Welcome to Breaking the Blueprint — a new blog series that dives into the unique business challenges and opportunities of underrepresented business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn how they’ve grown or scaled their businesses, explored entrepreneurial ventures within their companies, or created side hustles, and how their stories can inspire and inform your own success.
White authors dominate book publishing, and it can be difficult for people of color to find successful entrepreneurship stories written by founders, CEOs, and marketing executives with similar cultural backgrounds.Penguin Random House, a “Big Five” publisher, reported that 76% of their released books in 2019-2021 were by white contributors. This percentage may correlate with 74% of their staff being white.
Between statements to prioritize DEI efforts and leadership restructuring—like at PRH after their bid to acquire Simon & Schuster was halted—time will tell if publishing houses will make significant strides in diversity across their rosters and workforces.
Learning from someone with lived experiences you can relate to is invaluable and affirming. It’s a chance to feel less isolated when creating the blueprints for a company you once thought was an improbable dream.
1. This Is Not a T-Shirt: A Brand, a Culture, a Community–a Life in Streetwear by Bobby Hundreds
In his memoir, Bobby Hundreds invites us into the behind-the-scenes journey of building his iconic and culture-shifting streetwear brand, The Hundreds. It’s an intimate story that starts with a tumultuous upbringing in Southern California as a punk Korean-American outsider and cascades into in-depth anecdotes about emerging as a prominent voice in the industry.
Beyond practical advice and the gripping history of streetwear’s global influence on fashion, art, and music, this memoir is a motivating salute for preserving the essence of streetwear and the importance of nurturing the lifeline of a brand–a ride-or-die community.
Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Review excerpt: “This book is more than just a story of a brand that sold shirts, it shows how in order to build a lasting brand it‘s more than just a cool design or logo, but building a community that will call you out on your BS and support you to the end because you’ve held true to your foundations.”
2. Jefa in Training: The Business Startup Toolkit for Entrepreneurial and Creative Women by Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda
Written in Spanglish, Jefa in Training is a playbook and tool kit for solopreneurs and small businesses in the startup stage. In conversation with Latina immigrants and Hispanic Americans, Ojeda shares first-hand experiences, guest stories, worksheets, and templates to guide women of color to transform their projects into full-fledged businesses.
Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Review excerpt: “This book helps you overcome every fear you have that may be holding you back from starting a business. The quotes at the front of every chapter keep you motivated, the worksheets at the end keep you productive, and the tips/stories from other Latina entrepreneurs remind you that your dreams are attainable.”
3. The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Daymond John with Daniel Paisner
Shark Tank star Daymond John had humble beginnings. He sold products on the streets of Queens and turned that hustle into the $6-billion brand FUBU. Through his personal story and those of other hustling visionaries with empires, John shares how ambitious entrepreneurs can turn the desperation of being penniless into a superpower to be more efficient and innovative to achieve greater success.
Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Review excerpt: “The most comprehensive business book I’ve read! So many examples of successful entrepreneurs and their journeys to the top. I enjoyed the format of the book with all of the case studies, I really felt like I learned a lot. Daymond is very authentic and I think that is how people relate to him most. He is very approachable and humble and it comes across this way in his book.”
4. It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage by Arlan Hamilton with Rachel L. Nelson
Arlan Hamilton is a Black, gay woman who survived on food stamps and slept on the floor of the San Francisco airport.
Even with no college degree, background in finance, or any contacts in Silicon Valley, her tenacity and hard work propelled her to become a venture capitalist investing in underrepresented and underestimated people like her.
Her book is an unfiltered and inspiring account of staying true to yourself while pursuing success, overcoming obstacles, and staking your claim as an entrepreneur, even if no one like you is breaking into your dream industry.
Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Review excerpt: “As someone who doesn‘t plan to raise capital as part of my business models, I originally didn’t think this book would apply to me. How wrong I was. From the beginning chapter, I was hooked on Arlan’s story, and her innate ability to weave in business advice, truth and pointed (and poignant) realities, as well as real life suggestions to change the narrative.”
5. We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth and Gaining Economic Power by Rachel Rogers
Rachel Rogers is on a mission to rewire the way women think about money so they can take charge of their lives, overcome the history of systemic inequality, and secure financial freedom.
While seven figures may sound wildly unattainable, Rogers’ book is a practical guide on million-dollar decisions, savvy strategies for making and investing money, and tackling mindsets that limit you.
Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Review excerpt: “Part autobiography, part roadmap to success, wholly authentic, and 100% relatable – this book is THE new book for women in business. I read a lot of personal development and business books and run my own 6-figure generating business and I can say without hesitation that there is next-level mentorship between these covers.”
No matter your story, success is unlimited, and the path to it differs for everyone. Whether you’re just getting started or have an established company, pick up a book from this list and invest in your business journey by learning from those who endured the highs and lows of entrepreneurship before you.