In this article Dominique Olowolafe, Black Mompreneur, Bébé Voyage brand partner and CEO of Lightly, shares her story and experience as a Black mother and business owner.
When I think about my startup, I realize it is an accurate reflection of every fiber of my being. So who am I? And what exactly is Lightly?
My name is Dominique Olowolafe and I am a young black woman. I grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, and am the youngest of three. My brothers and I grew up in a town where our blackness always stood out. Being one of few or often the only black kid in every classroom, birthday party, or sports team meant that we quickly grew accustomed to being unicorns. Never being able to go unnoticed was also a direct result of my physical and genetic makeup. I am tall and always towered over everyone.
Ultimately forced to become comfortable with being uncomfortable in most social settings. But it has helped me exponentially as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is uncomfortable. Starting a business is not easy. But being Black in our society has undoubtedly prepared me for that. You have to put yourself out there, and it will be scary, but if you’re passionate about what you’re starting it will be worth it.
Fast forward to my early 20’s.
I’ve finished college and am now living overseas as a professional athlete. I’ll never forget my first season in Switzerland; where I would make a lot of mistakes, buck training systems I didn’t agree with and ultimately tarnish my Swiss reputation by choosing my personal life over contractual obligations. Young and dumb is how I’d classify this phase, but life as a volleyball player also instilled so many invaluable traits.
Resilience, persistence, camaraderie, and a high pain tolerance are the ones that immediately come to mind. It was the nonstop training, countless hours in the gym, and the perfecting of my craft that would help me take the same strategy & process approach to entrepreneurship. Game days were always fun because you saw direct results and feedback from all the work that had been done. Finding those feedback loops and direct metrics within your own business will be so rewarding. Keep going and don’t give up because your commitment to the process will pay off.
Hollywood x Fashion.
If you ask any of my close friends and family, they’d tell you that I have always loved shopping, clothes, and fashion. So I consider myself incredibly lucky to have landed a career that paid me to do that thus far. As a freelance wardrobe stylist in the production & entertainment industry, I was able to learn budgeting, personnel management, and how to deliver products with very short deadlines.
All of these elements I find to be incredibly beneficial in my personal business journey. And the best costume designers that I’ve worked with ALWAYS had this in common; they spent time working in other essential roles within their department allowing them to lead and appreciate their team more effectively. At the beginning of our entrepreneur journeys, we don’t have the luxury of delegating unfamiliar roles and tasks. So learn as much as you can and dig deep. The work will pay off.
Motherhood as a millennial.
Never in a million years did I imagine I would already have 2 daughters at the age of 30. But here I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My children remind me every day that parenthood is the absolute hardest job out there and that I will make plenty of mistakes. But it’s actually boosted my confidence when it comes to entrepreneurship. If you’re already juggling the demands of parenting or have had the miraculous experience of birthing a baby, then remember that you are superhuman and can do absolutely anything!
So, what is Lightly?
Lightly is this perfect storm, the culmination of my life experiences, passions, and visions. It is a service designed to transform the way you travel with infants and small kids. I’m tired of seeing parents struggle to lug everything through busy airports and subway stations, tired of parents feeling like they are on their own. I’m tired of feeling like there is no sincere support for families in the airports and hospitality industry. The buck stops here. Lightly is committed to helping you experience the vacation and travel experiences you deserve.
We deliver curated care packages directly to destination doorsteps. It’s the best collection of premium brands and baby products. It’s absolutely everything you need. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s one less bag to carry, and an awesome welcome gift to greet you at the door.
Keep Lightly on your radar – and help us change the travel world. Click the link below to join our family.
Lightly launches at the end of July!
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