Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Janice Faison Ahmed is a business owner, wife, mother, twin sister and bonafide hustler. At age 19, Ahmed pursued her love for the entertainment industry and launched her career as a street team promoter for a variety of artists and clubs in New York City. In 1999, her career took a significant turn as she moved to Atlanta to become the assistant to Grammy Award-winning hip-hop duo, OutKast. From there, she became the assistant manager to Antwan Andre “Big Boi” Patton (one-half of OutKast) from 2004 through 2015.
Ahmed has always possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and as a result, she launched her first business, a real estate brokerage firm, in 2008. She followed that business with one that she started with Big Boi named Celebrity Trailers, which is a luxury RV rental company created for professionals in the film, entertainment, and sports industries. To date, Ahmed continues to build Celebrity Trailers as well as her other brands which consist of being a real estate broker, hosting vacation rentals, providing one-stop-shop services for the film industry and luxury transportation rentals.
Rolling out recently spoke with Ahmed about what it means to be a Black woman in a position of leadership and what she considers her superpowers to be.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower to be?
My superpower is my hustle and grind. If you can constantly think of effective ways to bring your ideas to life while helping someone else, you will constantly put yourself ahead of the game.
What key skills or qualities make you unique as an African American female leader?
Being an African American woman is a unique quality of itself. We are so strong, resilient and unstoppable. We are the backbone of the black community.
As an African American female leader, I believe my care for others, sense of humor, authenticity and ability to motivate people to be the best version of themselves has resonated with the folks I’ve interacted with.
As I continue to build my brand, I hope to make a positive impact on more lives — especially Black women who are interested in business. They need to know that they are capable. Use your resources, make a plan and start. Business is not easy, but if you think you can do it, try!
How do you define innovation?
Thinking outside the box and using your resources to make something out of nothing.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Knowing what I know now about the importance of financial stability, I would encourage myself to begin investing at an earlier age and to maintain good credit.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
Representation. Representation. Representation. If women of color don’t have a seat at the table (or create their own table!), then our problems, our concerns, our experiences and our voices aren’t heard; which means the decisions are not entirely inclusive.
When women of color are business owners, in the boardrooms, in the political arenas, leading our communities—they are not only contributing to well-rounded decisions, but they’re also empowering young girls and letting them know “hey, you can call the shots too!”
As a Black woman in the trailer industry, which is predominantly occupied by White males, there have been many times where I’ve been ostracized and I know it’s because of what I look like. It’s inevitable that every woman of color will face a similar battle, but the more we continue to push the envelope and secure our seats, the more things will change.
If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
Oprah. Who doesn’t love Oprah? She’s a living example [that] anything is possible — despite your circumstances. The road to success is not easy at all, but your dreams can become reality. Her adversity and accomplishments are testaments to that.
Why is it important for seasoned and experienced Black women to reach back and help younger women of color?
Younger women of color need to know they have options and that there are people who want to see them win. I think it’s important for successful people to go back to the communities they came from and show the young generation the tools (i.e. the importance of education, networking, etc.) that can help them achieve the life they desire.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition?
I think it’s cool and a necessary call to action for more partnerships and less “crabs in a barrel” mentality. With Celebrity Trailers, my business partner is Big Boi of OutKast, and over the past 10 years, he has been a reliable partner that provides a realistic and honest perspective. Every business owner needs that.
What are three success habits you implement into your daily routine to maintain your success, sanity, and or peace of mind, etc.?
I constantly take a moment to think about new ideas and figure out how I’m going to put them into action. Challenges stimulate my mind.
I spend time with my family—we love to travel!
I enjoy listening to music.
As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest or proudest achievement?
Definitely, Celebrity Trailers. We are approaching a decade in business and I couldn’t be more blessed.
If you could have any person in the world become your mentor, who would you choose and why?
Oprah and Tyler Perry. Both of them are in similar niches of the entertainment and media industries that I deal with every day. They continue to push the envelope in their careers and wear many hats, and they give back.