Women in Business series presented by UMB Women and Wealth
Adrienne B. Haynes is a giver. As the managing partner at SEED Law and founder/lead consultant at SEED Collective, Haynes gives back every chance she gets. That is, of course, when she’s not already paying it forward. The UMKC law grad—who grew up in Illinois and Iowa—opened her law firm five years ago. Her goal? To have her team put their efforts and energies into helping entrepreneurs build businesses that are scalable, sustainable, and successful.
If you ask her, she’ll tell you she got bit by the entrepreneurial bug in high school. When Haynes arrived at college, she realized going into law might be the missing link she needed to pursue her entrepreneurial spirit. “When I first started, people laughed, ‘Entrepreneurial law is not a thing.’ But I knew it had to be. I knew there was an opportunity to be supportive. Every day I have been reminded it’s been a good choice because every business decision has a legal ramification,” she says. “I’ve been really fortunate to partner with entrepreneurs to see how the law really impacts those day-to-day operations and build strategies around that.”
With her strong Midwestern roots, Haynes determined early on to network—and then network some more. She says she learned from the best along the way. “I have been very fortunate to be raised by intelligent, very intentional women. I’m also fortunate to have been taught by some of the best women—some tenacious women who have a really important vision for the community,” she says. “And I’ve been afforded the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with other women through direct representation on the legal side or consulting to help design entrepreneur programs.”
Her motto? “I’m a teach-what-you-learn-as-best-you-can,” she says. “I’ve had my fair share of ‘first Black woman to win this award’ or ‘first Black woman in this position,’ but what I really like is when I get to partner with people or organizations and design my own position that fulfills a need,” she says. “Just being a Black woman entrepreneur, there’s definitely societal and systemic challenges I’ve faced. Entrepreneurship allows you to pursue the human right of self-determination.”
Now that she’s carved out a niche, her SEED Law firm continues to make a difference on a daily basis. “When you have a business that makes it past five years, well, that’s my proud baby,” she says. The firm is expanding their footprint across the Midwest, aiming to help clients from Kansas to Illinois. “Especially at this time, [we want] to help existing and aspiring entrepreneurs recover and develop strong roots. Even in an economic recession, that’s when entrepreneurs really have the opportunity to build a business. And we want to be able to do that for as many people as we can.” Meanwhile, SEED Collective meets people where they’re at—focusing on executive coaching, education, research, and ongoing advocacy. “If there’s anybody who needs that support, I’d love to chat,” she says.
Haynes has two big wins in her corner that she’s excited about. First up, she says, Global Entrepreneurship Week is scheduled in mid-November. This year Haynes is the statewide coordinator. “I’m being intentional about supporting entrepreneurs all across the state. And the more we network together, the stronger our state’s entrepreneurship is,” she says. And second, Haynes is slated to give her first TED Talk in September. “I’ll be able to share some of the work I uncovered while doing my Innovator-In-Residence Fellowship at Kauffman. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m really excited to share the lessons and stories I’ve learned in doing this work.”
For Haynes, sisterhood has been ingrained in her essence for a long time. “I was a camp director for an all-girls camp—and I did that for five years,” she says. “Being able to help, nurture, and learn with women has been an important part of my career from the very beginning. I think about all the young women I worked with and all the women who have helped me. And women? We are honest with each other. So those that have given me constructive criticisms, given me opportunities—when I hear the term ‘girl power,’ I’m with it,” she says with a laugh. “To be able to inspire someone else, it encourages me.”