The need to learn from other women business owners and form a system of support and education is what led Angel Magasano, of Wentzville, to create a community to meet the needs of female professionals known as Little Black Book: Women in Business (LBB).
“As a former corporate professional and budding entrepreneur, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about growing a business, so I began reaching out to other like-minded business owners to share best practices and business growth ideas.”
Ten years later, she has grown the Little Black Book organization to more than 360 members spanning eight chapters in both Missouri and Illinois. In 2021, Little Black Book boasts an $85,075 financial impact through community service and philanthropy. The largest charitable contribution has been to the Toys for Tots Foundation, donating 50,000-plus toys over the past several years.
Little Black Book recently hosted a highly successful women’s conference entitled “BECOME: Women’s Day of Inspiration,” to commemorate International Women’s Day.
New offerings for Little Black Book’s membership in 2022 include a women’s collaborative workspace to open by the end of the year and an exclusive business strategy retreat for six-figure business owners ready to take their business to the next level.
Angel says she feels LBB has the perfect balance of women’s empowerment programming and business skills workshops to further women’s personal and professional success. “Little Black Book meets women where they are, and supports them along their journey to becoming the person they aspire to be.”
Angel has received numerous awards throughout her career including 2020 Small Business Monthly’s “Top 100 St Louisans to Know to Succeed in Business,” 2019 Western St Charles Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year, 2016 “Certificate of Recognition,” issued by the City of Wentzville for services to the City. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for Vision St Charles County Leadership, and will be installed as a Board Member for BackStoppers St. Charles County in the spring of 2022.
Shannon Norman Law, LLC
Shannon Norman has been a member of LBB for about six years but was involved in some of their activities since the organization started. “I’ve been friends with Angel (Magasano) for years, and I have loved getting to know these LBB women who are strong, driven, and forward-looking. By associating with these ladies, I’m always driven to do better, and to build my business to new levels. These are some of the most amazing women in the local area. They’re truly inspiring.”
A graduate of St. Louis University School of Law, Shannon also holds bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Criminology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. While there, she also earned a certification in Trauma Studies.
Shannon is from south Louisiana and grew up working in her family’s aviation business. Later, while attending college, she worked with international companies bringing products into the states through customs and border protection. This combined experience working with corporate clients and people of varying backgrounds, as well as multiple government agencies, is invaluable to her current law practice, Shannon Norman Law, LLC in St. Peters. She is licensed in both Missouri and her home state of Louisiana.
Shannon decided to complete law school in her late 30s, when her kids were in high school. “I should have done it earlier, but life got in the way,” she quips. She knew she was going to eventually open her own firm. In preparation for that, she did a lot of volunteer work as a Rule 13 lawyer for the SLU Legal Clinic, mainly dealing with battered women and abusers.
Through that, she was involved in the clemency petition for Judy Henderson, and ended up working on the case for eight years, eventually succeeding in getting Judy released from being wrongly imprisoned for 36 years for a murder she did not commit. “We are now close friends and she’s doing wonderfully,” says Shannon. “It’s kind of hard to top that in your career,” she concludes.
Shannon spends a lot of time in court, since her practice mainly focuses on family, criminal, and personal injury law. But she does find time to volunteer with LBB and with the Cottleville Firefighters Outreach. She is a past board member of the Center for Autism Education, and also travels as a national competitive ballroom dancer.
For the last several years, Shannon has been named as a Rising Star Super Lawyer, which represents only about 2% of lawyers in the Missouri/Kansas region, selected by peers.
Co-Host, Own Your Now Show
Yolonda Lankford recently had the honor of emceeing LBB’s BECOME Women’s Conference.
She says what she loves most about LBB is that they connect women that have resources to share and truly support each other.
“As Emcee for BECOME, it was just beautiful to look out at a sea of faces that were ready to receive positive information.” Which perfectly fits Yolonda’s personal mission of “sending out vibrant vibes and positivity.” She says her life theme is to uplift and empower girls and women.
One of the ways she fulfills that is by co-hosting a TV show three times/week called “The Own Your Now Show,” airing on the Ah! TV network. It’s described as a Morning Wellness Talk Show, birthed in the midst of the pandemic, to be a space focusing on everyday positivity.
She is also the project manager for a nonprofit organization called SistaKeeper (idefinememovement.com). Founded in 2002, it was developed to empower, inspire and develop the mind, body and spirit of young women into women with a purpose. “I get the joy of helping young girls reach their potential…and showing them what it looks like to have a life/career that you love.”
Yolonda has been involved in many charities throughout her 28 years in the St. Louis area (she’s originally from California). As a volunteer, she helped develop Cardinal Care, then was hired as the Executive Director of Kwame Foundation (KwameFoundation.org) which provides a platform that highlights talented public school students who are passionate about the visual and performing arts and provides financial assistance, educational mentorships, internship opportunities, and career training. Recently, she served as Emcee and Co Chair for the St. Jude Gala raising $1.6 million.
She has received an Oprah Winfrey Angel Award for spearheading an Oprah Angel House in St. Louis. “I’ve always loved using my God given talents to help non-profits. My kids call me the community connector,” she quips.
Other well-deserved recognition includes being voted one of St. Louis’s Most Magnetic Personalities by St. Louis Magazine, and she is the recipient of the National Council of Negro Women Legacy Award.
Yolonda is engaged to Hall of Famer, Ozzie Smith. She will soon have a blended family with seven children (two biological children, three of her fiance’s, and two of his sister’s children who they’ve been raising since she passed away). She laughs and says, “I call us the Black Brady Bunch.”
Yolonda is truly an inspirational leader with a powerful presence and is a role model for her own family as well as countless others.