women's history month

Three Women From Inglewood Built a Business Empire by Owning McDonald's Restaurants

The two sisters have employed more than 700 people throughout LA County, and 14 of their 18 general managers are women.

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Nicole Harper Rawlins and her sister Kerri Harper-Howie own 18 McDonald's restaurants in LA County, many of them in economically challenged neighborhoods in Compton and Lynwood.

This duo took over the family business from their mother. Patricia Williams, now retired at 78, bought her first McDonald's 30 years ago, after quitting her job as a rehab therapist and cashing in her 401k.

"A black woman in the 90s on her own running these restaurants - she had to have a tremendous amount of courage," Kerri said. "The sheer willingness and courage to take such a change was incredible foresight for her and I have to assume she did it because she thought she'd be able to create more opportunities for Nicole and I."

Her daughters went on to successful careers in psychology and law before taking over the restaurants in 2019.

"One of the comments we always get is, 'Oh, we didn't even know African American people owned McDonald's,'" Nicole said. "So the opportunity to show we're obviously African American women and doing businesses is something we're very proud of."

The sisters have employed more than 700 people throughout LA County, and 14 of their 18 general managers are women.

They're continuing their mother's legacy of partnering with community groups, hoping to inspire the next generation of girls.

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"To let people see examples of what can be possible - and let them now there are black women in these communities and we're passionate about serving," Kerri said. "We try really hard to share our story and if we can be an inspiration, great."

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