Entrepreneurs doing it well their own way (l-r): Cynthia Daniels, Mia Jaye and Mary J The Stylist. (Courtesy photos)

by Brianna Smith-Herman —

Brianna Smith-Herman (Courtesy photo)

With Women’s History Month in mind, I reached out to a high-profile event strategist, a self-published author of a children’s book and a celebrity cosmetologist to find out how they built successful business enterprises rooted in their passions.

Growing an idea into a business that leads to an empire isn’t easy. And while Cynthia Daniels, Mia Jaye and Mary Jubert Watson can attest to that, each is walking that walk in her own way.

Cynthia Daniels: ‘A journey of discovery’

Cynthia Daniels: “I would tell any woman that’s new to entrepreneurship to work in what you’re naturally good at and outsource what you can to experts.” (Courtesy photo)

Daniels, the founder of Memphis Black Restaurant Week (MBRW), is the chief event strategist of Cynthia Daniels & Co., a full-service event planning and design company that specializes in executing large-scale corporate and social events. MBRW is credited with generating $1 million-plus for the minority-owned restaurant community since 2016.

TSD: What is (the) unique skill that (has) helped you become successful?

Daniels: I think not being afraid of rejection has helped me to become successful. When you’re creating something that’s never been done before, companies don’t always want to take risks on you. Over the years, rejection has made me work harder to prove my capabilities as an entrepreneur.

TSD: How was the journey to what you successfully do now? What general advice would you give to a woman that is new to entrepreneurship?

Daniels: It was a journey of rediscovery in my late 20s that led me to relocate to Memphis and finally figure out what I was truly passionate about at age 37. I left an amazing job to start my event planning company after discovering how much I enjoyed it through volunteering with nonprofits.

I would tell any woman that’s new to entrepreneurship to work in what you’re naturally good at and outsource what you can to experts. I’ve spent countless hours trying to do things myself to save money, until I realized how much valuable time I was wasting.

Mia Jaye: ‘Look within and self-reflect’

Mia Jaye: “There has to be time devoted to God, your family, yourself and any other area of importance so that you can re-energize, reset and water the seeds you are planting in the world.” (Courtesy photo)

A Detroit native, Jermia Jerdine, whose brand name is Mia Jaye, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Memphis with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She was pursuing a course of becoming a top-level  executive before adjusting her aims after the birth of her son.

In 2015, she self-published ‘No Way, Tré You Can’t Have Your Way: Fruit Instead Of Junk Food Today (Volume 1).’ Her interest and intense desire for healthy foods and healthy choices propelled her (in 2016) to become the founder of a non-profit organization, Fresh Start Kidz, Inc., that promotes healthy eating and living among children and adults. 

Three years later, she embraced the mindset of supporting women and serving as an advocate for moms. In 2020, she launched Mia Jaye’s Toolbox – a Podcast space for grown women that provides tips, tools and support to help them grow, glow and unleash their inner boss.

TSD: Why is work-life balance important for women? And how have you achieved a healthy work-life balance?

Mia Jaye: The key word here is “balance” and every aspect of life requires it. There has to be work and rest periods. There has to be time dedicated to being fully present and fully engaged. There has to be time devoted to God, your family, yourself and any other area of importance so that you can re-energize, reset and water the seeds you are planting in the world.

So, whether it is work-life balance, mom-life balance or any two demanding areas of priority which calls for your attention, reaching an equilibrium is important for your health, success and sanity.

For me, I have utilized the tools presented to me by my former life coach, Sharon Green, who taught me how to implement the wheel of life into my life. I learned how to prioritize what is important and assign a goal to each area of priority. From there, I would create tasks as to how I would achieve those goals. 

For example, I ranked my family as a nine and my career as an eight. By doing this, I could easily see that my family was a top priority and that more tasks should be allocated there over my career. And that is how I achieve balance in various aspects of my life.

TSD: What is a quote that you live by? And why does it resonate with you?

Mia Jaye: “Once you reflect over your past mistakes, triumphs and obstacles … you gain knowledge on who you are and who you need to become.” 

This a quote that I quoted after performing my yearly reflection. Every year that I would answer the question while reflecting, I found myself growing, learning, and channeling energy that I hadn’t yet noticed to exist. It’s a powerful exercise to look within and self-reflect. And I do it often.

Mary J. The Stylist: ‘Know your worth’

Mary J The Stylist: “The journey to what I successfully do now has been life changing.” (Courtesy photo)

Known as Mary J. The Stylist, Mary Jubert Watson owns Mary J’s Hair Studio and is the CEO of Mary J’s Hair Collection and Mary J The Label, fashion brand. Her full-service salon specializes in promoting healthy hair, natural hair silkening and extensions. 

She is known for her exclusive premium virgin hair extensions in a variety of styles, textures and lengths. All are to assist women with adding fullness, volume and individual creativity to their hair. 

TSD: What do you think are your unique skills that have helped you become successful?

Mary J. Watson: Some unique skills that have helped me to become a successful hairstylist is my originality, creativity being financially literate and setting my own standard for excellence. Having a strong work ethic, being loyal, honest and professional are also some positive attributes.

TSD: How was the journey to what you successfully do now? What general advice would you give to a woman that is new to entrepreneurship?

Mary J. Watson: The journey to what I successfully do now has been life changing. I’ve been blessed with countless opportunities, rewarded for what I love to do, and the ability to inspire and motivate women along the way.

The advice I would give a woman who is new to entrepreneurship is to:

  • Know your worth
  • Seek balance
  • Know what you want
  • Don’t be afraid to go alone
  • Remain true to yourself
  • Be confident
  • Manage your money properly