How Issa Rae Went From Awkward Black Girl To Serial Entrepreneur

Last updated on Mar 7, 2024

Posted on Mar 5, 2024

Issa Rae can confidently boast about her multiple nominations, awards, and accolades, including her Emmy and Peabody Trailblazer Awards, her contribution to one of 2023’s most hyped films, Barbie, and her recent recognition by Time Magazine as one of the leaders working to close the racial wealth gap. We all know her as a community advocate, author, and producer, but she's also a serial entrepreneur who focuses heavily on representation and inclusion.

Since the creation of her YouTube series, Awkward Black Girl, in 2011Issa has been betting not just on herself, but also on her community, emphasizing her support for small businesses that reflect the places that she enjoys and products that she likes to use. In an interview with Marie Claire, she said that she considers the void that needs to be filled.

"... it's not about what's sexy or popular, but a genuine need and an appreciation for a business."

Last year she officially joined the spirits industry, launching Viarae, a Prosecco designed in partnership with E & J Gallo Winery. This year, Issa already has new projects underway, including the building of a studio campus in South L.A for local filmmakers, which would simultaneously serve as an economic engine for the community.  

Being the boss lady that she is, she's also involved in a number of other notable business ventures, and we're here for them all!

Hilltop Coffee & Kitchen

In 2019, Issa Rae joined Yonnie Hagos and Ajay Relan to open Hilltop's flagship location in Downtown Inglewood, not far from where she grew up. Created as a space to "foster community, creativity and connection over high quality food and drink", the coffeeshop expanded in 2023 to its fourth location in a historic building in Downtown Los Angeles.

Sienna Naturals

In 2020, Issa joined forces with CEO of Sienna Naturals, Hannah Diop, to be a co-owner and the new face of the natural hair-care brand. No stranger to showcasing the versatility and beauty of her own natural hair, Issa has long admired Hannah's commitments to creating a natural, clean, and safe brand for Black women, using toxic-free products.

Hoorae Media

Formerly known as Issa Rae Productions, the company was rebranded as Hoorae Media (pronounced "Hooray") as a means of celebrating and championing Black people and Black stories. The venture consolidates Issa's various projects under one umbrella, including Insecure and A Black Lady Sketch Show. Hoorae has since expanded to include a marketing division, Fête, which will focus on the development of campaigns for major brands.

Viarae Prosecco

Although we already mentioned it briefly, we couldn't conclude without giving Viarae a special shout-out. Last year, Issa Rae turned her love for Prosecco into a new business venture that we can all literally enjoy! As she does her part to strengthen diversity in an otherwise homogenous industry, let's toast to her success in every endeavor!

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