Tiffany James, Founder Of Modernblkgirl, Is Making The World Of Trading And Investment Accessible To Women Of Color

By Pauleanna Reid

In 2019, Tiffany James followed a friend’s advice to invest in Tesla stock. When the brand’s valuation skyrocketed in 2020, James’ $10,000 investment grew to over $2 million. James had planned to use some of those earnings to start a candle brand. However, she noticed the conversations she was having online about investments and trading were attracting hundreds of Black women.

Soon, Modernblkgirl (MBG), the online community James had started on social app Clubhouse, had over 100,000 followers, most of them women of color seeking advice for mastering the stock market. She realized she had a new venture and mission on her hands.

“Even though I was not the most qualified at the time, I knew that what I did know worked. I had studied a trillion times and learned a formula that worked, and I knew I could find like-minded people who had experience to help with the mission and show Black women to do what I did,” James recalled.

Today, MBG has earned over $3.5 million in revenue and amassed thousands of members. James has also continued to grow her personal investments, pulling in $4.3 million in a bear market. She plans on using some of her earnings and her degree in computer science to launch a full-scale AI restaurant in LA. Now, she’s excited to continue MBG’s mission to empower more women to create their own financial legacies.

A brand built on experience

Like many of the women she was teaching, James once struggled to break into the world of investing. She first learned about the earning potential of the stock market in 2015 after attending a conference with her mom, but she didn’t have the funds or the knowledge to make any significant investments. By 2016, as she started her career, she used money from her salary in events and hospitality to make small investments. Eager to learn more, James joined online communities seeking direction and support, but she was often met with hostility and harassment, especially from men.

“I learned that people in that setting, unfortunately, just weren’t open to helping women,” James shared.

That gap is what prompted James to start discussing finance on Clubhouse, and as her audience grew, she transformed that community into a brand and movement to teach Black women the fundamentals of stocks and trading. Through MBG, James offers free learning content, paid courses, one-on-one training, live events, and a community space all designed to help women find their footing in financial literacy. MBG also offers access to qualified financial advisors and top-notch finance technology and artificial intelligence.

“When we first started Modernblkgirl, I said that I wanted any investor here to have the same things any major institution would have. So, we do. I think tech is part of our competitive edge,” James said.

In the two years since the brand started, MBG has guided over 225,000 women to enter the market. The membership is diverse, with women ranging in ages from 16 to 65 and coming from countries in the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and around the world.

Consistent earning over flashy investments

James is proud that members have been able to use what they learn at MBG to transform their lives. Member success stories included professionals who were able to earn enough from investing to transition into new careers they were more passionate about and nurses who could afford to take time off during the traumatic peak of COVID-19. Some students from MBG’s non-profit arm, Teen University, were also able to grow the $500 they were given at the outset of the program into thousands of dollars that helped cover their college tuition. Ultimately, many of the women of MBG benefitted from the financial freedom and security that comes with investing.

“There was a woman in the community who was able to start with $250 and build that to $60,000 over the course of a year and a half. It came at the perfect time because she got sick and needed treatment that was very costly. Because of her investments, she was able to use her money to take care of herself and her family,” James shared.

These kinds of success stories—small consistent wins with big impacts—is what James wants the most for her community members. While she knows firsthand what it’s like to have once-in-a-lifetime stock market wins, she knows those are rare. James never wants her members to operate from a gambling mindset. Instead, she focuses on giving them the tools to make regular gains.

“Whether a woman puts in $20 or $10,000, I want her to be able to be consistently successful in any market conditions. I want women to find something that works for them where they have a platform or system that can get them money whenever they need it,” James said.

Money matters, but the mission comes first

That mission is at the heart of everything James does at MBG. While the brand has been hugely successful, earning millions in revenue, James has remained focused on impact over income. All the decisions she makes are based on her goal to make the financial benefits of trading and investment accessible to Black women and communities of color.

“I get a lot of flak for that. If Modernblkgirl was run like an actual company, instead of generating roughly $3 million, we could have easily made $20 million based on where we are and who we are and the potential we have. But that’s not what I want it to be. I don’t just want numbers; I want it to change lives,” James explained.

This approach has sometimes made things difficult for James. She notes that investors and mentors are typically focused on revenue first. But that has not deterred James or her team. Both she and her COO, Sharlea Brookes, opted not to take a paycheck from MBG in the first year so they could maintain better profit margins. Instead, they focused on building a team with the skills to support the organization’s growth. Now, James is preparing to start raising capital so she can take MBG to the next level. She hopes to grow the brand as both a movement and tech company, with greater reach and effective systems in more countries.

First steps for new investors

Of course, James invites any woman who is ready to begin her investment journey to join the MBG community. But she also has some great advice for those who want to take their first steps alone.

Immerse yourself in the world of stocks

“With investments and trading,” James advised, “the more you know, the more likely you are to make good decisions. So, learning the fundamentals is key.”

“Turn on Bloomberg. Watch CNBC. Keep up with what’s happening. Once you understand the language and what’s happening, you’re better able to find opportunities in the market,” James said.

Find your investment strategy and hone it

While many finance courses suggest specific approaches, James warns that investing in the stock market isn’t a one-size fits all practice. Your strategy will be affected by things like your risk tolerance, income, and the amount of free time you have. So, take the time to figure out your strategy.

“See what works for you with the skills and lifestyle you have and then double down on it. It doesn’t take much money to do things—though, with less money, it may take longer—but there’s a place for everyone in the market,” James said.

Don’t be scared off by the economic downturn

James noted that people are often cautious during major historical events that affect the economy, but she noted that these can be the best moments to invest in companies that are undervalued before the market bounces back.

“This is the time to get educated. Because in the next one or two years, the market is going to rebound, and the next wave of millionaires are going to be birthed. And what’s so beautiful about this time? A good chunk of them are going to be Black and Brown people.”