Sunday, April 23, 2017
My grandmother was the first entrepreneur I knew. I never knew her to work. As far back as I can remember she was home while my grandfather worked. She lived in a three-story house with a basement. The second and third floors were for the tenants - there was a full kitchen and bathroom on the second floor. Before I was around my grandmother owned multiple properties in the neighborhood, including the house adjacent to the one she lived in. She also owned and ran a restaurant at the end of her block. She was my introduction to strong, independent womanhood. At the time, I didn't realize that her life was not the norm for black women. Growing up with my mother I saw her go to work every day. She worked for the government of Canada. While working there she started a side business where she did typesetting for a local printer. Her partnership with the printer grew and she eventually expanded her services to include typing, data entry, and teaching computers. She eventually left her day job and opened an office downtown Toronto, starting in a small room, moving to a larger one, and then to a much larger one. I worked for her part-time and she also had other instructors teaching for her. She eventually moved to the United States permanently and was a real estate agent and then broker. These women were my role models. I am so grateful for them. Because they made these things seem like everyday occurrences, like they were not a big deal, it takes no effort for me, now, to believe I can do the same. Our experiences shape us. If I didn't have those examples, what would I have done? What direction would I have gone in? My mother worked with computers for as long as I've known her. It seemed to come easy to me. Was it really easy or did I just have one less barrier of intimidation, of naivete, of the unknown, or any other possible obstacle, to overcome than most other girls? I have strong emotions towards women who are independent thinkers, successful, impactful. Another "aha" moment for me this week was realizing and consciously recognizing my grandmother and mother as role models, and the parts they played in shaping me and subconsciously affecting my psyche. Have to give credit where credit is due.