For many, childhood is a time of wonder and play. Though blessed with happy moments, my childhood was filled with fear & preferred solitude – due to sexual, physical and racial trauma. From toddlerhood into young adulthood, I perceived the majority of relationships – especially with men – as sources of pain. Unconsciously driven by my feelings of helplessness and compulsion to save others from the type of pain that haunted me, I sought many ways to heal: spirituality, volunteerism, alternative medicine and eventually a career as a police officer. Each endeavour, in its unique way, contributed to my healing. Little did I realize how all of these choices would culminate into a life that has reshaped me, empowered me and allowed me to reclaim my Self. Some would say that I am successful today despite my traumas, I assert differently. I'm successful today because I know that nothing less than what I’ve already survived can stop me!
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? I was tired of living, learning, working and socializing in spaces that were unsafe, inequitable, judgemental and repressive. Each time I experienced or witnessed the inadequacy or harmfulness of systems meant to support us when we're most vulnerable, I would devise ways of creating safe alternatives, spaces and contacts. Over two decades – and many collaborations and projects later, I'd formed a solid reputation and a network of fantastic professionals. These are people who believe, as I do, that we all deserve safe, inclusive services and trustworthy products in our search for a better life. True II Soul was born! - business that creates safe spaces for work, learning and play, and an online sanctuary that is inclusive, diverse and trauma-informed.
How did the idea for your business come about?
True II Soul was sparked from three things: my own traumatic experiences, my sometimes-lonely journey through healing and inadequate support systems. As a result, True II Soul houses three distinct streams that support work, education and play:
ONLINE COMMUNITY: Community members have profiles in which they not only scrapbook what and who they love, but they also capture their journey. They keep it private or share with their tribe of like-minded community members. In their quest for healing, learning, socialising and sharing, they need not go far. Whether they want to heal, learn, work or play - it's all available in this safe, inclusive online sanctuary called: True II Soul. Our True II Soul Community continues to grow each day!
ONLINE ACADEMY & CLINIC: Our collective of psychotherapists, counsellors, educators, coaches, nutritionists, etc.) will soon be able to offer their services and products - as well as teach within the same easily accessible, safe, inclusive online space. We'll be launching our online clinic space and online academy soon.
ONLINE NETWORK: Online support, resources and networking are made available for the socially-conscious professionals who are striving to help our community members who seek self-development & healing. Our Pro Network includes people who work in Emergency Response, Health, Support Services, Education, Business, Entertainment and Public Service
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business, and how did you overcome them?
Developing Clarity & Building Confidence
I focused on my 5 Ws and H, engaged in continual professional and personal self-development, connected with like-minded individuals and business owners and maintained a reliable and trustworthy circle of support. I still do all of these things.
By doing what I loved, and doing it well, I'd built a solid reputation in other areas, but was uncertain how to begin building in this unchartered territory. I started publicly speaking about and letting people know about I was doing and my vision. For the parts of my business that already existed, I began offering services, products and consultation for nominal exchange – so people could grow to recognize my name, my company's name and what we stand for within these areas of self-development and social consciousness.
Building resources can be challenging because we often allow it to scare us away from realising our dream – whether it's monetary resources, human resources or otherwise. I worked hard to be able to rely on my own resources. Self-reliance required me to be creative, to discern my wants from my needs, to rely on supportive family and friends who were willing to devote energy to help me build True II Soul. Any person who has worked with me in the past or now works with True II Soul can tell you that I strive to be fair. Fair exchange is not just about the money, but also that we all see each other and our significance to the whole. Once I clarified this perspective, resources made themselves available to me when needed. I'm not saying it's always easy, but my experience is that the resources are available when the time is right, and when I'm ready.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou
Peace Is Every Step – Thich Nhat Hanh
Crush It - Gary Vaynercuk
The Lean Startup - Eric Reis
The 80/20 Principles - Richard Koch
Notes to the Future – Words of Wisdom – Dr. Nelson Mandela
Awaken the Giant Within - Tony Robbins
The Purpose Driven Life - Rick Warren
The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
The Power of Now - Eckhart TolleGood to Great - Jim Collins
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it?
I’ve not dealt with contention - more-so an apathy and lack of acknowledgement of what I do. I believe this involved an inability or unwillingness to see my vision as real, possible or viable until it became real, proved possible and very real. Fortunately, I was also blessed to have a few very close family members and friends who supported and encouraged me, had faith in what I was doing and had my back when True II Soul was nothing more than a passion in my heart and words I wrote on pages. It’s such a unique and unforgettable experience when people are pulling for you in tough times
What would you do differently in hindsight?
As it stands, I have very few regrets. With that said, I can see where and when I sought validation, approval and even permission to bring my business ideas forward. I would furtively share my ideas, and be crestfallen when people could not see and get excited as I was. I expended much more energy, time and resources on this than I would do now. So, in answer to your question, I would have spent more time gaining my clarity and confidence at the beginning – rather than spending so much time seeking company at a stage of a journey that is often very solitary. Creating a business that is uncommon or that people cannot see can be lonely. Now, I’m inviting people to join me on the coolest ride ever – that is of my making. It’s not my business or concern to convince people this ride’s for them. It's my responsibility to make it the best ride it can be!
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
The single most influential factor in my business success is my unshakeable trust in, belief in and caring for myself and my business.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
It's less critical for others to believe and validate my vision than it is for me to have faith and commitment
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Be clear on the 5Ws and H of what you want to do.
What you want or intend to do may not already exist in the way you envision it.
Be sure to not only research externally to properly position your business, but also take time to develop your unique business idea rather than a copy of someone else's.
Clarity, Charity and Certainty are vital to the success and relevance of what you do!