Nothing is permanent. The world has survived pandemics before and again, while some people and businesses will suffer misfortune, new industries emerge amidst the unfortunate circumstances. It reminds me of seasonal change, like in the fall, the leaves fall. In the winter, animals hibernate and, in the spring, buds blossom. This season of uncertainty shall pass and hopefully, we will all learn much from the epic experience and welcome rebirth.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dawn Kelly.
Dawn Kelly is CEO of The Nourish Spot Inc., a healthy food and beverage quick-serve small business in the heart of Jamaica, Queens, NY. The family-owned business, established in March 2016 and opened in September 2017, offers a customizable menu of natural juice blends, mixed fruit cups and bowls, Greek yogurt parfaits, salads, immune-boosting shots, smoothies, wraps, a variety of non-dairy milks, herbs, nuts and seeds, nut butter, and protein powders. The Nourish Spot, recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as microbusiness of the year is owned and operated by Kelly and her young adult children (co-owners) who partner with community-based agencies to provide culinary internships to train, mentor and hire young people from the surrounding community.
In September, 2015, Kelly’s role as department vice president at a Fortune 100 financial services firm was eliminated after a nearly 16 year tenure. Kelly was 53 years old and she says she was caught completely off guard because, in her opinion, she had never failed before and she viewed the elimination as failure. Having worked her way up the corporate ladder from humble beginnings as a secretary at AARP to a senior role over the course of a 30+ year career, Kelly had never experienced job elimination, firing or any type of job loss. Truth be told, her personal wellness had begun to deteriorate because of the consistent stress and extreme weight gain. In fact, over the nearly sixteen year, Kelly gained more than 40 pounds and began to experience health challenges. In late 2013, she began juicing and changing her diet. After grieving for her coveted role, Kelly began praying more than usual and is convinced that she was led by her faith in GOD to open The Nourish Spot Inc.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Besides scriptures from the Bible, the book that significantly impacted me was Miss Jessie’s : Creating a Successful Business from Scratch — -Naturally by Miko Branch. I read it, while managing my grief for the loss of a role I thoroughly enjoyed for nearly 16 years. I was inspired to leap out on faith and pursue the idea of establishing The Nourish Spot, Inc. I believe the book resonated with me because it provided lessons learned and it described the pivots the family had to make to become successful. The book also resonated because I could relate to the author, a black woman like me.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective, can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1. Although this pandemic has proved extremely dangerous, more people are learning that a healthy diet & proper nutrition can help them stave off and eliminate diseases, illnesses and viruses. As a healthy food & beverage haven offering a customizable menu during these unprecedented times, what’s heartening and gives us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel is more individuals are learning of The Nourish Spot and taking advantage of our menu. All over the internet and social media, people are seeking holistic remedies to inoculate themselves against the virus and since we offer much of the produce, herbs, and teas, we believe that the tide is changing and more people than ever before will choose healthy fare over quick grab and go less nutritional items.
2. An audit of social media provides data that most individuals are gaining clarity during these mandated quarantines. Most will emerge very clear about what’s important and they will be way more prudent about how they consume and how they spend their time. A customer recently told us that after a visit with their primary physician, they are adamant that their diet must change in order to remain alive and vibrant.
3. Nothing is permanent. The world has survived pandemics before and again, while some people and businesses will suffer misfortune, new industries emerge amidst the unfortunate circumstances. It reminds me of seasonal change, like in the fall, the leaves fall. In the winter, animals hibernate and, in the spring, buds blossom. This season of uncertainty shall pass and hopefully, we will all learn much from the epic experience and welcome rebirth. Businesses have had to evolve. Sneaker brands, like Nike and car companies, like Tesla, and major fashion brands, Christian Siriano are fulfilling urgent need for masks and ventilators.
4. Small business in the U.S. is identified as the country’s economic engine. To me, the light at the end of the tunnel includes the realization that expanded numbers of people will now understand the huge benefit of small businesses make to the American economy. More folks will understand why it’s important to support and shop small. In fact, according to the SBA, in the U.S. there are 30.2 million small businesses. These businesses represent 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses and they employed more than 47.5% of the private workforce in the U.S. and account for 1.9 million new jobs in 2017.
5. Successful business-people will emerge even more persistent and understand that even in dark days its uber important to be optimistic and persistent. Small business owners who emerge will have learned new tools and strategies to engage and captivate their customers and audiences in order to solidify the customer relationship.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Listen closely. Listen more than you speak. Be encouraging and empathic.
- Walk a mile in their shoes. Try to see the world from their viewpoint before offering advice and counsel. Ask clarifying questions. Ask them what assistance they want or require.
- Be sensitive when offering feedback.
- Provide relevant guidance
- Make introductions to people in your network
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Prayer, meditation, and rest. Encourage yourself. Listen to uplifting music, specifically gospel. Start a gratitude journal.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I have three quotes — ‘You are what you put into yourself’ , ‘Winners don’t quit on themselves’ and ‘The early bird gets the worm!’
My late grandfather used to always tell my siblings and I that last quote. It’s ingrained in me and I get up early to get after my life. I am first born and honestly, have always tried to get after things as early as possible. I like to get everywhere first, early so I can achieve my goals. As an adult, I often get up early in the morning, sometimes at 4 am to send emails.
I felt defeated after my coveted role was eliminated and grieved probably way too long. I also was despondent because I was loathe to put my livelihood in the hands of another but all I knew, up to that point in my life, was how to be an exemplary employee. How to leverage my skills and abilities and work and win on behalf of big business.
I wouldn’t get out of bed because I felt that I had failed until my 26 year-old daughter, Jade, gave me a stern pep talk that infuriated me but made me remember that I was a fighter and an overachiever. I remembered that I was trained to make things happen and only losers quit. I got up that day and prayed. I got up that day and realized that I was free to do anything and become anyone I wanted to be if I was willing to muster up the courage and the fortitude.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would start a movement to eradicate the isms — elitism, racism, and sexism. This coronavirus pandemic has shown us that we are the human race and no matter our station in life, ultimately we are all the same and have to face the universal truths — life and death, and no matter how much money, or your race or your gender can change that. The isms only divide us and make us weaker.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Readers can follow me on Instagram: @prmaven17 and @thenourishspot
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!