Finding the Entrepreneurial Spirit0
It’s no secret that we take pride in the success stories of Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) alumni who used The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise) to follow their dreams. This week, we introduce three Promise Alumni who embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and created their own businesses.
A graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School, Imani Watson used The Promise to earn a major in criminal justice and a minor in juvenile justice from Grand Valley State University. It was during this time that her idea for a nonprofit business began to take shape.
“I found out I was pregnant right before my senior year and began blogging about the experience,” she said. “I had a great support system, but it was still hard juggling motherhood and going to school.”
After moving to Atlanta to earn a master’s degree in sociology from Clark Atlanta University, the blog became known as Mommy’s Break. In addition to sharing advice and acting as a network for mothers, Mommy’s Break also holds giveaways for essential baby items.
“The more we support the role of a mother, the more we build a stronger foundation for the family as a whole,” Watson said of her business’ goal.
Using entrepreneurship to support others is something that Watson has in common with another Promise Alumni.
Having been a lifelong student-athlete, it made sense for Mia Leibold to find a career as a movement instructor and health and well-being coach. After graduating from Oakland University with a double major in nutrition and health and psychology, Leibold founded Mia Rose Wellbeing with the hope of inspiring others to care about their wellbeing.
Through her business, Leibold provides movement classes and nutritional support and other wellbeing coaching for individuals, families, small groups, and corporations. These sessions consist of calming movements, educational support on wellbeing, and individual exercises that rejuvenate the mind and body. All programs are created to fit the individual needs of her clients.
“I like to get a timeline of what exercises an individual has already done and what they liked or disliked,” the Loy Norrix High School grad said of her approach. “I want to work with what has been successful in the past and find new ways to approach areas that did not work. It is all about meeting individuals where they are at.
“Knowing something that I have learned and taught is helping better someone else’s life reassures me that what I do is impactful.”
Speaking of impact, another Loy Norrix grad living in Chicago has also focused their business on tackling a prevalent issue in their field.
Using his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Western Michigan University, as well as his experience as a freelance graphic designer, Michael Bruny-Groth launched an Adobe extension designed to expedite the logo preparation process in May 2019. Aptly named The Logo Package Express, this product makes it easy to export logos.
“Every time a logo designer finishes a logo project, they have to send different versions of the file to the client (AI, EPS, JPG, PNG, SVG, etc).” he explained. “Traditionally, this is a manual process where the designer creates these files individually in their design software, which can take over an hour. Our extension makes the process automated and take about five minutes.”
For Bruny-Groth, one of the biggest rewards of running his own business is the freedom that it affords him.
“Thanks to the way in which I am selling my product, I only have to work 15-20 hours a week,” he shared. “The rest of the time, I can explore other interests.”
Each of these entrepreneurs have found success forging their own paths and are appreciative to the opportunities provided by The Promise.
“The Promise completely changed my life,” Watson shared. “I am a first-generation college graduate as well as a first-generation entrepreneur. I cannot imagine where I would be if I did not have The Promise.”
Leibold added to this sentiment. “Sharing what The Promise was to my peers in college, those who were not from around Kalamazoo, people could not believe it. This has been an incredible gift we have in our community.”
Speaking to the baseline of skills that The Promise helped him establish, Bruny-Groth said, “It laid a foundation for problem-solving skills. Having that foundation and higher education in general gave me the confidence to take a risk like this.”
Learning about entrepreneurial endeavors fueled in part by The Promise is inspiring! Thank you, scholars, for taking the time to share your journeys and best of luck with your businesses!