By Leslie Youngblood
Welcome back to Tenacity Tales, our monthly series that highlights the grit and determination of owners and entrepreneurs all across America.
Next, we're hearing from Karen Palka, Founder and Executive Director of A Beautiful Me, a 10-year old non-profit out of Port Huron, MI that provides interactive workshops to foster self-worth in women of all ages. They also specialize in after-school workshops for 3rd-12th grade girls.
At Excelerate America, we've worked with Karen through our collaboration with The Roost, a coworking space in Port Huron's downtown area, and are especially proud to share a little about the incredible things she's doing for her community.
What’s the obstacle that you’ve overcome that you’re most proud of?
Overcome? It’s more like continue to push through. That four-letter word of “fear” that makes me wonder, “Why am I doing this?”. Then the tenacity surfaces.
Over the past couple years I’ve randomly met up with some of “our girls” after they attended our self-esteem workshops. They openly share how the eight hours spent with us, years before, were instrumental in their middle and high school years. Young ladies success > fear.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
It’s going to be hard. Harder than you may have ever known. Hours are going to be unending and you will be told “No” a lot. Did I say a lot?
But - It’s worth every minute. Take business classes for some solid footing. If it is a true passion, you will persevere.
What’s your best advice to other small business owners?
Small business is the epitome of a community. We need your ideas, your drive, your willingness to learn – and collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. It’s not just about you. Together we grow and make a community of game changers.
Get a business coach or mentor, someone to hold you accountable, then be a mentor to someone else. And do things that make you uncomfortable so that you can get comfortable with it. Maybe it’s eating alone at a restaurant, going on a mission trip, or speaking in a public setting (Toastmasters is a fantastic resource to grow).
What’s a typical day like for you?
Alarm around 5:30am. Prayer. Gratitude. Listen to “Our Daily Bread” devotional app. Coffee. Bounce into my “2 Achieve” list.
Each day is different beyond those foundational elements. Sometimes the day is beautifully orchestrated with flavors of creativity and other times it’s typical work stuff: Meetings, office work, phone calls, emails, networking.
Because I love what I do, I have to intentionally add time on the calendar with family and friends. When anxiety heightens, I am aware to schedule another thing I love to do: Exercise. This is a way that my mind releases stress and I often gain ideas.
What’s next for A Beautiful Me?
A Beautiful Me is in its “next” phase right now. As a 10-year old successful non-profit, which has reached over 8,000 girls to build their self-esteem through after-school workshops, we are launching a new program.
This program has been in the making for years and over the course of 16 months, 122 donors helped us raise $100,000 to begin the “A Beautiful Me CLOSET” and “Fly 360”.
Fly 360 a training for teen girls to be confident in business, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy through hands-on experience in a retail store (a social enterprise). A Beautiful Me CLOSET’s pilot retail location and website is scheduled to open November 2018 in downtown Port Huron.
Want more from Karen and A Beautiful Me?
Visit the A Beautiful Me website.