Create your own table: Black & woman-owned firm defies expectations in global market


November 12, 2020

By CASEY FERRAND (WTDN) — How did a little Black girl from Selma, Alabama evolve from serving children as a classroom teacher to running an international education and management consulting firm working with clients like Apple and Amazon? In Krystal Allen’s case, it took dedication, trusting the process, and pure passion for wanting to help others in the face of very real adversities.

Before founding K. Allen Consulting™ (KAC) in 2017, Allen spent 10 years as a K-12 teacher and well-respected school leader in Baton Rouge and New Orleans serving children and families. The firm she would go on to found has now become a global education and management consulting firm that is becoming widely recognized for the professional development services it provides to nonprofits, schools, and businesses. KAC builds custom workshops, provides coaching, designs strategic plans, and creates frameworks and programs for clients in 5 countries to date.

Birthed from both trauma and a spiritual calling Allen felt in response to racial injustice, particularly institutional racism, she experienced as a Black woman in educational leadership, K. Allen Consulting was Krystal’s way of creating adult learning experiences that were deeply authentic, engaging, and helped professionals learn and grow in service of children and communities.

In just three years, K. Allen Consulting has grown from a one-woman firm serving clients in one city to an operation of seven staff members (all Middle Eastern, Black, Asian America, and Latin-X) serving more than 150 clients over time across the globe. To date, KAC has reached more than 60,000 children in public education across the United States and donated tens of thousands of its consulting earnings monthly to Black and Brown community initiatives and other Black and Brown businesses to support the work of others.

“I wanted to offer life-changing experiences that spoke to not only the technical knowledge and needs of adults, but also the hearts of participants in a way that equips them to enact real and sustainable individual and/or organizational change,” Allen said working from her home amidst power outages a week after Hurricane Zeta struck Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

The firm has worked with an array of clients like Amazon, Columbia University, The Urban League, Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s 3rd largest school district, and recently inked a deal to work with Apple and EdFarm as clients.

The first-generation college graduate carries that work ethic into every aspect of her business, which she started with zero capital, connections nor business experience.

“As a Black child, you are often told that you have to work two to three times harder to achieve success; and for me, that meant working to build absolutely everything within our firm from scratch,” she said. “Yet, I did so believing and resting on the fact that I could grow and scale a business without the validation and permission of white counterparts or anyone else.”

The 35-year-old said the most liberating lesson of growing her business was realizing that she and the unique gifts she brought to the table were enough. That is why she intentionally creates spaces and opportunities that affirm Black excellence, Black experiences and Black voices.

Allen is setting a standard for Black excellence in business by being a thought leader, providing exceptional professional development service and leading a charge to create more Black philanthropy - not only in her community but globally. Each year, the firm donates thousands of dollars to Black and Brown initiatives, serving as a model to showcase the power of Black philanthropy and the importance of businesses rooted in social good. K. Allen Consulting continues to defy the odds of what is possible for a Black-owned firm.

“As a Black-owned and POC-operated firm, we believe that our ability to do these things refutes both racial and gender stereotypes, as well as serves as inspiration for others to be able to pursue their hopes and dreams, particularly in expanding their impact, in spite of challenges they have or continue to face,” Allen said.

This year KAC launched 'The Catalyst,' a virtual learning program that Allen said furthers her ability to share what she has learned and support others' ability to launch their own consulting agengies.  The platform is for people interest in starting consulting businesses as well as those interested in scaling their existing businesses.  The first chohort, held this Summer and Fall, welcomed more than 100 paid memebers globally.  In the program, participatns learn foundational principales and best practices in running a successful consultancy.  They also received invaluable access to business templates, alerts of contract opportunities and insight from professionals in the legal, business, and accounting fields.

“As a Black-owned and POC-operated firm, our consulting agency models a commitment of being our full authentic selves in all spaces we choose to engage. We demonstrate the power of creating and taking control of your own narrative, as well as creating your own table and lane.”

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All Photos Courtesy of Krystal Allen

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