CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Women of color are among the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs making up about 46% of Black entrepreneurs.

Melisa Tate has worked in a nonprofit for more than 35 years but has now shifted gears opening a new business called The Sweets.

"I knew for a couple of years that I was ready to transition out of nonprofit, but I had no clue how I was going to do that," Tate said. 

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She said after making her daughter’s 4th birthday cake back in 2020, she found her spark and reconnected with herself. She said shortly after posting the cake to social media she received an abundance of support from the community.

"I started off with a little box and it's grown to a bigger box," she explained. "My small business grew and from there my phone has not stopped ringing."

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A recent study commissioned by American Express shows 17% of Black women are in the process of starting or running new businesses, which is happening at a faster rate than any other racial group.

Despite them starting a business at a higher rate, the study also shows Black women-owned businesses earn significantly less than businesses run by other women.

"There were times where I was depleted or felt like I didn’t have that much faith in myself," Tate said. 

Tate said though there were times she felt discouraged, she never gave up.

"I constantly reminded myself that I belong here," she said. 

She said her community has shown so much support, and she pays it forward by contributing to other small businesses.

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"You build relationships with people without realizing you are a part of these special moments," Tate said. 

"I'm grateful to have a community that will embrace you and they don’t need to know your back story, they need to know that you're trying," Tate said. 

She said her cakes build connections, and those connections created friendships and long-lasting memories.

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"We are family now," she said. 

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