MOSO Summer 2020

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Building a brighter future Southern Company delivers the energy solutions that drive growth and prosperity in the communities we are privileged to serve. For more than 40 years, we have been committed to developing small and diverse businesses. We are proud to support The Edge Connection and its mission to help Georgia entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed through a network of services and support.

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Southern Company


Today’s Entrepreneurs

16 Making SHIFT Happen In a Male-Dominated Construction Industry

19 Sonya Gilkey, Founder & CEO WRAP-A-LOC

20 Denise Leslie Medical Sports Massage

21 Taeneka Brooks Hand of Sage, Inc.

Margaret Lee, Founder & CEO, DesignStyles For LIVN





Health & Wellbeing

12 Why Black Business Matters

22 How to Manage the New Work Normal

By Markee Tate

By Michelle Glover

Publisher’s Perspective

Nonprofit Spotlight

2 What a Raised, Clenched Fist Means to Me?

8 Becoming an Essential Service

My Personal Manifesto By Monique LaRue


Inspiredu’s Richard Hicks on how community nonprofit’s should pivot during crises


4 A Nonprofit Leader’s Path to Greater Works Why 2020 has proven to be quite a challenge By Rachel Davis

Richard Hicks

10 2020 is Not Canceled By Meico Whitlock

MOLA MARKETING MEDIA ENBIZ Editorial Team Monique LaRue : Publisher Brent Cashman : Art Director Michael Pallerino : Editor

Contributing Writers/Editors Markee Tate Michelle Glover

Contact for advertising

ENBIZ is published quarterly by MOLA MARKETING MEDIA, Address: 227 Sandy Springs Place, Suite D437, Sandy Springs, GA 30328. Copyright 2020 All rights reserved.



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What a Raised, Clenched Fist Means to Me? My Personal Manifesto


s a Black businesswoman, brand owner of several special projects (ENBIZ Magazine being one of those), a microconsulting business and founder of a new start-up, I have lots of reasons to “raise a clenched fist” in solidarity with all of my peers. Each of us are in the same fight for equality in business, in the workplace and in our country. Here is what raising a clenched fist means to me: It is a manifesto: My sisters and brothers in business and industry, I will stand in solidarity with you. If you need me to assist in your “beginnings,” because we all have to start somewhere, I’ve got you. For those of you who’ve “arrived”, you know, the one’s who have their platforms, connections and followers. It’s my hope that we remember where we came from. But if for some reason we forget I want you know that I will stand in solidarity with you.

did not come to the source; they chose to believe otherwise. And they didn’t see you. But do not worry, I will stand in solidarity with you. For the brothers that stepped up when my sister wouldn’t because it wasn’t a requirement – but you did it anyway. I will stand in solidarity with you. When I raise my clenched fist in solidarity, at any time, for Why Black Business Matters, I can say this with love and sincerity: If I have support to give, I will not leave you without support. I will stand in solidarity with you.

Monique LaRue Publisher of ENBIZ Magazine Marketer, Relationship Manager, and Conscious Connector. Author of a new book: “Baby, Your Gift Will Make Room For You & the Creator of The Mindful Connector MethodTM”



Sisters, when your back is against the wall and you reach out for help to your colleagues in the workplace, and they turn their back on you because your shine might be a bit brighter than theirs, I will not do that. I will stand in solidarity with you. When the fight gets rough and you feel like the world is kicking you in the face, stay strong. They do not know your character or your resolve. They

“BLACK BUSINESS MATTERS,” says the raise clenched fist. We all have our own internal work to do. I hope that we can all get to a place where a raised clenched fist means the same for everyone. That is my personal manifesto. Monique LaRue Publisher, ENBIZ Magazine

Photography by Sheenica Smiley

When the fight gets rough and you feel like the world is kicking you in the face, stay strong. They do not know your character or your resolve. They did not come to the source; they chose to believe otherwise.

Unleash the Unlimited Power Inside of You

Online Coaching • Corporate Wellness • Speaking Engagements

Jean Titus, Founder & CEO of Titus Unlimited/Unlimited Supplements, shares expert knowledge about his daily practice of strengthening body, mind, and motivation which helps to unleash the unlimited power inside of us all. He has garnered 100 million views for two of his motivational videos and is featured in ESPN, AARP Muscle & Fitness, Essence Magazines, and He started using Instagram for the first time in August 2016 with 200 followers. Within a year, he had amassed 100,000 followers. He currently has a social media following of over 300,000 and growing.



A Nonprofit Leader’s Path to Greater Works Why 2020 has proven to be quite a challenge

Rachel Davis is CEO and Executive Director of the award-winning microenterprise development organization, EDGE (Empowering and Developing Entrepreneurs for Greater Success).

here is no doubt that 2020 has proven to be challenging. This was the year we would find clarity, focus and perfect vision. Ha! What a ride it has been so far.

I can tell you from my conversations with colleagues and clients, and from my own experiences that this is the clarity I have received so far from 2020: 1. Care about your fellow human beings. Do not only look through your lens. It is okay if more than one person wins. 2. Some changes can’t be pivoted or overcome. Some are permanent. When a permanent change happens, do not look back. Just move. Acknowledge that it is not the end of the world, and it is alright to start over or go in a different direction. Give yourself permission to grieve. Celebrate the accomplishments or the lessons, and then tell yourself to move on.



Success and failure are all about perspective. Successful people focus on lessons and what they learned, and they keep trying. 3. Stop looking for applause and acknowledgment. It is alright to toot your own horn and celebrate accomplishments, but do it from a humble place. Success and failure

are all about perspective. Successful people focus on lessons and what they learned, and they keep trying. Challenges and obstacles can put you in a dark place if you let them. You do not always need a win or an award to prove you are worthy. You must believe in yourself, so when the challenges come, they do not make you feel like a failure. They are only lessons. They do not define you. 4. Stay in your lane. It is fine to be inspired by others, but stay focused on what you are doing. Remember winners stay in their lane, their stride and their goals. They do not do what their opponents are doing. You will never lose, even if you do not come in first. Sometimes you find your greatest clarity in the midst of chaos. Ground yourself, pay attention and get the lesson.

Photography by Sheenica Smiley




Becoming an Essential Service Inspiredu's Richard Hicks on how community nonprofit's should pivot during crises


e views the focus on families and communities as pivotal in our everchanging world. If you were looking for a personal mission statement from Richard Hicks, that would do. Throughout his career, Hicks has been a team leader, managed high-dollar projects, and developed myriad growth and fundraising strategies. As CEO and president of the transformational nonprofit Inspiredu (formerly PowerMyLearning Atlanta), Hicks continues to focus his passion into improving opportunities for Greater Atlanta area youth and helping their families improve their socioeconomic status. In his 11-plus years with Inspiredu, he has been instrumental in building relationships and creating alliances with Fortune 500 companies and the tech community.

We sat down with him to get his thoughts on how Inspiredu pivoted during today's pandemic-defined landscape. Talk about the current state of community focused nonprofits in Atlanta. How has Inspiredu managed navigating through the chaos of COVID-19? On March 16, schools throughout the state closed and teachers immediately prepared for virtual learning. Immediately, Inspiredu began deploying hundreds of

continue the digital divide focus with the essential service component for what Georgia needs. In the future, when things start to look bleak, what should community nonprofits do to remain relevant? Nonprofits should focus on the essential needs of the community and talk with partners impacted by this crisis to find out their immediate needs. It is important to position yourself correctly during a crisis so that when you are post crisis, it will not be a difficult process to move forward as a relevant nonprofit. What are three characteristics that every nonprofit executive director should possess? Leadership. Engagement. Adaptability.

It is important to position yourself correctly during a crisis so that when you are post crisis, it will not be a difficult process to move forward as a relevant nonprofit.

Richard Hicks

Along with his Inspiredu duties, Hicks serves on the Executive Advisory Board for ATP (Atlanta Technology Professionals) and Advisory Board for Lincoln Tech. He also volunteers with and supports other service organizations like the Agape Family and Youth Center.



devices. We had to position ourselves as an essential service to ensure we were in the fight as COVID-19 continued to manifest itself. The highlight of bridging the digital divide was even more important, and being a part of the solution became extremely important. Discuss the transition from PML to Inspiredu? What was the driver for that change in direction? The transition from PowerMyLearning (PML) to Inspiredu was a very smooth and well needed transition to address the needs within our community. PML was changing its focus from bridging the digital divide, and we wanted to

Elaborate on your statement that organizations can lose focus during a crisis. How so? Organizations tend to get desperate when a crisis is at hand. That sometimes can resort to desperation city. When organizations arrive there, they tend to throw everything at the wall and began to lose focus on how to enhance the mission they are already conducting. Your true swan is not finding it when things are good, but when you are in times of crisis. Remaining focused and honed in can help you realize what an organization can do to evolve its programming. I had an experience in my previous job where we were in a crisis

and I was running around the office with my anxiety through the roof. But my leadership told me to remain focus and organize my operation with the simplest of things first, and build upon it. How did Inspiredu become an essential service? Inspiredu (formerly PowerMyLearning Atlanta) has provided technology and digital learning in our community since 2007, deploying over 12,996 home computers. On March 16, schools throughout the state were ordered to close until the end of March. That forced school leadership to immediately prepare for two weeks of both online and offline schoolwork. We immediately deployed 200 devices.

We continue to engage in conversations with our partners to see how we can assist and work very hard to position ourselves as a reliant partner that is here to aid the community and not chase funding. Inspiredu kept the focus on the community. That is how we were highlighted as an essential service. What have you done to ensure your funding pipeline is filled? Can you share some advice on building partnerships and relationships, and building a strong engaged board? We have continued to steward the relationships with funders and keep them in the know about the different initiatives we have on the horizon. It was very important to engage our donors and truly highlight the impact that we are making within the community.

The ability to build strong partnerships and relationships is vital when running a nonprofit. Relationship building is very important and creates sustainability, as you are expanding your reach through these partnerships, which grows your resource pipeline. Board engagement is another key to expanding a nonprofit’s network and reach. Recruitment of board members is a very tricky piece. Nonprofits should always seek members who are aware of their mission and are looking to make an impact in the community, not just something they can put on their resumes. Nonprofits should create a friend-raising process for board members and bring board candidates closer to the work so that they can see the value they can bring to the table. Richard Hicks,





2020 is Not Canceled


inging in 2020 marked a fresh start for many of us. It was not just the start of a new year; it was the start of a new decade. This was going to be a year filled with big achievements. But the year had barely gotten underway when a pandemic disrupted everyone’s plans. Then, we had the eruption of massive social unrest in response to

Meico Whitlock



racial injustice that has been swept under the rug for far too long. Yet, in spite of everything happening in the world right now, and contrary to popular belief, 2020 is not canceled. And if you feel like you have barely had a chance to accomplish anything, here is some good news: There is still time to make 2020 count.

The truth is that constant change is an inevitable part of life. It is neither good nor bad. It is all about our mindset. We always have two choices: resist change and make ourselves miserable or embrace it as an opportunity to grow even when it does not feel good. In fact, it is from a place of discomfort that we experience growth and transformation. We do not grow when we are comfortable or standing still. Choosing to see the opportunity or the lesson that results from change sets us up to experience what some researchers call post-traumatic growth (PTG), or positive change that can result from an adverse or traumatic event. While our immediate plans may be canceled, our purpose has not. Our “how” may have changed, but our “why” remains

In times of change, uncertainty and disruption like these, it may be harder to see our progress. But no matter what is happening in the world, this is not the time to give up or throw in the towel. the same. In times of change, uncertainty and disruption like these, it may be harder to see our progress. But no matter what is happening in the world, this is not the

time to give up or throw in the towel. It is an opportunity to grow and evolve. Author Anne Lamont says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” To finish the year strong, I invite you to unplug 2020 for a few minutes and reboot your year. Take this time to recommit to your original vision, pivot or go back to the drawing board. Be flexible. Change your plans, if needed. But stay on purpose. I do not have a magic formula for coming out on top. But here is what I know for sure: When you put in the required work through the ups and downs and in-betweens, the universe will always ensure you land in the right place. How is your year going? Do you need help making a pivot?

Meico Marquette Whitlock liberates changemakers from work-life imbalance and technology overload through speaking, training and coaching. He is the founder and CEO of Mindful Techie, creator of the Intention Planner and a trained mindfulness facilitator. He facilitates transformative experiences that foster wellbeing in a hyperconnected and distracted world, and has worked with organizations such as Cigna, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. He has been a featured speaker on ABC News, Fox 5, Radio One, and on the main stage at events such as the Nonprofit Technology Conference. You can email him at





Why Black Business Matters


s President & CEO of the Atlanta Black Chambers Inc., I help lead a mission to serve as an advocate for the creation and growth of competitive, profitable and sustainable Black-owned entities. As business owners, we can influence and make a positive impact in the country while gaining economic control of our community. Opening the door for black business owners and making it equitable leads to the wealth needed for our community to access quality education for quality job creation. Black Business matters because it is imperative that we become the backbone of economic wellbeing in our communities. Now is the time for us as business owners to wield the power



that we must to influence change. And that means our young voices, too, many of whom are active in the racial justice protests. We are extending the conversation to the public to confront

this issue with ongoing discussions, using our platform as a place to amplify our voice to realize real-world results. Simultaneously, there is an achievement gap where many of us do not receive the best education possible to matriculate onward to higher learning institutions. Our lack of ownership—real and perceived—is wreaking economic havoc, and police brutality as a bullying tactic only exacerbates our ills. It is up to us to make changes in our community that benefit us by demanding for a

transformational public policy change that benefits our black community. Our measure of wealth in comparison is staggering and negatively affects the amount of startup capital we must initially invest in our businesses. Black Americans are not benefiting because of systemic racial barriers. It is an underlying economic crisis plaguing our community. This unequal access is the epidemic affecting our schools, income, health care, social status in this nation that directly affects the status of our black businesses.

that tackle policies across the board to create more economic opportunities for us. These opportunities should translate into job creation and long-term wealth for those in our community. The Atlanta Black Chambers will continue to address racial bias in the pursuit of equal treatment for our businesses. We are taking action to

foster this cause. We have worked hard to create an environment conducive to our satisfaction. Now, it is time to use our voice as business leaders, amplifying our message to close the racial wealth gap. Our pain is an opportunity to emerge stronger, becoming a manager of wealth for our culture and the future of our community.

We have worked hard to create an environment conducive to our satisfaction. Now, it is time to use our voice as business leaders, amplifying our message to close the racial wealth gap. For those positioned, owning real estate is one path to create wealth. Becoming a business owner is another to improve our collective economic stature. But for the masses of our community, we must demand for transformational public policy change, then exercise our voting rights at the polls for the local, state and national elections this year. Those candidates we cast our votes in the upcoming elections and future elections should prove their support of an agenda that requires transformational public policy change or a major public policy intervention that builds Black American wealth and closes the racial wealth gap. To create more equity for us, our organizations must be committed to the Black cause in addressing all facets of our lives, from our legislators to our law enforcement, finance to mental health,

According to the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances: > The median Black household’s net worth is $17,600, while the median net worth for White households is $171,000. Black business owners, unfortunately, do not fare better.

> The annual revenue for Black businesses is $58,118 in comparison to non-minority White business owners, which generate $552,079 annually, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.

> Black household income averages just over $41,000 next to white households, which average over $87,000.

> The homeownership rate is about 41%.

Markee Tate is President and CEO of Atlanta Black Chambers Inc., a non-profit organization consisting of individuals engaging in business, community and government activities. The organization’s mission is to serve as an advocate for the creation and growth of competitive, profitable and sustainable Black owned entities.



Power Moves to Maximize Your Virtual Conference Experience


hile virtual conferences have been gaining popularity in recent years, COVID-19 has rendered them our only conference option. Business owners now have never-ending options of virtual conferences to choose from, as in-person events have been shut down. This is an exciting time for virtual events and business owners to benefit in multiple ways by attending one. The business benefits include: > Learn from and engage with industry experts. > The opportunity to expand your network geographically > Increase your visibility by being a speaker, sponsor, or by engaging with live programming.

Engage with the event itself — By following the event on social media, following their hashtags, joining Facebook Group and sharing the event with your network, you become involved. Again, as event organizers, this is going to get our attention and spark our interest in you and your business.

Let’s be honest, virtual events are not the same as attending an event inperson. That is not to say one experience is better than the other. They both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Since most people have a lot less experience with attending virtual events, they may find it challenging to get the maximum value from them. With that in mind, we want to share our power moves for getting the most out of your next virtual conference. These are some of the lessons we learned in producing the Small Business Grit Summit Series.

Don’t rely on the recorded content — You will miss all the action. Block off your calendar so you can attend the live event programming. Live programming is where you meet others, expand your network, ask personalized questions and increase your visibility. After our first virtual summit, we noticed attendees strengthening their fostered relationships. We saw them guesting on each other’s podcasts, participating on Facebook Lives, enlisting each other’s services, and becoming strategic partners.


Buy your tickets early — Not only will you get the best price, but as organizers, we notice and appreciate our early ticket commitments. To show our appreciation, we will give them and their businesses special recognition on social media and during the event. They also benefit from early bird pricing, giveaway entries, and other bonuses.

Connect with the speakers and attendees on LinkedIn and other social channels — Let speakers know how you benefited from their presentation and let attendees know how you would like to connect further. Bonus points for giving the speakers you enjoyed a LinkedIn Recommendation. Be a Sponsor — Look for virtual conferences that cater to your target market. Your business can gain tremendous visibility as a virtual conference sponsor. Sponsorship

levels are typically less expensive than in-person events and have a longer tail, as most virtual conferences have a recorded component in addition to the live dates. As summit organizers, we have found many ways to showcase our sponsors in a way that integrates them into the event. Not all virtual events are the same, so do your research to find the ones that align best with your business goals. After that, commit to being an active participant and enjoy all the amazing benefits from your virtual experience. We met at a women’s networking event a year ago and discovered our mutual love for helping small business owners. Since then, we have built a friendship, developed a strategic partnership, and created the Small Business Grit Summit Series. Our next SBG virtual experience is the “Six-Figure Salon: For Women Who Love Their Figures Large,” scheduled for Sept. 14-18, 2020. During COVID-19, we wanted to find a way to help other small business owners conquer the challenges we were facing as a direct result of the pandemic. We felt we could achieve terrific outcomes for our attendees by designing interactive opportunities with their immediate needs in mind. Here are what we identified as the three most immediate needs in the small business community: 1. Structured, innovative, goal-based networking 2. Relationships with potential referral partners, strategic partners, collaborators, and leads 3. Tactical knowledge on how to grow their businesses

Mary Sue Dahill and Jennifer Crawford are the founders of the Small Business Grit Summit Series. Dahill is the founder of Work Smarter Digital, which helps small businesses and passion-preneurs design efficient systems within their business so they are more productive and profitable. Crawford is co-founder of Sparent, a virtual assistant agency staffed entirely by highly-skilled stay-at-home moms taking a break from corporate careers and businesses to raise their families. Sparent helps business owners delegate day-to-day operations to an elite virtual team so they can grow their business more quickly.



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Making SHIFT Happen In a Male-Dominated Construction Industry


uilding quality developments. Community envolvement-revitalization. Partnership development. Employment development. As Margaret Lee what the tenets of her company are and this is what she will tell you. DesignStyles for LIVN provides full-service design-build and management services from start to finish. And as a Black woman in a male-dominated industry, Lee has forged a name for herself and her company. Part of her success lies in a mission statement that is focused on a cutting edge global brand with quality, integrity and accountability. DesignStyles is committed to helping revitalize communities while enhancing quality of life through affordable, safe and health environments.

What resources have you gotten from the EDGE so far that you want to share? The EDGE is unique in the service it offers, which has been a true source of support in helping me develop and grow my business. The resources provided were mentorship and industry mentorship, where I was partnered with a mentor in my industry. It also helped me create my first marketing materials, classes like life skills training, public speaking, business planning and continue business consulting. What was your “why” for going into business? My journey started when I was that child in school—a child with big visions and dreams. At nine years old, I started my first business by making key chains out of beads. That is when I knew I wanted to have my own business one day. As an adult, there were several things that



made me want to take the leap. First, being black in Corporate America and the games that are played, like getting passed over for promotions even though you have more education and experience than the white person who landed the position. And then you have to train them to do the same job you are qualified for. It is hidden racism that is experience daily. Another reason was the lack of support I received when it came to having young children daycare age. For example, my children would get sick at different times. One time, one of my sons, who was 8 months old at the time, had an allergic reaction to a medication. I had to go pick him up from daycare and my boss asked me what was I going to do with him because they needed me at work. I told him I will have to take him to the doctor, and then take him home. A week later he fired me, gave me two week severance and a good reference.

Margaret Lee, Founder & CEO, DesignStyles For LIVN



TODAY’S ENTREPRENEURS After my divorce, I became a single parent with three small children to raise. I knew a 9 to 5 job would keep me in a box of poverty, despair and lack of financial freedom. Sitting on the floor one day looking at my options, I had $2.50 and a can of thread, so I decided to use my resources of creativity skills to generate money to start my business journey and the knowledge that my father taught me about construction. After years of being in business, I realize I was born for entrepreneurship. I love design and construction. It is where I am supposed to be. What is it like being Black and a female in the construction industry? It is a double challenge. It can be incredibly challenging at times because a lot of the men do not see you as a counter partner. They see you as a secretary, or behind the stove cooking and baking cookies (which I do like to do). But there was a lack of support, financial inclusion to grow, being overlooked for projects and even sexual harassment. On the positive side, there are some men who are incredibly supportive and welcome women because they see the value we can bring to the construction industry.

Restaurant renovation.

What has COVID-19 taught you? How are you feeling about your emotional, physical and mental health? Covid-19 has been an awaking. It has impacted our business in ways that we had to shift some things. The emotional frustration level is at an all-time high. We had to find other ways to physical workouts

After years of being in business, I realize I was born for entrepreneurship. I love design and construction. It is where I am supposed to be. What problem does your business solve? Our services focus on addressing our client’s critical issues, opportunities to develop and transform their project needs. How does your business generate income? We generate income through our four departments: Design Consulting, Management Services, Construction Contracting and various products. How’s the health of your business today? It is healthy, good and growing, but it still needs improvement. We have increased revenues in some areas, and we are looking to scale and expand.



and it has been emotionally draining to have to fight COVID-19 and racism, all at the same time. To keep my mental and physical health, I go into my pray closet daily for prayer and meditation, and other activities.

Are you working full-time or part-time in the business? I am working in my business full-time, and every step I make to grow in my business in crucial. Is your cash flow positive each month? It varies sometimes, we just break even. It has been extremely difficult to get funding and lines of credit for my business. How has this year changed the way you do business? My spiritual wellness comes first, followed by family, community and building better relationships.

Margaret Lee/EDGE ALUM 2001 Business Plan/Life Skills Training Consultation Circuit Rider Micro Loan

What kinds of resources are important to you right now? Business mentorship. Funding. Marketing. What is the best advice you could give a fellow entrepreneur? Seek God and tap into your spirit to find your purpose in life. Keep in mind what is important—mental, physical and financial wellness.

Connect with DesignStyles For LIVN 678-558-0438

Sonya Gilkey

Founder & CEO, WRAP-A-LOC


onya Gilkey, aka, Sistah Nandi, is a Natural Hair Care Culturist. For the last 15-plus years, she has been professionally styling locs and natural hair. Her love and gift for styling hair began as a teenager, where she honed her skills as a “street” stylist. Over the years, her haircare methods and styling techniques have been featured in Essence, Sisterlocs Lifestyle Journal, Black Beauty & Hair magazine, and on numerous websites and blogs. In 2018, she was named “Manufacturer of The Year” by the Beauty Supply Institute. Like many women, her natural hair journey was challenged by the lack of hair products for grooming locs and natural hair. Much like the old proverb says, “Necessity” is the Mother of Invention, that is true in her case. Because she wanted pretty curly locs in 2004, she created Wrap-A-Loc a curling and styling tool with flexibility and versatility.

traditional rollers and rods, which has led us to over stride on educating why Wrap-A-Loc is safer, versatile and more efficient for textured hair. How has this year changed the way you do business? The plague has rocked, shifted and changed everything. The summer is usually my busiest time of the year because we attend hair shows and festivals. That part of my business model has been brought to a complete halt. It has pushed us to elevate, recreate and keep things moving.

Is your cash flow positive each month? Yes, we have a positive monthly cashflow. What has COVID-19 taught you? How are you feeling about your emotional, physical and mental health? I’m feeling good and doing great spiritually. “All is in Divine Order.” How’s the health of your business today? The business is in good health and is operating at about 65%. Are you working full-time or part-time in the business? I’ve worked full time in my business since 2007.

Sonya Gilkey

What problem does your business solve? The goal of our brand is to promote beauty, creativity, freedom and activism culturally by manufacturing and distributing quality hair styling tools and products. Through education and community outreach, we impact positive global awareness of the splendor and pride in textured hair. By creating innovative products and setting trends, we arouse the intellect and self-esteem of our people, revealing that we each hold power within ourselves. How does your business generate income? Via product innovation and sales, mainly online.

What is the best advice you could give a fellow entrepreneur? Always listen and follow that inner voice—the one that is telling you to “move, move right now on your vision.” What kinds of resources are important to you right now? Our biggest challenges in the last year have been marketing, distribution, and garnering earned media and publicity to impact the community in which we serve. With Wrap-ALoc, we have been on the front lines advocating hair emancipation for the natural and loc community. Being a black company that unapologetically targets women and men with textured hair, our distribution by major hair care companies has often been denied. The innovation and uniqueness of the Wrap-A-Loc styling tool has brought many challenges in the realm of competition. Many are familiar with

Sonya Gilkey/EDGE ALUM 2004 Business Plan Training DHL Shipping Grant Recipient Consultation Circuit Rider Mico Loan - DEBCO United Way COVID Grant Recipient

Connect with WRAP-A-LOC 404-453-5292




Denise Leslie

Founder & CEO, Medical & Sports Massage


his year has brought significant changes to the world. A once-in-a-century global pandemic caused by a novel strain of coronavirus will do that. The year has brought uncertainty that no one has had to face before. So, how do we as business owners cope with these drastic changes? What can we expect in the future to find success? By sharing my experiences, I hope to guide fellow entrepreneurs to a sense of normalcy and provide comfort. For me, the pandemic has brought on many emotions. As a business owner, I like being in control of my work. COVID-19 has introduced new policies that I no longer have input in. Due to these policies, I have had to find other ways to be productive with my time to avoid negative moods.

Denise Leslie

deliver for my employees, whom I admire deeply. This was the most challenging part for me and it took an emotional toll. I qualified for loans produced from the Small Business Association (SBA) such as the Payment Protection Program (PPP), SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and other grants for pandemic relief. But as I submitted application after application to ensure my employees could provide for themselves without work, I realized the new order of business impacted banks and federal agencies, thus decreasing the efficiency of processing paperwork and, ultimately turning down small businesses like myself for relief funds. I own Medical & Sports Massage Inc. in Sandy Springs, Georgia. By the time March came, I had to close my business down under orders by the governor. For the safety of those in my community, I gladly closed my doors and would stay closed for as long as needed to ensure the health of my employees, clients and their network of people. But I had a huge burden of being responsible for my health and wellbeing and my employees’ lifestyles. For seven years I have been able to provide financially for myself and my employees. I am proud to say I never missed a payroll and was often able to give bonuses as a reward for finishing consecutive years strongly. The pandemic was the first time I could not



I was crushed with these decisions, feeling as though my small business was not good enough to compete with large corporations that received millions in SBA loans. I felt like the hard work I put in over the past decade to build my business would soon be meaningless. But I never gave up. I looked at unemployment options through the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL), but experienced the same delays and, ultimately denial at the end of the process. I had no other option but to begin networking and putting my story out, hoping that eventually someone would realize how much my business means to me and how it impacts my community. I emailed everyone I could find on a government or SBA website. I sat in on Zoom conferences with local community leaders and business owners. I learned as much as I could about the process and formed a strong support system through my communication outreach. Due to these efforts, I had a positive outcome the second time I applied for disaster relief. Today, there is still much uncertainty, as the pandemic is expected to stay through the flu season. This will most likely bring new ways of conducting business moving into this decade. At this point, the best thing business owners can do is rely on each other, support the community and form strong networks through online communication. Stay informed on new financial relief processes and ask important questions to your local bankers, government officials and other businesses. Finally, and most important, protect yourself and the community around you from the spread of COVID by implementing The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) safety measures and getting tested early.

Denise Leslie/EDGE ALUM 2014 Business Plan Training Consultation

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Taeneka Brooks

Founder & CEO, Hands of Sage, Inc.


s a master herbalist, Taeneka Brooks has spent the past 10-plus years studying the natural ways our bodies heal and restore themselves. Using this knowledge, she has blended and curated teas for wellness. No matter the reason—detox, immune boosting, insomnia, anxiety, energy, etc.—there is an herb for it, which also means there is a tea for it. Brooks says that all tea blends are organic and sustainably sourced, which mean they can be created with love and positive energy. Here is our conversation with her on what Hands of Sage, Inc. brings to today’s healing powers.

Taeneka Brooks

time with and even what I say to myself. Every day is new and takes work and positive energy to maintain that health. How's the health of your business today? Business is healthy and strong. Are you working full-time or part-time in the business? Currently, I am working part-time on my business. Once I finish getting certified and put a few other things into play. I will be full-time in 2021. What resources have you gotten from the EDGE so far that you want to share? I'm new to the EDGE, but so far I have received great information on what I need to do to prepare my company to become certified. I have been given tools to make sure I am completely established to prepare for scaling up. What was the real “why” for going into business? I always knew I wasn't made to work for someone else. I remember being in high school and telling that to my dad. He laughed. I also knew I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. My first job was at a nursing home. My “why” is really for my three children. I want to build a legacy for them—one that will allow them to think outside of the box and go after what their hearts' desire. My “why” is to teach people to listen to their bodies and allow their bodies to heal themselves. My “why” is to change the world one sip at a time.

What problem does your business solve? We help people restore their health— mentally physically and emotionally.

What kinds of resources are important to you right now? Marketing.

How does your business generate income? By selling teas, tea experiences and wellness consultations.

How has this year changed the way you do business? If anything, 2020 has shown me just how much by business is needed. I have seen a lot of increase, so it has also shown me how to prepare better.

Is your cash flow positive each month? Mostly yes. What has COVID-19 taught you? How are you feeling about your emotional, physical and mental health? I have learned that COVID attacks every person differently. I cannot express enough the importance of boosting your immune system, being mindful of your stress levels, and checking in on all of your loved ones because you never really know. Today, I feel pretty good about my emotional, physical and mental health, but I am very intentional about what I eat, drink and watch on social media. I watch who I spend

Taeneka Brooks/EDGE ALUM 2020 Mentoring/Consultation Workshop

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How to Manage the New Work Normal “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Socrates


ithin four months of companies abruptly transitioning their workforce to telework amid COVID-19, companies are now faced with a new challenge: How to transition employees back to work post-pandemic. Despite uncertainties, logistical concerns and employee anxieties, a post-COVID-19 workplace is inevitable. Now the question organizations face is how to manage the new normal. As a leader, are you positioned to lead your team in the new normal? Here are three fundamental steps you can take to help manage the physical and psychological stress your employees are facing when transitioning back to work post-pandemic.

NO. 1 — CREATE A SAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT Attention to a sanitary workplace and employee hygiene will be critical for maintaining a safe working environment for employees postpandemic. According to a recent PwC Workforce Pulse Survey, 70% of 1,100 American workers surveyed listed several factors that were preventing them from wanting to return to work. The No. 1 concern was fear of getting sick from being at work. With ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, nobody knows precisely what returning to work will look like post-COVID-19. But one thing is certain, employees want their health and safety to be their company’s top priority. You should work with your company’s environment, health and safety, HR and legal teams to ensure you are following all necessary guidelines for creating a safe working environment for your employees. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published



guidelines for employers to provide recommendations on how people can safely return to office buildings and work. Review the recommendations outlined by the CDC for additional practices to implement a sanitary and safe workplace for your employees.

NO. 2 — LISTEN TO EMPLOYEES FEARS AND CONCERNS Increased communication between managers and employees will be imperative post-pandemic. Brian McGinnis, an attorney with Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia, says that

a good first step for an employer to respond to an essential worker who's expressing fears of returning to work is to actively listen to the employee and have a conversation. Managers should acknowledge the employee’s anxieties and personal challenges when returning to the workplace, and if the concerns are reasonable, provide the steps to alleviate their concerns. Be open to a two-way dialogue and allow your employees to consult with you on their concerns and questions. With the continuing uncertainties caused by COVID-19, many employees also are experiencing increased stress, anxiety, worries and fear. Many organizations have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) services as part of their employee benefits program offered at no additional costs. Now more than ever is the time to make full use of this resource partner and refer your employees who need additional psychological support.

With change also comes opportunity. An opportunity to evolve into a better version of you, your team and your working environment. NO. 3 — REMAIN FLEXIBLE IN THE TRANSITION Having an entire workforce return to work on the same day post-pandemic is unrealistic and unsafe. This negatively impacts the janitorial staff responsible for the additional cleaning requirements and can impede social distancing requirements. As a best practice, organizations are implementing phased approaches to transitioning




Explore flexible options for transitioning employees back to work post-pandemic that will meet the needs of your employees to the needs of your business. employees back into the workplace. In the phased approach, small percentages of employees are brought back into the office over a period of time. In addition to the phased approach, organizations also are adopting hybrid work models. In the hybrid model, the

employee has the autonomy to choose how, where and when they work best. As office spaces are redesigned to accommodate social distancing requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19, hybrid work models can have physical and productivity benefits to the employees. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

has embraced a hybrid work model by giving his employees the option to work from home indefinitely or work from the office, with additional precautions. Explore flexible options for transitioning employees back to work postpandemic that will meet the needs of your employees to the needs of your business.

NO. 4 — FOCUS ON TEAM-BUILDING EFFORTS Whether choosing a phased approach or a hybrid model, employees are feeling isolated and disconnected from the team and organization during this period of transition. This is your opportunity to think creatively in maintaining a cohesive team remotely. Schedule virtual happy hours, virtual lunches or even start your team meeting with non-work discussions. While these items seem trivial, they can have a lasting impact in decreasing feelings of isolation and increasing a sense of belonging. With change also comes opportunity. An opportunity to evolve into a better version of you, your team and your working environment. Reference these tips when creating your transition plan post-pandemic. As you explore opportunities to manage in the new normal, explore how you can evolve into the next and best version of your team. As Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, once said, “There will be interruptions, and I don’t know when they will occur, and I don’t how deep they will occur, I do know they will occur from time to time, and I also know that we’ll come out better on the other end.” Michelle Glover, CEO of Journey Unlimited, is a talented HR professional with more than 18 years of experience in leadership, coaching, change management and HR strategies. Known for her creativity and strategic thinking, she knows how to create innovative strategies to help individuals and companies achieve their goals. She has devised her own coaching model, dubbed “Purpose to Results” coaching. The strategy views the client holistically. She does not focus exclusively on goals and creating career plans. Instead, she pays attention to a client’s spiritual, physical and general mental health to create a solution for the client’s overall well-being.



Tax and Financial Guidance for the Entrepreneur and Business Owner CREATED SPECIFICALLY FOR SMALL TO MEDIUM BUSINESSES

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