Lauran A. Smith

Tell us about yourself and your brand.

I am the Founder of Chicago BLACK Restaurant Week, as well as four additional brands.


 How would you describe the essence of your brand in three words?

The essence of Chicago BLACK Restaurant Week in three words - freedom, purposeful, and supportive.

What inspires the creative direction and vision of your brand?

My creative direction and vision comes from merely seeking to support my community in a large and long-lasting manner.

In what ways does your brand empower individuals to express themselves through beauty?

My brand empowers individuals' expression through beauty by allowing them to see how valuable and amazing their businesses are relative to the economic growth of the Black community.

What are some key lessons you've learned along the way that you wish you knew when starting out?

Lessons that I wish I knew before starting Chicago BLACK Restaurant Week are (1) that not everyone will support your efforts...but keep going, and (2) that no matter how good of a thing it is, there are people out there who will do everything to diminish its value...but keep going.

What are some of your best-selling products, and what makes them unique?

The best seller is the exposure that it provides businesses, and how the brand will ultimately increase sales for their businesses.

What upcoming products or initiatives can consumers look forward to?

Chicago BLACK Restaurant Week turns ten in 2025, and I look forward to another amazing year of providing a service to the registered businesses.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a female entrepreneur, and how did you overcome them?

Biggest challenges would be the threats on my life, being called a "racist", and people attempting to minimize something positive. I continue to overcome these things by staying focused on the goal of service, ignoring the naysayers.

What advice would you give to other women who aspire to become entrepreneurs?

My advice is really simple: if you have an idea to start something new, write it all down, have a plan to develop your idea, and EXECUTE the plan.

Connect with Lauran A. Smith

Instagram: @chiblackrestaurantweek
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