BY TATYANA BELLAMY-WALKER
It was on an uptown 1 train towards Harlem where Cambria Heights entrepreneur Sapphira Martin got the call to be one of 18 contestants on Centric’s TV show “Queen Boss.”
The wireless signal was shaky, but Martin managed to receive cell phone connection before heading into a tunnel.
“It was exciting, I couldn’t believe it,” said Martin, who is also the Founder of SassBoxx, a monthly online subscription service for women of color that offers everything from lipstick to coffee mugs. “If you know anything about New York City trains [then you’ll know] that sometimes the connection is good and sometimes it’s bad.”
After being notified of her opportunity to appear on TV, she and her friend Rebecca rejoiced on the subway. Martin then called her mother, who was happy to hear that her daughter would soon pitch her business to a trio of celebrity judges.
Martin said “sisterhood” inspired her to create SassBoxx. Unlike other subscription sites that offer only beauty products, SassBoxx is a lifestyle service curated with items from local African-American businesses that are owned by women of color.
“I have a greater impact on strengthening the black community,” Martin said.
Last September, one of Martin’s friends shared a Facebook post about a casting call for “Queen Boss,” an African-American women business competition. Martin quickly applied and was later chosen for an audition.
“Who wouldn’t want to win a chance at $25,000 for their business?” Martin said.
If she wins the prize, Martin plans to invest in increasing her inventory and exploring new marketing tactics. She is also looking to steadily increase her sale profits for the year.
Each week, three contestants will step into the “Queen Boss” conference room and pitch their products to some of the leading beauty and design shakers in the business. The first show premiered on Centric on Jan. 14.
Since being cast on the show, Martin has gotten more publicity for her business. “Queen Boss” judge Mikki Taylor, a leading beauty influencer, said SassBoxx is the “best-kept secret” of the year.
“The judges were welcoming and embracing, whether it came from a motherly standpoint or a stern standpoint,” Martin recalled. “They said I need to keep working on it, so black women all over the world know about this particular business.”
Martin said she juggled working a full-time job while filming a TV show and being a business owner.
“It was pretty exhilarating,” Martin said. “I did all three at the same time and it was exciting.”
She added that the women business owners were “embracing of others.”
Throughout Martin’s life, she has watched her parents work as educators within the city’s Department of Education. Being an entrepreneur is also native to her heritage.
Martin’s mother and aunt own a dance studio known as It’s Dance in St. Albans. Her family’s endeavors as business owners pushed Martin to start her own venture.
“Everything that I’ve done has been in Queens,” Martin said. “I want to keep the legacy going and I want to show the generation that is coming up now that anything is possible. I grew up around such amazing role models. It’s only right to carry on the torch.”
Martin’s episode will air on Jan. 28 at 10 p.m. on Centric.