On slow shifts, I’d pace around the stand, maybe organize the coat closet, notice for the umpteenth time a posted article sharing how this establishment was one of few top tier restaurants to hire black women, realize the agency a non-American such as the restaurant owner with an American dream had over me, a black American girl. So would that make me a bad business decision? And especially when I made mistakes?
This was a hectic time, where I’d worked different temp jobs — from restaurant host to freelance writer to (even) interpreter to admin — and a few times borrowed money from a kind of, at present, estranged parent I’m embarrassed to say. But I’d worked these jobs to pursue my main goal of dancing in New York, as I was a Work/Study at a dance studio where I was also taking classes.
I eventually landed a performance through another dancer I’d met in some classes at the studio.
During this time I had gotten a few wake up calls. I’ll say, rightfully so. You can only run away from yourself until you run right back into…yourself. It’s like the cat chasing its own tail.
My almost tragedy.
Notwithstanding, I also began to see myself as a writer, from the positive feedback I received for the content work I’d done at different temp jobs, writing for a small business and developing content at a tech conference. From here, I connected some of the dots to form a picture, that maybe I had a skill for writing and could do something more with it.
I soon relocated back to Atlanta to start another program that was suggested to me by another dancer. And in Atlanta, where I’d grown up, I had a skill on my hands to possibly make use of. And I eventually did. I am.
This is the context. Now for the story of a freelance writing business I started. The roots are in the aforementioned period, but the seeds I can trace to some experiences in my life.
To this end, let me note this quote said by entrepreneur Steve Jobs:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
I wrote the book “I Eat My Spaghetti with Toenails” as a 5th grade class project. My teacher liked it and used it as an example for the class. I sometimes wonder if I internalized the difficult moments I had as a child through self-expression given the subversive and gross (in my opinion) charm of the book.
As a sophomore in high school, I realized I needed to figure out how to pay for college. As a result, I applied for scholarships, crafting essays and short answers to highlight my strengths. With the support of my guidance counselor and family, I earned a number of awards, and even got a small mention in the local paper with my photo for a scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation I had been a recipient of. My ability to write (along with recommendations and grades) helped me to secure these awards. It was also the first time I’d earned money, in part, as a result of writing.
I studied a language at Howard University, graduating with a degree in French (magna cum laude). This experience allowed me to see myself as a citizen of the world, while also adding another layer to understanding words and the power they hold to communicate. Eventually, I’d like to add something like translation, and work with international companies as well. So it will be great to see where this skill, and continued practicing of it, can take me through writing.
I started to look backwards and connect the dots when I worked different temp jobs in New York. The silver lining is that I’d tried on so many hats, that I’d found a fit through the written word. As a result, I looked at other times I’d been able to write to the benefit of others.
I recount, as I was saving money in Atlanta to move to New York, I’d worked as a marketing intern at an international organization and while there, also had a short contract at the consulate, performing administrative tasks and also drafting summaries and reports, even translating a bit, in preparation for a citywide event called France-Atlanta. I saw there were other times when I utilized this skill, and in connecting some of the dots, wondered if I could start my own business writing for others. Subsequently, I subscribed to different freelance writer and content email lists to learn more.
I moved back to Atlanta to start another program. I also hit the ground running with my idea. For six months, I built a portfolio, reaching out to individuals to interview and created stories from there: sample articles about the Atlanta Streetcar, conducting a scholarship search, and how to turn a hobby into a business.
From here, I started looking for clients through networking events or via email. After finding my first one, a transportation and logistics company, I filled out the necessary paperwork, got a license, and registered my business.
**Published first on Medium**