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This 27-Year-Old Daughter of Caribbean Immigrants Turned $10K Investment Into $2M. Now She’s Teaching Other Young Black Women How to Invest.

Modern Blk Gir started out as a room in the Clubhouse to discuss building wealth for Black women. It grew into an online community with more than 100,000 followers. Tiffany James, 27, launched Modern Blk Gir to teach others the investment lessons she learned after turning an initial $10,000 investment into $2 million after nearly three years of playing the market.

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Tiffany James (Photo from modernblkgirl.com)

James started investing on a bigger level in 2019 while working in the fashion and hospitality industries in New York City. She took the advice of one of her coworkers, a “Tesla bull,” an investor who believes the electric car company would see aggressive growth, in the future, and bought shares in Tesla.

James had already dipped her toes in the investing pool and had a small portfolio that she started in 2016. The portfolio was doing well. She went ahead and invested in Tesla in late 2019. Shares cost $65-70 each and James initially invested $4,000, which grew into six-figure gains as the price of Tesla shares rose to $1,000. She increased her investment in the stock market to $10,000, finessing trades, long-term LEAPs, securities, options, and futures into a million-dollar portfolio by 2021, Business Insider reported. The gains she said from Tesla were massive.

She told Fast Company her portfolio is now worth $2 million.

After the success with investing in Tesla, James said she invested in companies with “futuristic ideas,” such as Blink (BLNKW) that produces charging stations. James also invested in less risky companies, like those on the S&P 500 Index. James says about 60 percent of her portfolio is invested in safe growth.

She also invests in companies that she likes or industries that she is interested in.

She loves makeup, so she invested in makeup retailer ULTA. It was a smaller stock, but ULTA “did my account some justice,” she told Business Insider.

Now James is turning her focus to advancing financial literacy for young Black women.

“I wanted to create MBG as a safe space for women to be ourselves and learn how to use the stock market. The stock market is a male-dominated industry, and the representation of women in that space is extremely important. The stock market has been around for decades. However, only 3 percent of Black women are represented. Once I learned this stat, I immediately knew it was my calling to educate and mobilize Black women on getting into the space,” she told AfroTech.

She recently reintroduced Teen University, a 30-day course designed to teach 14- to 19-year-olds about investing, through Modern Blk Gir. According to James, it’s essential to teach teen girls the inner workings of investing.

“A lot of times, you pick a profession based on money, especially if you are a minority,” she told Fast Company. “Investing can help someone go to college and figure out what they really want to do, what gets them excited and piques their interest.”

James was interested in investing early on. “I remember going to stock option seminars in New York back in 2015-2016, but it wasn’t really until 2019 that I decided to take it seriously. The thing about the market is that once you find a technique or strategy that works, you can really live off it. And I was able to do that,” she told PopSugar.

There is a major void of Black investors. Only 33 percent of Black households in 2019 were investors, whereas about 60 percent of white households were, according to a study by the Federal Reserve.

Our families weren’t really taught how to invest. Coming from my background as a Caribbean-American, we were taught to save, put your money in a bank account, and maybe get a 401(k). Investing was looked at as something that was ‘risky business,'” James told Fast Company.

The daughter of Caribbean immigrants, she was raised in a working-class family. Her mother was a childcare worker. Her father was a taxi driver and owned his own taxi company until Uber took a major share of his business. 

In college at Rutgers University, James majored in computer science. But she says the money she earned investing allowed her to explore other professions such as hospitality and event planning.

In 2021 James began Teen University and suspended it to attract more funding. Now, she’s bringing the program back to educating 50 girls a month about investing. 

“Now we’re seeing this Black renaissance of people in the community getting more involved in the market because we have that information. Once we educate people and expose them more to something, they’ll do what needs to be done to be successful in that field. I definitely can see the gap shortening in the next couple of years, and I know that I’m going to be a part of that responsibility to help it,” said James.

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