We had the good fortune of connecting with Raniesha Wassman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Raniesha, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking is so necessary.
For us, risk taking has been a necessary lesson we had to unlearn and relearn. This unlearning came from a cultural mis- and understanding about risk. As owners of many businesses, many people have an understanding of which businesses are riskier than others and part of this understanding is fed by our upbringing and identities we hold. However, this unlearning takes place in spaces with other business owners and entrepreneurs because the conversations around risk look a lot different. While growing up as two low-income Black kids, the risk (generally speaking) was the potential for us to end up like other family members who didn’t reach a financially successful peak. Many times no one even discussed the risk, it just was “how it was”. Nowadays, risk in our communities looks like how much of our knowledge and resources will we leverage in order to make a profit from our initial investment and how can we teach our community how to avoid our losses in the process. This is simply the privilege that we’ve worked for and we have to use it for good doing this life work that we’re committed to.
Generally speaking, there is a risk in doing what we’re doing with how we look and how we identify. We are not covert about our identity and who we serve in life and business; this is intentional. It’s risky work. We risk support and financial security. That’s not a concern for us though because we know the more risk we take, the more that the conversations look different and so do the people, mindsets, and access to information. Taking risks is what has allowed us to overcome every thing we have up to this point. Risk is a necessary risk.
When you really start to think long and hard about risk, you start to evaluate the lack of risk in most things. In the grand scheme of things, the larger risk for us would be for us to have access to information that could help close the wealth gap within our community, and not garnering that information and leveraging our people with it.
What should our readers know about your business?
Manly people assume based on the success of our business (visually) that we’ve established for a long time and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Both of our businesses were established just a little of a year. The difference between us and many other businesses is that we came in and made our own lane, studied various aspects of the business religiously, and then we spent the time to package it up and help our community with it.
What makes use most proud is seeing our people who had no expectation of starting and scaling a business #startthebusiness. We tell our community all the time that when you invest in VendHER, that’s the best ROY (return on yourself) because you’re investing in information and activation. people through knowledge and activation. We teach Black people how to start and scale business (namely real estate and vending) and how to learn and leverage credit to do so.
This journey was NOT easy and it not for anyone, we truly believe that. We always saying, starting a business is not for everyone, but investing should be. Everyone, especially economically disadvantaged people, should have access to knowledge that can help change their situation.
The lessons we’ve learn are simply this, you need to be your greatest support system and all of this shit takes time. When you’re building a brand and business, you favorite people may not care nor support and the harsh reality is that they don’t have to, When folks get comfortable with that uncomfortable feeling, it makes the energy they put in much fresher because their expectations are different.
We want the world to know about our brand and our story because we know first-hand what it feels like to be economically disadvantaged and how much systemic issues have reinforced that access to bare necessities. Our approach is to centralize group economics and community, and by doing so, we don’t oppose these systems in place, but rather learn to offset the harsh impacts they have on us. We want people to understand that it’s not on our community to solve all issues, but we can galvanize together and make this world WE live in, more enjoyable, live-able, and tolerable.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Let’s just imagine we’re in Atlanta since we’re about to relocate there. Durham, NC may be cool for some, but it’s not the type of time we’d like to be on.
So in Atlanta, there is a brunch spot called “BQE” and it’s your all in one spot. If we had friend coming, no questions asked, BQE is in. If you want day party vibes on Sunday, ’nuffsaid.
Definitely the Trap Museum. That’s just for the culture.
The Busy Bee Cafe for soul food. The name speaks for itself. It’s always busy.
The Civil Rights Museums because they have some really information museums that discuss different moments in American and World history and it’s important we understand historical context.
All of the Historically Colleges and Universities. The founding and culture of HBCU’s is important for educational fabric. For context, the following are HBCU’s in Georgia Albany State University, Fort Valley State University, Savannah State University, Clark Atlanta University, Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown College, Paine College, Spelman College.
There is so much more there. Lots of diverse food and cultures there. This is what comes to mind first.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Generally speaking, the Black community. If I had to dial it down to smaller microcosms within my community, I’d definitely start with my mother and grandmother. They were the residency I saw early on to know what type of life I deserved and what I was determined to make with unwavering odds.
Through college, much of my support came from my sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc, along with my support of mentors in undergrad including Tiesha Douglas, Christopher Blakely, and Shantê Hearst while at EKU.
Through grad school, it was those same people with the addition of my Black in Bloomington (BIB) crew. It was a tight-knit community of Black professionals and graduate school in Bloomington, IN. Can’t forget about the unwavering support I made through higher education graduate students and young entry-level professionals as well.
Nowadays it’s all of the people who support our digital platform (@_vendher) in these internet streets. I love all of my family and we use an anchor emoji because I remind them that I am going to hold them down just as much as they hold us down.