Twins Hassana and Nefertiti Schell had an idea to lean into their duality and blend talents. The result was Twinning Solutions, a project that started as an idea and slowly evolved into a company that helps BIPOC small businesses.
They combined Hassana’s web and mobile design experience with Nefertiti’s accounting and business expertise to provide a well-rounded service and consultation to small businesses.
On one side, Nefertiti felt compelled to help others with their finances and taxes as she grew up in a low-income immigrant household. She vividly remembered the challenges faced by her mom, who came to the United States at the age of 18 from Liberia. For years, their mother provided for them as a single parent on government assistance.
In an attempt to teach her mom financial literacy and spending habits, Nefertiti created a company with her sister that would give them a lucrative career.
Twinning Solutions also served as space for Nefertiti to get out of a corporate environment that wasn’t not letting her climb to the top.
“Especially just being gay in the workforce, we have to hide it because it’s still not as welcoming… So I was like, Okay, well, I’m just going to start my own business,” she said.
Nefertiti reached a point where she didn’t feel comfortable being her true self as a queer Black woman; it was hard for her to navigate a workplace where she constantly had to prove herself.
She informed Culturas: “[It] is already a lot because it’s like if we speak up first, then we’re too aggressive, just not cooperative. If we’re too quiet, then it’s like we’re not engaging, not part of the team kind of thing. Nefertiti said they “raised us like poor performers because we don’t get along with their environment. So it was always this, like a teeter-totter.”
On the other hand, Hassana balances her daytime job at the company where she has worked for over seven years with Twinning Solutions.
“My work schedule starts at 3 PM Pacific time until midnight… It’s good for me that I am on that schedule because, during the morning time, I have time to either put more of my focus on my own business or take care of my own needs,” said Hassana.
The duo hopes to keep expanding their services, and as for Hassana, she hopes to cultivate more clients to the point where she can leave her daytime job. “I’m already getting started on my business and planning on within probably about the end of this year to be able to work for my own self and get out of corporate America.”
The “twinning team” laid down some recommendations for any BIPOC womxn wanting to create their own business, start a side hustle, and how to manage personal finances.
Hassana recommended sitting down and writing the goals for the upcoming months to hold yourself accountable. Starting with a three-month mark, then move to a six, nine, and a 12-month mark to establish where you want to visualize yourself or your business in that period.
For those wanting to start a business, Hassana said doing affirmations helped her go through times where she felt unmotivated.
The twin team advocated for BIPOC womxn to start side hustles of their own. They believe it is an option that will benefit people in the long run, as they can add any expenses related to business to your taxes. It can be something as simple as offering services to people in their immediate circles.
The advent of social media allows for creative marketing sans fancy software. The duo stressed nailing the product or service’s purpose, goal, and mission.
Nefertiti recommended opening or contributing to a retirement plan, known as 401(k) and IRA or a Roth IRA, and not rely on Social Security. Her premise revolves around the current state of the Social Security trust fund.
“It’s not very guaranteed for Social Security once you get to that age because they could even push it further,” Nefertiti contended.
A company can offer a 401(k) plan to its employees, where they can contribute to the account, and the employer will match up those contributions. The retirement plans allow the employer to start saving for the future while gaining interest.
Nefertiti explained: “It’s like saying you put in $1,000 of your wages, and then your company says, ‘Hey, we’re gonna match that double.’ Then, you have $1,000 plus that $3,000 each year that’s coming in with just working your minimum hours.”
If the employer does not offer a 401(k) plan, or if somebody is freelancing, an IRA or Roth IRA are alternatives to the 401(k) since both “extend the lifetime of tax breaks,” she said.
“Say this last year we fill for 2020. And the tax deadline is May 17. All the contributions [to the IRA or Roth IRA account] that you made in 2020, even up into the tax deadline, you can claim all that onto your taxes. It’s 12 months, plus the five-month contributions, claimed on your 2020,” Nefertiti said.
Regarding where to open IRA accounts, Nefertiti recommended looking if your bank offers, see if they offer one because your money’s already there. It’s easy to transfer money back and forth.”
In summary, understanding personal finances will make the future self more comfortable and reach financial freedom. “Instead of retiring at 70, maybe you can retire at 50,” Nefertiti concluded.
Here are some other BIPOC creators that provide financial advice across different social media platforms. Like My Debt Free Epiphany, a blog created by Choncé, a certified financial education instructor providing tools for younger generations on how to become debt-free and financially independent. Black, Married and Debt Free, financial coaches also talk about the disparity between pay wages as well as teaching through their experience paying off their debt and building wealth. More importantly and the bottom line is to support BIPOC businesses and content creators across the board.