Woman on the Rise – Leslie Jones

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Black women are the fastest-growing entrepreneurs in the United States.

The number of businesses owned by African American, women have grown 322% since 1997, making black females the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., according to Fortune Magazine.

For Women’s History Month, I want to showcase black women who own their businesses and are making positive contributions to their communities.

Bride and Groom with Event Planner Leslie Jones

One of those women being recognized is Leslie Jones. Leslie, who’s a California native, is the owner of Leslie Marie Events.

Since she was a little girl, Leslie knew that she was going to become a business owner. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, it was no surprise when she embarked on her journey of business ownership.

“My grandfather, who passed away about a year and a half ago, was an entrepreneur since he was 12 years old. He grew up in Louisiana and his father owned several small businesses. My grandfather was also in the military. Besides being in the military and working for his father, he never had another boss.”

Leslie began her journey while in college at Arizona State University. She planned events for her sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated, the NAACP and other organizations on campus. It was then, Leslie knew she had a passion for event planning.

Leslie moved back home, to California, to take care of her mother, who was battling colon cancer. She said it was her mother who motivated her to pursue her passion.

“I started my company before my mom got sick, but once her symptoms progressed, I put that on hold to help her. While she was fighting cancer, she was encouraging me to pursue what I wanted to do. When she passed away, I felt that the best way to honor her was to include her name in my company, Leslie being my first name and Marie, her middle name, hence the name, Leslie Marie Events.”

Leslie also honors her mother by participating in events for Colon Cancer Awareness with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

“We have participated with this organization for the past eight years to bring awareness of colon cancer and the importance of getting yearly screenings.”

Along with her participation with Colon Cancer Awareness, she also donates five percent of the proceeds from Leslie Marie Events, to non-profit organizations who are impacting their local communities.

Leslie has been growing her business for seven years and she has other business ventures that she’s involved in.

“Success does not come overnight, you have to grind hard in the beginning and perfect your craft”

Leslie Jones, Owner of Leslie Marie Events and Co-Owner of 1010 Wine and Events.

Along with her sisters, Leslie has started a business in the heart of Inglewood, California.

“My sisters and I are the owners of the soon to open wine bar, 1010 (Ten, Ten) Wine and Events. We wanted to create something that gave back to the community we were raised in. There are a lot of investors and businesses coming back to this area and we wanted to be a part of the action as well.”

There is no stopping Leslie, as she discussed her plans for growth and expansion in both of her companies for years to come.

Leslie encourages anyone looking to go into business to understand that patience and hard work is needed in order to become successful.

“Oftentimes, we see these ‘overnight celebrities’ or people who came out of nowhere and they’re successful, but what people don’t understand is that those individuals have been grinding behind the scenes, working to perfect their craft. It takes hard work to get to that level and success does not happen overnight, you must work to get there.”

Leslie, we honor you this Women’s History Month. Your dedication and passion are evident, and we cannot wait to see you soar further in the future.

You can find more about Leslie Marie Events on Instagram @LeslieMarieEvents or on her website, http://lesliemarieevents.com. For more information on 1010 Wine and Events, follow them on Instagram @1010WineandEvents.