Sierra is a talent agent and early career development consultant supporting small and diverse business owners and entrepreneurs. Blackground Agency is a talent and recruiting firm which helps develop and launch businesses, as well as non-profits in Northwest Arkansas. The agency strives to empower corporations and individuals through providing solutions supporting equity and cultural inclusivity.
Tell me a little about your self and what you do?
I'm from a city in the state of Maryland called Salisbury about two hours from Baltimore. I relocated to Arkansas after graduating from University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Right out of college I got the opportunity to work with Walmart and worked my way up to some different full-time positions. I worked for about a little over five years at Walmart in accounting finance and HR so a lot of the work that I did was more so on managing projects and programs. As well as helping Walmart to design the financial structures for some of the programs. I started my own business called Blackground Agency which is basically a talent and recruiting firm but we do a lot to support corporations and other businesses as they work with their community and as they develop. What I've been doing here recently is just supporting other entrepreneurs who are trying to start and launch their businesses. This month as a part of a Black History Month celebration my team and I are bringing a black-owned business Expo and trade show to life for the fifth year in a row. My team and I had created a platform called black-owned Northwest Arkansas that kind of blew up over the last few years and has now close to 13,000 followers. We try to do this Expo and trade show twice a year once to celebrate Black History Month and then again in August to celebrate National Black Business month.
What was your childhood like?
I'm an only child. I've always hated it. Me and my mom are at a point now where she'll call me and ask me where her grandchildren are and I'll call her and ask her where my siblings are. Growing up I was always spending time with friends with family with my cousins.
What did you want to be when you grow up?
I actually said that I wanted to be a wedding planner. I don't necessarily plan weddings and I don't want to plan weddings. However, I do love planning events, hosting events, and throwing events. So I'm still in the planning area just not necessarily the same the same industry.
What are you doing to focus on yourself?
I'm definitely a person that is trying to get more in tune with who I was as a child. One of the things I did during the early start of the pandemic was just start doing things I love to do as a child. I started doing more swimming, I started dancing more and jumping rope. I started skating because I used to love roller skating so just started to try and reach back to my inner child more in my adulthood.
What difficulties did you face when starting your own business?
It was my first time doing this so there was a lot of hesitancy. There was a lot of pushing the bird out of the the nest if you will. I was working at Walmart full time and starting this business on the side simultaneously for a good while before I felt comfortable enough to dive off and do my own thing. It's definitely a learning curve. There's a lot that I had to sort of shift my mindset about especially from a stability standpoint. It was a lot, but it's definitely not something that I regret. I honestly wish I had done it sooner and it's definitely something that I'm building.
What are you passionate about?
I'm passionate about helping other people kind of figure out what their passions are and how they want to go about spending their time on this earth. One of the other things I'm passionate about is helping people bring their ideas to life.
Why did you start Blackground Agency?
When I first was working at Walmart one of the things that I was doing was considered gap analysis. When you have something that's taken place whatever it is you kind of look at that thing and say okay what's missing from this experience and what's missing from this process. At Walmart I would always get resumes from the Career Center at my university because they want to try and hire some more seniors at Walmart headquarters. They were always sending me resumes and a lot of the times the resumes are not and we're not yet up to par with what a corporate recruiter would expect to see. Compared to a collegiate resume, a corporate recruiter wants to see something a little bit different as far as format, layout, language, and details in order for them to feel like this person is ready for a corporate job. I noticed that a lot of the the career development centers at universities were not really aware of what the differences between a collegiate resume and a corporate resume. I started out from really just wanting to create, edit and tailor resumes for other people. I like to tell people we do two things we either help people find jobs or we help people start businesses that create jobs. One of the focuses has been around helping people with preparing their resumes and getting prepared for the interview. Also helping people who want to start a business just lay the foundation for their businesses to grow on. It's definitely started out as a labor of love if you will and just growing into something that I'm really excited to be able to kind of sustain myself and my life off of at this point.
Tell me about being on the Board of Directors of Girl Gang?
Girl Gang has a very special place in my heart. The fact that Rachel started Girl Gang from what she saw within the community and how the people that she loves in her life are treated or not treated. I think it's just a testament to the importance of deciding that you're going to do something. When Rachel first kind of started exploring into this it was a labor of love for her. A friend of mine had shared with me the steps on how to start forming a nonprofit and what that process looks like. I'm a person that doesn't believe in hoarding information or resources. I try to disperse that information out to anyone who wants it especially if I have access to it. I shared that information with Rachel and she took the reins and went ahead and formed the nonprofit that we know and love today that is Girl Gang. It's great to see all the ways that it's growing. Knowing that she started girl gang because she saw a opportunity. The gap between how her daughter, who is someone with special needs, had a lot of opportunities that weren't available to her is part of what girl gang seeks to change and challenge.
What advice do you wish someone would have given you at any point in your life?
I feel like I get exposed or made aware of things at the exact moment that I'm supposed to be made aware of it whereas if I had learned about it or had knew about it two minutes later, two hours later or two weeks later it would not have been as critical or as important or as applicable. I'm exposed to things at the exact moment that I needed and at the exact moment that I'm actually able to apply it and implement it. So I don't know if there's anything necessarily that I wish somebody had told me.
In times of like hardship and self doubt, what do you do or say to yourself to build yourself back up?
Music is one of my favorite things ever so I have a playlist that I will turn on whenever I need that boost or I need that refill if you will. Another one is just more of my spiritual practices so whether it's journaling, reading, meditating or praying. Whatever those things are that kind of fill me up. I'm also trying to move more because I work from home and I have a very sedentary lifestyle so I try to get out and walk around the block, jump rope or dance. Just do the things that will remind my bones like hey we're alive you know so that's probably some of the things that I do to really uplift. Also just reconnecting and catching up with family, friends, and loved ones. Just doing the things that I love to do which is mainly travel and all things music related so live music concerts anything of the sort.
FOLLOW Blackground Business Agency HERE
FOLLOW Sierra HERE
MEET THE AUTHOR | Sydney Holmes is a junior at the University of Arkansas studying Journalism and Political Science. She is the Spring 2023 VIP Intern for NWA Girl Gang.