DIAGEO and its brands Johnnie Walker, Ketel One, and Seedlip partnered with Refine Collective’s Planet HER, a community-focused night bazaar and marketplace showcasing women creatives in Chicago founded by IB Majekodumni. This is part of DIAGEO’s Society 2030 plan to shape a more inclusive world.
Refine Collective started as a passion project. “I started building out a directory to make it easy to find different women and minority-owned small businesses in Chicago in January 2020. I have a background in electronic procurement technology… I was always around concepts such as buying power, so the decisions we make with our money have always interested me.”
IB noted a new Black queer veteran-owned coffee shop that opened across the street from her, and in proximity was a Starbucks. IB saw many people coming from Starbucks, but she knew the coffee was better at the veteran-owned local shop. With this in mind, IB sent out a survey in her networks at the top of 2020 to better understand if people are mindful of where they’re putting their money daily and if it matters to them. Her overarching feedback was that they were just hard to identify, so she started to build out the directory, and the directory spawned into a larger community.
Minority-owned businesses must have equal opportunities to move towards a more inclusive world. When discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion, IB defined it as showing in a space where she can be her authentic self and be in spaces that cultivate that. She also wants to create this space for others. “I want to create spaces where people can show up and be themselves and champion people…to be that regardless of their identity.”
Entrepreneurship was never something IB thought she was going to pursue as she fell into it. Entrepreneurship can be complex and present its own set of challenges. For IB, one of her challenges has been funding. “I was filling out 20 applications a month, and out of the 80 I filled out, I think I won one,” she expressed. Another challenge has been learning about her taxes and the mental aspect of being an entrepreneur. “You have doubts trying to make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing and doing what I’m doing authentically.”
Over the years, women have made significant strides in entrepreneurship, and women are “rewriting what entrepreneurship looks like for us,” IB said. She also mentioned that “a lot of times back then, we thought you need to have a brick-and-mortar business, and there has to be some type of product, but I think it’s cool seeing women take some of their skills that may not be quantifiable, but maybe their soft skills and just different acumen and being able to create businesses out of that.”
For those who want to be an entrepreneur or who are already in the business industry, IB’s advice is to “build your pillars and stick to them.” IB has built her business on her values and beliefs and what is important to her. “I have found that anytime I’ve made a decision I regret is when I’ve done it out of fear and when I veer away from my pillars.” She also recommends that you have your own mini board of advisors…trusted members, and people in your life that you can spitball ideas and that they know your pillars so that they can be your accountability as well.”
When discussing Planet HER, IB stressed the importance of such events. “I think when the pandemic hit, we really lost that human connection, and I really love having these… and having the opportunity to give different women, and minority-owned businesses, the opportunity to get Facetime with people who are interested in their work.” She also mentioned how excited she was to host the event in Chicago. “I think Chicago is often overlooked and it’s exciting to create something that’s for Chicagoans by Chicagoans, by people who know us.”
IB could only conclude the interview by discussing how unique her partnership with DIAGEO has been. “DIAGEO was my first and only sponsor for our very first market event. It was 2021, our Juneteenth Reina market, and it was what kicked off us creating these events. Since then, we’ve done seven different large-scale markets, kind of bringing in over 4,000 people annually to these events. The partnership is part of their Society 2030 campaign, aiming to support more diverse women in minority-owned businesses. I think it’s just a great alignment which Refine Collective’s mission to funnel collective purchasing power back into the hands of the underrepresented.”
As we continue to strive towards a more diverse and inclusive world, DIAGEO and Refine Collective are making their mark on the world one event at a time.
Photo Caption: IB Majekodunmi Toasts to Women’s History Month at Plant Her with DIAGEO and its Brands, Johnnie Walker, Ketel One, and Seedlip in Chicago
Photo Credit: Ambercita