In 2016, Crystal Etienne founded Ruby Love a period apparel company. With very little funding, she bootstrapped the company from its humble beginnings to over $10 million within two years. She felt “cajed” many times while entering this new industry with very little help along the way, but overcame every obstacle. During this time, her husband Jean ran his own transportation and delivery business when Crystal asked him to join the company. What started in their basement rapidly turned into a $50 million business, where Crystal is currently the CEO and Founder and Jean serves as Director of Fulfillment.
“As a female founder and woman of color, I’ve personally experienced the vast inequalities Black women face when looking to secure venture capital,” said Crystal Etienne, Co-Founder of CaJE. “It is my dream to leverage my learnings and give back to fellow women looking to turn their business goals into a reality. My husband and I want to provide today’s leading Black entrepreneurs and visionaries with the capital, resources and guidance needed to help them win.”
And that is why the duo has launched CaJE, a new venture capital brand supporting African American female founders. CaJE’s mission is to enable the next wave of female founders to get the financial support they need to build scalable businesses.
CaJE launches during a pivotal moment in society where the vast majority of female entrepreneurs and women of color face many challenges in securing venture capital. It’s no secret that Black women are highly educated yet highly underfunded, having received just 0.34% of the total venture capital spent in the U.S. in 2021. Inspired by Crystal’s own journey as a female entrepreneur of color, CaJE will address this inequality and support the rising generation of women in business with a new category of venture capital called “Soil.”
“Soil” will be available for deserving female-founded startups prior to pre-seed, where it is common to feel “cajed-in” while scaling business ideas. CaJE enters the market as a new era angel investor providing a quick and simple solution to aid businesses in reaching the next level. Whether bootstrapping, qualifying for pre-seed, or seed-level financing from venture capital funds, CaJE is designed to build and create generational wealth through ideas and markets for Black women.
“As an entrepreneur, I know the ‘cajed-in’ feeling that a business can bring all too well,” said Jean Etienne, Co-Founder of CaJE. “After witnessing Crystal’s incredible journey in building Ruby Love, I have a strong desire to help Black women build generational wealth efficiently. This is the year for Black-owned businesses to support one another, and with CaJE, we are going to change the world.”