Research by the Pew Research Center in 2020 noted that Black adults make up 12 percent of America’s population but said that less than 4% of U.S. businesses are Black-owned. The research further added that 66% of the businesses have fewer than 10 workers while only 3% have more than 50 workers.
Dr. Joke Alesh knew too well the challenges black entrepreneurs go through when she decided to venture into entrepreneurship. “It isn’t easy to be a Black business owner in America, but it’s so necessary,” the Providence native told WPRI.
She is the founder of three businesses: Marigold Dental Studio in Pawtucket, Eliqa Headwear, and Primary Weddings & Events. Speaking on her three businesses, Alesh said she had always wanted to open a dental practice but didn’t plan to become an entrepreneur.
However, going into entrepreneurship stemmed from her passion to be a problem solver.“If I see a problem, I try to find a solution,” the dentist said. “In terms of starting a business, I was just winging it.”
According to her, at the height of the pandemic, she saw many health professionals who wanted to start covering their hair while attending to their patients.
“As a woman of color with textured hair, regular cotton scrub caps will break your hair and people were asking, ‘Does anyone know of satin-lined scrub caps?’” she recalled.
What is more, as a woman of color, she didn’t find the appropriate scrub cap for her hair on the market. “I don’t really like patterns, so I wanted a solid pattern that would match the scrubs I wear to work.”
Left with no option, she decided to create her own product. She launched a website and had her tailor make a prototype. From three colors, she now sells up to 19 colors in addition to other products. According to her, in all the 50 states, her products are sold there. They are also sold in Jamaica, Germany other European countries.
On her dental practice, Alesh said she is proud to exist as the first Black woman from Rhode Island to open a dental office there.
“That is a huge accomplishment for me, for me to be able to be a role model for other people,” she said. She added, “the fabric of America is a multitude of different kind of people. It’s important for us to exist, for people to support Black businesses.”