Keeana Barber is the CEO of WDB Marketing, a one-stop marketing and promotions shop. The company offers graphic design, print services, web design, marketing and promotional strategies. Barber talked with rolling out about her business, Black representation in entrepreneurship and ways we can support Black businesses going forward.
What led you to become an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship was always in my family. It was something that was part of my bloodline, and I saw that you could build your own wealth. My granddad owned a small grocery store, and my mom sold clothes. When I went to college, I knew I wanted to come out and be an entrepreneur. So my pathway started kind of untraditional. I graduated, and then my brother ended up passing away in November 2004, so in his honor, I decided to continue a company that he had just started. I started doing events, as a lot of people don’t know that my background was events, promotions and things like that. After two years of working hard and being hit or miss with events, I decided to transition and focus more on branding and actually marketing for other companies.
Why is it important for Black entrepreneurs to get their names out there and create a space for themselves?
It’s definitely important. I always like to say we are our own ecosystem. When we talk about things, I’m a big champion of change in our community. As I said, my brother passed away from gun violence, so what can we do? How can we create more jobs? How can we encourage the next generation? To me, a lot of that starts with economics. You’re either going to be dependent on the government, depending on other people, or you’re going to create it yourself. I feel like entrepreneurship is a way that we created ourselves. We can control the jobs that are created, who’s hired in the community and we control the buildings in any community. If I want to see a nonprofit get supported, if I want to see more of those services, if I’m a strong enough business, I’m able to do that. So to me all that is entrepreneurship.
How important is mentorship when it comes to being an entrepreneur?
Mentorship is key and is definitely something that I am a champion of. I’m a huge champion of how do we educate and learn from each other, especially people who have already hit that level of success. Mentorship plays a big role with me, and I listen to people who challenge me all the time. And they challenge me to [ask] even when we appear to be successful, “Are you truly successful? Are you really hitting the marks that you want to hit?” I suggest people find mentors, not just in their area, but also just in the lifestyle that they want.