By ICIC | August 16, 2023
In a rush to finish packing for her Mexico vacation, Tianna grabbed her keys, jumped in the car, and drove to Walmart. This unplanned trip to the store would be quick. After all, she only needed one item. At the store, she quickly scanned the available options for adhesive bandages. Pink, purple, superheroes, and skin-toned were all among the available design choices. But the skin-toned option was limited to one tone, nowhere near Tianna’s. Thinking she could find the bandages at another store, she drove to Shoppers Drug Mart and finally Sobeys before accepting that adhesive bandages for people with skin like hers did not exist in Canada. Most people would be frustrated or angry, but Tianna was inspired. “My late father was a businessman. He operated a lot of businesses, and I’ve always wanted to start my own. When I realized there was a gap in the market, I decided I would fill it for the Canadian population.”
“When I realized there was a gap in the market, I decided I would fill it for the Canadian population.”
In 2021 Tianna McFarlane went on to fill that gap when her company, Heal in Colour, became the first Canadian company to make and sell adhesive bandages for people with black and brown skin. Today, McFarlane’s daily life looks like most small business owners. Managing shipping orders, updating social media, securing contracts, and applying for small business grants are just a few of her regular tasks. But Tianna does not engage in these tasks alone. She’s part of a community of woman-owned small business entrepreneurs leading and learning together.
Téjahn Burnett, a member of the community, shared the Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC)-KFC Recipe for Success Mini-MBA program with McFarlane. At first, Tianna was hesitant, fearing that she would be immediately disqualified for not meeting the criteria. However, unlike other grant opportunities, the ICCC team was very supportive from the start. Tianna appreciated that the ICCC believed in her and her business. After the initial call with the team, she was fully committed to the process because she knew they wanted to help her succeed.
After joining the program, Tianna was paired with an ICCC executive coach who has more than a decade of experience in the medical supplies industry. Tianna found the relationship to be immensely valuable. “Trying to get my first contract was a huge obstacle for me. So, the mentor piece of this entire program was invaluable and one of the most important parts for me.” The coach’s guidance and sage advice have significantly contributed to the current strategy being implemented in McFarlane’s business. Tianna also credits the ICCC program with enhancing her business acumen. “The webinars were one of my favorite parts. You have access to so many different webinars that you can watch on your own and take in the information at your own pace.”
The combination of executive coaching and education has Tianna on track to secure her first contract. And that’s not all she gained from joining the program. She was one of five graduates from the cohort awarded the ICCC-KFC Recipe for Success Mini-MBA Grant. The $30,000 CAD infusion into her business has allowed her to bolster her marketing efforts and hire an intern to add to her two-person team.
For Tianna, the future is inclusive. She was reminded of this during the ICCC program pitch competition, where she presented her plan to expand her business into the medical supplies industry. However, feedback from the judges caused her to pivot and develop a growth plan that centers on inclusive products. Her brand values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and this new direction aligns with her vision and mission. “Our mission is to make black and brown bandages the norm. I want children to see our black and brown bandages and not be surprised. They should understand that bandages come in their skin tone simply because they exist.”
Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) is a tuition-free executive leadership training program designed by ICIC to help business owners in under-resourced communities build capacity for sustainable growth in revenue, profitability, and employment. ICCC is uniquely designed to provide three critical elements for sustainable growth: capacity-building education, one-on-one coaching, and connections to capital and capital providers.
Learn more and apply by visiting icic.org/iccc.
ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents.
PO Box 191297
Roxbury MA 02119
Sign up for our mailings and stay up-to-date on all research, commentary, and news related to ICIC as we continue to drive inclusive economic prosperity in America’s under-resourced communities.