D.C. native and local entrepreneur Rahama Wright got the opportunity to take her skin care empire to another level on a Centric reality show.
On Saturday, Jan. 14, the Centric network will air “Queen Boss,” its first business competition reality series for African-American women, at 10 p.m. EST, when Wright will compete for the crown.
She will be featured on the first episode of the series hosted by TV personality and businesswoman Tracey Edmonds.
“I heard that Centric was doing a new show featuring entrepreneurs and it was an opportunity for women of color to pitch their ideas,” Wright said. “First you pitch, the judges then give you a task, and if you perform well at the task then you move to the next round. It’s a mix between ‘Shark Tank’ and ‘The Apprentice.’”
Wright first applied to compete on the show, and after a successful casting interview she became one of the 18 contestants offered a spot on the series. As the founder of Shea Yeleen, a natural, organic, fair-trade skin care company currently on the shelves of over 100 Whole Foods, she joined the show for added publicity.
“I applied primarily for the exposure for my company and then two I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to be mentored by the judges and women who have been very successful in their own right in running businesses,” Wright said.
The panel of judges for the show include celebrities such as Vanessa Simmons, Lauren Lake, Kandi Burruss, Carla Hall, Mikki Taylor, Lisa Price, Rakia Reynolds, Angela Benton and Robin Wilson.
“I expect that people will see a group of black women who have amazing ideas, who are at different levels in terms of where the business is at. They will have a very competitive attitude trying to get the title of Queen Boss.”
Wright started Shea Yeleen in her early 20s, finding inspiration in her Ghanian heritage and being a Peace Corps volunteer stationed in West Africa.
“I never would have thought in a million years I would be running a skin care business,” she said. “My career path was very much focused on international affairs. I was groomed to become a foreign service officer and work at American embassies globally, that was my initial plan.”
Wright asserted that, as half-Ghanaian, she always had an affinity for Africa and women’s issues, particularly because of her mother’s story as an immigrant woman.
“My mother had a lot of challenges growing up in a conservative community in northern Ghana,” she said. “So she wasn’t afforded a lot of opportunities and resources, for example she wasn’t able to go to school.
“A lot of the challenges I heard my mom share with my growing up, I actually witnessed as a Peace Corp volunteer,” Wright said. “I felt like I want to do something to make a difference. I want to do something to help women.”
Wright claims that her relationship formed with the women on the ground through living in the villages and making connections with them.
“A lot of people don’t know women are the traditional harvesters of Shea,” she said. “There is not a Shea product anywhere in the world that doesn’t touch a woman in Africa, because the tree only grows in Africa in 19 countries and women are the only ones who harvest the fruit.”
“Whether it’s a high-end product in Nordstrom or someone selling it on the street, a woman was a part of that supply chain and she could have been negatively impacted or, [as] in Shea Yeleen’s case, positively,” she said.
Wright said she developed relationships with many of the women through volunteer work and living in the community. Her company provides the women with living wages and training, development skills and access to capital, she said.
In December, Wright saw another boost to her business by partnering with the MGM National Harbor Spa to create a luxury line under the Shea Yeleen brand. She hopes that those who tune into “Queen Boss” will be inspired by her story.
“I expect people who haven’t heard of Shea Yeleen, to know my story and here more about the business that very much has a huge social impact,” she said.