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Rasheda Kamaria Williams: “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done”

No matter if you’re fifth grader or college senior, you can have an impact. Everyone — regardless of age — has the power to make a difference in the world. The world needs a lot of things. One of the most important is you. As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had […]

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No matter if you’re fifth grader or college senior, you can have an impact. Everyone — regardless of age — has the power to make a difference in the world. The world needs a lot of things. One of the most important is you.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rasheda Kamaria Williams.

Rasheda is an award-winning mentor, author and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl, a social enterprise on a mission to transform the way young people relate to one another and themselves.

She uses the challenges she faced as a teen as the springboard for her lifelong commitment to helping young people cultivate their own personal power.

When classmates called her “weirdo” she could have let their words defeat her. Instead, she embraced her uniqueness and leveraged it to become the influencer she is today.

She holds a B.A. in journalism from Wayne State University’s Journalism Institute for Media Diversity and has extensive training in youth development and interpersonal communication.

Rasheda’s passion and advocacy for community and social change have earned her numerous accolades, including Kumon North America’s “Impact Award” and SASHE’s “Top 10 Companies for Women and Girls.” She also was named one of “29 Inspirational Female Entrepreneurs Who Are Positively Impacting The World.”

A survivor of bullying, Rasheda was featured in Cosmopolitan magazine in the article “Being bullied changed my life.” Her journey from excluded to empowered motivated her to launch Empowered Flower Girl in 2010.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in Detroit in a close-knit community where your neighbors were like family. I was raised in a two-parent household. Well that was until I turned 7. My parents split and I was raised by my single mom along with my older brother. Growing up, I was mature beyond my years and was often told I was an old soul. Life was great for the most part…then came middle school. I was teased and bullied almost daily throughout 7th grade. I was called weird and wannabe. My classmates teased me for being smart, listening to classical music and for speaking articulately. I was often called nerd as well. But middle school was transformative for me. Because of my bullying experience — from excluded to empowered — I developed empathy for others who were victimized. This stuck with me throughout adolescence and even into adulthood. I use the challenges I faced as a tween and teen as the springboard for me to empower and mentor youth.

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?

Marianne Williamson’s The Gift of Change was one of the powerful books I’ve read. This book was the inspiration for my work in the community and was even the inspiration for my TEDx talk “Mentoring Makes a Difference.” The book was life-changing in that it gave me motivation to keep going in the face of adversity. I realized that I have to be as dedicated to love, positivity and transformation as haters are to fear, division and negativity.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

I do, however I’m not sure to whom to attribute it. “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” Some say it was Thomas Jefferson. Other sources say unknown. This inspired me to launch Empowered Flower Girl after years of hesitating. I took a chance, a leap of faith and started in 2010.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?

Ten years ago, I founded Empowered Flower Girl, a social enterprise on a mission to transform the way young people relate to one another and themselves. Over the years, we’ve partnered with schools, community organizations, associations and faith-based groups to facilitate workshops and programs that address bullying, cyberbullying, relational aggression and other social/communications challenges facing youth. More recently, we’ve shifted our focus and are working to empower youth and youth advocates to live above life’s drama to make a powerful difference. I made it my life’s mission to help others — regardless of age — realize their ability to contribute to society in meaningful ways. One of those ways is through mentoring. Mentoring is not the only solution but one of many ways we can help transform the trajectory of people’s lives.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. We just don’t get up and do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

I actually didn’t set out to start a social enterprise. Empowered Flower Girl was curated by the community in a way. I seriously started out just having a vision of writing a book, which I did — but it took over 5 years after the idea was conjured. I literally was thinking I’d write a book and be done. But that’s not what the Universe had in mind. I had been mentoring girls ages 5–19 for close to 10 years. Additionally, at the time, my 3 nieces were in their teens. I figured, I write a book to help them and young people like them who were experiencing challenges fitting in and finding their way. But I started receiving requests from friends who were teachers to come and speak to their girls. I also was invited by the organization I was volunteering with at the time to lead a workshop for girls enrolled in its afterschool program. I realized that I could use the life lessons I had written about in the manuscript as a foundation for workshops and speaking engagements. I filed the necessary paperwork and Empowered Flower Girl became a limited liability company or social enterprise as I call it.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

There are several amazing people that come to mind. What’s really an honor for me is that I am still in contact with three of my mentees — all of whom I mentored for 8–10 years formally and beyond. One mentee, Tiffani reached out to me a few years after we had lost contact. She told me that she was experiencing some familial challenges during the time I was mentoring her. I didn’t know the dept of those challenges, but she told me that having me as a mentor made a huge difference in the way she handled herself in tough situations. She also told me that she aspired to pay it forward and mentor someday. That was one of the most inspiring, touching and moving conversations I’ve had.

Are there three things that the community can do to help you in your great work?

The community can support Empowered Flower Girl’s mission in a number of ways. One, they can follow us via social media to learn about the initiatives we’re working on. Two, for those who are interested in being the change, they can consider mentoring. One in three young people in the U.S. face growing up without a mentor. And finally, they can reach out to us with positive news about young people, especially girls, who are changemakers in their communities. We have a feature in our Be EmPOWERed digital newsletter called “She’s emPOWERed” and often seek submissions.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Some people say leadership is innate. Others say it’s cultivated. I believe that leadership is both. We all have potential to lead and true leaders are those who stand in their calling. Leaders not only have a vision but they also take strategic action to make it happen. Leadership is not doing everything yourself but assembling and empowering the right people at the right time for the task at hand.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • Don’t waste time trying to get everything right. There were times that I missed out on opportunities because I was caught up in being a perfectionist. There will always be room for improvement but there’s no time like now.
  • It’s okay to ask for help. I’ve always had a supportive network of friends and colleagues who’ve offered to assist me. But what I didn’t hear a lot when I first launched was to ask for help, especially financial help. Glad I learned this eventually. I received a 2,100 dollars grant after pitching an initiative during a community micro-funding event.
  • Imposter syndrome will come up. I didn’t learn about this until 3 or 4 years into my work. That feeling of inadequacy is common and many of us let this get in the way of our success. We ask: “who am I to do this?” when really we should ask “who am I not to do this?”
  • Don’t bother trying to do everything yourself. When we’re first starting out, sometimes we lack funding or resources to get everything done. But that doesn’t mean that help isn’t available. I learned about organizations like SCORE which helped me tremendously.
  • Give yourself credit for your accomplishments. I can get caught up in focusing on what I haven’t done instead of reflecting and giving gratitude for the amazing things I’ve achieved. This is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a social entrepreneur.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

No matter if you’re fifth grader or college senior, you can have an impact. Everyone — regardless of age — has the power to make a difference in the world. The world needs a lot of things. One of the most important is you.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I can think of so many from Michelle Obama to Ellen DeGeneres. This is tough. But I would love the opportunity to have brunch with businesswoman and philanthropist Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. She is an inspiration to all of us who have a dream, faith and dedication to making it happen. I not only admire her for being a self-made billionaire but I appreciate all she does to give back to female entrepreneurs and to the community.

How can our readers follow you online?

Website: www.empoweredflowergirl.com

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: www.facebook.com/empoweredflowergirl

Instagram: www.instagram.com/empoweredflowergirl

Twitter: www.twitter.com/efgempowered

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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