A native of Gretna, Louisiana, Michael Coleman faced a turbulent upbringing, which led to a series of unfortunate circumstances. After dropping out of high school in the ninth-grade, he discovered his entrepreneurial spirit early on. Coleman’s journey began with selling candy for a nickel during his elementary school days, a testament to his innate drive. At the age of 11, a tragic event occurred when his father was killed. This event pushed him into a position of responsibility, having to pay bills at just 14 years old, striving to bring food to the table while his mother remained at home, praying for blessings.
His life took a difficult turn as he found himself entangled with the criminal justice system, landing in jail at the tender age of 16, marking the start of multiple incarcerations over the years. However, his time behind bars became a turning point. Determined to understand the reasons behind his actions, he dove into books and fed his entrepreneurial spirit. “When I was in prison I did a lot of reading because I wanted to understand what had me acting the way I was acting” Coleman told blkpreneurship.com. “I still had the entrepreneurship spirit in me. The hustle in me. I just didn’t understand why I was going so hard against my own people. I read a lot of books to understand who I am when I came home I was going to create jobs.”
He resolved to create opportunities and jobs within his community. Upon his release, Coleman embarked on his journey to open a barbershop. Despite facing obstacles when seeking financial support, his unwavering determination led to a partnership, enabling him to enter the world of entrepreneurship. But he didn’t want to be just a regular barber; he saw potential in everyone who walked through his shop’s door, an opportunity for economic growth. Thus, he started offering a variety of products alongside haircuts, turning it into a thriving business.
His ambitions continued to expand, leading him to open a beauty supply store next to his barbershop. He realized the importance of retaining wealth within his community, as he observed most of his spending going to businesses owned by individuals from different backgrounds. This fueled his desire to create a positive change. The birth of “The Grand Rising” marked yet another significant milestone in his journey. By opening this convenience store, he aimed to inspire the youth in his neighborhood, providing them with a role model and a vision of possibilities.
From his roots in cutting hair, Coleman ventured into various industries, eventually realizing the enormous economic potential within these sectors. Understanding that he could make a significant impact, he pursued his path with relentless determination. The hair industry alone was valued at $5.5 billion, demonstrating the vast opportunities that lay ahead. “I understood that groceries was a billion dollar industry. I couldn’t tell you the exact number. I can tell you that cigarettes and alcohol is a billion dollar industry so understanding that was enough to make me say if I get one percent of a billion I’m going to end up doing ok” Coleman said. “Now that you have instagram and Facebook, everybody wants to be made up. It became a billion dollar industry cutting hair.”
Michael Coleman leading the charge for keeping the Black dollar within the community pic.twitter.com/leDbN3dMp3— BLKPRENEURSHIP ®️ (@blkpreneurship) October 26, 2023
Managing multiple businesses undoubtedly presents challenges, akin to a roller coaster ride. Coleman’s past experiences, including time served in prison, taught him to navigate these challenges with a level head. His resilience and commitment to his vision have been unwavering, fueled by the understanding that life is too short to live with regrets. He serves as an inspiring example of sacrifice and unwavering dedication. Despite his humble beginnings and numerous obstacles, he demonstrates the power of focusing on a greater purpose, even in the face of adversity.
Looking ahead, Coleman envisions opening another convenience store on the east bank of New Orleans to showcase what his community is capable of achieving. He also plans to pass his businesses on to his children and invest in real estate, all while actively contributing to the education and betterment of his community. “I wanna own real estate and flip over the real estate and still create out of school programs for kids will be another dream that I have” Coleman told blkpreneurship.com. “Kids come home from school, they have a place to play video games, they have a back yard for basketball and everything there is for the community.” Coleman’s journey is one of resilience, entrepreneurship, and unwavering commitment to his community. His story serves as an inspiration to those who strive to overcome obstacles and create positive change in their own lives and neighborhoods.
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