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Running a business

Juliet and Justine Masters are bringing diverse flavors to their neighborhood

Name: Juliet and Justine Masters

Location: New York, NY

Pronouns: She/Her

Business: The Edge Harlem—a local eatery blending the flavors of Jamaica, England, and New York. 

Describe yourself in three words: Juliet is funny, empathetic, and driven. Justine is tenacious, sensitive, fair.

Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started? 

We always wanted to start our own business together. We were both long-term Harlem residents and recognized a need for a space like The Edge in our community. The location and space presented itself to us and we were given an opportunity that was too good to pass up. We basically took a giant leap into the restaurant business.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year? 

The importance of tapping into your network for support and guidance and to not be afraid to ask for help.

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner? 

The amount of responsibility that goes with maintaining a daily operation. There are so many moving parts involved and there is no such thing as a “small business.”

How does running your own business make you feel? 

It makes us feel accomplished, proud, and at times, very overwhelmed!

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome? 

One of the first real challenges was building out our physical space which took an entire year due to unforeseen circumstances. Learning to manage a team has been one of the most difficult aspects of owning a business. People’s livelihoods are intertwined with our business and as owners we are constantly negotiating what is good for the business and the real life situations of our team. 

What challenges do you feel are unique to Black small business owners? 

As a Black-owned business, we are sometimes faced with unrealistic expectations, access to capital, and lack of mentorship. 

What are your proudest moments? 

One of them is surviving the pandemic and keeping all of our employees employed. We have also been featured in some reputable publications and were featured in a documentary on female chefs called “Her Name is Chef.” Another proud moment is seeing our restaurant filled with people enjoying themselves.

What are the next big plans you have for your business? 

We would like to bring The Edge to other cities like LA, Miami, and Charleston. 

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going? 

Remembering that those who came before us laid the foundation for us to be successful female Black business owners. As sisters, we are also each other's cheerleaders. 

How can Black business owners support each other and their community? 

We can be intentional about connecting for collaborative projects. We can use social media to support and highlight each other's victories. 

What advice would you give to other Black business owners just starting out? 

Inform yourself. Research your market. Look for grants first, not loans. Go to your local city business bureau and find out what resources are available.

What’s your “power song” and why? 

“Wake Up and Live” by Bob Marley reminds us to rise up and seize the day.

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