Having dreamed of following in her grandfather’s footsteps, Stephanie decided to study chemistry in pursuit of a career in optometry. Although she realized that it wasn’t the path for her, she knew that she still wanted to help people. A desire to uplift her community by providing jobs, resources and increasing access to opportunities followed her, where she ended up working for a large company – McKinsey. She then took these lessons into her next job where she worked at an organization geared towards helping mothers of color become entrepreneurs. The common thread that ran throughout all of their stories was that of their child’s education — many of the mothers’ entrepreneurial aspirations were created in the hopes of being able to afford better schooling for their children. Which got Stephanie thinking: how could she use her business knowledge to better the education system?
This revelation prompted her to work for two nationally-based education nonprofits, aimed at providing training to teachers for public schools in need. As inspirational and fruitful as the job was, Stephanie was also open in sharing her frustrations. Due to the constant shifts in leadership, she was faced with the never-ending challenge of having to adapt to change stating, “with new leadership comes change”.
These very timely words have come to represent her start at Asutra. Stephanie did not create the business herself, rather, she bought and relocated the business to Chicago in 2018. She had a few Asutra products of her own which she enjoyed, and saw the opportunity for growth — why not try? So, after formally stepping into her role as CEO, Stephanie was tasked with the job of building a new range of products, providing new services and elevating the brand to another level. She saw a brand with great products, but a brand that lacked a strong story to support it. This became one of her missions— to give Asutra life through narrative.
2019 was a big year for Stephanie. After a surprising phone call, she learned that Venus Williams was interested in learning more about the products. Her interest soon turned to inspired action, where she became the part-owner and chief brand officer at Asutra! Within just a year of being open, she managed to secure a celebrity partnership and to relaunch the brand with a fresh look at their brand story, packaging and overall appearance. For this success, she accredits a large chunk of it to luck, but also to her ability to understand and meet her customer’s needs.
As we wrapped up, Stephanie had some advice to share for brands who are looking to expand: make sure to take time to reflect on yourself as an entrepreneur, and on what you’re looking to achieve. Why? You have to know exactly what you want to get what you want!