Since the beginning of time, Black women have been doers and leaders, so it is no surprise that today Black women continue to lead the charge as the fastest-growing group of business owners, according to a J.P. Morgan report. One woman leading the charge in the hospitality space is Davonne Reaves, Founder and Chief Strategist of The Vonne Group. It’s a business she established to teach people how to become successful hotel owners, with the ultimate goal of increasing the percentage of Black hotel owners and investors.
EBONY sat down with Reaves to learn about her journey and to seek her best advice and guidance for aspiring CEOs and entrepreneurs.
EBONY: Tell us about your journey to becoming an independent entrepreneur and the CEO of your own company?
Davonne Reaves: Starting a business from scratch was no easy feat, especially when I started from the front desk. Realizing that my efforts would help build something, with me as its eventual owner, was immensely rewarding; and yet I spent many nights staying up until the early morning hours second-guessing myself and rethinking my choice of leaving the corporate world behind. Over the next five years, I experienced so much failure, yet too many things to count within this same span—such as grieving after the loss of my father and my grandmother; and becoming a mother myself. Despite it all, nothing felt better to me than taking ownership of making something mine.
How did you know the hotel and hospitality industry was right for you?
I never thought I’d find a place within the hospitality industry. But, gradually, I couldn’t ignore that my upbringing had instilled in me a sense of positivity and friendliness toward others. Unfortunately, this industry can be filled with challenging moments, but despite the difficulty, I found joy in creating space for those around me to feel comfortable and safe. Moreover, this purpose was deeply ensconced within the fuel needed to make navigation simpler. Over time, I began to realize how much being hospitable had always been an innate part of myself—regardless of knowledge of where I might utilize it.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
As an aspiring entrepreneur, you have no doubt heard the words “success doesn’t happen overnight”. But it can happen if you are determined, knowledgeable, and focused. The first place to start is from the ground up. Create effective systems and processes that are both manageable and achievable by getting into a rhythm of good habits and incorporating them into your daily routine. Make sure to stay focused and don’t get sidetracked; it’s often too easy to lose your way when sailing uncharted waters. That being said, don’t be afraid to go off course here and there; gaining experience in different areas will ultimately help you move up and attempt bigger things. True success requires studying your desirable outcomes very carefully, and thoughtfully constructing an intelligent plan for enough testing so that you’ll know that you are on the right one!
4.) What is next for you?
After previously creating a platform to increase the percentage of Black hotel owners/investors, I am now excited to announce the success of my innovative commercial real estate crowdfunding platform – Vesterr. Vesterr offers an innovative solution for investors who want to diversify their portfolios with hard assets. It expands their access to a variety of commercial properties, including hotels, multifamily units, and more. With continued effort and innovative thinking, I know that Vesterr will continue to grow and help investors invest in alternative assets such as commercial real estate.