Saria Hawkins-Banda is the formidable Founder/CEO of Manifest Your Purpose. She is the epitome of a mompreneur and takes great pride in running her quickly growing company while raising her two children with her husband Lewis. Saria is an avid planner and loves helping teach others to plan with purpose by using her chic and functional stationery! Moreover, she aims to sprinkle a little #BlackGirlMagic everywhere she goes by making products that show off the beauty and multidimensionality of Black women! Her personal mission is to remind Black women that they deserve to be celebrated simply because of their existence and she won’t stop until that’s the standard! We connected with Saria to learn more about her brand and entrepreneurial journey. 

What do you define as success? 

Saria: I define success as walking in my God-given purpose. Every day I wake up and do what I know I was put on this Earth to do. So good or bad, I’m already successful!

What was the inspiration behind your brand? 

Saria: I grew tired of walking in stores and not being able to find stationery products that reflected me or my culture as a Black woman. No dark skin. No brown eyes. No kinky hair. As a child, I used to cry when I wasn’t able to find journals or stickers that looked like me. Two decades later that problem still existed. So, I decided to do something about it! Black women deserve to see themselves reflected in the products they use every day. It makes me so happy to be able to create products that reflect our beauty and multidimensionality. 

What makes your business unique? 

Saria: My celebration of Black women is out of necessity, not a trend.

Do you believe in work-life balance? If so, how do you maintain it? 

Saria: Honestly, I think some women drive themselves crazy trying to achieve work-life balance, me included. I try my hardest to constantly re-prioritize. Some days my husband and my children get the majority of my focus. Others, my business keeps me up all day and night. Both need to happen for me to live a happy life. It’s up to me to use my judgment to determine where my focus lies on any given day.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs? 

Saria: Get used to being told NO. Don’t disqualify yourself just because someone else doesn’t recognize your greatness yet. Keep working and building. That way, when that one YES comes, you are ready! 

Who is your business role model? Why? 

Saria: Pinky Cole! I love how transparent she is about the struggles she has faced as an entrepreneur. I’ve enjoyed following her journey and witnessing firsthand how perseverance always pays off. I also love how she pours back into other Black-owned businesses. She is a true example of fortitude. Which isn’t surprising as she is also a Delta and that’s what we are taught to do!

What is your proudest business accomplishment? 

Saria: My proudest accomplishment is taking something that started as a dream and making it a reality. It’s a great feeling. Spiritual in a sense. I’m literally living out the name of my business. God is good!

August is Black Business Month. What challenges do you feel you face as a minorityowned business? 

Saria: As a Black female founder, one issue that I have consistently faced is access to funding. I bootstrapped my business with my personal savings. And there’s only so far you can get when you self-fund. However, as I started to participate in accelerator programs and pitch competitions, I was able to use grant money to quickly grow my business. We need more of these types of programs in our community. To not only provide access to funding but the knowledge of what to do with the money once we receive it. 

Give 2 tips on staying organized. 

Saria: 1. Fill out your planner at night! This way, you wake up with a game plan for your day! 2. Schedule multiple breaks throughout your day. Even if they are only 5 minutes. Your mental health will thank you!

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Photo Credits: Photo Provided