days. We ended up asking people to come pickup their plants.

Shortly after that my friend I was staying with asked us to leave just like that as I was just getting going with this business. So, the same time that happened I got the keys to my apartment and the keys to my store in a mall the same week. It was insane. I put a bunch of effort into my store and made sure I could open with a full inventory. My best friend and I put our store together in about three months and we did it.
At this time we are the only black-owned plant store in the city and the only plant store in a mall.

Why did you choose this over other career goals?

In our world of YouTube and DIY so I wanted to turn fresh fruit creative into a business coaching brand and that didn’t pan out because people don’t see the value in that. So Fresh Fruit creative was transferred into a coaching brand, and it unfortunately fizzled out. I also had a work from home business I started called Black Atlas Business Solutions. I made a virtual call center, and nobody wanted to work from home with that so Stems and Stone came out on top as far as my businesses go.

Future Goals and life

How are you planning to be more successful in the future?

What are some goals you have yet to achieve?
I aspire to get into import/export and freight. I want to get into logistics, and I want to get into setting up business in other countries. I also want to acquire a large amount of land and start a non-profit to setup creative housing to help people pursue their goals without the difficulties of the world.

How will you achieve them?

Sound off

This project was inspired by the actions taken and shared by these successful people. I saw their work and their successes and knew that a central place where these four amazing women needed a feature in one single place. Thank you, Nichelle, Naomi, Madelinekarita, and Reese for participating in this article. You are successful to me.


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