Angel Magasano, Founder of Little Black Book: Women in Business works with female professionals to connect them to the personal and professional opportuni- ties they seek. Angel is passionate about inspiring, empowering, and supporting women in business by offering numerous networking events, self-development workshops, and promotional oppor- tunities for female professionals.
When I arrived at the new Little Black Book headquarters inside Mid Rivers Mall, Angel was rolling white paint on the side walls of her new office, with her daughter (and LBB intern) painting the back wall pink. Up on a ladder was Jeanne Strick- land of BOOM Impact Graphics, one of LBB’s original members, and an amazing graphic artist who does a ton of design work for LBB (and who will be sharing the office space with Angel). Even in paint- ing an office, Angel brings a collective team of women together. While the three of them painted, Angel and I discussed the beginnings of Little Black Book and how the networking organization has grown in the years since its inception.
First off, while many consider LBB a “networking” organization, Angel prefers to call the organization a community of female professionals. In 2012, Angel was what she calls a “mompreneur.” She was successfully running a cake decorating business from her home in Wentzville, and found, like many entrepreneurs, that she was an island. While talking with a friend on how they felt disrespected and alone, with others calling their businesses “cute,” the two came up with an idea. They were frustrated by not being taken seriously and wanted to find their voice. They knew other women must feel the same and decided to start a group where women could “share and band together.” While the first group was small and made up mostly of women who worked from home and needed to get out of the house, it has grown to nearly 200 members over six chapters in the region.
Getting to that level has not been smooth, Angel says that what she wished she knew when she started was how to manage the growth. Jeanne also chimed in that they had no idea how much some- thing like Little Black Book was needed and how big of an impact it would be able to make. When Angel was starting the organization, they had a “just do it attitude” where they would “change if and as needed.” Angel says she struggled a bit adding the first chapter outside of the original Wentzville group. She wasn’t able to be present at all the meetings and was learning how to rely on a group of leaders within the organization to grow and move that chapter forward. Angel now implements a group of leadership for each chapter of the organization on a more structured basis and has found that each chapter has it’s own flair and focus. While each chapter may be different, they are all still the same in the overall mission- “networking in a purposeful way, serving each other and the community.”
Speaking of community, Angel under- stands “the value of a well-rounded network of individuals. It does take a village, you have to have all those con- nections.” Over the past several years, the organization has raised over $50,000 for local charities, which Angel calls the “icing on the cake.” After the original small group raised quite a bit of dona- tions for Toys for Tots one year, the Master Sergeant of the local Marines in Maryland Heights asked Angel if she would create an event to raise more the next year in the Western Saint Charles County area. He told her she would need print and media support. She said yes and moved forward to make those connections, as she did not already have them! After walking into the Wentzville mayor’s office and connect- ing with print publications, she was so amazed by the overwhelming support she had from the community and local businesses. That event was named BRR Bash and is now Angel’s favorite program that LBB runs each year. BRR Bash brings in toys for the Toys for Tots program (6000 toys were collected last year through LBB’s contribution alone!) and also raises funds for charity. “Some in the LBB organization were Toys for Tots kids in their childhood, so to be able to give back in that way is amazing,” Angel said.
Angel also shared that the BRR Bash event “can sustain the organization so [as] not to nickel and dime members.” Speaking of cost for members, 2019 is the first year LBB changed from a yearly price model to a recurring monthly model. Angel says this change not only helped the organization from a business perspec- tive but also engaged new members that they hadn’t reached before. Most of the programs and networking oppor- tunities LBB hosts have little to no cost, and Angel is excited that “word on the street is [LBB] has great programming.“
Little Black Book: Women in Business has moved from the small group of “mompre- neurs” to an organization with profes- sional women of all types. From those in direct sales, to company representatives, to business owners, women all over the area finding their “tribe” in LBB. Speak- ing with the members in LBB, many feel they are part of something great because the organization invests in them as a woman, and not just as their business.
Little Black Book will be seven years old this October and while Angel started it as a way to “help women who felt disrespected,” she says it has “definitely changed me as a person, and [helps her] continue to grow and learn every day.”
What I took from listening to Angel speak about LBB is wrapped up in her LBB motto:
“When we all run together in the same direction there is no stopping us.”