”To be strikingly bold, undeniably beautiful, and audaciously unapologetic at a time when society stood oblivious to the vital impact you would have on an industry, that is the true inspiration of the ’80s to ’90s fashion “It” girl Connie Fleming. Connie Fleming, a black trans woman, called outside her name, labeled everything but what she was, became the muse of many high profile figures in fashion. From being shot countlessly by Steven Miesel, to storming the runway of Thierry Mugler, the very sacred Connie Fleming has shown me what it means to have audacity, what it means to be resilient, and what it means to be a proud Black Trans Woman despite what the checklist says.”

Nigella Miller, celebrity barber, hairstylist and founder of Nigella Hair Studio

Photo: Courtesy of Camille Shaw; Alamy. Design: Ivana Cruz

“I really looked up to Madame C.J. Walker in the middle of my career and now years later. She has literally changed my mindset on what I should be doing as a Black woman in this industry.

It’s extremely important to me to stay Black as a small business and as a big business. I have to stay true to my art and culture, especially Black hair culture. It’s not easy but it’s worth every moment to me as a Black female hairstylist, barber, and entrepreneur. I feel like staying Black everything for us as a people is just as important then as it is now. What [Walker] believed in for Black women is what we see today and it continues to grow successfully. My favorite quote by her is: ‘Girls and women of our race must not be afraid to take hold of business endeavour and, by patient industry, close economy, determined effort, and close application to business, wring success out of a number of business opportunities that lie at their doors.’”

Mahisha Dellinger, founder and CEO of CURLS Beauty

Photo: Courtesy of CURLS Beauty; Getty Images. Design: Ivana Cruz