Earlier this month, award-winning media personality Angela Yee joined Sean “Diddy” Combs and CÎROC in support of the #CIROCStands initiative for Black Businesses at the 20th annual Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival. #CIROCStands has been established as the brand's community-centric platform and is an ongoing commitment to celebrate the powerful voices and people within the Black community that are depicting excellence and igniting change.

During the Film Festival, Yee co-hosted a special panel discussion alongside actress Regina Hall, to recognize Black-owned businesses on the island and the powerful people behind them, exploring their stories and spirit of entrepreneurship as they ignite change in their communities. The panel was held on Martha’s Vineyard, to celebrate the rich roots of excellence that run deep in the community’s culture and amplify the stories of success and joy that thrive there.

Angela Yee Hosts Panel Highlighting the Stories of Local Black Business Owners in Martha’s Vineyard as Part of #CIROCStands Initiative During MVAAFF. Image: courtesy of So Focused Photography.

As a powerhouse business woman and philanthropist, Yee was able to speak about the unique challenges that come with being a Black entrepreneur and the importance of #CIROCStands to offer mentorship, exposure, and resources.

Today, Yee shares more about her vision for Black business owners, her new morning show, and what’s next for her ever-evolving brand.

EBONY: The #CIROCStands initiative is all about empowering Black owned businesses who are also igniting change, which is the essence of your brand. How important was it for you to be a part of this program, uplift business owners, and give them a platform? 

Angela Yee: As soon as they told me about #CIROCStands, I said 'I'm definitely doing this.' For myself, being a Black business owner, and knowing all of the different things that I've had to go through to be successful. I didn't have the access to capital and paid for a lot of things out of my own pocket, it was a lot of trial and error. And we know how expensive and costly mistakes can be when you're trying to start a business. And so if there's anything that I can do to uplift these Black owned businesses, and especially in Martha's Vineyard, that's something that I'm always always on board for. 

As a successful entrepreneur yourself, what was one of the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome it?

Having great management is probably the hardest thing that I've had to deal with. Because as a person who has a multiple jobs, you know, I'm working all day, every day, and then traveling a lot. Somebody has to be there to oversee the business while I'm away. I think a lot of times small business owners are the ones that are there, watching over everything. Sometimes being able to delegate that responsibility to focus on other things and building a great team is the key to success. However, it is not an easy thing to find somebody trustworthy, responsible and enthusiastic.

How did it feel to host the panel at Martha’s Vineyard and why was it so important to you to recognize the local businesses on the island during your panel?

It was a beautiful thing and meeting other Black women who own businesses was so inspirational to me. Meeting Nya Clarke, owner of Martha’s Vineyard Island-Wide Realty,  inspired me to go look at some properties. Zita Cousens, owner of Cousen Rose Gallery, has the longest running gallery on the island. I've been really into collecting art for the past few years. And so that was really exciting for me. India Rose owner of Sideline, has a sportswear and streetwear brand, which I love, because that's what I wear every single day. Just to see these entrepreneurs on the island in a space that I've always viewed as rich with excellence and lush, it was amazing to me.

You announced that you are moving on from the Breakfast Club to host your own show later this year, congratulations! What else is next for you on the business front?

I am going to expand my coffee shop, Coffee Uplifts People, and open up a new location hopefully in the next four or five months. My pressed juice brand, Drink Fresh Juice, will now be sold in the Barclays Center. So that's really exciting. Also, Angela Yee Day is coming up August 27 in Brooklyn. It's my big give-back to the community. We're having free performance, food, all kinds of fun activities for families, and back to school giveaways. I'm really pumped for that coming up!