Black woman business owner
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Demetrion Ware, founder of the haircare giant KeraVada, has two words of advice for new and future entrepreneurs. One is very conventional, while the other goes against traditional wisdom.

DEFENDER: Do you have any words that you live by; a mantra that you share with club members?

WARE: I don’t think that there’s just one. There are some principles that I live by. One is, a lot of people have this idea about “Do what you love.” Everybody says that; “Do what you love.” My concept of that is a bit different. I don’t believe that it makes sense. I think that’s a lie when people say “Do what you love” for men. Maybe that works for women. I don’t think it will. But I say, “Do what makes money so you can pay to do what you love.”

And the reason I say that is just because you love to do something doesn’t mean somebody’s gonna pay you to do it. You can love sitting on your couch playing video games, but that doesn’t mean somebody’s gonna pay you to do that. You can love watching reality shows all day. That doesn’t mean somebody’s gonna pay you to do that. If somebody does, let me know. Because I’ll definitely take that job <laughs>. That’s one of my philosophies that I kind of live by.

Demetrion Ware

Another one would be, it is more of a parable-like type of thought process. Most Black people, we don’t go into business or into things that are new, because we’re afraid to put our effort into something that’s gonna fail; to put our money into stocks because the market may crash. We’re afraid to put our money into gold because the price may drop. We’re afraid to invest in a business with our friend because they may take advantage of us. There’s just so many things we’re afraid of because of the things that we’ve been through and the things that we’ve seen in our culture over so many years. Things are just kind of ingrained in African American culture. And many of the things that we’ve seen, that fear is really warranted. When we invest our money, we’re investing our last; all we have. We don’t have anything else. We’re not investing extra. So, when you put your money in the business, you invest it all. There’s nothing left. So, if it gets gone, it’s gone. That’s it. There’s nothing left. When they took Kanye’s money, he still had $400 million in the bank. They do that to one of us; it’s gone. It’s over. You’re done.

So, because of that, it makes us gunshot even to go into some of these areas that could actually be lucrative for us long term. So. my philosophy to get through that is you have to set a goal and you have to think about reaching that goal from the perspective of a baby taking his first steps. He doesn’t get up and just start running through the house. Black people, that’s how we wanna do it. We wanna get up and just run through the house and start doing back flips and jumping off of this. But really, that’s not how it works. Nothing works that way. We have to be willing to plant a seed and water the seed and be willing to continue to water that seed and give it time to grow.

And then we have to think in the terms of that seed. When you start watering that seed, you’re never gonna see anything come up for a long time, but you’re gonna have to still water something that you’re not gonna see anything out of. So, this company, KeraVada, when I first started, I put the product for sale and it wasn’t selling. And this is what people have to understand. This is the hard part. It’s like, you put something there and it’s not selling. The next day it hasn’t sold. Well, now you wanna quit. I wanted to quit. I did. I wanted to quit too. And I had a job making well over six figures and had been doing well. I wasn’t broke. So, it’s like, “Why am I doing this? Should I even be doing this?” But I was like, “Well, let me just go ahead since I’m already in it.” So, I continued on and, the next day, no sales. The next day, no sales. The fifth day a woman calls and asks a bunch of questions; didn’t buy anything. The next day no sale. The next day no sale. Then again, a woman calls, same lady asking a bunch of questions, and I answer the questions. Still no sales.

And this went on for about two weeks of seeing not one sale. But, I’m still trying to water the seed, but nothing’s happening, from what I can see. I’m not seeing anything grow. And I’m like, “Maybe I need to stop watering the seed. Maybe I need to plant another seed somewhere else and start watering that.” As Black people, we definitely do that. We’ll stop watering the seed and we’ll start watering another seed. But we didn’t finish watering the one that we were watering. Then I said, man, “Let’s just stay with it.” Third week, watering the seed, the lady calls. Same lady. And I’m sitting there frustrated, like, “Hey lady, why do you keep calling me? You’re not buying anything.” But I caught myself and I told her everything she wanted to know and was real nice to her and spent a whole lot of time with her, still. Finally got off the phone with her. She didn’t buy anything. Three days later, “Chi-ching.” I look, and guess who it was? That lady.

And that day, I was like, “Wow.” And it took almost a month. And I was like, “Wow. She bought it. Okay.” And then I had the energy to get more water and water that seed even more. And the thing that we don’t understand is that when you water that seed, when you do see something sprout from that seed, you’re not gonna see a tree. I didn’t see a tree. All I saw was a little bitty sprout of a seed that I had to keep giving water to.


Place of Birth: Houston

Education: Jersey Village High School and Aldine Eisenhower High School, then Oakwood University (an HBCU)

Advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs: Find a need and feel it.


Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...