Dallas Area Urban League YP

February 22, 2019

52883918_10102081271407944_6094446988298813440_nThank you to the Dallas – Fort Worth Urban League Young Professionals for inviting me to share my research at the Leadership & Development Conference Kickoff. Thank you to everyone who came out and shared their experiences as Black business owners. Thank you to Kayla Garner of BetternessBox, the Redbird Entrepreneur Center, LDC committee and the DFWULYP executive board.

“Asheli Atkins, M.B.A. was brought to the attention of the Leadership Development Conference (LDC) Chairs of the Dallas Forth Urban League Fort Worth Young Professional Group (DFWULYP) through a credited expert that had experienced Asheli Atkins’ research in a previous setting. Throughout the process Asheli Atkins was the ultimate professional, assisting us with documentation to answer questions to our proposed sponsor and creating documentation for our participants to take away.
Every document was well thought out and put together with great procession.
Before the event Asheli Atkins met with our other presenter and ensured that the Run of Show was interactive and impactful, down to the last second. On the day of the event, Asheli Atkins helped ensure all presentations were top notch for the event. Asheli Atkins incorporated the experience of our other presenter in a tactful and insightful manner. While presenting her research, Asheli Atkins ensured that every person, business owner, and Entrepreneur was impacted by the research in an interactive manner.
Asheli Atkins showcased her research in a manner where all participates were hungry for more. We have not spoken to any participant that was not positively impacted by the research, but furthermore each person has talked about how they have engaged their business to ensure they are moving forward in a more effective manner.”

Dominique A. Anthony & Charles D. Stein
Dallas-Fort Worth Urban League Young Professional Group
Leadership Development Conference Team

People & Places

October 26, 2018

unnamedWhen it comes to presenting, I’m not usually a nervous person… until I start to compare myself to the other people in the room. Presenting in front of and alongside scholars is nerve-wracking because not only do they understand what I am talking about (therefore critical) but they are very protective of the “research”, as they should be. But as usual, when I started talking all my nerves went out the window because the year-long journey of developing this framework came with some soul-crushing criticism from my committee members at Texas A&M… I’m made better for it and so is my research. The feedback from the attendees was amazing!!! I heard everything from “you really know what your stuff’ to some thought-provoking questions that allowed me to see just how far my research can & will go!

In these images, I was discussing the theories I use to support the approaches I developed. I use the work of racialization from the work of Omi & Winant and Miles & Brown to explain the racialization of businesses, specifically that of businesses owned by Blacks. Additionally, I look at ethnic and racial solidarity to explain the effect the re-emergence of the Buy Black movement has on the Black business community. In recent years, the Buy Black movement benefits Black businesses who identifying themselves as Black-owned, thus gaining support from Blacks. The framework is much deeper than this but hopefully, I’ll have a published article soon to explain it in great detail.

The Sociology of Black Entrepreneurship

October 24, 2018

I recently had a conversation with my mentor Jacquie Hall and she reminded me that I need to do a better job at marketing myself. With all of my talented friends and @HouBlkBus, I spend a lot of time promoting other people… but when it comes to me I don’t take the time to promote what I am doing. On this website, I often share what I’ve done but it’s rare that I share what’s ahead.

So here is a rundown. I’m traveling to Charlotte, NC for the Black Doctoral Network conference to present my research on Black entrepreneurs in Houston, TX. Many people know I am a Sociologist who studies entrepreneurs… which might not make sense to many but Sociology allowed me to become an expert in racial and ethnic relations as well as organizational theory. These areas plus my background as an MBA, assist me in exploring social identities (like race and gender) as well as organizational structures, theories, and entrepreneurs. But when it came time to identify a focus area, I followed my passion — which is Black businesses — and dove in to what I consider the Sociology of Black entrepreneurship. I’m developing a multidisciplinary framework that explores how and why Black entrepreneurs navigate barriers in the market, including racism, sexism, discrimination, and other power dynamics. In order to navigate these barriers, entrepreneurs consciously and subconsciously construct strategies that allow them to alter whether or not the public knows they are Black-owned. This ranges from the way Black businesses market themselves online, the products they sell, and the organizations they are affiliated with.

What could be better than presenting my research? How about assisting in the implementation and teaching of a campus-wide (open to all majors) entrepreneurship minor at Texas A&M University? I was recently asked to be apart of the TAMU Entrepreneurship Minor Steering Committee which focuses on increasing the innovation and the number of entrepreneurs that comes out of the University. I am beyond excited to be a part of this committee and work alongside distinguished professors and business professionals from outside of my department; taking my multidisciplinary approach beyond my research and into my teaching and academic service.

So, there’s that… for now. More news to come LOL

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From my other mentor & friend, Joseph

Voyage Houston Feature

September 1, 2018

Thank you to my friend and former client, Domonique Pugh, for nominating me for a Voyage Houston feature. I had the chance to share a little about my childhood, current work, and future goals. Check it out here 

What were you like growing up?
A nerd. I’m the middle of five and spent most of my time with my older and younger brothers. This meant comics, superheroes, and video games… a lot of them. When I was not with them, I spent time alone, usually sitting outside just thinking and people watching. Maybe, I was a boring child… 


Money Talks presented by Freeing She

August 9, 2018

In celebration of  #BlackWomensEqualPayDay. It’s important to acknowledge the struggles that Black women face in corporate America, academia and as an entrepreneur, due to their race & gender. Despite the fact that Black women are the fasting growing group of entrepreneurs & highly educated… there are no Black women as CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, we are paid 38% less than we’re owed & we receive less than 1% of capital investment provided to entrepreneurs. In 2009 I was offered a job, but at the time, fresh from undergrad, I honestly didn’t know you could negotiate your salary. I was simply thankful to have a job. After 2 years in my role, being ”promoted” with no pay to instructor/recruiter/graphic designer and obtaining an MBA I was making a little over $30K. I asked for a raise and did not receive it but I stayed at that job for almost 4 more years! STRESSED & STRUGGLING each month but looking back on it, I’m thankful for that experience… a learning experience. Unfortunately, the struggle for equal pay follows me into academia and even as an entrepreneur but now I know MY rules:
1. If you know your skills, quality and the market don’t be afraid to set your price & stick with it! Sticking with it may mean walking away from the job, opportunity or project. STICK WITH IT anyways!
2. Your service/product may be too expensive for some that does NOT mean lower your price. Adjust who you target.
3. There are so many resources (often free) to learn about salary negotiation, investing and funding for businesses owned by women of color. CLICK HERE to view some resources.
4. Know your worth!
A special thank you to Christa of Cubicles To Cocktails hosted by Freeing She along with Julia Rock of Rock Career Development for #BlackWomenEqualPayDay. We had fun! We laughed a lot but the honest and transparent conversation was my favorite. Thank you to the beautiful Black & Brown women who came out. Thank you to Momo Food + Wine Stoli Vodka Houston Latina Bloggers Black Girls Who Collaborate.

Photography by Urban Love Tree Photography

InfluencHER Dinner presented by Verizon

April 25, 2018


Interview for #WOCareerStories by Freeing She

April 10, 2018

wocheadshotThank you Christa Clarke Owolabi of Freeing She for the interview. I’m glad to be apart of the #WOCareerStories and what better day to kick this series off that Equal Pay Day!
This was one of the most transparent interviews I’ve done so far. I spoke honestly about wanting to drop out of my Ph.D. program & having no career plan as a college freshman. Most importantly, I discussed how my experience in my MBA program led me to study entrepreneurship and race. Visit @_freeingshe to read the full interview. Here is an excerpt from the interview write up.

“When I went into my program, I thought I was going to learn this knowledge, get out, and then start my event planning company. But when I was there, I realized something was missing. Why are they not talking about gender? Why are they not talking about race? This whole program was built around business management and entrepreneurship, but the social concepts that can influence somebody’s ability to be successful or not, weren’t mentioned. A year after graduation, I realized maybe I did not want to be an entrepreneur, maybe I really read more…”


Interview on Soul Filling Podcast

March 20, 2018


Thank you to the lovely ladies of Soul Filling podcast for inviting me to talk about All Things Black!
“New episode out now featuring the lovely Asheli Atkins, founder of Houston Black-Owned Businesses! We’re talking about the do’s and don’ts of running a business today.

Fox 26 Houston & Black Panther

February 19, 2018


I recently participated in a brief discussion on the cultural significance of the Black Panther movie on Fox 26 Houston. Click here to watch the full discussion.


L to R: Jaison Oliver, Frederick J. Goodall, KG Smooth, Kim Roxie, me, and Fox 26 Reporter, Jose Grinan.

The Blacademic Project Feature

October 31, 2017


Check out my feature on The Blacademic Project  (TBP), founded by Amanda Hope it “serves as a space for narratives of everyday black brilliance and black excellence.”

The questions really forced me to evaluate myself as an academic but more importantly my personal life. As a Ph.D. student, I struggle with work-life balance (whatever that is LOL) and I only recently mastered self-care.

What are your self-care practices?

Laughing, making other people laugh, giving thanks, daily moments of silence, and giving. I find myself constantly at a place of “want,” (ex. wanting more money) because this can create anxiety, I’m learning to give more. Everything I desire, I try to give it and I’ve learned it will always return to me.

Read more here

My First Publication

September 27, 2017


Publishing in a public space is a small win for some academics but a major accomplishment for me! It means that the research I collect reaches the intended audience.

Following Hurricane Harvey, I decided to write an article… and TribTalk, a publication of the Texas Tribune picked it up. I feel like I won an Oscar. Check it out below.

How can the racial gap in small business recovery be closed? And whose responsibility is it? Following Hurricane Harvey, the first and most important task was assisting displaced individuals, but with widespread business closures, our attention extended to the Houston business community. Restaurant and retail chains receive aid from large corporations following a disaster — but who assists small businesses, and more specifically, black-owned businesses?

According to FEMA, 40 percent of small businesses do not recover after a flood-related disaster. The impact on black-owned business is far worse. The 2011 PERC Results and Solution Report examined small businesses for five years following Hurricane Katrina. The report notes that black-owned businesses faced greater difficulty receiving recovery-related aid and when compared to other ethnic groups the permanent closure rate was highest for black business owners.

Days after Harvey, with damage… Read more.

The Art of Giving Back- Hurricane Harvey Relief

September 16, 2017


Following hurricane Harvey, the city of Houston rushed to offer relief and in Texas fashion, we gave back in a BIG way. Money, clothing, cleaning supplies, home repairs, volunteering, emotional counsel and so much more. Well living in Houston for over 16 years, with family and friends across this city I had to help BUT unlike JJ Watts I cannot donate millions so I did what I could. The Dollar Tree became my best friend and I stocked up on items for women, babies, and other random items. The George R. Brown Convention Center was my first stop but soon they, like many donation centers, asked the public to stop donating because they reached capacity on items and people.

The George R. Brown Convention Center was my first stop but soon they, like many donation centers, asked the public to stop donating because they reached capacity on items and people. Then I decided to drive around the city and find homes damaged by the hurricane to give items directly to the families.

A few weeks after Harvey, with the city still in recovery mode, I volunteered with the Greater Houston Black Chamber and Shell for their “Food Truck Relief Rally.” This event targeted 5 locations around the city with high levels of damage from Harvey and placed Food Trucks in the community with free food and fellowship. Not only was this event a success but it reminded these communities that we care and we are here to help them heal.

I’m not a guest, I’m family! Return to Networking With Michelle #BlackGirlsRoundtable feat. Nyla Spooner.


I admire both Nyla of Thoughts Caught in My Fro and Michelle of Networking with Michelle, for being dope Black women and two for building their brands with integrity and creativity. After a chat on Facebook, we decided to have a Black Girls Roundtable on Michelle’s podcast. The initial topic was the destruction of Black business communities in the early 1900’s but as the conversation went along we began to laugh and talk about everything from Black feminism, body positivity all the way to the importance of minding your own business.

Check out the full podcast here! Enjoy

Unity In Color: Houston


This weekend I had the pleasure to participant in the Houston edition of Unity In Color, sponsored by . If you, like me, have not heard of Unity In Color or the creator Jasmine Solano here is a little summary of the greatness that is Unity In Color.

“Together we stand in solidarity to show our support for Women’s Rights. We acknowledge our history as we move towards our collective future. We wear yellow and gold as a nod to earlier feminist movements and ancient symbols of the divine feminine while acknowledging that inclusive and intersectional feminism is our standard today.  In this special artistic photography series, we represent the unity in our strength of diversity. We encourage you to connect and get involved.”

I want to thank Nyla Spooner of @ThoughtCaughtInMyFro for inviting me to participate, Danie of @the.danie & @theabstractpeople for Photography and Creative Direction. I would be remiss if I did not thank the lovely ladies who participated. These women are Ahhmazing!!!! From pre-med students, wellness coaches, actors, and so much more… Check them out on Instagram.

  • Jasmine Colbert, @peaceloveandallthatjaz
  • Giovanna Matias, @my_juicy_fruit
  • Jaileen Grullon, @kingdom.minded  (Featured Image by Jaileen’s husband of @pinnacle.images)
  • Kirstin Drenon, @hollysbouquet
  • Amy Shypailo, @amyshipshape
  • Tiffany Malone, @TiffanyMalonee
  • Jennifer Sun, @theshutupkid
  • Lauren Murray, @whatsuplauren_
  • Akia McPhaul, @lorainfontaine

Let’s talk about Buying Black | Lone Star Community College


Thank you, the students of Lone Star Community College Black Student Union E-Board (pictured here) for allowing me to come out and talk about Black entrepreneurship, Buying Black & the Black Buying Power. A special thank you to all the students who attended and asked very thought-provoking questions!! Love seeing young adults doing their part to stay informed and involved. Keep it up!!