Chanel Doubles Down On Pharrell Williams

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Pharrell Williams portrait

Pharrell Williams

Kristen White

Chanel has partnered with the brand's House ambassador Pharrell Williams on his Black Ambition nonprofit nurturing emerging Black and Latinx talent and entrepreneurs. The organization focuses on mentorship and investing capital and resources into tech, design, healthcare, consumer products and services start-ups founded by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, both of which are vital to success. In support of Black Ambition’s mission, Chanel has established a two-part program geared towards shining a light on emerging talent and aiding access to information and opportunities from industry-wide experts. The first aspect of this initiative brings together a diverse and extraordinary group of experts for “Women Who Lead,” a panel discussion providing Black Ambition prize contenders with career guidance. These visionary women include producer, entrepreneur and Black-ish actor, Tracee Ellis Ross, co-founder and partner of Imaginary Ventures, Natalie Massenet, and CEO and co-founder of the Good American inclusive fashion brand, Emma Grede. “A lot of people are afraid to jump into the world of business, or say, ‘I can’t be a leader, I can’t be a CEO, I can’t do this because I don’t have that experience. Or I don’t look a certain way,’” says Massenet. “Well, that’s not right. Everybody has it within them to, to be a leader. There’s such an explosion of opportunity for people who have felt excluded from the corporate world or the world of entrepreneurship to start businesses.”

The one-hour discussion, taking place on June 11 at 1pm will be exclusive to Black American semifinalists and network members. “Historically Black and brown women do not have a stake in what they make and aren’t trained or taught, societally, culturally, to actually have equity in the things that they build,” says Ellis Ross. “I’ve been on this journey of learning and trying to understand how you take a dream out of your heart, out of your mind and pull it up into the atmosphere. The more we build what we want and what we are looking for, the more our world is a reflection of who we actually are.”

The second platform offered by Chanel is a series of mentorship workshops where prize finalists can leverage the fashion house’s expertise and network to learn brand-building skills. Celebrating and encouraging diversity, equity and inclusion is beneficial for all entrepreneurs and are the pillars Black Ambition seeks to instill in its network of businesses. “Mentorship doesn’t always come in the way you expect it to come,” says Grede. “It’s really about what you can extrapolate from meetings, from situations, from conferences, from the people that you just bump into. How can you put yourself in the proximity of people that are going to help you?”

The American singer, songwriter and producer founded Black Ambition to create opportunity and success for Black and Latinx creative entrepreneurs. “Recent events and tragedies have illustrated the always existent stark divisions in the American experience, and while entrepreneurship has long been a tenet of the American dream, marginalized people have faced long-standing barriers to success,” said Williams in a statement. “With Black Ambition, the goal is to help strengthen the pipeline of talented entrepreneurs and close the opportunity and wealth gaps derived from limited access to capital and resources.” In so doing, Black Ambition will sponsor two competitions this summer: the Black Ambition HBCU Prize, which will offer awards and mentorship opportunities to current and former historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) students as they develop their business plans, and the Black Ambition Prize, which will offer financial assistance and mentorship for early-stage tech, design, health care, and customer focused products and services companies. The Black Ambition Prize winner will receive up to $1 million in financial support.

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