Trials and tribulations behind business success
Book: The Black Cosmetics King
Author: Tony Wade
Critic: Dr Glenville Ashby
Tony Wade's memoir reads like a template for business success. But it is more. Wade makes a sociological statement: A marginalised people can surmount institutionalised prejudice, beat the odds and succeed. He goes further. He is observant; mindful of the needs of his community. It's an intuitive, pedestrian form of analytics that pays dividends.
Wade's brilliance transcends the world of business. He is a community leader with a fervent philosophical leaning towards social development. He is fully integrated to the community with which he forms a social gestalt. His selflessness and camaraderie and gratitude bleed through.
"Not only is sharing the right thing to do," he writes, "it is more so a sacred duty which must be embraced, and I dare say that it is the duty which will help to set the strategic framework for collective efforts and partnership that will lead to progress for the advancement in our multiracial and multicultural society."
He garnered knowledge and wisdom from those around him. "Not all entrepreneurs are primarily motivated by the thoughts of making loads of money, or the love of money and quite rightly so ... some entrepreneurs are motivated by positioning themselves to change the circumstances of their families, friends, their community, the environment and the quality of the loves a of their people."
The Black Cosmetics Kings acknowledges the many achievers in Britain's black diaspora. It's most fitting, indeed apposite that they are given centre stage. This augurs well for the next generations.
Wade is a compelling, persuasive writer. He traverses many subjects, none more important than the inimical conditions facing blacks in the mid-half of the 20th century. It is from this smouldering sociopolitical cauldron that Wade and his business partners emerged. There is resolve and commitment to realise his goals. There is belief in his self-worth, trust in his community and the product and services he offers.
And as in every business, there are growing pains to address.
Wade is deliberate, introspective, not easily swayed by fanciful ideas. Born in Montserrat, he writes of his partnership with Jamaicans Lincoln Dyke and Dudley Dryden who imported and sold pre-release records from their native home. "After disclosing difficulties that they were experiencing in their business and their desire for me to join them in their enterprise as an equal partner, I accepted their proposal after two weeks of much though and deliberation ... My counterproposal to them was to change from selling records and move into selling cosmetics." The enduringly successful partnership of Dyke and Dryden was founded in 1965.
Wade's business acumen and vision are exemplary. With clinical precision he studied and ably met the needs of the community.
"[T]he beauty needs of our sisters represented an enormous opportunity as at the time, there were no major suppliers or manufacturers catering for black hair products in Britain. It was, therefore, down to the community itself to do something about it." Wade touts self-reliance, advocating "redoubling personal energies at becoming self-employed and to be of independent means where ever possible."
Accolades and global recognition attest to the searing success if this partnership.
But at the outset and expectedly, there were challenges, growing pains. "There was, for example, no stock management in place, which meant that at no given time could the business account for the stock held, its value and its age, etc." He later adds that any successful venture must be flexible and able to navigate the constantly shifting landscape.
He also notes the importance of assembling the right personnel. An identifiable esprit de corps, a sense of homogeneity at the workplace cannot be overemphasised. " ... managing change is of critical importance for the company's future growth and prosperity, and I have been keenly aware of the importance of surrounding myself with a good team."
The Black Cosmetics Kings is a triumph and testament to faith. It speaks to the unswerving belief in self and the goodness of humanity. Wade writes with humility, optimism and an undeniable joie de vivre. His work encapsulates the far reaches of the human spirit and its ability to create a new social archetype, a new code from which others can be inspired, by which others can live.
And his formula for success is indelibly sealed unto the breast of every reader. "The answers come down to three basic facts," he asserts. While extolling the many milestones achieved by the black diaspora in literature, music, art, sports and media, he is convinced he is driven to see more economically vibrant communities.
"We must work hard and aim to play a meaningful role in the life of the nation and be an indivisible part of the infrastructure. We must aim diligently to convey without doubt our deep sense of purpose and our unshakeable will to succeed. The key issue for black community development must be determined by the community itself." He cites Jewish, Greek and Cypriot communities as models worth emulating, adding that, "[T]he formula these communities employ is to be found in the kinds and quality of the networks they have built among themselves."
The Black Cosmetics Kings by Tony Wade 2017
Publisher: Hansib Publications
Available on Amazon
Rating: Highly recommended