This Entrepreneur Established a Multimillion-dollar Business Advocating for Women of Color

Multimillion-dollar Business
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Lauren Wesley Wilson aimed to facilitate connections and success for women in the communications sector. Ultimately, she constructed a nationwide community that caters to thousands of professionals.

As a young PR hopeful, Lauren Wesley Wilson searched for mentors who resembled her in leadership roles but found none. Today, she’s the CEO and founder of a company that constructs those very connections. ColorComm, headquartered in New York City, is a women’s platform committed to promoting diversity and inclusion across communications, marketing, advertising, and related fields. With a membership of 2,000 strong, the organization hosts over 200 live events annually and generates millions in revenue each year.

At 38, Wesley Wilson didn’t always envision herself in the business world. Initially, she pursued a career in law, earning a political science degree from Spelman College in 2007. However, upon realizing that law wasn’t her passion, she pivoted, obtaining a master’s in communications from Georgetown University and securing her first full-time job in PR. But the entrepreneurial spirit soon took hold. Having observed her mother manage an advertising business while growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Wesley Wilson felt the urge to embark on her own path. It was a moment of frustration, searching in vain for a mentor, that ignited her entrepreneurial drive. “There has to be a better way to connect with people you want to learn from,” she recalls thinking.

Taking matters into her own hands, in 2011, Wesley Wilson embarked on a proactive journey. Making cold calls, sending numerous LinkedIn messages, she eventually orchestrated a lunch meeting with approximately 30 executive leaders in the communications sector in D.C. “We discussed how we could collaborate, work together, and do business. How we could exchange contacts and information,” she recounts. This initial lunch gathering led to more similar events, which quickly gained traction through word of mouth and began selling out.

After approximately a year, attendees expressed a desire for more than just occasional gatherings, according to Wesley Wilson. Thus, she took a significant, albeit daunting, step to transform ColorComm into a membership-based community with programming spanning various cities. “This changes the expectations of the participants,” she explains. “Now, they are paying dues for a year… ‘What am I going to get for my money?'” To create a business deserving of their membership, Wesley Wilson had to roll up her sleeves and dive into the nitty-gritty. At the time, she was working full-time as the communications director for Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) on Capitol Hill. During summer recesses, she devoted her time to attending SCORE, an organization providing mentoring and training to small businesses, where she focused on developing her business plan, operations, pricing strategy, and more.

“Each week, I faced new challenges,” she recalls. “Having ongoing mentorship within a community of business leaders and CEOs was truly eye-opening.”

From the outset, Wesley Wilson strategically focused on recruiting at the board level, enlisting senior-level women to serve as ColorComm’s “endorser points.” By the time the membership launched, they had 40 charter members who “set the tone of our organization, and then more numbers followed after that.”

Expanding ColorComm’s reach beyond D.C., Wesley Wilson launched chapters in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta. Initially, ColorComm hosted 12 programs annually in each of the nine cities, ranging from dinners with authors to membership meet-and-greets.

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