I was always excited about building a business. My family gave me the first $500 to help me start my first company.
It doesn’t require much initial investment to start a company, but it gets expensive once operations ramp up. Aside from my own money, I raised about $8,000 through crowdfunding. Now that I’m producing thousands of boxes of mac and cheese, I’m getting to a point where I need a second round of funding, around $15,000 to $20,000.
The food scene in DC is great, as is the support for small businesses. 8 Myles has seen a lot of growth both here and in the northeast.
My parents worked their way up and provided me a great life, so I feel fortunate. I realize that if you put a child in a school system that doesn’t provide a set of resources from day one, they’re at a disadvantage. They’re not getting the education they need.
As to racism, I’ve never experienced it outright, but I notice it in subtle ways. For example, when I go to a trade show as a vendor, people tend to hold my white counterpart in high regard before even meeting them. It’s an implicit bias, and it’s subconscious. But when I say I’m the CEO, they’re shocked. I kind of take pride in it.
If you’re a kid and no one tells you that one day you can run a business doing whatever you love, you’re not going to do it. Success breeds success. I want to be involved, at least locally, so I can make my voice heard and mentor young people. I really respect the current movement—people that are willing to take a step back and examine what’s right and what’s wrong. They are willing to make amends and shift the way they’re thinking. That means a lot, and it takes a lot of power to make that change.