We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren Fontaine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lauren, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk plays competing roles in my life.
By day, I am a corporate renewable energy legal and commercial advisor. With 15+ years of experience, I have advised small, medium and multi-national companies by negotiating multi-billion dollar deals, growing company assets and protecting new and emerging technologies. Needless to say, I am constantly accessing risk thinking of creative solutions to reduce or eliminate risk.
As the owner and founder of Blackscriptions, a quarterly curated self-care and lifestyle subscription box featuring Black-owned businesses, I am constantly taking risks and much of this risk cannot be reduced or eliminated.
Entrepreneurship is inherently risky. From the moment you decide to start a new venture you are pummeled with decisions both big and small all of which have the potential to catapult your business to high heights or literally tank your business. Do I start an LLC? Do I hire employees or independent contractors? Do I invest in merchandise without having any customers? Do I sell my products online? How do I sell my products online – do I develop my own website or use an established third party platform? The questions are endless and with each answer come some degree of risk.
As an entrepreneur the keys to risk are to understand it, manage it and embrace it. Do your research – use Google, attend training seminars, ask professionals or ask fellow entrepreneurs. Once you make a decision and you understand the risk, try to manage the risk as best as possible. Embrace your decision and the associated risk and move forward. Don’t let risk or the fear thereof paralyze you. Finally, check and adjust. Throughout the course of your entrepreneurial journey if you discover that a decision you previously made is no longer right for your business, you can typical change course.
In life, whenever you’re trying something new or innovative, there’s always some degree of risk involved. And at the end of the day, if you manage and embrace that risk and continue to move forward and learn from the risky decisions, then the upside potential is much greater.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Blackscriptions is a quarterly curated self-care and lifestyle subscription box highlighting Black-owned businesses. Each Blackscription is themed – the Black Wax Blackscription features candles, wax melts and candleholders while the Black Spa Blackscription features bubble baths, bath bombs, soaps and more, all from Black-owned businesses.
Blackscriptions supports its community by amplifying Black-owned businesses and serving the community.
At Blackscriptions, our goal is to economically empower the Black community by introducing socially conscious consumers to Black-owned businesses one box at a time. Blackscriptions partners with Black-owned businesses across the county, tells their stories and introduces them to markets and demographics who otherwise didn’t know of their existence in an effort to spur and drive more commerce their way. Blackscriptions is simply a conduit for enhanced economic growth to the Black-owned businesses we partner with.
As the descendent of a slave turned landowner who was twice elected to the Texas legislature during Reconstruction, my roots of uplifting the Black community run deep.
The most important lesson I’ve learned in both business and as the founder of Blackscriptions is the power and importance of self-advocacy.
As an entrepreneur, self-advocacy is your ability to speak passionately, boldly and unequivocally about your business by knowing your why and having the ability to speak competently and confidentially about all facets of your business. Additionally, being able to make quick decisions and negotiate are also keys to entrepreneurial self-advocacy. Professional self-advocacy not only encompasses sharing accomplishments, but also includes setting boundaries and asking for support when needed.
Early in my career I did not truly understand the importance and power of self-advocacy. As a result, I was passed over for promotions and high profile assignments. Once I started advocating for myself, the promotions and assignment started rolling in. Because I had learned this lesson as a professional, when I started Blackscriptions I translated my self-advocacy tactics I’d employed for over a decade as a professional to Blackscriptions.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As a native Houstonian and self-proclaimed foodie, I appreciate Houston’s storied restaurant scene. I once read that in Houston you could eat at a different restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner for an entire year without repeating restaurants. Here are a few restaurants that I’d recommend: • Lucille’s
• Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack
• Taste Bar & Kitchen
• Burns Original BBQ
• Triple J’s Smokehouse
• Turkey Leg Hug
• The Breakfast Club
• B&B Butchers & Restaurants
• The Greasy Spoon
• One Fifth
• Max’s Wine Dive
• and the list goes on…
Before becoming the most culturally diverse city in the United States, Houston’s Black history from emancipation through civil rights was storied and worth exploring. Here are a couple of areas of town worth exploring:
• Freedmen’s Town – After the Civil War, freed slaves relocated to Freedmen’s Town, just outside of downtown Houston, making Freedmen’s Town the first and largest Black community in Texas after the Civil War. The community included schools, churches and a robust business community. Although Freedmen’s Town has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985, very few of the original structures and brick laid streets remain.
• The African American Library at the Gregory School – The land for the Gregory School was donated by former slaves and residents of Freedmen’s Town post-Emancipation and was one of the first known schools for freed slaves in the area, operating from the 1870s until 1980.
• Antioch Missionary Baptist Church – The Church formed in 1866 and the building was build on the east side of Freedmen’s Town in 1875.
• Project Row Houses – Project Row Houses acquired neglected row houses in Third Ward, restored them and turned them into artist’s studios and homes for single mothers.
• Emancipation Park – Purchased in 1872 as a venue to host Juneteenth celebrations.
• Houston Museum of African American Culture
• The Buffalo Soldiers Museum
• The Ensemble
There are litany of activities in Houston dependent on the season and your mood.
If you want to use your hands, I recommend: Axe Throwing at Ratchet Hatchet Axe Throwing and Love & Make for an Interactive Crafting Experience. If you want to explore the outdoors (and the Houston heat), I recommend the Houston Zoo, the Houston Arboretum and the various parks the city has to offer.
Finally, if you are in Houston in February/March, I highly recommend checking out the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo!
As the most culturally diverse city in the United States, Houston has a lot to offer. Visitors should be open to exploring the many neighborhoods and cultures represented in our great city.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I truly believe it takes a village, and the success of Blackscriptions definitely comes with a huge supporting cast. I’d first like to shout out my family – my husband, kids, parents, mother-in-law and friends (who are considered family) – for their encouragement, support and so much more. Without my family, Blackscriptions would still be a dream.
I’d also like to shout out to my community for being so supportive of Blackscriptions. I’m still in awe of people in my network who have supported Blackscriptions, provided advice and shared Blackscritpions with their networks.
Finally, I’d like to shout out to any and everyone I’ve interacted with over the years. I am a firm believer of continuous improvement – staying agile and continuing to grow, learning and adapting to changes. I’m always trying to learn and grow from every interaction no matter how big or small. Whether it is the CEO of a Fortune 5 company or a janitor, you can learn from anyone and I always do. Everyone has something they can teach you! So thank you to those unknown everyday teachers.
Headshot only: Chris Martin @ 126 Photography https://www.126photography.com/