Get to know Jiara Sanders, a Black business owner and entrepreneur from CWRU

Jiara Sanders standing in front of auditorium stairs

August is National Black Business Month, a time that celebrates and promotes the support of Black-owned businesses in the United States. In honor of this month, The Daily sat down with several Case Western Reserve University students, alumni, faculty and staff members who double as business owners and entrepreneurs both on campus and beyond to spotlight their accomplishments each week this month.

This week’s featured business owners include Jiara Sanders (CWR ’22), an alumna and MSW student, and a self-taught nail technician and creator of Adorned By Ji, a beauty business located near campus that offers affordable acrylic and custom press-on nail sets.

1. Why did you create this business, and what do you hope to accomplish through it?

I was always one to keep a fresh set of nails, but that all changed once the pandemic hit and salons closed. One day I ordered an acrylic nail kit, [which] led to my practicing with my family and friends. I then expanded to offering press-on nails for those who just wanted to pick up and go. Once I started posting my work on social media, I gained a lot of following and interest from those on campus. 

2. What are you most proud of having accomplished through your business thus far?

I did not expect my business to go this far, but I am amazed at how far I have come! I am most proud of being able to provide affordable services to my peers so that they can look and feel good while pursuing their dreams.  

3. What led you to attend Case Western Reserve University, and how did your CWRU experience prepare you to work in business? 

I have been involved with the CWRU community since I was in the eighth grade. I grew an interest in attending through the Provost Scholars Program, a partnership between the East Cleveland City School District and CWRU. Through this program, I learned from my mentor Elizabeth Tracy, a professor at the Mandel School, about the 3+2 Social Work program. This past May, I successfully completed my first year of the program and graduated with my BA in Sociology. I will graduate in May 2023 with my master’s degree.

As mentioned earlier, I did not expect my nail business to go as far as it did, as being an entrepreneur was never on my radar [and] I would like to be a licensed geriatric social worker. However, CWRU has granted me the skills of work-school-life balance, business ethics and understanding the differences/complexities of individuals. 

4. What is your biggest challenge(s) as a Black business owner/entrepreneur? 

As a beginner nail technician, it is a bit time consuming, but I enjoy it. At times it is frustrating when there are certain designs that I have not yet mastered or can offer yet, but I must remember that practice makes perfect.

5. What is your favorite memory at CWRU?

My favorite memory at CWRU would either be the time I spent at the Office of Multicultural Affairs with my friends and the staff during my free time, or the sociology classes I took with professors Karie Feldman and Jessica Kelley.

6. What advice do you have for others hoping to become a Black business owner/entrepreneur?

Never doubt yourself; fear is your biggest enemy, and do not let it stop you. Once you put your fears in your back pocket, you will be surprised at the things you can do that you never thought you would. There were tons of designs that I was scared to try or launch, but I am so happy that I trusted my gut and did it anyway.

Discover more local Black-owned businesses in the Greater Cleveland area.

This story appeared in The Daily on August 18, 2022.