Resilient and tenacious, a role model that any woman and girl can admire, Sharia Livingston lives rich. Her ambitious daughter and business partner, Sha’Miah Richardson, and Livingston are creating the life of their dreams–in style. Living Rich, a deritive of Sharia”s and Sha’Miah’s last names, is a unisex streetwear brand with an important lesson – “Define your rich and live it,” the mantra for the dynamic clothing line.
“The mission behind the brand is for people to embrace their circumstances and find the value in any situation,” says Livingston. “We want to create leaders through the power of fashion and help people set their own standards.”
This message is important to Livingston because of the struggles she experienced as a child and teenage mother. “It was rough for us growing up; no harder than most single-parent households during that time, but at the same time rewarding. I learned to live without the things I wanted but appreciate everything I had,” she explains.
Asked what living rich means to her, Livingston makes it very clear that life is what you make it. Refusing to succumb to stereotypes surrounding inner-city, teenage mothers, she was determined to make what some would call “unfortunate circumstances” into a dream come true. So while raising her daughter to thrive, Livingston also became a registered nurse and entrepreneur.
Livingston and her daughter are not alone in this journey. They are riding the wave of 2.4 million African American women who opened businesses in 2018. The rate of Black women entrepreneurs increased by 167% from 2007-2018. Women of color are taking back their communities. Living Rich, for instance, is the first unisex street wear brand of its kind – right here in Cleveland, Ohio.
Hard work and determination are qualities Livingston demonstrated early as a child in East Cleveland. “I would always think of ways to make some money to buy anything ‘extra’ I wanted (things I felt I needed, but my mama didn’t). I would rake leaves, shovel snow, crush cans for my grandma or wipe down her walls,” she says.
Living Rich is about more than just clothes. Entrepreneurship is so essential to Livingston and Richardson that they plan to hold workshops in their store for high school students to attend. This initiative is important to Livingston, who feels that “entrepreneurship is important because it really gives individuals the opportunity to create their own wealth while doing something they really enjoy. It also helps create generational wealth and helps to continuously provide jobs and opportunities for others,” she adds.
Livingston stresses how important it is that high school students are educated in entrepreneurship “because we need more young business owners, inventors, millionaires, and billionaires. Especially in the urban community. This is the time in their lives when their mind is the sharpest. They have so many ideas, dreams, and goals.”
Too often, Livingston says, “these students are not given the tools and/or information on how to go about achieving them. They need to know all the opportunities and possibilities at their reach. Entrepreneurship is something that they don’t have to wait until they graduate from high school or college to start. They need to know they can start working on their future right now.”
With such an eloquent vision, it is no surprise that Living Rich was one of the NTI (Neighborhood Transformation Initiative) Incubator Pitch contest winners. On March 20, 2019, Living Rich was selected out of the 180 businesses that applied. The result? A new storefront set to open in November of this year. Living Rich will be 1 of 6 businesses opening on 105th and Ashbury.
At its core, Living Rich is the story of a seventeen-year-old mom and her young daughter. Sharia’s attitude toward life was key for their path toward success. For Sharia, obstacles were opportunities in disguise. Livingston and Richardson are proof that one’s current circumstances need not be the last stop.
“I think we are setting a great example for any young lady facing similar situations as well as experienced moms who may want to build a better bond or relationship with their young daughter,” says Livingston .” We always tell people, anything we can do, so can you.”