We’re thrilled to spotlight one of the dazzling victors from our 2023 Women of Color Incubator Pitch Competition. These rising Black women entrepreneurs are set to ignite a flame of inspiration and drive in other aspiring young Black women entrepreneurs—and indeed, in all of us—encouraging the pursuit of their own entrepreneurial dreams with newfound zeal and passion.

Meet Cayla Jackson, Founder of A Knew U and 1st Place Awardee from University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

What inspired you to start your business? 

What inspired me to start my business was my personal struggle with insecurities due to unrealistic standards set by the media. As a teenager I spent a unfathomable amount of time and dollars chasing results I was never going to achieve because what I was pursuing, simply wasn’t even real. In a world of filters and editing software, it’s difficult to feel comfortable when the media is constantly telling you to hide your real skin, your authentic self. As I got older, this endless chase became tiring to endure and see. I couldn’t sit idly by and wait for some type of revolutionary change because, what if it didn’t happen? I decided that despite my insecurity and fear, I would do what I could to start inspiring those around me to think differently. I wanted a different world, not just for myself, but for everyone. We all inevitably affect one another; all it takes is authentic and positive contribution to fight back against the current emotionally and financially damaging agenda pushed by the beauty industry.

What has the entrepreneurship journey looked like for you so far? 

The entrepreneurship journey for me has been a place of self-discovery and hope. I’ve been able to connect with individuals who are passionate in what they do, having endless opportunities to inspire one another. I’ve learned how to better manage other areas of my life as well since starting this path.

What has been the most rewarding part of being a young female entrepreneur? 

The most rewarding part of being a young female entrepreneur is realizing that change truly starts with you. I realized that my dream of a more supportive and authentic world could in fact be a reality, it’s right at your fingertips.  I’ve seen firsthand the power of speaking out to, connecting with and uplifting those around you. You never know what’s in store for you as long as you try your best and have good intentions. Things may be hard, but the hardest things are always worth it.

Where do you see yourself in one year? How about 5 years? 

In a year we should be fully running and seeing profit, given everything goes accordingly. We plan to obtain our first large brand partnership within the first 5 years, with an ultimate desire to expand to a national level. We want to take this mission as far as possible.

What advice would you give to other female founders just starting their business? 

  1. Treat your business like your baby. Protect it, nurture it, make sacrifices, learn about it, etc. This is how you guarantee growth.
  2. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals/find a mentor. This will help you stay goal-oriented.
  3. Embrace redirection. Cliche, but true, you should never give up. Everything isn’t going to go according to your first plan, and that’s okay. In reality plans “D-G” are probably better anyway, just think of plan “A” as the prototype, and celebrate your process.
  4. Remember the point of life is growth, acknowledge yours always.

How did you first learn about the WBENC WOC Incubator?

I met Audrey Awasom (she is absolutely awesome) at the Firstlook Fair at UMES. She informed me about the program and I was honestly hooked from the start, it was everything I was looking for as a young entrepreneur, she was genuinely excited to help and that’s what made me select their program over the others available.

How would you describe your experience in the WOC Incubator Program? 

My experience was extremely eye-opening. It made business fun and not so scary. Being a part of the WBENC Incubator allowed me to discover a new part of myself and connected me with people who are dedicated to helping me grow further.

What did you learn during the WOC Incubator program that will help you grow your business? 

I learned how to create a viable business “brick by brick”. With the universal formulas given, I could use the information to expand my current business or start several others. I also learned how to “do it anyway”, whether I was scared, unsure or worried, following through is what made me brave.

What’s next for you and your business? 

I plan on entering more pitch competitions to launch/expand and continuing my journey with WBENC. I hope to grow enough to give back and be able to positively influence and guide others the way WBENC did for me.

Visit A Knew U


Cayla Jackson
Founder | A Knew U

“A Knew U” is and online educational salon/boutique dedicated to authentially guiding and embracing indivduals on their unique self care journies. We believe beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, it is in existence itself. We are committed to transforming  the nature of the beauty industry it into a space that celebrates people in their flaws, instead of demanding filtered perfection for profit.

On our platform, you’ll have access to the authentic information needed to educate yourself on things like haircare, skincare, makeup techniques and more. “A Knew U” is all about being inclusive, so we house a diverse range of service providers and instructors to ensure there will be something for everyone. This information is available in a variety of resourses so that our customers can learn they way they prefer, when they prefer. We also give customers the option to book available providers for services or purchase products from our fashion collaborators. So whether you’re looking to master personal selfcare, start your own entreperneurial venture, or simply treat yourself to what you deserve, we’ve got you covered!