I currently reside and do business in the Monterey area of California, though was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. As a child, I was groomed in both performing and fine arts. In preparation for high school, I was accepted as a student at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a Grammy award-winning school, where I studied fine arts with a major concentration in sculpture and mixed media arts.
Upon high school graduation, I committed to serving my country by becoming a United States Marine. I chose the Marine Corps because I was told it was the toughest branch to join and I wanted to be challenged. I passionately served as an administrator to well over 500 marines while stationed in Southern California, and in only nine months service on active duty, I was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
I married a fellow Marine and within five months we were both preparing to fight the war on terror and expecting our first child. I was torn in terms of not wanting to end my career and not wanting to leave my newborn baby. With one week left of maternity leave and my husband and unit preparing to leave for deployment, my heart’s desire was to stay with my newborn baby. During this same time, my mother had a brain aneurysm. I executed a humanitarian transfer to provide care for my mother and remain with my newborn child for three months of my mother’s recovery. I was devastated to find out my captain, and several other marines I had served with, died in the war against terror while I remained at home. I honorably completed my obligated service and went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in legal studies, all while pregnant with our third child and moving across the country. Being that my husband is still on active duty in the United States Marine Corps we have continuously moved from coast to coast as well as up and down the East Coast. As an active duty family member, having to relocate often has been a challenge that I have had to counteract head-on.
As a former administrator in the Marine Corps, I always had a passion and interest in business. Entrepreneurship requires dedication, resilience and persistence — all character traits I developed while serving in the Marine Corps — but I wasn’t initially ready to commit to bringing any entrepreneurial visions to fruition. Sometime later, however, I had a moment of awakening after I realized my pursuit to become a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation wasn’t a decision that best fit my family dynamic.
I saw a need in retail to fulfill a gap in the gift packaging industry, which would enable me to express my design aesthetic along with my business acumen achieved as an administrator. The idea to create gift packaging for men was birthed through a desire to send my husband (who was away on Father’s Day for military training) a gift that expressed the love and appreciation my children and I felt for him. I didn’t want my husband to open a plain box, as this would diminish the experience and appreciation I wanted to convey. The gifts being sent needed a “final touch.” I couldn’t find anything on the market that paralleled the sentiment that was felt — I knew I couldn’t be the only one.
I began to hone my skills, both as a designer and a business owner. I actively went into the community and conducted surveys for my products to test the receptivity and determine whether each could be a viable product. My research showed that the gift packaging industry had a lot of untapped potential as it related to products that cater towards men. The retail market caters to the dominant consumer, which are women, but what about the men who women frequently purchase gifts for? I found I might be on to something with a product that could enhance such gift-giving experiences.
I began to attend business seminars and spent a year administratively structuring and setting the foundation for my company, Regnum Mentis Designs, LLC. I filed for a design patent and established my business as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and worked to obtain Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business certifications.
My dream of becoming an entrepreneur is now a reality and modeling a path of success and determination for my sphere of influence for which I’m most proud.
Overcoming the hurdle of building brand awareness within my community and the overall task of marketing my business has been the biggest challenges I have faced.
I tend to be more introverted, and it has taken some time to become comfortable with networking. I now attend events, which create opportunities to establish new business relationships and recognize my resources and abilities are limitless. I refuse to put titles on myself that would confine or would limit my ability to grow as an entrepreneur and individual.
Running a business can be time-consuming and requires consistent time management. I love to travel, and it has certainly taken me to several different places over the last few years, which as a homeschool parent I must manage very carefully. Entrepreneurship takes a lot of work, but it also provides great reward in terms of the flexibility of time.
Surrounding myself with wise counsel has helped me tremendously. I enjoy being surrounded by like-minded individuals who also desire to continue to learn, teach and grow, as this inspires me. I am also a lover of the arts, so immersing myself amongst other artist and creators also encourages me to continue my journey.
Remember to honor the life that you have been given and take time to rest, meditate, and reflect.
Retired business consultants and strategists that know the ins-and-outs of pitching products, sales, business contracts, and simply a fresh voice of reason help me to make decisions that are pertinent in the growth of my business and taking on new clients. They ask the hard questions such as, “do I have the capacity to fulfill every order that comes my way,” and whether it’s wise to just say, “no,” or, “not at this time”. Also, they remind me to seek out legal counsel if new ventures present contracts and new partnerships. It is important to solidify the structural foundation of a business—establish a B.A.I.L. team (banker, accountant, insurer, lawyer). This will set a course for success.
Today, I desire to continue expanding our company as a manufacturer of goods within the gift packaging industry. I am currently scaling my business and establishing business-to-business relationships through programs such as Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), SCORE, HSN, Women’s Leadership Live and many others. My ultimate pursuit is to build a substantially self-sufficient company that will spearhead the development of a resource community to educate, equip, and empower low-income families to provide for their families without the need of government assistance.
ADVICE FOR FELLOW ENTREPRENEURS
1. The word “NO” doesn’t determine your fate. Keep going.
2. Be consistent. Daily work towards your goals and focus your attention on where you want to be in the growth of your business and you’ll get there.
3. Celebrate the small victories. Take a moment to celebrate progression and soon you’ll be climbing mountains not just the hills.
4. Just as Janice Bryant-Howroyd says, “Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally.” Stay true to you; don’t compromise your moral foundations.
5. Cultivate a healthy balance between work and family.
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
7. Help someone along the way. In some way or another be a source or resource of help to others. Don’t be afraid to network, it may help you or someone else.