National Black Business Month Spotlight: Archel Bernard
Posted August 31, 2023
Both of her grandfathers owned transportation companies. Her father owned a construction company. Entrepreneurship is in Archel Bernard’s DNA.
But to Bernard, STC 2011, being an entrepreneur isn’t just about owning a business. It’s about representing African makers, celebrating the diversity of Atlanta, and letting people know that Georgia Tech prepares you for any challenge that can come your way.
“It’s never lost on me that I have a Georgia Tech degree. My grandmother grew up in south Georgia. She went to Clark College down the street, and when she was college-aged, she would have only been allowed on the Georgia Tech campus to clean the floors,” said Bernard. “But look where we are now. I own an African store in a building my grandmother couldn’t even shop in, and I have a degree from a school she couldn’t attend.”
The month of August marks Black Business Month. This celebration of Black businesses can be traced back to 2004, when engineer and entrepreneur Frederick E. Jordan partnered with executive editor John William Templeton to start this annual event. But until this year, Bernard had never heard of Black Business Month. Maybe that’s because she’s been too busy living it and being a representation of it, here and in her ancestral home country, Liberia.
“My business is thriving in Atlanta, a city that is excited to celebrate diversity, growth, and community understanding,” said Bernard. “I’m grateful to celebrate Black businesses. We know segregation and integration had often negative results for black businesses, even understanding that my business is around the corner from Auburn Avenue, which was once the richest Black neighborhood in the U.S. until a highway was built through the middle. Building a Black business right now is incredibly special, especially a unifying clothing company like my own.”
Bernard recently teamed up with the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization (GTBAO) to host their annual Summer Social for the third year in a row.
“GTBAO is probably the strongest alumni affinity group at Georgia Tech. GTBAO brings people together who consistently celebrate diversity and work toward keeping Georgia Tech as inclusive as we can,” said Bernard, who served on the Board of Trustees at the Georgia Tech Alumni Association for three years.
“I really enjoyed serving as a board member because I made a lot of fantastic friendships and unique connections with a range of alumni from different age groups and backgrounds. That’s the wealth of being a Georgia Tech graduate. We are extremely connective, and we are excited to support each other.”
Bernard says working with both groups has taught her a valuable lesson.
“Sometimes it’s not always about who can cut the biggest check and donate the most money. I’m certainly not the biggest donor, but I am always so grateful to host an event where people can pull up and catch a real, organic vibe with fellow alumni.”
As the month of August closes out, Bernard will go far beyond these 31 days of a summer month to increase the influence of Black businesses in Atlanta, Monrovia, and everywhere else her brand leaves a footprint.
“When you are given the opportunity to attend Georgia Tech as a Black woman, and certainly when you’re not an engineer, you have to represent,” said Bernard. “When I graduated, I felt armed with everything I needed to grow a fantastic, impactful, culture-shaping, Black business, and I’ve been building the company of my dreams with the support of the GT community ever since.”