(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third article in a series on Cohort 3 of the “100Knoxville” program, an initiative that aims to help Black-owned businesses grow by $10,000,000 in five years. Look for more stories in upcoming issues of teknovation.biz.)
By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA
Kryshonna Wilson, Founder of Urz Professional, has always known she wanted to run her own business, but it took her a while to find the right field.
While she tried a few professions over the years, nothing felt right. Wilson said she knew she wanted her work to be about purpose and caring for others. She tried healthcare, thinking that would be the right fit. Wilson’s grandmother is bipolar, manic-depressive, and schizophrenic, and her mother is her caretaker.
“I watched my mom take care of her, and I watched how much not mentally taking care of ourselves and how it hurts the entire family,” Wilson said.
Her drive for purpose was inspired by her church. Wilson said the pastor and his wife had started an initiative called “First Things First,” which was built to keep Black families together. They would talk with families outside of church and host events.
Wilson was led to skincare services after a family tragedy. After witnessing the death of her brother, Wilson realized she wasn’t taking care of herself. It pushed her toward doing something that would help her care for herself and others.
“Part of what I do here was stuff I realized I had to do in my own life,” she said. “There’s trauma after trauma, and we didn’t learn how to take care of ourselves, or how to heal.”
She came up with the name (Urz pronounced yours) because she envisioned her business being about people giving back to themselves. Make-up helped to lift Wilson, who added that she hadn’t realized how much self-care went into something she had been doing every day.
Urz is also about uplifting other Black business owners, who can rent space in Wilson’s spa and offer their own aesthetician services.
“I also wanted to provide a space because I got tired of going to places like Ulta and Sephora and there not being people there who look like me that can provide adequate make-up services and skin care services,” she said. “It’s a void in that field.”
This void often also means that Black women or other women of color don’t feel celebrated in the beauty industry, Wilson said. While taking classes to be an aesthetician, she said instructors couldn’t help her with Black skincare issues.
On top of offering skincare services at Urz, she also sells products from Black-owned businesses. She also offers classes, meditations, bridal showers, anything that brings “peace and positivity to the community.” On the business side, she offers things like credit building classes to help lift other businesses owners.
One of the most important aspects of Urz is to help break the cycle of women not taking care of themselves. Wilson said she comes from a long line of women who were pouring from empty cups.
“Black women don’t seek self-care, we take care of everybody else,” she said. “For once in life, I feel like we need to learn to put ourselves first.”
The “100Knoxville” program has already helped Wilson make changes in her business. She first heard about the program through Catherine Porth, Director of Insights and Development with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, after Wilson had worked with her in the Co.Starters program.
“For the first time I was meeting people who were speaking the same language as me,” Wilson said of Co.Starters.
Wilson found the mentorship part of the program particularly valuable. Each business is partnered with a Knoxville mentor. Wilson was partnered with Angelique Adams. Wilson said she had heard of Adams, but “100Knoxville” helped bridge the gap. “I needed her,” she said of her mentor.
You can read more about Adams in this teknovation.biz article.
The mentorship program pulls people from the community to help the community, which Wilson said she appreciated. She also added that it was important that “100Knoxville” helps diverse types of businesses, from retail, arts, and skincare. “These are a lot of things that people won’t touch,” she said.