Sistas in Sales, founded in 2018 by Chantel George, is a community for women of color in sales and business. Its mission is to build a community for black women sales professionals to network, advance their careers and most importantly, find sisterhood. Chantel created an environment where other women of color in sales positions would be welcomed, motivated and inspired by each other. Where together they could dispel the “old boys club” that currently exists in institutions today and show the world that women of color are not only powerhouse sales women, but are out there cashing checks, moving up the ladder and living their best life. Chantel states, “Those are not the narratives we see in the media, and I have made it my purpose to change that. Sistas In Sales LLC, is the first community of it’s kind for women of color in professional sales, and we provide the safe haven necessary, along with the sisterhood and access to successful women of color that are at the highest echelon of their career.” Chantel celebrated her idea coming into fruition by hosting an intimate dinner/ soft launch party entitled, “A Seat at the Table” on the evening of Thursday, April 26th 2018.
“A Seat at the Table,” is an amazing concept that was executed beautifully by Chantel gathering a dozen successful sales and business women of color who were able to drink wine and break bread (literally) with one another while sharing their own personal journeys towards success in corporate America. Through the flow of red wine and personal stories, everyone had an opportunity to share their truths. Many of the stories shared had one similar theme, black women and women of color are undervalued, under-appreciated and not respected in the business of sales. The main goal of SIS is to change that narrative and educate the people that do not believe that we exist in corporate America. Amongst the attendees was Menen Missailidis, a Client Engagement Associate for Dataminr says, “I have never been at an event so catered to my career and I felt extremely supported and understood.” She also mentioned that it was nice to be in a room where she was surrounded by such successful and hardworking, bold, black saleswomen, who were “risk takers & unapologetic” about their stance and positions in corporate America. This was a statement echoed throughout the night and was felt the moment I walked into the room.
The night was filled with an amazing display of food created by Chef Samir Selmanovic who hosted the ladies in his beautiful Harlem home. Chef Samir being of European descent, was both shocked and impressed with the stories shared since he has never been made aware of our professional struggles. He strongly believes that SIS is headed towards the right direction fostering change with this initiative.
Imani Holland, President & CEO of Brmani Marketing Communications, LLC and Alexandra Angrand, felt like it was an evening well spent with “intelligent, like-minded women.” Imani made an important point to mention that “SIS gives us the support we need to be bold with our education, talent, areas of expertise and sales skills as we multitask through our professional and personal lives. It is important to have this community because women of color are far, few and in-between as we pursue our greatness in the business world.” To be in the room to hear these thoughts being shared was an eye opening moment. It revealed how there are other women with similar experiences, and we were all empowered to know that there is now a sisterhood being created with each statement and story shared. As result, we now have each other’s back since we have now been made aware. As they say, ignorance is bliss, but once you know, it is pertinent to take action, especially if it is something that tugs at your soul and your life’s purpose.
The atmosphere in the room was one that provided a surge of energy, inspiration, motivation, and confidence to accomplish any and everything after hearing these women speak. Not one person was too shy to speak up, state their names, professional roles and share their side businesses and passion projects with the room. In fact, the photographer for the evening, Raven Tucker, was able to book a photography gig with the Special Olympics, just because she was in the right room at the right time with black professional women that are the connection needed or know of the right connections in all business verticals. This is a room that most white men or women would look at and assume that we were chatting about hair and fashion (since everyone was dressed so nicely), but in fact we are the top women in our organizations, holding impressive professional titles, and running the show as well. This room filled such professional sales and business women, has debunked the notion of judging a book by its cover.
One of the women making a name for herself and helping to debunk that notion is Rahdiah Barnes, an Account Manager for Spectrum & the VP of NAMIC, The National Association for Multi Ethnicity in Communications. Rahdiah states that “SIS is so important and much needed as it provides a community for women of color who feel they are alone in a white male dominated industry where we often feel isolated. SIS allows for fellowship and support of one another while we continue to to be bold in our everyday moves. Which means being courageous to do what you want while having the confidence in yourself to know that you are capable.” Confidence was another key theme of the evening. Even if you were not the most confident, every woman in the room exudes it some way by how they carried themselves and spoke about their trials and tribulations. Tianna Kenney, Wholesale Account Executive for PVH Corp, states “It was awesome to see how much we had in common, yet also how different we were and how a lot of the ‘side hustles’ and interests overlap.” Tiana foresees both “new business partnerships and friendships coming from the bold women of SIS,” and to be honest, we all saw them forming at the table and according to her, that was truly a beautiful site to see. According to Tiana, being bold did not mean to be fearless, but “being prepared to face those fears head on.” She states that, “I don’t fear failure because everything that looks like failure is just an opportunity to learn and do better or act differently next time.” Hence, Chantel creating SIS; if she operated in fear, this amazing community would not have been created and black women would not have a safe space to address these concerns and unfortunate common themes of non inclusion and a lack of diversity in the sales industry.
Overall, the soft launch of Sistas in Sales was an amazing success, even more so because of the bonds created at and off the dinner table. This is the beginning of something that promotes and exposes the black girl magic that every black woman possesses, and will empower them to trust and believe that they too have A Seat at the Table.
Photos by: Raven Tucker