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Rachelle: Unique perspective on business, diversity
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Rachelle: Unique perspective on business, diversity

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Rachelle Island

Rachelle's Island marked its 25th anniversary in 2016.

Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes, African American businesswoman of three decades and founder of Orangeburg’s EmpowerHer Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association, brings a unique perspective on diversity to the business and professional world. She discusses that perspective and more.

My unique perspective includes five areas: diversity, equality, inclusion, cultural heritage and being a visionary. Each person comes from his or her own background. I knew early on that I would follow my passion for fashion and interior designing. Family exposure to travel let me know there was a bigger world out there. My mind was expanded. It was me in pursuit of things I want to do. I wake up every morning excited and ready not necessarily to pursue business, but to pursue our most precious asset, life.

Your businesses are success stories. What did it take for you to break into the business world and grow your businesses over three decades?

First my belief in myself, my capabilities and my God-given talents. I am “sold out” on living my life to the fullest personally and professionally and fulfilling my purpose, goals and dreams. All of these have been essential: faith, positive attitude, growth mindset, respect, integrity, commitment, consistency, relentless pursuit, optimism, focus, determination, gratitude, exposure, collaborations, mentors, being a visionary and, of course, support from family, friends and communities.

What have been your unique challenges as a woman in business?

I do not see challenges, I see opportunities. When someone says no, the door closes or does not open because I am a woman or for any reason, I encourage myself with these responses “next,” pave the way or create my own. I think outside the building, not just the box. I have seen and experienced diversity, inequality and not being included in many areas, shapes, sizes and backgrounds. As a woman and visionary, I believe how I respond is very important for my future and the door being open for those that follow.

What have been your unique challenges as an African American woman in business?

Not looking at myself as a minority woman – because that’s how society will try to classify me. To wake up each morning knowing that I am a person with viable goals and dreams. Knowing that I have a purpose and that my purpose is needed in the world. Knowing that each morning, I have the faith and support to pursue everything. For me not to allow myself to lock me in a box nor to allow anyone else to lock me in a box.

What new challenges have you faced during the coronavirus pandemic?

No time to cry and complain. I had to take immediate action and pivot, shift, adapt, navigate, be flexible and evolve for myself, family and customers. Listen to our customers, show up for them and meet their needs to care for them and properly position ourselves for our future.

Orangeburg is a diverse community, in its people and types of businesses. What do you as a businesswoman see as its strengths? What can we do better?

Its people. I see the community as the strength. We have a diverse community and it’s the true meaning of diversity – age, race, income, background, ethnicity religion, industry. We are our best asset. We need to do better in coming together for the greater good of Orangeburg County. We sit in a unique position in the state and there is so much talent, skill, knowledge here that we can capitalize on to be a stronger community.

Describe what you see in the future of business in Orangeburg County?

Small business is the backbone of Orangeburg County. I see Orangeburg flourishing in small business with diversity to meet the needs of all, from families with small children to young and working professionals, our college students, retirees and tourists. I see the citizens of Orangeburg being proud to be citizens of Orangeburg. This community must be proud of itself. Why not Orangeburg? We have great things here.

What is the EmpowerHer Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association doing to bring more diversity to the Orangeburg professional community?

The organization is for working women and entrepreneurs. We formed the EmpowerHer Chapter to be diverse and inclusive. Diversity is more than race. It is age, income, religion, ethnicity, other counties. Our foundation is women and we as women can learn from each other. In bringing professional diversity to Orangeburg, I wanted to make sure we had an organization that included personal and professional development and advancement for all races, incomes, ages, religions, backgrounds, etc. All are to get an equal opportunity. There is power in togetherness. We are better together.

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