The Evolution of This Entrepreneur

Rochelle Valsaint

being family magazine c. 2003

My journey to entrepreneurship began long before I became an entrepreneur. I watched my mom lose her factory career after a near fatal car accident and the closure of the factory at which she previously worked. So when she was awarded financial compensation from her accident, she took it upon herself to start BJ’s Hair Care and Salon.

Watching her balance the demands of business ownership, home, family and community life through my eyes as her child, convinced me that I loved what I thought business ownership brought to her life and ours as a family. It’s what helped us move from a working class family to a middle class family. Her business provided the money for the doctors’ visits and $300 glasses prescribed to me as an adolescent. Her financial contribution complemented what my dad brought home as a truck driver and added some comforts to our lives that otherwise we would not have had access to.

So when I had my first child,  I was shocked when my husband suggested I could stay home with the baby and not return to work, since we could not find childcare that was suitable to his and my liking. I am sure that I looked like a deer in headlights at the mention of this. Prior to that conversation I was all ready to return to work after my 6-week maternity leave. No woman in my family or my life had ever stayed home with the kids, unless there was some government assistance involved. And, I struggled around the idea of being the kind of woman who let a man be the sole provider because I had not seen that in my lifetime.  But, I thought WOW! what a man I have to be willing to handle the financial needs of our family while I stayed home to care for our baby.

Well, we worked out the details and it was decided. I stayed home. However, being a mother and woman of the house only kept my interest for so long. By month 8 or 9, I was looking for my next venture. And, in my mind it was the perfect time to start the entrepreneurship journey I had seen my mother on so many years before.

That’s when my first company, growthspert was born. That was followed a few years later with the work to launch Being Family Magazine, the premiere African-American family lifestyle publication (See the media kit in pictures of this blogpost). Unfortunately, I wanted to launch a print magazine at precisely the time when magazines were making their way to the internet. So, the regrouping put that project on hold. Meanwhile, my second child was born and many family changes were made, including the need for me to get some steady income in the form of a job. After two years of searching and many humbling part-time experiences in between, I landed a job working under the first boss to ever hire me out of college. Here she was at another company 8 years later and she believed in me enough to hire me again! I will forever be grateful for that vote of confidence Jan. I hope I made you proud.

My entrepreneurship journey might have seemed to be over to those only looking with their eyes. But, for those that know me, they know that I was continually looking for the entrepreneurial endeavor that would allow me to do what I had seen my mother do so many years before. And, I was given the opportunity to do that again full-time when I was laid off from McRae. But, I must say how much I loved the entrepreneurial partnership that started that company as well. And, I know that Joe, Mary Chris as well as Pollak, Levitt and Chaiet have all also inspired my entrepreneurial aspirations.

Since that layoff in 2008, I have steadily worked toward, as well as defined my interest and the direction of our company. And transitioning from small business marketing consultant, workshop development and execution with growthspert to meeting my partner and becoming CEO of TWS Marketing Communications and Media has certainly been an interesting ride thus far.

I finally think I have found the right mixture of art and science to make this business effort stick. And, as we continually learn and grow our business, we’re making the necessary adjustments along the way. If you’ve been following us in any way, you’re seeing what we do and our growth/explosion as we are experiencing it. It ain’t always pretty. But, the ride is certainly worth it.

And, as my daughter said to me as I was wrapping up a meeting this morning, “You seem to have a meeting every month,” as she tired of waiting for me, I said to the other women in the meeting, that’s what she’s saying now. But, I relish in the blessing to be creating the life that allows her to say that! And, one day I hope to hear that those meetings sparked something in her.

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One response to “The Evolution of This Entrepreneur

  1. I’m starting to become a real fan of your writing! Love it, love it, love it!

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