Today we’d like to introduce you to NiaTayler Clark.
NiaTayler, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am who I am, because of what I have read.
I was 23 years old & Tahj (my son) was about six months when I came across my first collection of children’s books that were “by us, for us.” I had the pleasure of dining at BUSBOYS AND POETS in Washington, D.C., and to say that I was happy was an understatement. I honestly felt like a kid in a candy store as I stood amazed by how many characters “looked like me” in their mini library. I am sure my excitement to finally see a positive representation of myself had me glowing. Suddenly, I was rudely interrupted when I realized how long it took me to actually get to this moment. I refused to let that be my son’s reality. Immediately, I gathered about five books for my son & the BlackLIT seed was officially planted.
As I returned to my classroom of 10th graders in Dallas, I soon realized that the lack of positive representation in underprivileged communities has driven the literacy gap wider than one’s eyes can see. I literally had a student tell me “I don’t read Ms. I’m black. It broke my heart, to say the least; but, it opened my eyes. I wanted to help my students, but I also wanted to help on a larger scale and reach more students. BlackLIT is bigger than me; BlackLIT is bigger than any one person or one community. Knowledge is power & BlackLIT is on a God-given mission to empower.
Once I made the commitment to follow God’s direction for BlackLIT and not my own, my hesitation to start sooner rather than later dwindled and I used my purpose as motivation. I knew that I would not be able to open a bookstore immediately, but I knew I had to start somewhere. I begin seeking opportunities to be a vendor around the DFW Metroplex and was welcomed with open arms. I also begin using my passion for creativity and started designing our logo, making Tshirts, and working on marketing material. I was overwhelmed with joy as I was given positive feedback and words of encouragement.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to where BlackLIT is now definitely has been bumpy, with roadblocks, speed bumps, and potholes along the way. However, with my end destination in mind, I am not discouraged one bit. My biggest struggle thus far has been learning that I cannot be so naive and make all business decisions with my heart. Doing so has left me dealing with the side effects of betrayal; however, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the lessons BlackLIT has taught me through tough love. Another major struggle for me is the learning curve that comes along with entrepreneurship. I have been forced to become fluent in areas such as branding, marketing, budgeting, and product sourcing and it was not easy. I am still spending countless hours taking online courses and seeking mentorship and guidance from seasoned professionals. Another battle, I had was an internal battle of the possibility of my message being misunderstood. My business is called BlackLIT, however, it is not meant to be solely exclusive to one race or community. Many minorities have been “blacklisted” from classroom literature and I want to be their motivation to speak up too without diminishing my voice. No one deserves to feel misrepresented, underrepresented, or invisible in any classroom, especially ones that claim to follow diversity, equality, and inclusion mission statements.
What else should our readers know?
BlackLIT is a community where those who have been misrepresented, underrepresented, and invisible in classroom literature are consciously uplifted. We believe this will create well-rounded thinkers that can thrive together in society. BlackLIT is here to remind you that literacy matters and representation matters too. BlackLIT currently operates as a mobile and online bookstore, with supporters widespread around the United States. In addition to books, BlackLIT also offers apparel, accessories and a bi-monthly subscription box. The BlackLIT box includes: 1 book, 1 journal, 3-5 products from black-owned businesses, and guided reading activities. The items inside are valued at over $75; however, you get yours for only $20 a month. All proceeds will be used to open up a bookstore in Dallas highlighting authors of color.
BlackLIT specializes in making literacy appear relatable and relevant to students in the black community. As an educator and a mother, I am known for building lasting relationships with students by being caring, understanding, and relatable. I do not take my role as a mentor lightly; in fact, it is why I have accepted my role in helping do what I can to help close the achievement gap and to create a safe space in the community where students can see positive, educational, culturally relevant representations of themselves. As a company, I am most proud that we have used the power of literacy to motivate, highlight, reaffirm, and empower underprivileged cultures. At a time when depression rates are at an all-time high, I am grateful to play my part in making someone else feel special. What sets us apart from others is our commitment to learning and evolving with our audience. We don’t just want to teach literature, we teach the power of literacy, encourage a love for learning, grow positive representation in our community, and inspire the next generation of lifelong learners.
What were you like growing up?
I will not dare lie and say that “I was one of those people who always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur”. Honestly, for me, that was furthest from the truth. As a black female growing up in a world where the majority look at us as second best, I had this false allusion that the best I could be was either a doctor for a prestigious hospital or a prolific lawyer. These are two amazing careers; however, neither fall under entrepreneur: a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
Growing up I was the quiet athlete who was super focused on achieving her goals. It was not until I attended an HBCU, that I learned my quietness was really insecurity trying to hide from being seen by others. I was super tall and dark-skinned and being the “smart girl” was not exactly the way to win a popularity contest. All I did was read and write but reading about people who you can not identify with gets exhausting and you lose motivation after a while. I attempted to keep writing but no one cared whether I did it or not so why should I? I put all my energy into performing well in school, sports, and extracurricular activities.
I became an entrepreneur because after attending my HBCU, Fayetteville State University. I felt invincible as a black woman. I realized that I was doing myself and my community a disservice by waiting for others to solve problems that I had solutions to. Fayetteville State empowered me, so that I may empower others.
- Tshirts 19.99
- BlackLIT Box $20 a month or $40 bi-monthly
- Address: 801 Lake Carolyn Pkwy
- Website: iamblacklit.com
- Phone: 2406823282
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamblacklit
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamblacklit
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