Member Spotlight: India Calloway
Founders of Dolly Monroe Beauty Academy
Company Website: https://www.dollymonroe.edu/
Dolly Monroe Beauty Academy offers interactive courses that are informative and easy to follow. Get your license and an exclusive esthetics, makeup, lash, and/or microblading kit that will help you navigate the beauty industry.
India Calloway participated in the Founders First CDC Bootcamp program.
Can you please introduce yourself and your business and the date it was founded?
My name is India Calloway and I’m the founder of Dolly Monroe Beauty Academy. Our company was established in October 2018.
What inspired you to start your own business?
My experience attending Beauty school motivated me to establish my own academy, as I discovered some key components that I was looking for in an institution were missing or not easily integrated into my career path. Specifically, I required flexibility, quality education, and hands-on training to succeed in the beauty industry. Despite searching for programs that offered these components, I found a consistent lack of them across different programs. As a result, I decided to create my own academy to fill this gap.
How has your identity as a Black business owner impacted your journey so far?
As a black woman in business, I faced numerous challenges in the early stages of building my company. One of the primary difficulties was securing funding and receiving adequate support from the community to establish the fundamental foundation for the company’s growth. However, despite these obstacles, I persisted and persevered, refusing to let the setbacks hold me back. Today, I can proudly say that my efforts have paid off, and my company has achieved success.
Can you share any challenges you have faced as a business owner and how you have overcome them?
The pandemic had a significant impact on businesses, including our small business. Despite the challenging circumstances, we refused to give up. With 40 students and 10 staff members relying on us, we doubled down on our efforts, pivoting to a virtual program. To our surprise, this decision proved to be highly successful, as we doubled our revenues that year. Today, we continue to offer this virtual program as a valuable addition to our services.
How has participating in Founders First accelerator program helped your business growth?
I would say strategic planning and forecasting were vital skills from the program that I learned in order to anticipate and adapt to pivotal changes in my business. Initially, I struggled with developing a growth strategy as I had already faced numerous obstacles, which made it challenging to focus on scaling my business. However, my participation in the FastPath business accelerator program showed me that I could persevere and continue to grow. I learned how to develop my team and implement rational systems that enabled us to sustain and scale the business. Today, we’re excited to be opening our second location, a testament to the effectiveness of our growth strategy.
What is your fondest memory from your time with Founders First?
One of the lessons that stood out to me the most during my business education was learning about the different stages of a business, such as the becoming a unicorn phase. I found myself relating to each of the phases that were taught in different ways, and it helped me better understand the growth trajectory of my own company. Additionally, participating in the pitch competition was a significant experience for me because it helped me develop more confidence in discussing my business and growth strategies. Through the competition, I was able to secure funding from the SBA and connect with long-term partners like Chase Bank who will be honoring our company during the next Lightning game in Tampa, Florida.
Can you offer any advice for other entrepreneurs who are just starting their business journey?
Be willing to pivot and shift gears when necessary. Review your strategy regularly, cross your t’s and dot your i’s, and consistently work towards your goals. Don’t be afraid to make changes as needed.
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