Those of us fortunate enough to have a supporting family understand the benefits it can provide. That love, care, support and advice can help take kids and their ideas and transform them into complex people capable of taking on the world. Often, the credit goes to parents, siblings and grandparents. However, others often deserve the credit as well. For Shellise Rogers, MBA and TiYanna Long, MPA they credit their aunts – or aunties, to be exact – who helped do just that.
Today, the duo are a bicoastal team taking that familial approach when handling their clients’ goals as ‘Ya Business Aunties. Long explained the importance of an auntie.
“They weren’t our mothers. They weren’t hovering over us being a mother. They were our aunties. They were there when we needed them…they were always just a phone call away.”
Rogers is a New York-based multi-hyphenate entrepreneur and activist with a focus on the intersection where cannabis, spirituality and mental health meet. Long is a New York and Bay Area co-resident with focuses ranging from business strategy to real estate.
The two bring diverse insights to their clients, with Rogers holding a Master’s in accounting and is studying mental health counseling. Long has a few herself, including a Master’s of Public Administration from New York University.
The two are active in their own projects as well, with Rogers heading up her own faith-based strategy agency, Sistah Rogers. The company lists affiliations with the Minority Cannabis Business Association, the New York chapter of NORML and several others. Long is the founder of Medisi Ventures, a social impact venture aimed at re-imaging various aspects of the industry. Some of Medisi’s projects include the New Jersey Cannabis Commission and NYU Wagner.
The duo’s insights and efforts have landed them notable media coverage and speaking engagements as well. They include speaking at events like What’s Next in Tech’s careers in technology as well as serving as panelists for the National Black Chamber of Commerce Conference. They are also prominent on podcasts, as features on Young Money, Cash Color Cannabis and In The Know 420, to name a few.
The two met through networking at various cannabis events. From there, the two would decide to meet up for work sessions in their living rooms. A whiteboard full of ideas soon came to fruition, which continues to serve as the duo’s action plan today.
‘Ya Business Aunties would eventually launch Synergy Sesh. The venture would serve as the vehicle for Keep ‘Ya Network Poppin’, a series of events and information sessions that strive for positive social impact, upward mobility and connecting others like Long and Rogers did themselves. Events bring out a mix of established professionals from government, staffing, financial services and real estate. Events have been held in the ladies’ home areas while also extending to New Orleans and Washington, D.C.
The sessions are catered to small audiences, maxing out at 30 attendees to ensure people can connect with one another. To further build the connection, the sessions tap into the local market. “We won’t just bring entrepreneurs from all of these other markets into this space,” explained Long, “…that doesn’t do exactly what we intend to do. It fosters great examples of what’s going on elsewhere, but we also need heavy representation of what is local so that it resonates.”
Rogers discussed the power of connecting local residents with entrepreneurs in their area. “Just to see when people truly engage and take advantage of the opportunities and resources that we’re providing them. All it takes is that action.” She added, “That’s the beautiful part of being a business auntie…seeing the results.”
Long mentioned another success story of a local Washington, D.C. attendee who was able to win a Levo oil machine at a giveaway. She discussed the importance of working with major brands like Levo and the benefit it can have for attendees. “To have a native D.C. grower utilize this product…to further her business and then be able to make oils easier out of the flower that she herself is growing…that’s amazing.”
Even with a growing brand and their own ventures to manage, Long and Rogers made it seem as if working bi-coastal and away from each other was not much of an issue. “We both have a lot going on currently, and that’s going to be a forever thing. But, creating great relationships is also a part of what Synergy Sesh hopes to really be an example of how two people, two women can come together who didn’t know each other and collaborate on a company that is successful.”
The success the two create will hopefully serve as inspiration as well, Long said. “That’s something that we want to resonate throughout the cannabis industry as well, especially in communities of color. It’s recognizing the benefit of collaboration and also how to find those great people to collaborate with.”
When asked about their favorite parts of being in the cannabis space, Rogers touched on the connections made. “There exists a social consciousness, mindfulness and the ability to meet your tribe. I feel like there have been so many people that I never thought I would really relate to.”
Long built off of Roger’s point, adding “It’s exciting to share information with them that we’re constantly learning.” She elaborated, “And as we’re always connecting with new people and building relationships, it’s great when I hear that they’ve got a lot of new information from us.”