We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Shawonna Coleman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Shawonna, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work life balance has always been something that I’ve struggled with which is even more difficult having a full-time career and being a full-time entrepreneur. I have managed to put myself on a schedule and use my calendar although that doesn’t always work, but it does set boundaries. I sometimes still find myself pulling all night work sessions and taking cat naps in the late afternoon to wire back up for an all night work session. Many people would think it’s absurd, but my business is my passion and I don’t see it as work. It’s actually therapeutic and I often times view it as a balance to my full time job. Recently, I took the time out to seriously schedule how I would work around life and work as well as insert self-care days and although it was weird for me to not be available to others, it was relaxing for me. After experiencing that down time, I realized how important it is to have work life balance especially realizing that working so much makes me miss out on the little things in life like engaging with my friends and family.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I like to consider myself a serial entrepreneur. Of course, I didn’t set out to have several businesses, but it happened. Eclectic Educational Solutions laid the foundation for me with business. Eclectic Education focus on all things education, but mainly supplying resources and professional development to educators, schools and districts and program development through immersive experiences. Having had the opportunity to work on both sides of the education sector, I’ve learned that there are deficits in some areas, with two being immersive experiences for students and resources for teachers. With identifying these things, I decided to create a solution. That solution was launching a program that bridges the gap of the unknown, overlooked and prior knowledge of students and under-served communities with the business community to form a partnership with local schools. In addition to programming, I am most proud of my personalized boxes. I launched The EduBox as a resource box for educators, but have since grown the business model to include personalizing boxes for Dance Teams, Non Profit Organizations and individual businesses and entrepreneurs to enhance their brands and create an amazing unboxing experience. This side of the business not only helped to introduce a product, but also evolved into business formation and consulting. As with any business, there are ups and downs and it’s not always easy. I have had obstacles such as delayed shipping and other small issues. This sometimes causes for improvising and simply filling in gaps. The goal however, is to always be professional and give clients/customers an experience that will ensure that they will recommend you and return. Throughout my journey, I have learned to not put myself in a box, but to always be open to change and expansion in different directions. My brand was derived from my passion and I allowed it to grow despite fears and in the process I realized that although there are other businesses similar, my brand is unique and serves who it is suppose to serve. I strive everyday to be better than the day before and finds ways to improve and to step out of my comfort zone. Building an empire takes time, patience and a team who supports you. My brand would not be successful without my team and those that support me and believe in me, especially clients and customers.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had friends visiting the area, I would want to take them to a few places. We would definitely have to visit Siva’s for the vibe, Cirque to grab daiquiri’s, The Crab Pot to eat some amazing seafood, The Nook to grab a fishbowl, Boogalou for the swings and food just for the ATL experiences. It is a must to be immersed in the culture here. Pre Covid, a visit to the National Center for Civil and Human ights and MLK Historical Park, catch a Braves game for the experience of The Battery and of course depending upon the season going to a Hawks or Falcons game is always fun. We would spend some time in Piedmont Park, go to the Coke Factory and and even take a hike up Stone Mountain. One of the days I would take them to My Fair Sweets for dessert and on Sunday we would close out the week with church at The Outlet Community and brunch at Copeland’s! All of these places and things to do would give us an action packed week, but the goal is to allow them to experience ATLANTA and to see what the city has to offer.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to first acknowledge GOD! Through a relationship and many days and nights of prayer, he has set my path before me, made a way out of no way and placed amazing people in my life to help guide me. I would not be successful without him. One of those amazing people was my grandmother, Alice Jaynes, who instilled in me to “love me some me” and always make sure that whatever I’m doing makes me happy. She supported me and loved me in unimaginable ways. I also have to acknowledge that my family helped to shape my views of the world by introducing me to experiences outside of my community and state. Other than family, I have a dream team! My friends and mentors, Jami Pettway and Curtis Armour have always encouraged me to keep going and to think outside of the box. They are the reason why I explored opportunities outside of the classroom and they continue to help me mold my vision and keep me on track with my goals both professionally and personally while also being sounding boards for literally everything that I do. I must also recognize Shalonda Spencer and Brandon Graham. Shalonda is my prayer warrior and consultant. She is always a cheerleader and amazes me with her thought leadership and skills that she lends to me often. She always challenges my thoughts and ideas and won’t let me settle when I have specific goals and desires. Brandon and I both transitioned to entrepreneurship together and played intricate roles in one another’s businesses. He was there to help me think through challenges from different views. All of these wonderful individuals have played huge roles in my success, but the most important role has been my prayer life and all of those who surround me that are consistently in prayer with and for me. While it is those close to me who encourage me, it’s those who support me that make me successful. In closing, I must recognize the school districts, administrators, teachers, sorority sisters and other individuals who support my businesses, because without them there wouldn’t be success and for them I am grateful!
Brandon Graham- The Divine Agency Cory Clark – Cory Clark Photography
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