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Auburn University alumnus MaKayla Smith and her company Kulture Xchange hope to inspire black excellence by becoming a bazaar that outsources black-owned beauty and wellness products along with related services.
Editor’s note: The Harbert College of Business is committed to developing a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem for students, faculty, industry and alumni that will fuel new venture creation and promote diversity among new entrepreneurs in today’s business world. In recognition of Women Entrepreneurship Week 2021, below is one of four stories showcasing women who are recent Auburn University graduates and have launched their business ideas with help from the New Venture Accelerator program.
“As long as you believe in your idea and can stand behind it, don't ever let someone discourage you.”
It started with an idea for a business competition, but today, MaKayla Smith is the CEO of her own company and has goals that go beyond making a profit.
Kulture Xchange hopes to support the minority community and its product owners and customers.
“It is my hope to share black excellence with the world through my industry and the work I do with Kulture Xchange,” said Smith.
“Kulture Xchange will be an online bazar to outsource minority-owned beauty and wellness products along with related services to promote growth in a need-based market, while simultaneously prolonging the circulation of the black dollar within its own community,” said Smith.
“The minority health and beauty industry has been dominated by people that don’t look like us and can’t relate to the products they sell us,” she said. “Kulture is here to help serve the minority community by working with product owners who share similar experiences with their customers and keep those experiences in mind when making their products.
“Having an array of representation in the variations of skin tones and hair patterns is at the heart of what Kulture stands for. We will provide the ultimate customer experience for the underrepresented community.”
MaKayla Smith, Harbert Auburn University student and CEO of Kulture Xchange
The Auburn University student from Montgomery and her idea gained attention when selected as an award-winner in the Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition sponsored by the Harbert College of Business.
That, in turn, led to her inclusion in the New Venture Accelerator program.
“Tiger Cage provided me the opportunity to further develop my business plan and build the confidence I needed to effectively pitch my idea,” said Smith, who tied for third place. “The competition was tough.
“There were a plethora of great ideas and pitches that made it hard on the judges. I was so honored to make it through to the final round after going up against so many talented individuals. All in all, it was a great experience, and we didn’t make it an easy decision for the judges.”
Smith encourages anyone aspiring to become an entrepreneur, especially women and specifically women of color, to remain confident in pursuing their ideas.
“I want to let other women and minorities know that they don’t need to be afraid to start that business or pitch that idea,” she said. “You don’t need someone to have done it before you to feel like your idea is valid.
“As long as you believe in your idea and can stand behind it, don't ever let someone discourage you because they don’t understand your idea or perspective. You never know when someone has been waiting on someone like you to enter the market.”
Find a way, she said.
“Being a double-minority, you may not always have access to the same resources or connect with the stories of those that have done it before you,” Smith said. “Don’t let this discourage you.
“Build your own path and be the way for those that will come after you.”
The New Venture Accelerator is a partnership between Auburn’s Harbert College of Business and the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation. Learn more about the New Venture Accelerator and Auburn’s entrepreneurial offerings.