20 Trailblazing Black Women You Should Know

March is Women’s History Month, at Creative Smart Girl every month is women's month.  Our entire purpose is in celebration of women. We celebrate women doing the work to build the life, career, and style of their dreams. We also recognize the many women who are blazing trials for us and those who will come after us. As a collective, Black women continue to break barriers and pave new paths for the next generation. These women are journalists, entertainers, actresses, founders, innovators and so much more. In honor of Women's History Month we're paying homage to today's trailblazing women making a way for us all: 

1. Myleik Teele 

Image: My Taught You 

Image: My Taught You 

Myleik Teele is the 36 year old founder of curlBOX,  an exclusive and effortless way to experience products for curly hair. Cali-born Teele had already worked with brands like the Grammys,  Nike and Calvin Klein using her public relations expertise before moving to Atlanta and launching curlBOX, which has partnered with the likes of Walmart and Target. Teele uses her influence inspire other women of color to pursue their dreams and give entrepreneurial advice based on her experiences through her podcast acclaimed podcast MyTaughtYou. Teele has built a company from the ground up with grit and tenacity. She's paving the way for all of us in the beauty industry while forcing major brands to pay attention to our specific needs and desires. 

2. Kimberly Foster

Image: For Harriet 

Image: For Harriet 

Kimberly Foster is the 28 year-old Harvard grad behind For Harriet, a website dedicated to shinning light on the accomplishments of Black women and giving them a platform to tell their stories on Black womanhood. She launched the platform in 2010 while an undergrad at the Ivy-League university and it now has a reach of over 2 million readers. For Harriet  has been featured in the New York Times, Ebony.com, and was chosen as one of the '15 Must Share Websites of 2014' by News One. Foster's work has been published in The Guardian and Newsweek. She has appeared on Huffpost Live, NPR, MSNBC’s Shift, BET.com, and is a part of the Forbes' 30 under 30 class of 2016. 

3. Morgan DeBaun

Image: MorganDeBaun.com 

Image: MorganDeBaun.com 

Morgan DeBaun is one of the millennial co-founders of multi-cultural media startup Blavity. She launched the platform in 2014 to rave reviews and strong support. Blavity serves as a source of news with content around tech, entertainment, lifestyle and more. DeBaun has been an inspiration for those growing companies and influence through the content we create daily. Blavity has given people of color a voice on issues that affect us and serves as a platform where our perspectives are understood. DeBaun has been included in the Forbes 30 under 30, Linkedin's Next Wave, The Root top 100 most influential Black Americans and Essence Magazine. The Washington University graduate and Silicon Valley veteran has shattered a glass ceiling for women in both the tech and media industries. 

4. Issa Rae

Image: Buzzfeed 

Image: Buzzfeed 

Issa Rae is an award winning television writer, and actress, most notably known for her HBO series Insecure, which took the entertainment industry by storm last year. Her work has gotten over 23 million views and over 200,000 YouTube subscribers. She has been featured on  Glamour Magazine's 35 Under 35, Forbes' 30 Under 30" and she's even won a Shorty Award for best web show for the Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Rae is a New York Times bestseller and has been featured on CNN, ELLE, Issa's first book, Seventeen, Rolling Stone, BuzzFeed, Fast Company, Essence and more. 

5. Luvvie Ajayi

Image: Luvvie.org 

Image: Luvvie.org 

Luvvie Ajayi has built a following around her blog of 13 years, Awesomely Luvvie, which presents her opinions and the facts on all things pop culture, entertainment and technology. Ajayi is a graduate of the University of Illinois and has a background in digital strategy, marketing and writing. She recently released her book 'Im Judging you: The do better manual' in September 2016 and it's already a New York Times bestseller. As a result of the success of her book, it will be made into a cable TV series produced by Shondaland. Ajayi has been selected as a part of Oprah Winfrey’s inaugural Supersoul100 list, voted as the Influencer of the Year at the 2016 Iris Awards and was chosen as a 2015 Black Innovator by XFINITY Comcast and was recipient of Women’s Media Center’s Social Media Award for using her influence to bring light to racial and gender inequality. She has been featured by ESSENCE,  AOL.comBlack EnterpriseThe RootBET and more.

6. Melissa Butler

Image: Think Pynk 

Image: Think Pynk 

Melissa Butler is the founder of The Lip Bar which is making big waves in the beauty industry. Butler is a Detroit native who decided to leave her job as an analyst on Wall Street to follow her passion. After being rejected from Shark Tank investors, Butler didn't give up on her dreams and now operates a half-million dollar company. The Lip Bar has been featuered in Ebony.com, XOnecole and has partnered with Target, Nasty Gal and Forever 21. 

7. Ade Hassan

Image: Pinterest 

Image: Pinterest 

Ade Hassan is the founder of Nubian Skin, a hosiery company headquartered in London, on a mission to give women of color nude undergarments that compliment their complexions. Nubian Skin was founded in 2014 and is now being sold at ASOS.com, Nordstrom and was selected for wear in Beyonce's Formation Tour. Hassan received the Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the Great British Entrepreneur, won UK's Favorite British Designer of the Year and became a finalist at the Black British Business Awards. 

8. Jemele Hill

Image: Pursuitist 

Image: Pursuitist 

Jemele Hill multimedia sports journalist and host of ESPN's SportsCenter, also known as "The Six". Previously, she wrote for the Raleigh News and Observer and the Detroit Free Press as a sports columnist before becoming a national contributor for ESPN.com. Her podcast with co-host and colleague Micheal Smith, His and Hers, led to her current position. Hill is breaking the glass ceiling in sports reporting and paving the way for women of color to be seen as equals in the sports industry.  

9, Rhonesha Byng

Photo: BSmart Guide 

Photo: BSmart Guide 

Rhonesha Byng is an Emmy award winning journalist and founder of award winning site, HerAgenda.com. Byng lives by the motto No one Ever Slows Her Agenda (NESHA) and used it for the motto of the site. Byng is doing the work to build the bridge between action and ambition for career-driven women. She's a part of the 2017 class of Forbes' 30 Under 30 , named one of 28 Under 28 by NBCBLK and one of 29 People To Know by BET. What started a blog in her dorm room became a full time career for Byng and has led her to speaking at the White House and receiving awards from the Associated Press and NY Association of Black Journalists. 

10. Elaine Welterworth

Image: Glitter Guide 

Image: Glitter Guide 

Elaine Welterworth is the current editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue and we can already see the impact her leadership is having on the publications reach and credibility. Welteroth the youngest person to be appointed to the title of editor-in-chief in Conde Nast history at 29 years old. She is also only the second African-American to ever hold the title in the company's 107 year existance. She join Teen Vogue in 2012 as the magazine's beauty and health director, and helped launch the YouTube channel. Prior to working at Teen Vogue Welterworth worked for Glamour and Ebony, and is a graduate of California State University. 

11. Recho Omondi

Image: By Way of Brooklyn 

Image: By Way of Brooklyn 

Recho Omondi is a Kenyan women's fashion and accessories designer based in New York City, who uses her background to create a distinct image for herself in the fashion industry. She launched her brand in 2013 and began to turn heads after she showcased her second collection the NYC's Chelsea Gallery. After that show Omondi has decided to use a different strategy for her line. She has refused to keep up with the frenetic pace of the fashion industry involved fashion weeks.  She's described NYFW as 'dead and archaic.' While most new designers are vying to show their work at fashion week, Omondi has chosen to use the power of her brand's online presence and social media to ensure the success of her designs.

12.  Lauren Ash

Image: LaurenAsh.co  

Image: LaurenAsh.co  

Lauren Ash is the visionary behind Black Girl in OM and co-founder of Party Noire. She is on the mission to change the face of wellness. As we know wellness has been incredible whitewashed even though it's foundations are diverse and multi-cultural. Ash has dedicated her work to creative women of color by helping them create a life around wellness and community through consultations, meditation, workshops and more. 

13. Christina Brown

Image: Think Pynk 

Image: Think Pynk 

Christina Brown is the creator of lifestyle blog LoveBrownSugar.com. which focuses on fashion and beauty for women of color. Her blog has been recognized by the New York Times and Essence magazine. She most recently partnered with Dove for a special television campaign to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Beauty Bar. Brown has been blogging since 2009 and featured on Black Enterprise, HelloBeautiful.com 30 under 30 Style Maven lists, named a 2012 Black Blogger To Watch” by TheRoot.com, a Top 40 Style Blogger by Essence, and more. 

14. Tonya Rapley

tonya.jpg

Tonya Rapley is a nationally recognized millennial money expert and founder of the award-winning site, My Fab Finance. She has graced the cover of Black Enterprise magazine and was deemed the "New Face of Wealth Building". She was also selected as a Modern History Maker by TV One and has been recognized as one of the “Top 10 Most Influential Women in Personal Finance on Twitter”. A career “change-agent” since 2010, Tonya uses her own story and experiences to empower women and girls of all ages with tools to change their lives. In 2016 she created the #Banishtthebalance challenge, a debt elimination challenge that helped over 4,000 participants pay off approximately $225,000 worth of debt on 90 days. Her mission is to help millennial women break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and own their power.

14. Karleen Roy

Image: Michael Rowe, Essence.com 

Image: Michael Rowe, Essence.com 

Karleen Roy went from being Diddy's assistant of six years to launching her own company, the Vanity Group, a luxury lifestyle management firm that specializes in event planning for high profile clients. Her client list includes Diddy, Kobe Bryant and Maybach  Music Group. She has carved out a niche for The Vanity Group – innovator, executor, and experience curator. After graduating from college Karlene moved herself to New York City and began working her way up through the ranks at Def Jam. Roy's has credited her success to hard work and fostering strong relationships. 

16. Kahlana Barfield

Image: Kahlana Barfield Instagram

Image: Kahlana Barfield Instagram

Kahlana Barfield is the fashion and beauty editor at large of InStlye Magazine, who worked her way up from intern. She moved from Seattle to attend Howard University and ended up landing an internship at InStlye and worked two jobs to make ends meet in NYC. She's been promoted in the company six times and is an example of what happens when you work hard and build the right relationships. 

17. Tara Reed

Image: Jesse Chehak

Image: Jesse Chehak

Tara Reed is the founder of Apps Without Code. The former Google and Microsoft employee created Kollecto to get personal recommendations on fine art she was interested in buying. She built the app without knowing how to code and is now teaching other non-technical founders how to do the same. Reed has used social media strategically teach creatives how to build their apps without code. 

18. Tiffany Dufu

Image: Forbes 

Image: Forbes 

Tiffany Dufu is a leading voice in women's leadership movement, Dufu is doing the real work in order to advance women and young girls. She is the author of Drop the Ball, a memoir about teaching women how to let go and thrive in their lives Tiffany recounts how she learned to reevaluate expectations, shrink her to-do list, and meaningfully engage the assistance of others—freeing the space she needed to flourish at work and to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships at home. She's been featured in The New York Times, ESSENCE, O, The Oprah Magazine, NPR, The Huffington Post and more. 

19. Kathryn Finney

Kathryn Finney is the founder of Digital Undivided, a social enterprise that helps Black and Latina founders through innovation and economic growth. She's one of the most influential women in tech, and is also a writer, investor and television correspondent. In the past four years, Digital Undivided has helped over 20,00 people and raised $25 million in investments. Her 16 page report, Project Diane, on women of color in tech has been shared on CNN, Forbes and Fast Company. Finney has been featured in Essence, Marie Claire and more. 

20. Tricia Clarke-Stone

Image: Crain's New York Business 

Image: Crain's New York Business 

Tricia Clarke-Stone is the co-founder of Narrative, a technology agency that connects brands and people through creative storytelling. She founded the company with mogul Russell Simmons, which has developed strategy for Samsung, JC Penny, Under Armour and more. 

 

Who are some women that inspire you to be great?