Business

SheCAN Biz Directory Interview: Black Wall Street London Founder NATASHA VIGILLE

Born in East London and heavily influenced by the musical sounds of mother  ‘Carole Thompson,’ who passed down her love of music and song. In her late teens she was a professional Croupier working in some of London’s most prestigious casinos.

After travelling extensively throughout India and living for 10 years in Tulum, Mexico where she founded her first business, an entertainment agency, returning to London UK in 2014 and then moved to Devon in 2018 in “search of a little more greenery”.  Learning hand crafting and studying the history of candle making, Natasha started her luxury scented candles business Cornucopia Emporium.

Now she is also the Founder of BLACK WALL STREET LONDON which was the product of brainstorming for many years on how to create an epicentre of Black business and culture! ALT caught up with her to talk shop.

When did you start BWSL?

That’s a great question…

The brainstorming of BWSL started many years ago whilst I was building the foundation of my hand poured luxury scented candle business ‘Cornucopia Emporium.’

As I transitioned from exhibiting at car boot sales and marketplaces to trade fairs, expo shows and conventions, I was consistently soaking up valuable information, experience, and business ideas for BWSL.

BWSL’s first exhibition event was launched on September 5th, 2020 at ‘The Factory’ in Dalston, London with twenty Black owned business exhibitors onboard, my candle company ‘Cornucopia Emporium’ included!

What was the concept/ model?

The B2B model was to create an Afrocentric exhibition, marketplace, and business development hub that would provide start-ups and existing Black owned businesses with accessible and affordable workspace and business trading space.  

The B2C concept was to host a series of organised events created to showcase Black owned business, spread brand awareness, business knowledge and the message of collaboration whilst promoting an all-inclusive community audience.

Who are your customers?

BWSL customers are Black owned businesses and their consumers.

What services do you provide?

BWSL currently supports over 100 active businesses via exhibition events, a Virtual Market and Online Live Business Events.

With a focus on retail exhibitions, BWSL also provide additional event elements such as Keynote speakers, spoken word poetry, fashion shows, live performances all in collaboration with various community projects.

BWSL also offer additional services beneficial to the community such as counselling, mentoring and mental health services.

We believe that collaboration is key to our success…

And it will be done with the community as the focal point.

What are some of the challenges you have faced setting up?

Many of the challenges BWSL faced setting up are the common ‘Strategic

Challenges’ experienced by Black entrepreneurs today.

A lack of financial support and investment, unconscious bias, and limited access to influential networking communities.

What do you say to investors who ignore the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, Black women?

To investors who ignore the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, Black women, I say: “Shame on you!”

What advice do you give to SMEs during this time in terms of remaining relevant on what you have learnt?

Remember to remain fluid in business and be prepared to pivot!

Also stay connected to as many communities and platforms with like-minded people.

How have you re-shaped or shaped your business model during Covid-19? BWSL is focused on physical location events however during Covid-19 we have reshaped our business model by utilising our virtual platforms to show continuous on trend support to the businesses who in turn support us, by hosting 24-hour live online business events in the lockdown interim… Creating and forming strategic relationships and collaboration partners in the current climate.

How do you see the future of BSWL are looking for finance?

Financially, BWSL has recognised the need to become self-contained and reliant.

That’s why we are currently fundraising for economic growth and independence via

‘The Black Million.’

The Black Million is a campaign created around ‘BWSL’ and a series of organised events with a purpose to raise capital and provide solutions for the ‘Strategic Challenges’ experienced by Black entrepreneurs.

THE BLACK MILLION CAMPAIGN MISSION

  • Purchase our own premises for ‘Black Wall Street London’
  • Establish ‘BWSL’ as a permanent feature in the UK
  • Create a strong community database
  • Financially support and invest in other businesses

What advice would you give to anyone starting out from what you have learnt? Tap into all the resources available to you such as government grants, business assistance schemes, crowdfunding platforms, and workshops… And find yourself a great mentor!  Oh! And feel the fear and do it anyway!

Find out more: www.blackwallstreetlondon.com

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