I’m pretty sure if you were to look up the term serial entrepreneur in the dictionary, my picture would be right there. The first gig I remember creating was buying candy from our local corner store and marking up the price and reselling it at school. In middle school, I started making custom bracelets with sayings on them.
I’d make about $100-$200/week. In High School, my pop pop bought me a desktop computer with a CD burner and I’d burn CD’s for my classmates. When I got to college I was one of very few people with a printer and it was a color printer (I know! I’m dating myself), but I’d charge my classmates to print their homework and term papers. Entrepreneurship is in my blood. Both of my parents are entrepreneurs and my pop pop was a serial entrepreneur.
The Early YearsI grew up in my mom’s bakery and although I loved indulging in her delicious cakes, I did not like waking up early Saturday mornings to help work in the bakery, or going on deliveries, or washing the dishes and mopping the floor. I wanted to be different. My plan was to go to college, get a degree, and work for the government or in corporate America. I moved from my little hometown of Greenwood, DE to the big city of Atlanta, GA in 2002 to attend Spelman College. While in college, I changed my major five times before writing and advocating for an International Business (Entrepreneurship) program. The business part of the program was denied but the International studies program was approved and me and six other classmates were the first to walk with that degree in 2006. Since then, hundreds of black women have graduated with that degree. During my time at Spelman, I traveled the world, from China to South Africa and many places in between. I studied entrepreneurship and the impacts government support had on their sustainability and the overall economy.
Post-Graduate and Corporate AmericaAfter college, I declined several government jobs and worked in corporate America while attending graduate school. I co-founded a cohort that solely helped startups create business plans, establish their LLCs and EINS, setup business bank accounts, websites, and social media pages. Once all of those pieces were put in place, we worked strongly with creating sales and marketing plans for those companies to generate their first sales. Shortly after closing that business, I worked in Corporate America for six years and climbed the proverbial corporate ladder. On June 10, 2013, I was informed that my old area manager with whom I’ve shared many differing opinions, would be taking over as Level III of my department. I felt like that kid on the playground who just had his favorite toy snatched from him by a bigger kid. This department was something that I worked very hard to rebuild over the past three years. So, here I am sitting in front of my now “former” boss ( a middle aged, clean cut, white male) with red eyes of anger and tears filling up in my eyes. I begin to articulately explain why I do not agree with this plan and began to ask a series of questions to see how detailed the plan was and how it would impact my ability to reach my goal of a six-figure salary, a Level III position, the efficiency of my team, and the positive and negative impacts on our business. After this meeting I was accused of being disrespectful and being an embarrassment to the department. Again, I stood my ground. Over the next 48 hours of defending myself and my department, I realized that I had no future with this company. In fact, I remember telling my former boss in one of those 4 meetings that I would be giving my resignation. I was asked to think things through and to not act emotionally, so I took that advice to heart. Over the next 3 months I planned my exit strategy for what I called D-Day 2013. On August 29th, 2013 I resigned and forfeited my company car, health insurance, and 401k.
Entrepreneurship and FamilyIn my first year of entrepreneurship, “Murphy’s Law” went into full affect. Top 4 setbacks in the first year: 1. Purchased my first car for $13,000 and the transmission went out in the first year ($4,000+) 2. A pipe burst in my kitchen and flooded the kitchen and basement ($1500 insurance deductible) 3. Oven died and could not be repaired ($1000+) 4.Severely under estimated personal expenses + business expenses and over estimated monthly income ($500/month) as a startup. I was recently asked in a panel discussion about my biggest struggle as a new mom and entrepreneur. I responded mindset. I have been so accustomed to “hustle/grind mode” since grade school that building a family didn’t become a priority until my mid 30s. At 38, I welcomed my sweet baby boy into my life, but I had a hard time figuring out how to incorporate him into my life as an entrepreneur. Over the past few months, I realized that the same way I delegate and manage my business is the same mindset I need for my house and family. I outsource housecleaning and childcare, and I learned to accept help from the people in my village that offer to come sit with my baby while I take a one hour nap. I communicate with my husband about what I need to feel supported around the house. I love the flexibility to be able to delegate, create more space for self care and be at 100% for my family. Entrepreneurship is one hell of a rollercoaster ride, but I could not imagine trying to build a family while working a corporate job. Over the past eight years, I have grown my business into a 5 star-award winning luxury wedding cake bakery with features on Food Network, TLC’s Four Weddings, Voyage ATL Magazine, iHeart Radio and the Jim Beach radio show; and my work has been published in countless industry magazines. The success of my business has catapulted my speaking career and social presence as a business coach and strategist. I use my real life experiences to help startup and small businesses grow their revenue through financial literacy and sales training. I am now on a mission to teaching and empowering new cake designers how to build profitable businesses from their home kitchen.