Faced with the challenges of raising an autistic son, Ola Jackson made her mark in the world of business as a “Homegirl CEO.”

Realizing their son would require them to spend more time at home than at the office, the Pittsburgh woman and her husband Daryl started a home-based public relations business they dubbed Onyx Woman Network , or OWN, as well as a business magazine for African-American women—a movement she called Homegirl CEO.

“A few years earlier, my son was diagnosed with autism and my husband and I knew that one of us needed to be accessible to meet his needs and the demands necessary to accommodate his well-being and issues that would impact his quality of life,” she said in a statement.

Her family helped jumpstart her home-based business in May 1991, when Jackson received a Mother’s Day card from her husband and son that read “Happy Mother’s Day from the Staff of Jackson Communications.”

Now in its 22nd year, Jackson’s publication offers business seminars, workshops and conferences around the country to address topics that often plague African American women.

By Jackson’s definition, a Homegirl CEO is a woman who owns and operates a business from the comfort of her own home. She is also supportive of her sister entrepreneurs and is willing to offer encouragement and inspiration in the name of the sisterhood.

In her hometown of Pittsburgh, Jackson lives up to that standard as an on-air host of ONYX Woman, which airs weekly online.

“There are a lot of women who go into business are great at their craft or skill, yet they still need help with the tools necessary to manage their business,” she said.

Jackson said women in need of business leadership can learn from the professionals she interviews on her show as well as other Homegirl CEO guests who share stories of how they balance family, personal life, and business.

“It’s a movement,” she said. “The economy is changing. Employees are an expense and more companies want to reduce or eliminate the payroll expense. That leaves employees with the need to decide whether they are going to have a side-gig or become a full-time Homegirl CEO.”


Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer