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From Dentist to Entrepreneur: The Story of American-Nigerian Dr. Joke Alesh

Dr. Joke Alesh

According to Pew Research Center research from 2020, Black individuals make up 12% of America’s population yet own less than 4% of U.S. enterprises. According to the study, 66% of enterprises have fewer than 10 employees, while only 3% have more than 50 employees.

When Dr. Joke Alesh wanted to start her own business, she was fully aware of the difficulties that black entrepreneurs face. “It isn’t easy to be a Black business owner in America, but it’s so necessary,” the Providence native told WPRI.

Marigold Dental Studio in Pawtucket, Eliqa Headwear, and Primary Weddings & Events are all her creations. Alesh stated that she had always intended to create a dentistry office but did not want to become an entrepreneur while discussing her three businesses.

However, going into entrepreneurship stemmed from her passion to be a problem solver. “If I see a problem, I try to find a solution,” the dentist said. “In terms of starting a business, I was just winging it.”

According to her, at the height of the pandemic, she saw many health professionals who wanted to start covering their hair while attending to their patients.

“As a woman of color with textured hair, regular cotton scrub caps will break your hair and people were asking, ‘Does anyone know of satin-lined scrub caps?’” she recalled.

What is more, as a woman of color, she didn’t find the appropriate scrub cap for her hair on the market. “I don’t really like patterns, so I wanted a solid pattern that would match the scrubs I wear to work.”

She had no choice except to develop her own product. She created a website and had a prototype made by her tailor. She went from selling three colors to selling up to 19 hues in addition to other things. Her products, she claims, are available in all 50 states. They’re also available in Jamaica, Germany, and other European countries.

Alesh is pleased to be the first Black woman in Rhode Island to open a dentist office, according to her dental practice.

“That is a huge accomplishment for me, for me to be able to be a role model for other people,” she said. She added, “the fabric of America is a multitude of different kind of people. It’s important for us to exist, for people to support Black businesses.”

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