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AKA Stella

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What made you take the step to be an entrepreneur after working in traditional settings?

My initial goal was NOT entrepreneurship. It happened unexpectedly. I have had a job since I was 12 (don’t ask, won’t tell) working for some entity or another. Long story short, within one year of working at a new company, I contracted COVID, had a health scare at work, and had a PIP that was rescinded in my traditional setting. After navigating those events, amongst several others, I quit. With no solid plan (I gave notice to my employer)…I was supported in my decision and went on a career exploration journey that directed me to entrepreneurship.

You seem to be a very confident person. What life journeys and lessons did you go through that prepared you to take the leap to bet on yourself?

The confidence is not always there. Hell, I’m terrified! I’m learning so many new things at once. I mess up, and sometimes I get it right. I’m an athlete that grew up in Thrasher Boys & Girls Club, so I’ve competed at one thing or another for more than half of my life. As a competitor, you learn to develop your skills and grit in preparation for whatever comes. It doesn’t matter how challenging the obstacle is; you face it head-on and deal with the outcome. If it doesn’t go in your favor, you get better and try again.

I’ve experienced significant loss early in life as well. Those were tough times. You learn to cope, and hopefully, it’s in a healthy manner. But none of it has taken me out yet. I’m built to win, regardless.

I heard they call you “Stella.” Where did that name come from?

Lol. “Stella” is a nickname a friend started referring to me in college. I was a Junior/Senior, and the younger (legal) people were after me! I began using it as a pseudonym on social media as new platforms were being launched. People began addressing me by the name soon thereafter, and I have used it ever since.

Speak on Next Stop Loading. What got you started on that particular journey? Who have you met so far that sticks out to you? What kind of people do you typically target to interview?

Next Stop Loading podcast is a labor of love that was birthed from me quitting my job, not knowing what I wanted to pursue next in my career, and having the desire to relocate. In the first series, the G[R]O[W] Series, I interviewed Black women between the ages of 28-78 in diverse careers who had relocated across the country over time. The title G[R]O[W] stemmed from forward movement “go, an ode to relocating, essentially encouraging one to grow (evolve) in their beliefs, capabilities, and perceived limitations as they navigate new environments. All, but one of the guests, I had known prior to interviewing them.

Each individual’s story is encouraging and powerful in their own way. The interviews I cherish most in this season were with my Mom (Anita Mitchell) and my former Director (Dorothy Nayles). They are the eldest of all features, so their stories encompass decades of history that reflect how much this country has evolved and how much further we still have to go. It’s truly incredible!

Do you have stage fright? How do you overcome?

Absolutely! And it typically hits 10-15 minutes before I go on stage. I overcome it by continuing to get on stage. I take deep breaths and try to calm myself down. What really works is listening to a song that gets me hyped right before. It helps me remind myself that I’m supposed to be here at this moment.

You interview so many people consistently. What makes up a good interview?

Whew…I’m not a trained journalist, so my feedback is strictly my opinion. I enjoy learning about other people’s stories. I always have. I want to know why you do the things you do and why you think the way you think. So my favorite interviews feel like genuine conversations, which I hope reflects as good storytelling.

Why are Scorpios the best sign?

I mean, why would you even consider anything different? I think our intuition allows us the capacity to be good in any room, and definitely on any boulevard.

Last question (for now, lol): Wassup with the hats? 👀

I love hats! Truly, one of my favorite accessories and staple pieces. So when pondering merchandise ideas, I knew I wanted something that was unique, fly, and spoke to the brand. A black, paneled, corduroy snapback with our inaugural season’s message stitched on the front does just that! It’s a stylish reminder to myself and others to continue to G[R]O[W].