Necessity is the mother of invention. You’ve heard the saying before. In the case of Tiffany Snow Wesley, it became the mother of a successful business as well, called Pure Vibes. That necessity came from a debilitating medical condition. The business that sprouted from her problem now has the potential to create generational wealth for more than just her own family. She’s planting seeds for others as well.
Several years ago, doctors diagnosed her with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). It’s a condition that affects millions of women. For Black women, it’s particularly devastating for Black and Brown women if it’s not diagnosed and treated properly. The condition can wreck your fertility, make you pre-diabetic, trigger gluten intolerance, and even cause mental health problems. Tiffany dealt with a lot of this when she decided to take more control over when went into and onto her body. Instead of letting manmade medications do all the work. She examined what she could do to restore balance to her body naturally. She found a niche in making hand made soaps and lotions.
As word got out about her creations, friends and family started coming to her for soap by the pound. Just as some of the best businesses come about, those friends and family members suggested she start a full fledged business. However, the success didn’t come overnight. She started making this stuff back in 2013. But remember that PCOS diagnosis? It was taking a toll on her mental health. It wasn’t until 2017 that she started leaning in on the concept of making this a true company. A year later, she went hard in the paint on this. Over the next couple of years, business skyrocketed.
There’s a key aspect to the culture and the mission of Pure Vibes, though. You see, Wesley no longer owns the company outright. It’s also owned by the people she employs. This co-op model is something she’s passionate about. Wesley will tell you straight up that she’d rather be a “hundred thousand-aire” with a strong group of friends, versus being a lonely millionaire. The model, and her success at putting it to work, has landed her in a number of popular magazines, including Forbes and Black Enterprise. In a world where corporate CEOs have a tendency to look out for themselves and little else, Wesley says the co-op model doesn’t just level the playing field. She says it also creates more equity in the marketplace. Plus, each of the members on her co-op board have specific duties that fall within their known skillsets. So with everyone working for the company’s greater good, she says it also works out better in the fiscal realm as well.
There’s another thing that Black people need to pay attention wo when it comes to cooperative models, though. You see… Black folks have been doing this for years. It’s how we paid to free slaves hundreds of years ago. And in that time, it’s also how several Black farmers have been able to keep their businesses alive. In America’s largest cities, they’re still alive and well. Wesley, who’s background is in fin-tech by the way, just found a way to adapt it to her skincare company in the Midwest. She says when most people ask about her decision to make Pure Vibes a coop, it sounds like a loaded question. I can see why. In many minds, she’s giving up precious profits just to be able to help some people. And you know… who does that? However, Wesley says this old school model could be the solution to a lot of new school problems in the business world.