In the summer of 2018, Serena Jenkins-Hannah began to research the idea of “passive income”, meaning money someone continues to earn for work long after it is done. Learning everything she could from free YouTube lessons and tutorials, her first two batches of athletic products completely sold out on Amazon. This was the early beginnings of Serena Hannah Athletics which now operates as a fully fledged business with a whole team behind it.
Jenkins was raised in Jefferson City Missouri, but had a tough time as a child. “Growing up Black in a small country town was exhausting. You stick out always,” she explains. “I wanted to be like all my white friends growing up. I just wanted to be normal but I’m now realizing I’m far from it and I never was normal.” As she tried to find her feet in the world, she discovered a passion for sport and exercise. “I found an anger outlet in sports,” she says. She would stay up late under the streetlights to shoot baskets and “dream big.” She eventually turned her anger outlet of basketball into love through volleyball.
Despite finding solace in sport, when she went to university, she would continue to face racism. Being one the first Black athletes to be recruited to the volleyball team in years, she still dealt with racist remarks, and wasn’t even allowed to try out for varsity after being told she “didn’t look right with the team.” She would last just one semester before transferring to a more multicultural university, and went on to become a national athlete.
She would eventually move to California in search of new opportunities, landing an office assistant job. But it wasn’t long before corporate America would start to take its toll. She started coaching volleyball in the evenings to offset the pressures of work, also studying for a personal training certification to make a career switch. Soon after, she got a volleyball coaching job at a high school and received her PT certification – her first entrepreneurial experience.
When she became a mom at 23, she started a clothing line with her best friend. They invested $10,000 into it but made the grave mistake of spending all their startup cash on everything except marketing, meaning they never made a profit. After a brief return to volleyball coaching and dabbling in eyelash extensions, she still didn’t find fulfillment. “Am I just someone that starts something, gets excited and then quits? Or am I just on my own personal journey to finding out how to make money for myself?” she explains. She would learn even more about online business in another executive assistant position for Love Works LLC, crediting them as instrumental in her own success. “I was so grateful for my time there and without this role, I would not be where I am today,” she says.
And in 2018, Serena Hannah Athletics was born. The fitness brand helps women shape and tone hourglass figures, mentally empowering them in the process. Their number one selling product is the Hannah Booty Band System. Jenkins and her husband couldn’t believe the initial success. “Was this the lottery” she laughs. “ Not quite but it was the best start to a business idea I’ve ever had. We reinvested more and now we’ve been able to shift from startup into a growth phase. A blessing!” With the brand running smoothly and a team to help with the day to day, she now even works as a realtor in the luxury California real estate market. Every struggle, mistake and failure led Jenkins to this entrepreneurial endeavor that would define her career and establish her as not only a successful entrepreneur, but a role model black female business owner.
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