Clara’s Bio

Clara Villarosa is an entrepreneur who knows how to get down to the business. She became
nationally known as the founder of two influential bookstores, and is now an author and
NAACP image award Nominee for her book “Down TO Business: The First 10 Steps to
Entrepreneurship for Women” as well as a business coach and motivational speaker. Her second book “Words of African-American Hero’s” a collection of inspirational quotes celebrating the wisdom of notable African American was published in 2011.

Educated in her Chicago hometown, Villarosa received a BA in Education and Psychology at
Roosevelt University and an MA in Social Work from Loyola University. Always a devoted
bibliophile she pursued a career that began in psychiatric social work. She rose to the Director of the Department of Behavioral Science and ultimately became an assistant hospital administrator responsible for the directors of 16 outpatient departments at the Children’s Hospital in Denver Colorado.

After navigating the complexities of a hospital environment, Villarosa decided to leave and return to school after 25 years to attend the Graduate School of Social Work Doctoral Program and College of Law at the University of Denver. She then wanted to stretch her skills in the corporate world and start on a new path and went to work for the United Banks of Denver. Her experience proved valuable and she became Vice president of Human Resources and Strategic Planning at the bank before hitting the glass ceiling. That corporate roadblock became her opportunity and the catalyst pushed her to explore her entrepreneurial ambitions.

Her first entrepreneurial enterprise was the original Hue-Man Experience Bookstore, which she opened in Denver in 1984. The bookstore hosted notable authors as James Baldwin, Colin Powell, Alice Walker and Terry McMillan. In 2000 after, “retiring” and moving to New York to be close to her daughters and grandchildren, she found herself reenergized by the vibrant pace of Harlem and decided to open the second Hue-Man. Located in the Harlem USA retail complex around the block from the world-famous Apollo Theatre, Villarosa transformed the 4,000 square feet space into the largest African American bookstore in the U.S.

The Hue-Man “brand” in both Denver and New York has been aided by Villarosa’s high-profile membership in the American Booksellers Association where she served on its board for seven years. She became the industry “go-to” person for African American books and authors and her association with ABA helped solidify her status and allowed her to build recognition for the bookstore. She served as a trainer for the ABA Bookseller’s school focusing on marketing and finance. Hue-Man became an important destination for both Harlem residents and visitors to the uptown community as well as for notable authors like Walter Moseley and Maya Angelou. Not the least of which was former president Clinton who chose Hue-Man as one of only two stores to host an in-store book signing on the release day of his bestselling memoir, “My Life”. The event attracted local, national and international media including CNN, Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight and was considered by the publisher as one of Clinton’s most successful market outings.

Retiring in 2004 as Managing Partner of the Harlem bookstore, Villarosa is currently a business coach who offers workshops on “The First Ten Steps to Entrepreneurship” and a keynote speaker. Villarosa is also a Trustee of the University of Denver where she remains a member and serves on the Budget and Finance Committee as well as spearheading the University’s diversity including enrollment and retention programs.

The recipient of numerous industry awards, she is the founder of the African American
Booksellers Association. She has also served on the boards of Colorado Small Business
Development Center, New York is Book Country, New Federal Theatre, Malcolm X, Betty
Shabazz Education Center–for ten years–has organized workshops and chaired panel
discussions for the Booksellers Expo annual conference, past officer of the Business Owners Ministry of Abyssinian Baptist Church. She has been featured in print and electronic media, sharing insights and observations on business and entrepreneurship.