Here’s Why We Admire These Black Women Leaders In Hudson County

Hudson County is filled with women who inspire the community every day. This month, we put a special focus on black women in Hudson County who are leaders in their fields as we celebrate Black History Month. From business owners, entrepreneurs, mothers and supportive friends, these ladies are on the move in the region.

Rita Sander | Owner at Tousled Hair Salon in Jersey City

Rita Sanders Tousled Hair Salon

How did you start your career?

RS: It’s my second career. I was in marketing and when the devastation of 9/11 happened and changed our lives forever, my business changed forever too. Instead of returning to corporate America, I sought to work with my hands. I’ve always felt a void in corporate America: it didn’t appeal to my nurturing, creative self. Once I graduated from cosmetology at the Aveda Institute in New York, I never looked back. My family influences were my grandmother who owned her own hair salon in Harlem and my father who owned three hair salons in Harlem and Queens.

How has your culture and background influenced your work?

RS: In my culture and in my family, we (my sisters, my mother, my aunts and my cousins) have grown up taking care of each other’s scalp and hair, by “greasing” (i.e. by “oiling”) the other’s scalp or by braiding and tying the other’s hair before bed. Taking good care of my guests in my salon means taking the time to massage and nourish my guests’ scalp and hair. All of my textured and curly cuts receive a steam treatment that removes all impurities from the scalp while opening up the hair follicle for the moisturizing or protein conditioner to penetrate deeply. This is followed by a cool or warm rinse to close the cuticle seal for added strength and shine.

How do you celebrate Black History Month?

RS: I celebrate Black History Month by nurturing textured hair and showing my guests the different options on how they can wear their natural hair, and showing them how to take care of it, and not give up on care necessary to keep their natural hair nourished.

What other black women do you look up to?

RS: I admire the late Cicely Tyson because I was inspired by her life, her career and her hair choices. She wasn’t afraid to wear the hairstyle that suited her mood and level of confidence, she wasn’t afraid to take risks. She broke down so many barriers and advocated for love, justice and peace. She was a national treasure that exuded style and grace.

What local black-owned businesses do you frequent?

RS: I love Suite Tee Beauty Studio in downtown Jersey City, specializing in natural nails and waxing. You must get the Caribbean Coconut Body Lotion, I promise you will kiss.

Read more: A list of Black-owned businesses to support in Hoboken + Jersey City

carol watson | Director of Inclusion, BCW Global

carol watson bcw global

How did you start your career?

CT: I started my career doing media planning for an advertising agency working on a wine and beer account.

How has your culture and background influenced your work?

CT: My identities have generally made me sit between cultures. A first generation born to Jamaican parents, living in an all-white suburb of New Jersey, being mostly a single parent and even being left-handed gives me a perspective of what it’s like to be ‘other’ and having to fit into the norms of different kinds of subcultures and norms.

How do you celebrate Black History Month?

CT: I love investing in black-owned businesses, not only as a client, but I’m also currently mentoring a UK-based black-owned business. The tsunami of black content and events always brings me joy, both learning and enjoying films, documentaries, podcasts and events. Even Black History Month Peloton classes bring me joy.

What other black women do you look up to?

CT: I really love seeing the sparkle and shine of so many black women in my life. Equally important are my colleagues, industry friends, authors and celebrities. I’m in a book club reading Unbound, Tarana Bourke’s story now and her genius and journey are amazing. I currently want Michele Ghee, CEO of Ebony and Jet who is also a girl from NJ. The sheer weight and will to do what it needs to do demands so much that we can’t even imagine. If anyone can do it, she can.

What local black-owned businesses do you frequent?

CT: One of my favorite human beings is Courtney Sloane, from Designs by Courtney Sloane in Jersey City. Each visit is a sensory and spiritual feast of brotherhood.

Jenifer Bonaparte | Actress, Producer, + Poet

Jenifer Bonaparte

(Photo credit: Omorphy Photos)

How did you start your career?

JB: I’m an artist, co-founder of Words Unleashed Events and candle host at Rewax and Unwine. I started writing at the age of 12.

How has your culture and background influenced your work?

JB: As a little girl of color, I realized how important it was to follow my dreams and pursue the path of truth.

How do you celebrate Black History Month?

JB: I celebrate it throughout the year by pursuing my goal and honoring those who came before me.

What other black women do you look up to?

JB: Jill Scott, Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama.

What local black-owned businesses do you frequent?

JB: Rewax and Unwine + Hair Galore.

See more: 22 Hoboken + Jersey City women to watch in 2022

Kristin J. Hooper | Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting LLPFocused on customer strategy and applied design; Retail + GIC

Kristin Hooper Consulting Deloitte

How did you start your career?

KH: I started my career over 20 years ago because I was good with numbers and data, interested in discovering how truths about humanity and culture influence behavior, and interested in applying what I learned outside of academia and in an integrated marketing and communications capacity.

How has your culture and background influenced your work?

KH: I am passionate about the intersection of cultural heritage, cultural status and cultural zeitgeist as it relates to purpose, values, existence, consumption, voting, advocacy and other areas of action in which I help my clients to navigate. I’m also passionate about the intersection between social and racial justice and impact, and brands and businesses. My culture and background allows me to be clear and question the nuances, intersectionality and importance of cultural identity in the lenses through which one can view life, express who one is (or not) , making choices about relationships with brands and companies, and consumer products and services.

How do you celebrate Black History Month?

KH: I celebrate BHM by spending time reflecting and honoring those before me, in my family and elsewhere, who have worked to improve the state of equity and excellence in our community; serve the community; passing on important stories from slavery to the civil rights era, to today with my son and nephew; and generally working to share the importance of the contribution of black people in this country and others in the media and other platforms.

What other black women do you look up to?

KH: michelle obama, Carla Harris, Janet Jackson, My Great Aunt Theresa Hooper Marshall, Angela Basset, Bozoma Saint-Jean, Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, Mrs. CJ Walker, Shirley Chislom, Josephine Bakerand Marianne Anderson.

What local black-owned businesses do you frequent?

KH: Jerk’D, Freetown Road Project, Parish 14, Ani Ramen, Suite T-shirt, Ken Pilates (via Hoboken Impact), Yessenia (via Prime Cycle) and Tanysha (via SoulCycle).

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Written by: Jordan and Joelle Hernandez

Jordan and Joelle, volunteer contributors and coordinators of HobokenGirl are real Jersey Girls. Originally hailing from the coast in Hazlet, NJ, the girls moved their “rite of passage” to Hoboken a few years after graduating in communications from Loyola University. Outside of their 9-5 as senior editors in New York, the twins can be found baking cookies, reading the latest books, or taking their yorkie-poo Chica for a walk. Like many 20-somethings, Jordan and Joelle are on a budget and know how to get the best bargains in town.

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