By Ariel Chrysann
Special to the AFRO

Entrepreneurship takes a dauntless mentality and an eagerness for success, that’s not an issue for 22-year-old Khila James, founder and owner of the Bougie Business Brand. She has managed to maintain and expand her prosperity through consistent focus, planning, commitment and sacrifice. James explained to the AFRO that her passion for business and the desire to encourage women entrepreneurs is what keeps her busy and driven. 

James’ roots stem from the Bronx where she attended St. John’s University as a journalism major, then later was accepted into a competitive rigorous five year bachelor and master’s dual degree program in sociology; but, along the way, she realized what she actually wanted. When class enrollment time came around, James changed her major to communications and opted in elective business classes that would still allow her to graduate on time. “At that point it, I just wanted to finish.” says James.

Founder and Owner of the Bougie Business Brand Khalia. (Courtesy Photo)

Amazing ideas come from simple ones that need nurturing like The Bougie Business Brand, for example. In her sophomore year, James wanted to create a non-profit club on campus and set out to accomplished it. The nonprofit organization was called “She Muse.” James aimed to “create a space for women of color to channel their interest in beauty, fashion and content creation.” Over time she started to realize how passionate she was about business. Students on campus would come to her seeking answers or advice, and she would meet them in the library to converse. James shares, however, that when other college campuses in New York began reaching out to her, she realized that the club could potentially be bigger than what she imagined. 

The word Bougie is a slang form of the French word bourgeoisie, which simply means “of middle or upper class status,” or someone who has high-end tastes and a lavish lifestyle. Some  people tend to use the word ‘bougie’ as an insult interchangeably with words similar to ‘snobby.’ “People have always kind of called me bougie. You know, I’m high maintenance. I like the best of the best. I have never felt like the word had a negative connotation.” James felt it was a good name for the brand because it truly embodied how she wants women to feel when they come to work with the Bougie Business Brand to build their business. She shared that most of her clients have lost their confidence because they feel uninformed or they haven’t had the best success in starting their own business.

In the beginning, James had no business experience or connections to anyone in the trade; her mentors had primarily been her failures. She was educating herself and learning what she could from research via the internet, and trial and error. James says she thinks the biggest barrier, especially for Black women, is that they are unaware of what resources are available to them. They think that if they don’t have startup capital they can’t start their business, it seems impossible for them. “It’s a preconceived notion that I’ve been trying to break down for quite some time,” James admits. 

Elite entrepreneurs from other races and genders use specific strategies to build wealth. “We need to take these strategies for ourselves and build them in our own communities.” That’s the message James is trying to deliver to as many Black women as she can. James projects leadership, confidence and assurance to her customers to make them feel comfortable and confident about building a business that will generate income.

Success doesn’t happen overnight, but the rapid growth and success of the Bougie Business Brand was no different. She has had to sacrifice a lot of free time, and watch all of her friends have fun while she spent weeknights working on her business or studying. “Some people can’t stand to watch it and they give up. If you can block out all the noise and focus on your business, that is what will separate you from the rest.” Said James. 

The Bougie Business Brand is a business development and digital marketing agency focused on building, growing and elevating female-focused brands. What started as a boutique style business with ebooks and templates has developed into a full service agency style business. James feels like she can give her clients so much more service when she gives them everything she has.

Now that she has grown and able to network, she has access to resources like a business coach. Kristi Jackson, an award winning entrepreneur and business coach based in Houston, Texas, who James says has helped her tremendously in creating a game plan for the years to come. “I’m just taking it as it comes. I hope to continue to help and inspire women entrepreneurs. My biggest goal is to go global. I want to reach more nations,” James said.