By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
msayles@afro.com

This year the Afro-American Newspapers (AFRO) is highlighting ‘Women Who Win’  at its Black Business Matters Expo, which takes place on March 24. During the celebration, numerous exemplary Black business women will have the chance to talk about their professional journey, offer advice, share resources and present courses of action to overcome workplace and entrepreneurial challenges. 

Two of the speakers include CEO of Lobos 1707 Tequila and Mezcal (Lobos 1707), Dia Simms, and co-founder and visionary of the Black Queen Project, Allie Walker. 

A graduate of Morgan State University, Simms began her career negotiating defense contracts for the U.S. Department of the Defense. She was often the youngest and sole woman and person of color in the room. 

Today, at age 46, not much has changed, but diversity and inclusion have always been top priority for Simms. 

Dia Simms is the CEO of Lobos 1707 Tequila and Mezcal. (Courtesy Photo/Dia Simms https://www.diasimms.com)

After stints in sales, radio and marketing, Simms became executive assistant to rapper and hip-hop mogul Sean Combs in 2005. This position would put her on a path to become a standout in the spirits industry. 

A couple of years later, Simms became a general manager for Blue Flame Agency, a marketing and advertising firm founded by Combs. There, she spearheaded a partnership with Diageo, one of the world’s largest producers of spirits and beers, to reinvigorate vodka brand Ciroc Ultra-Premium. 

Before becoming CEO of Lobos 1707, Simms was selected in 2017 as the first president of Combs Enterprises in the company’s 23-year history. 

Simms leads Lobos 1707, an independent spirits brand that was launched in 2020, alongside founder and CCO Diego Osorio. Los Angeles Lakers’ player Lebron James and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger are notable investors in the brand. 

“To go from talking about it to now being in 31 states, tripling our forecast and to being 50% woman and 60% ethnically-diverse—and I often say that our success is because of that not in spite of that— is something that I am super proud of,” said Simms. 

A Native of Maryland and biracial entrepreneur, Walker struggled to identify with her race as a young girl. She never felt that she was “Black enough” or “White enough.” 

While attending Keuka College, Walker began to feel more comfortable in her skin. She served on the school’s diversity taskforce, managed the multicultural office and acted as president of a multicultural club on campus. 

When she co-founded The Black Queen Project in 2021, a collection of 10,000 handmade, diverse women of color non-fungible tokens (NFTs), she sought to empower Black women to break through the false expectations that society has created for them. Walker wanted the world to know that Black women come in all different shapes, sizes and shades. 

Allie Walker is the visionary and co-founder of the Black Queen Project. (Courtesy Photo)

The Black Queen NFT set is based on “Keisha,” a woman representative of the Black female community. It uses an algorithm, developed by NamePress, to create thousands of variations with different hair, accessories, lip textures and skin tones. 

Ten percent of The Black Queen Project’s initial sales will be reinvested into Black crypto art to support more Black creators. 

During her talk at the expo, Walker will introduce attendees to the world of NFTs and give an overview of blockchain technology. She will also walk them through the process of purchasing an NFT. 

“We want to create generational wealth, and this space right now is allowing people to do that,” said Walker.

Register for the FREE Virtual EXPO here

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