Written By Samantha Cee
This week we sat down with the CEO of Kelly's Choice Inc , Edwina V. Willson . Kelly's Choice is a Non-Profit(501C3) organization founded on the premise that all children and adults have the right to live the best life regardless of a mental or physical disability. All special needs children and adults have the right to live authentically and free from negative stigma of what they cannot do. Take a look at our exclusive interview with the rising brand .
Fashion Gxd Magazine : How did the idea for your business come about?
Edwina V. Wilson CEO: Oh I get so excited about this still to this day. It came through a dream in July 2011 when I felt due to the magnitude of the dream that people(caregivers) want to be heard when I woke up out my sleep shaking my husband telling him I need a name, I need a name. He turned over looked at me and said hold up bae, what is going on. I said I need a name because I just had this dream, that I know was given by God and I need to start a organization. He said what was the dream about, so I went on to tell him that I was in a venue, a nice huge venue filled to capacity. I saw wheelchairs, walkers, canes, scooters, etc and those that care for them (the caregivers). I remember seeing 2 speakers at the podium and myself, I remember opening the podium up to those who desired to share their story, journey or testimony. Whew as I was waking up I remember seeing a line coming from the left side of the podium with at least about 50 people without exaggerating (give or take). So what you think bae. He said well I think because of the magnitude of the dream and you seeing all them people waiting to get to the podium, people want to be heard. I thought to myself, I was one of them people and still is, sometimes we need someone to talk to. So I said OK now I need a name. I felt like God game me that dream based off of me raising my daughter Kelly which is now 32 diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other different abilities and me her mother (caregiver). So we came up with Kelly’s Choice named after my daughter Kelly and Choice because we give her choices. I felt like God gave me a double whammy because it was Caregivers and the Differently abled all in one and I was OK with that because it was a reflection of Kelly and myself. Though I didn’t launch for another 3 years the vision stayed true and clear in my mind. It wouldn’t go anywhere so I know it was truly God and I would eventually launch. And that’s where Kelly’s Choice came from.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: What was your inspiration to starting Kelly’s Choice Inc ?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO): My inspiration is one my daughter Kelly where it actually all started and second through the vision of the dream in which I felt I could have a platform where we could let people voices be heard. A platform from my heart of love and care in bringing people together to network and meet one another. I felt like one could be of inspiration to another, you never know what someone is going through and you could be at one of our events we would put on because I knew we would be doing something that someone there could be at their wits end and another person just said something that encouraged another to keep going or to know that it’s ok to feel that way, to uplift and to inspire. I was that person at one time (honestly) I’m still that person. I need to be uplifted at times, and at one point in my life there was no one around so if I could try to change that, then it was truly worth a try. That’s where my inspiration came from, My Journey as well.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : How do you find people to bring into your organization that truly care about the organization the way you do?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO): Great question, when I first started I asked people I knew that I had worked with in doing things with them and helping them. Then I found out about a non profit class at the college here in my area, How to start a nonprofit.” I took the class and one thing stuck out more than other very important things. Most organizations in the first year will lose the people they bring in because they think that friends and family is the right way to go. They said it has not always happened many have said it does. So I thought to sit back the first year and pay attention to what people were doing and not doing. Ha I saw that for me, don’t feel like you have to always go to friends or people you’ve helped for years, just because you were dedicated to them doesn’t mean they will be dedicated to you. So in my first year, I had to revamp after paying attention and I’m so glad I made that decision because it’s very hard to find people to be with you and for you in your vision as you. It’s hard to find people that care as you do. So I had to start talking about my vision and how it all came together and I get really excited when I talk about Kelly’s Choice and at the same time, I’m paying attention to their whole being and listening very close because if I don’t get excitement or something that will punch like character, care, understanding the mission, my purpose then they’re not for Kelly’s Choice.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : What three pieces of advice would you give to others who want to become entrepreneurs?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) :If it’s something you really want to do, you have to believe in yourself and don’t let anyone discourage you from getting it done.
If it’s a dream and most of us dream big, don’t be afraid to step out and do it. Fear will get you down every time but don’t stop dreaming and don’t lose hope. You have to find a way to overcome fear by facing them and just do it. Take action, you’ll be surprise at what can do and successful you can become. Surprise yourself!
Fashion Gxd Magazine :If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : I would use better judgement in choosing the right people.
Fashion Gxd Magazine :What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur ?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : I would say, you need to be focused, you have to at one point in your career invest in yourself and your business or organization and be willing to listen, learn and have a I can attitude.
Fashion Gxd Magazine :What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : One of my biggest failures is not planning the team around me. I learned in not planning for the right team caused me more time and energy in preparation in anything I did within my organization and I end of doing all the work.
Another failure was listening to what I thought was the right people end of being the wrong people because I realized they don’t want to see you get to the next level. I learned to seek advice from business people already doing great things and is very successful because I figure they had to already go through the failures of business and would be able to lead me properly.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : How many hours do you work a day on average?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : Collectively about 10 – 15 hours a day.
Fashion Gxd Magazine :Describe/outline your typical day?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : Wake up getting my daughter together so I will be able to put the right about of focus in my work. I’m always thinking about what’s next and how to do it, how will it affect people in a mighty way, support people, help people or give people a voice. Then I go to check emails and make sure I address them in a timely manner.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : It has been great because they always tell me that they are encouraged by what I do and they’re always there to assist in any and every event I plan. It has made them want to seek more for themselves.
Fashion Gxd Magazine :What motivates you?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : The smiles on the caregivers and individuals face as we welcome them into the Kelly’s Choice family. It brings me joy and keeps me going when they are told they’re being honored or they’re walking the runway of our fashion show. They motivate me to want to do more and continue to be unique and fitting in everything I do for the community in which I advocate.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: How do you generate new ideas?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : Most of my ideas come from my daughter Kelly, what wouldn’t people invite her too, how do I advocate for inclusion, what does Kelly like and don’t like and how do I incorporate it in Kelly’s Choice.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : I had to lose some things and people in order to gain success. I had to incorporate some long sleepless night to get things done. I had to use some of my personal funds to make it happen.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
Edwina V. Wilson (CEO) : In 10 years I see myself loving the experience of travelling with Kelly’s Choice bringing what we do here in Va to the different places for others to enjoy as well. And in 20 years seeing the fruits of labor given to me from the beginning in the dream. When God is in it the only way you can fail is you doing it yourself. So I don’t see nothing but joy, happiness, blessings and overflow for myself and Kelly’s Choice. It’s what I ask for, to see Kelly’s Choice all over the world and not in just where I live. And because I hung in there, I didn’t give up or give in even when I could have walked away not from an excuse but because life is real, and it was a real struggle at some point, I didn’t, I persevered through it all and continued to trust the process, trust myself, believe in the purpose, mission and vision of Kelly’s Choice and for that God will make sure Kelly’s Choice will succeed in everything it set out to do for the community of caregivers and the differently abled. I love what I do and do what I love and 20 years will be a joy to see with more blessings.