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The Power of Women Leaders: Marking Eight Years of Gray Matter Experience’s Impact



Women leaders are instrumental in fostering a more inclusive and diverse landscape in the business world and within The Gray Matter Experience. As a Black woman-led organization, we've reshaped the narrative of entrepreneurship, making it more accessible and representative of women of color. By nurturing, leading, and creating space for others to grow alongside us, we've set an example for the broader community of what is possible when we invest in and nurture the dreams of young women.


As we celebrate our eighth year, The Gray Matter Experience continues to pave the way for young women in entrepreneurship. By providing tangible examples of Black women leading, we inspire the next generation of leaders to pursue their dreams fearlessly. During this Women’s History Month, our Founder & CEO, Britney Robbins shares her future vision for The Gray Matter Experience.


 

Can you share the inspiration behind founding The Gray Matter Experience and how your personal experiences influenced its mission?

Founding the Gray Matter Experience was very personal to me. I grew up in a household with two entrepreneurial parents, who had great ideas for service-based businesses but needed to truly understand the business side of running and maintaining a business, which I watched and experienced during my childhood. When I moved to Chicago and started learning more about the entrepreneurial ecosystem here, I started to understand how robust it was and how many resources were available to people who knew about them - although many of those people didn’t look like me. 


I had my own experience with entrepreneurship when I wrote and published my first children's book in 2015. Trying to navigate the process of managing my expenses, income, marketing, sales, and order distribution, I started to see that there was a gap in accessible knowledge. There weren't a ton of spaces that I could go to feel included and supported in understanding best practices for building a business. Shortly after, I began working in the nonprofit and youth development space, particularly helping young people navigate entrepreneurship, and started to better understand the nuances in the Black entrepreneurship experience as well as the disconnect between what our young people saw as entrepreneurship/business ownership and what was truly possible. I wanted to create a space where young people could envision themselves as business owners and while experiencing that, begin to increase their knowledge, networks and opportunities to build sustainable businesses in and for our communities


The Gray Matter Experience has been instrumental in bridging the education, resource, and access gap for founders of color. Can you share some key milestones and achievements that highlight the organization's impact, especially in empowering young women within this space?


When I think of our organization’s impact, I think of the number of young people whose lives I have watched catapult and the joy of being able to credit some of that to our work. Young girls, like Jovoney and McKayla who left college and went on to work for some of the top tech companies in the country. Young women like Janniya and Jace who graduated from high school and became full-time entrepreneurs and have been able to sustain themselves for the past four years. Other students have pitched on stage with adult competitors and placed as finalists, winning funding to unlock even more opportunities. 


I feel incredibly grateful for the connection and bond we’ve built with our students. They trust us to shepherd them through this process and witnessing them use their experiences to shape how they move in the world - that’s the biggest achievement.


How do you believe women leaders, both within The Gray Matter Experience and beyond, contribute to fostering a more inclusive and diverse landscape? 


One of the things I think I'm most proud of about this organization is the fact that we have been able to build it with a team of Black women as the foundation of the organization. I believe this is powerful because when you think about the world of entrepreneurship in the world of business, oftentimes it is told and shown through a white male lens. To create something impactful for our communities and broader society, and for it to have remained Black woman-run, led, and owned, is our way of contributing to a more diverse landscape. Not only are we changing and reshaping the narrative, but we’re making it easier for others to have a seat at the table to do the same. And I believe naturally, as women, it’s in our nature to operate this way - to nurture, lead, and create space for others to learn and grow alongside us. I believe the more women we see joining the C-Suite, starting successful companies, and leading scalable organizations, the more diverse the landscape, culture and environment will become. 


As The Gray Matter Experience celebrates its eighth year, what role do you see the organization playing in shaping the narrative and opportunities for young women pursuing entrepreneurial paths?


What I love about this organization is that it not only empowers young women and young people with the tools to thrive within entrepreneurship themselves, but they also get to see it as they work with us. Young girls seeing Black women lead, opens up the possibilities. It opens up the reality and tangibility of this being a pathway that they could pursue - sooner rather than later. I love that we get to be a real-life example for young women in not only exposure, but in accessing opportunities to fuel their future dreams and goals.


Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for The Gray Matter Experience in championing the cause of women leaders in entrepreneurship, and how do you envision the organization evolving to continue making a positive impact in the years to come?


There's so much more on the horizon for The Gray Matter Experience. I truly believe that we are just beginning to crack the potential of how powerful of a vehicle our work could be for the future of our communities. My hope is that the Gray Matter Experience continues to grow, scale and evolve to more cities across the country and even internationally - that want to equip and mobilize Gen Z to create the future that they envision. I hope that we can continue to be an example of what culturally conscious leadership looks like.


 

As we forge ahead into our 8th year of business, we're committed to continuing our mission of fostering empowerment, innovation, and transformation. We dream of a future where our reach extends across cities and countries, inspiring Gen Z to shape their own destinies. With your continued support, we can make these dreams a reality. Let's stand together as we continue to break barriers, uplift young women leaders, and redefine the landscape of entrepreneurship.


Visit https://www.graymatterexperience.com/volunteer to explore ways to get involved today.


 


  





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