Chattanooga is a tapestry of entrepreneurship where small businesses flourish through top amenities including the world’s fastest internet and a thriving startup ecosystem.
Serving as an integral part of that ecosystem, our Chattanooga Chamber launched a five-month Minority Financial Literacy Series – offering microbusinesses and startups the tools to navigate complex financial challenges that come with running a small business.
More than 50 small businesses went through the program, gaining skills and insights to successfully manage their financing, build lasting relationships with financial institutions, and make informed decisions for sustainable growth.
Recently, two Minority Financial Literacy cohort members leveraged these insights to secure $2,000 funding for each of their companies as part of an Urban League of Greater Chattanooga grant.
Shakendra Goosby, Stylin Beautique and Lar’Mara Henderson, Doctor of Social Work (DSW), Scenic City Therapy, share their entrepreneurial journeys and the invaluable community support discovered through participating in the Minority Financial Literacy Series.
Henderson, a licensed clinical social worker, holds more than 20 years of experience providing peace of mind to those suffering from anxiety, depression and PTSD. After serving in various clinics for many years, she launched her private practice – Scenic City Therapy – in 2021.
Henderson holds a deep commitment to empowering active-military, military families and veterans through evidence-based treatments.
She learned about the Minority Financial Literacy Series through a personal connection who encouraged her to sign up for the opening session.
“There were so many nuggets of wisdom that I carried away with me. Being able to network and align yourself with other entrepreneurs in class is so invaluable. We’re all in different stages of our business, but share the same entrepreneurial spirit, excitement and desire,” Henderson says.
In June, Henderson hosted the grand opening of her new offices at 118 Lee Parkway Drive. She applied for the Urban League grant shortly after.
“The opportunity came up and we had to submit a video application,” Henderson says. “My daughter was the videographer. We took what felt like thousands of takes and we were just so hopeful once the process finished. We attended the brunch in July and thankfully, we were selected.”
With the funding received, Henderson plans to acquire additional office space which will allow her to provide more group therapy and community mental health services at affordable rates.
In six months to a year, Henderson hopes to hire other providers who share the same passion for transforming lives through mental health services and collaborating with local physicians to create larger support networks.
“The doctor’s office is often where people feel comfortable talking about mental health for the first time. I hope to collaborate with doctors to offer mental health services and reduce wait times for those seeking mental health,” Henderson says.
Alongside Henderson, another Minority Financial Literacy Series member hopes to leverage her funding to bring more in-demand skills to Chattanooga.
Goosby, a licensed hairstylist and owner of Stylin Beautique, launched her business out of a one-room salon in 2020.
A lifelong beautician, Goosby started her company inspired by the legacy of Madam C. J. Walker – a 19th-century entrepreneur and philanthropist who rose to become America’s first self-made female millionaire.
“I learned how to do a braid when I was seven. I knew that’s what I wanted to do my whole life… C. J. Walker built an empire around the hair industry. That’s something I always dreamed of as a young girl. When I learned about her story, I immediately gravitated toward it. Now, I’m looking to be the modern-day C. J. Walker,” Goosby says.
Goosby grew out of her one-room suite and now operates out of a six-suite hair salon in East Ridge.
She began attending our Chamber’s Minority Financial Literacy Series to gain a better understanding of what it takes to become a successful business owner.
“Behind the salon chair, I know what needs to be done,” Goosby says. “But, learning back-end business skills like putting your finances in order, building credit and establishing banking relationships was so important. I looked at these [classes] as a support system – a group of people there to help you stay on top of your game.”
Through this support system, Goosby felt encouraged to apply for the Urban League grant – emerging as one of five selected recipients.
She envisions using these funds to expand her team of hair stylists and foster the growth of aspiring cosmetologists.
“I want to be this first cosmetologist the next generation comes to when they get their license. I want to be their support system,” Goosby says. “I’m focusing on connecting with schools and being like a godmother to the youth early on in their careers.”
Goosby’s advice to the next generation of cosmetologists: “Stay positive and eager to learn… Reach for the stars, join as many entrepreneur groups as possible, and build relationships.”
Visit Scenic City Therapy, here.
Visit Stylin Beautique, here.
Learn more about our Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusive Growth initiatives, here.