As Women’s History comes to a close, we shine the light on three Dayton-area female entrepreneurs in the prime of their careers. During a recent interview, they discussed their roads to success, personal histories and how what they’ve learned can help others.
With a passion for children and a $50,000 gift from her grandfather, Marlaine Jones took a leap and opened her first daycare center in 2003.
She was just 23 at the time.
Earth Angels Childcare Centers now serves 400 children from age 6 weeks to 12 years old at facilities in Bellbrook, Carlisle, Germantown and Monroe.
“It is so satisfying to me. It is what God put me here to do,” said the graduate of John H. Patterson Career Center and the University of Louisiana at Monroe where she earned a degree in childhood education.
The centers offer free transportation.
Jones said her grandfather, the late Frank Jones, was among her chief supporters.
“He just always believed in me,” Jones, who is studying accounting at Sinclair Community College, said. “Anything I said I couldn’t do, he said, ‘Yes, you can.’ He just always had my back.”
Jones’ grandfather died a few months before she opened her business. She said she never forgot the lessons about determination she learned from her grandad, father and grandmother.
“Keep pushing,” the mother of two said. “No matter what else, stay focused.”
Jones ultimately dreams of having Earth Angels Centers nationwide.
“Believe in what you do,” she urged other would-be entrepreneurs. “Educate yourself and stay concentrated on what you want to do.”
Shondale Atkinson Hale aims to help children who are where she once was.
One of five children born to a substance abusing mother, Hale spent much of her childhood bouncing from one foster home to the next.
It seemed an endless cycle.
Her mother would get clean, reunite with her children and then relapse.
"I lived down in St. Vincent Hotel. I remembered living in abandon houses. I had been raped before," said Hale, the founder and CEO of the Mustard Seed Foundation, a home for teen mothers and their children.
She knows first hand that teen mothers are often separated from their children because many foster parents won’t take both baby and mother.
At 17, Hale found herself pregnant, alone and with few options.
“I was so ashamed. I tried to get an abortion. For the first time in my life I couldn’t find that woman (her mother). I played basketball until I was six months pregnant. I was hoping to have a miscarriage and lose it.”
Hale’s daughter, Tarria Taylor, now 19, was born healthy. A child herself, Hale risked losing the baby to the foster system.
She didn’t accept that as an option.
Hale said she was lucky.
Tarria stayed with her father’s family, a family friend years older than Hale.
Hale was taken in by Lucas-Melson, the only foster home in the area for young mothers and their children.
Hale was emancipated from the foster care system at 18, but said she lacked life and parenting skills.
“There was a lot that was missing. I didn’t know anything about paying bills and budgeting,” she said. “I was busting my butt to pay $30 in rent.”
But she had a drive to live life differently than her mother.
She earned her State Tested Nurse’s Aide certificate at Mary Joseph’s Hospital and in 1999 got her Dialysis License while working at Miami Valley Hospital.
When the idea to start the Mustard Seed Foundation came to Hale, she said her faith was the size of a mustard seed, a reference to Luke 17 in the Bible.
She said she fought what she now considers a calling, but eventually ran out of excuses.
Founded in 2007, Hale's Mustard Seed Foundation held its dedication ceremony at its Sisters of the Precious Blood donated home located at 4880 Denlinger Road in Trotwood.
The 10-bedroom residential parenting facility is for mothers ages 13 to 21 who are in state or county custody or who have been referred by other local service agencies.
“You have to be in school or be willing to go to school,” Hale said. “You have to have the desire to want to parent.”
The nonprofit foundation provides life and parenting skill training.
In the past two years, the center has helped 19 families with a combined 29 people. It is also expanding its Kardio Kidz Camp, a prevention program for youth that promotes fitness, leadership, character building and academic enrichment.
A book about Hale’s life written by Shirley Stallworth will be published by Pen of the Writer later this year.
Don’t give up,” Hale advises. “And know that everything you need is already inside of you.”
Credit: Photo by Amelia Robinson
Credit: Photo by Amelia Robinson
Shawon Brown-Gullette knows most people have not heard the word "trichology," the study of disorders of the hair and scalp.
As the state’s only International Association of Trichologists certified trichologist, Gullette has made it her mission to help clients experiencing hair loss.
Gullette has been a practicing trichologist for 8 years and opened The Infinitee Trichology Centre at 5250 Fair Hills in Kettering two years ago. She also owns Infinitee Salon and Spa in Dayton at 3594 Salem Ave.
A hairstylist for 25 years, Gullette began to explore trichology after seeing clients for years battling hair loss.
“Forty million women loss hair each year. We had so many clients saying ‘help,’” she said. “For men, it is sexy when they don’t have any hair. When a women loses her hair, it affects her self-esteem.”
The International Association of Trichologists’ courses were developed at the University of Southern California in the 1970s for the study, treatment and care of the hair and scalp.
Gullette’s office provides hair loss solutions, digital hair and scalp diagnostics and custom wigs.
Gullette said she found help from other women in doing everything from dealing with contractors to marketing.
She urges women to student their industries and pointed to the insight she gained shadowing others in the hair industry.
“I have women who have paved the way and have opened doors for me,” the Patterson grad said. “I hope I am doing it for other women.”