We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Carla “Brandi” Smiley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Carla “Brandi”, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My thought process behind starting my own business emerged due to desiring to pivot during the pandemic and also desiring an overall career change. For over 16 years, I have adhered to the vision of others’ business model and though I had autonomy in these positions, my individual mission and vision was suffocating. I was burned out. In every area of audiology that I have worked in, there were always a common thread–individuals who lacked access to quality hearing health care. I knew that in order to make this access possible, a mobile business model would help break some of the barriers that prevented access to hearing health care. I was determined to design a unique and innovative mobile unit that had never been done in my industry. This was to differentiate myself from the community partners in my area. My desire was to bring the clinic directly to these patients regardless of their socioeconomic status. It was my goal to make their visit an experience by providing services in a warm, inviting, modern environment, filled with compassion, clinical competence and creative innovation.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business starts with my story. I was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of 6 years old. I am forever grateful for the teacher who advocated for me, so I wouldn’t get left behind. That teacher was responsible for me having my first audiological examination during my early childhood years. I knew immediately that I wanted to be an audiologist when I grew up. That passion to advocate for others who may have hearing loss and help break the barriers that prevent access to hearing health care is deeply rooted by my personal experience. I ultimately want the world to know that everyone deserves access to hearing health care. No matter a person’s socioeconomic status, their location, or their insurance coverage, everyone should be able to seek care from a hearing health care professional that they can trust. I built my clinic with these individuals in mind.
Onsite Audiology, LLC is an umbrella of mobile audiology services designed to bring quality hearing health care directly to patients. However, it has unexpectedly evolved to more of a hybrid model–as I now how access to two physical office locations, which has expanded my reach for services. My services include diagnostic hearing evaluations, counseling, cerumen management (ear wax removal), hearing aid selections and fittings, custom swim and hearing protection, 3D ear scans, auditory processing evaluations, auditory processing therapy, school consultations, residential home services, regional training, and much more.
What sets me apart and what I am most proud of/excited about is the fact that I have built the first tiny house hearing clinic on wheels in the world. This trademarked and patent pending 20×8 tiny house on wheels has been equipped with an ADA accessible sound-attenuating booth, modern audiology equipment to provide best practices on the go, a small waiting area and work area. This tiny house on wheels was designed mostly with the pediatric population in mind, specifically those with special needs. The clinic is equipped with mounted monitors and speakers that will allow us to assess students who are non-verbal or who can not perform conventional testing methods. This tiny house on wheels was designed for contractual agreements with larger agencies such as Early Intervention Programs, Head Start and Early Head Start Agencies and schools to provide onsite services to students. For agencies that provide services to a large population of adults such as assisted/independent living facilities, we can also provide onsite services via the mobile unit.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Atlanta is so rich in culture, so let’s plan for the week:
Sat-Sat: Every morning we will work out at Effect Fitness and have a morning juice/smoothie at JuiceHeads ATL.
Saturday: We would spend the day exploring downtown Atlanta
Sites of Attraction: World of Coca Cola, GA Aquarium
Sunday: For an awesome worship experience, I would take them to Elizabeth Baptist Church, eat at Mary Macs Tea Room for Sunday Dinner, later that evening, catch at Sunday night NFL game at the Mercedes Benz Stadium–grab concession snacks.
Monday: Ponce City Market Day–eat and shop (favorite restaurants Tom Tom Ramen and Yakitori and W.H. Stiles Fish Camp)
Tuesday: A Day of History: Tour Sweet Auburn District/Municipal Market and go to the National Center of Civil and Human Rights. Eat inside the Market for Lunch–Go to the Optimist for Dinner.
Wednesday: Wellness Wednesday: We would have facials at Abraza Skin Studio and nails at CocoNails Upscale Salon, Hangout at the Atlanta Beltline (Eateries: Loca Luna or Murphy’s Restaurant)
Thursday: Selfie World, Shopping at Phipps and Fork and Screen Movie night at AMC Phipps (matinee, then have dinner at Nobu Atlanta)
Friday: Sky View Atlanta/City Tour–this is a Vegan Day (Lunch: Slutty Vegan; Dinner: Herban Fix or Cafe Sunflower)
Saturday: Departure Day: Exercise at Effect Fitness, Breakfast at Atlanta Breakfast Club, Head back to the Airport
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people to thank for making this transition to entrepreneurship possible. I would like to first and foremost thank my parents, James and Gladine Spyies. My father, who first spoke life into my vision and gave me the confidence to make it happen. My parents are always so supportive. When I told them my idea and lack of funding, they helped rally multiple family friends to help contribute to the cause while personally investing into the business. I would like to thank my husband Timothy, who has been my rock during this major transition. He has been the epitome of union, partnership, and a pillar of support. To my sister for listening to me ramble on and on about my dreams. To the multitude of family and friends who contributed financially and to my angel investors (Ms. Evelyn (R.I.H) and my uncle Charles Spyies, I am forever grateful for your generous sacrifices. To my aunts and cousins who have supported me throughout this journey, I am grateful. To the colleagues who have encouraged me, sent me patient referrals, given me leads on contracts, I am grateful. To my builder who took a vision that was foreign to him and helped manifest into my dream, to the engineers, contractors, interior designer, and photographer Crystal Byrd, I thank you.
Professional Photos: Crystal Byrd (LoveByrd Photography and Crystal on Brand)