entrepreneur

Shawna Whitehead Works for Workplace Diversity

Shawna Whitehead has always been an entrepreneur, motivated to make her own path. With a bodacious and outgoing personality, she has a way with people and has dedicated her time to improving the lives of others. In the past, she ran a daycare center, beauty salon, nail salon and recruitment center, but it wasn’t until two years ago that she founded the company that brought all of her passions together. That company is called Destined to Succeed. Her newest business trains people in cultural diversity and job preparation to help them adapt to the workforce. More than that, Whitehead structures the programs to help people find what they are “destined” to do.

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The idea to train people in cultural diversity came from Shawna’s personal experience in 2015. When she applied for a human resources job at Northwestern Mutual, Whitehead understood her audience and specifically dressed the part. “My hair was professional, I had my French manicure, short lashes; I had my gold teeth, but I had my suit on,” she explains. The image she put on for the hiring manager was far from how she usually chose to express herself, but she knew she had to appeal to a corporate team. Even with her efforts, her recruiter told her that she likely wouldn’t make it to the second interview because “you have gold teeth. You do not look like our demographic.” Whitehead felt belittled by the situation and chose to pour her frustrations into helping others navigate diversity challenges in the workplace.

After starting Destined to Succeed, she hasn’t looked back. In addition to cultural diversity workshops that teach people how to communicate with others from different backgrounds, she offers certifications for corporate etiquette and customer service. The company also assists people in getting their GED, aids in job placement and hosts mock job interviews. As if that wasn’t enough, Whitehead instituted her Pipeline Program, which helps those coming out of prison to re-enter society and find work.

The Pipeline Program gives previously incarcerated men and women a chance in the job market, especially when there are few resources available for them when they leave prison.  Whitehead was tired of seeing these people in her community struggle, so she began enrolling them in a two-week job preparation program. She contacts local employers that are looking for new hires and are willing to hire these potential employees the moment the program is finished.

Whitehead is not only changing the lives of the participants in the program but is encouraging workplaces to hire previously incarcerated people. She is fighting the stigma associated with incarceration by showing companies that these are hardworking people and they just want to get their lives back on track.

These programs barely scratch the surface of what Whitehead has done to effect change in the city. Her other two business ventures called Second Chance Transportation and her Christian talk show “Walking in Your Destiny” contribute to the work she is doing to give the underrepresented an advantage. And she’s not stopping there.

Read the article in the Shepherd Express.

James Arms on a Mission to Improve Milwaukee

To make an impact on our communities, the first step we must take is to show up for the causes we care about, but James Arms took his passion for helping others a step further: He structured his business to work with companies whose missions involve improving Milwaukee.

Arms is an entrepreneur who has worked from the ground up to grow a successful graphic design and video business. Having lived in Milwaukee his whole life, Arms has been frustrated with the issues Milwaukee carries like inequality and segregation. So, his solution was to use the skills he learned to offer promotional materials to organizations that need assistance with outreach.

Arms grew up in central Milwaukee on 28th Street and began his career on the press floor at Quad Graphics. In those early years, he remembers traveling home from his factory job and being laughed at because of his dirty clothes. One day, Arms walked past a neighbor sitting on his porch who told him to ignore the insults and continue to work hard. The man said his hard work will be worth it. Arms remembered those words and held onto them when he needed encouragement.

Keeping that work ethic front and center, Arms eventually worked his way up through the company, taking every opportunity he could to learn extra skills and ask questions. In 2005, he left Quad Graphics to start his own business with the help of Debbie Lassiter, co-founder of the Convergence Resource Center (CRC). The nonprofit is focused on helping women in human trafficking find resources and now works nationally to help the cause. But at the time, the organization was new and in need of funding. Lassiter and Arms connected and built an image for the organization that showcased their dedication to the victims of human trafficking.

Arms was inspired by Lassiter’s vigor for her work and made it a goal to put that same energy into showcasing the CRC. In that process, he created his first logo, along with other promotional materials like brochures, print materials and videos. Everything he was creating was aimed at finding donors that would help the CRC with the funding it needed.

Early on, Arms learned the importance of connecting with his clients and understanding the problems they are working to solve. “You kind of just connect with the pain that they feel for what’s going on in the city,” he says. That connection is what gives his promotional products a strong message, helping nonprofits attract supporters.

Arms’ company, JL Promotions, continues to grow, and before accepting any new work, he asks himself, “Is this going to help somebody?” Since 2005, he has aided countless nonprofits by building an image for them that demonstrates the work they are doing for the city.

You can learn more about JL Promotions by visiting jlpromotionsonline.com.

Read the article in the Shepherd Express.

Moxxy Group

If you need a kick-ass marketing strategy and someone to tell you the truth about your business, then call Katherine Juergens and Alice Stephens of Moxxy Group. Katherine met Alice after working together at Aurora and after deciding to start her own business, Katherine founded Moxxy Group in February 2017. These two complement each other's skill sets perfectly. While Katherine is the creative big picture thinker with grand ideas and ambitious goals for the future, Alice keeps clients grounded by focusing on building long term marketing strategies that best align business objectives and the road map for getting there. "What we can bring together is a really cool combination," says Juergens, "plus we happen to represent two industries that are massively underrepresented by women.” Katherine brings more than 15 years of health care industry experience to the table while Alice is equally as knowledgeable about the financial services industry.

Having worked in corporate companies for most of their careers, the two women offer a different perspective to marketing, which is the opposite of corporate America. Juergens and Stephens know first-hand that corporations spend millions of dollars on research trying to find out who their consumer market is, when "it's really quite simple," states Alice. "It’s just not simple to the people who are cutting the checks in leadership positions for a lot of these corporations. And that is a huge problem. A lot of what we do is bringing that customer voice to the forefront.” Moxxy Group works with senior leadership teams to develop a marketing plan that is actually relevant to the consumers, who in these industries are majority women. When proposing necessary improvements, they don't hold back and explain the reality of the company's product. Katherine attests, "My reputation was the girl in the room who is going to say what everybody is thinking but nobody says." And that was the driving idea that motivated her to start this business.

This dynamic partnership works with an array of companies internationally but many of their clients are also based in Milwaukee. Both women have lived in Milwaukee for over 20 years and in that time, they have seen the increasing development of small entrepreneurs. From their perspective, the Milwaukee entrepreneur is unique because they are more vested in developing an idea versus using it as a financial element. They are seeing all kinds of extraordinary ideas pop up around Milwaukee but these inventors don't know where to start and "that's where we come in and help," says Alice. The Moxxy Group feels they are among these start-ups, looking at things in a fresh new way.

A large motivator for Alice and Katherine is girl power and they want to share that message. "We have both lived and grown up in industries where there just is not enough girl power," says Alice. Applying that experience, they make sure to keep a balance in their marketing strategies to ensure all potential clients are being reached. These two have a passion for Milwaukee and are using their unique point of view and no-nonsense attitude to make big changes in this city.

To connect with Katherine and Alice, visit their website: www.MoxxyGroup.com