It Started With A Side Hustle
Certified Business Coach for rebellious entrepreneurs is not what I do. It's who I am. It's how I roll everyday. My humble side hustle began at a farmers market in Watts just before Thanksgiving. There we were, me, my husband, daughter, mom, aunt and cousin every Saturday selling barbecue. We thought we were doing big things if we had a $200 day.
One Saturday the then food editor, Russ Parsons, for the L. A. Times ventured by. We didn't know who he was at the time but that was our first amazing write up. By the following February we were operating in six farmers markets and my husband quit his job as an Investment Banker for Wells Fargo. That same summer my husband became the spokesperson for the now closed Fresh & Easy store chain. We even almost got our own show.
Fast forward to two restaurants, a lot of best of list (including Jonathan Gold's), celebrity catering, appearing on Good Day LA multiple times, Man Fire Food and the Great Food Truck Race, our $200 a day business had grown to multiple high six-figure years. During that time of growth our daughter was right there. As I learned how to grow our business she learned. When my husband cooked she learned to cook.
It was training my daughter to become a Chief Kid Officer and speaking at high schools that began my coaching career. With the support of my husband I began educating myself on becoming a business coach. I received my first certification in 2017. As our business continued to grow so did my network and passion for helping others start their businesses. When I said I wanted to leave the family business my husbands only response was, "We lived my dream now let's live yours." God I love that man.
And now here I am. Reliving the excitement of starting a new business with each new client. It doesn't get any better than this.
Embracing My Ghetto Country
Speaking at high schools in Los Angeles is what fuels my fervor for authentic branding. The first thing I would always tell them is that I'm Ghetto Country. That means I was raised hood adjacent by a country momma. That also means I'm not down for no bullshit but I got nothin' but love for you so let's hug it out after the fight.
I had to give myself permission to own my ghetto country and tell myself that I'm no less educated or accomplished because I say y'all and enjoy a loud laugh. I have a degree in business with an emphasis in personal finance. I took the class to become a licensed tax professional and now have over 15 years experience in the field. I am an alum of Goldman Sachs 10k Small Businesses and Leadership Long Beach.
Speaking in all those class rooms, telling my story over and over, and having kids tell me, "thanks for being real with us," is what continues to give me courage and inspires me to be authentic in my business. These are our future business leaders and they don't need or want falsehoods and pretend people.
In my younger days I didn't consider myself an entrepreneur but in hindsight I've been an entrepreneur off and on for over half my life. I didn't fully embrace it until my boss told me I should quit after a bad performance appraisal. I was doing too much of my side hustle on the clock. What she meant as a threat for me to fall in line I took as a challenge to get the hell out and I never look back.
I ran off to join the circus, that is the restaurant business, with my husband. We had no real plan for growth, branding, marketing, nothing. The only skills I brought to the table were accounting and tax preparer. I handled the business and he handled the food. Unless you have an unbreakable bond I don't advocate working with your spouse (love you baby).
When the accolades and raves came we weren't ready. Our first feature was in the Los Angeles Times. We operated on southern bbq shop standards of when it's gone it's gone. California folks didn't like that. That was the turning point for me to get our shit together. I surrendered fully to becoming an entrepreneur and surrounded myself with other entrepreneurs. I followed breadcrumbs of information to educate myself. When I got my own business coach, the heavens opened up and I haven't looked back.
Embracing Continuous Education
I was accepted to UCLA back in the day and majored in math/computer science. Despite having a 3.4 GPA, I dropped out after three years. I didn't return to college life until my late 30's to major in business. I attended ELAC to get my AA before transferring to CSULA for my BS. When I got serious about our business I pieced together a business education that didn't come from a book but experience.
I learned from those that were (are) in the business like my bbq boyfriend Mike Mills, who is no longer with us. This was years ago, but their Business Of Barbecue seminar gave me a great head start in growing our business. I then became an NBBQA member and attended my first bbq conference. There I met and learned from some of the biggest names in the bbq world. I won't name drop but it you ask, I'll answer. I also became became a member of the CBBQA and a certified KCBS BBQ Judge.
In November 2014 I was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business program. In August 2017 I started the Leadership Long Beach Institute program. Although these programs are years the programs and the people I connected with drove me to expect greater things of myself. I mentored for a year before earning my certification as a Life Coach in 2018. I also became a Certified Business Coach with certifications in branding, market research, social media and SEO.
I will continue to educate myself so that I can stay updated on what's new with branding and brand strategies.