Our Allies for All blog posts shine a spotlight on individuals and organizations in our community that are helping make our world a more welcoming place for everyone. In these profiles we explore what the word “welcome” means, appreciate the inspiring things happening in our community, and learn about the creative ways that we can continue moving forward together. We’re sharing these stories to celebrate our community, inspire others, and show the power of a message turned into actions big and small.
Michelle Tran Maryn, Founder of We Sparkle
Michelle Maryns is on a mission to make the business world a more welcoming place for all. Her company, vWe Sparkle is harnessing technology to help small businesses reach their full potential while addressing systemic barriers and creating opportunities to lift up the community and economy.
(Photo: Michelle at her work space in Junior Achievement of the Midwest, a nonprofit business innovation lab dedicated to supporting high school students and their entrepreneurial endeavors.)
This may be the first time you’re hearing about Michelle or We Sparkle, but it definitely won’t be the last time. Michelle’s important work is winning awards (she won the Minnesota Cup Impact Division last year) and receiving local and national attention for a good reason. Michelle is one of those people who is going to change our world for the better.
Michelle is one of three up-and-coming entrepreneurs that will present at the FeMNist Day Showcase today for a chance to win $10,000 grand prize that will help one of these entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. Good luck, Michelle!
What does the word "welcome" mean to you?
"Welcome means being open to understanding another person's true self."
We Sparkle empowers minority women business owners
Michelle: 'We're dedicated to building a strong and inclusive economy by connecting diverse entrepreneurs with business tools that help them save time, increase sales, and invest in the community."
We Sparkle is bridging the racial wealth gap by creating digital tools that help small businesses thrive, especially those led by women of color. This is the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs and has grown by 163% in the last 11 years. Unfortunately, revenue earned by women of color businesses is not equal to their peers and that is a problem. If they were, it would add 4 million new jobs and $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy!
Currently in beta testing, We Sparkle’s first tool is an artificial intelligence assistant that automates tedious administrative work (like scheduling appointments and answering FAQ’s) while also strategically upselling products and services. This helps business owners focus on important internal improvements that can help grow their business. Plus, a portion of the service fees for We Sparkle creates opportunities for participating businesses to donate to a local nonprofits of their choice. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Michelle’s advice: Big impact starts
with small and intentional choices
We Sparkle inspires us to lift each other up to make the world a better place. We can’t all build rockstar startups like Michelle, but we can take her advice to heart in our everyday lives to help make our community and world a more welcoming place for all. Here are are three ways to be welcoming in your everyday life:
Michelle: "It can be as simple as smiling, saying hello, helping someone with the door or a heavy grocery bag, or wishing someone a good day."
Be engaged: Vote!
Michelle: "Every vote counts and it influences who we elect to represent us and the values we want to uphold in our communities. If it weren't for people electing representatives who developed policies that allowed for my parents to seek asylum here in the U.S., my family would probably not be here today and contributing in the ways that we are toward our communities."
Be conscious: Vote with your wallet!
Michelle: "How you spend your dollars also has a huge effect on our economy and communities. I try to shop at small local businesses, especially those owned by entrepreneurs from underestimated communities, as much as I can because I want to support them, their families, and their employees with my spending dollars. I am especially interested in supporting social enterprises that help to create a positive social and/or environmental impact in our communities through their products/services, profit sharing, or sourcing."
Learn more about We Sparkle
We Sparkle helps small businesses leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technology to save time and increase sales. Their first tool is a conversational AI assistant for mobile devices that they are currently beta testing. Want to be a beta tester? For more information and ways to bridge the equity gap in our local business community and beyond at www.wesparkle.org.
Nominate an Ally for All
Help us celebrate the incredible individuals and organizations that are turning the All Are Welcome Here message into action in our community. Nominate as many people as you like (even yourself, we won’t tell). Selected Allies for All receive:
- $100 donation to a cause they love
- An interview and photoshoot to be featured on the All Are Welcome Here blog and social media
- Free All Are Welcome Here swag