Meet Our Entrepreneurs

Jeff Easley

Jeff Easley

Full Sport Press

Jeff Easley was great at his job (crushing it), but when the economy took a hit he was let go. Walking out to his car he had a revelation –

He would give himself his own job because he would NEVER fire himself. And just like that, he was on his way to becoming an entrepreneur.

Jeff is now the co-host of the Full Sport Press podcast, a weekly podcast for all the consummate sports fans out there. His podcast covers all sports news and events, so you’re never out of the loop! He is his own boss and gets to do what he loves!

Taking the leap to being your own boss can be a bit intimidating at first. Jeff wanted to make sure he was asking the right questions and had all the info he needed first. “The Academy answered all my questions, like ‘what’s my legal structure?’ and ‘how do I market my business?’. Plus it was actually affordable!”

Adrienne Bowling

Adrienne Bowling

A1 Mobile Notary

One of our graduates, Adrienne Bowling, recently reached out to let us know that she has more than doubled her income after graduating from The Academy and starting her business, A1 Mobile Notary. We were over the moon to hear about her growth.

When we asked her what the increased income meant to her, she shared this:

“My daughter is five years old, and I am her sole provider. In the midst of such a challenging year – when it seems like everything has gotten harder – doubling my income has meant stability for me and my daughter. It has felt like God’s care for us, and it has removed so much of the pressure of the day-to-day.”

Marcus Buggs

Marcus Buggs

Coneheads

Marcus Buggs is a 2016 graduate of The Academy. As a Nashville native, he has a passion for connecting new residents of the city with historic Nashville food in a way that brings the community together. He embodied our “Start Small and Start Now” philosophy by launching a catering business to test his recipes and grow his clientele.

After growing his business organically for a few years, he launched his brick-and-mortar restaurant, Coneheads, on Dickerson Road to rave reviews.

It’s going so well (even during the pandemic) that Marcus paid it forward and covered the cost of five food entrepreneurs to go through The Academy.

Honey Simmons

Honey Simmons

World of ReptiGurl

Our Academy Alumna, Honey Simmons, has created quite a unique mobile business: a reptile and insect petting zoo! World of ReptiGurl started as a passion project and after much encouragement from friends and family, Honey enrolled in The Academy and took her love of animals and children and turned it into a successful business!

So what does the World of ReptiGurl actually do?

“We bridge the gap between the natural world and urban world by teaching about reptiles and insects and how they are vital to our ecosystem and life. We have shows, animal encounters, and community outreach opportunities everywhere we go.”

Honey absolutely adores sharing her animals and vast knowledge with those around her. She offers private event bookings for things like birthday parties, and also does pop ups throughout the community. She loves to see people’s reactions when she does her thing, and when they get to meet her animals.

Since turning her passion into a consistently growing business, Honey has learned and experienced a lot. “The Academy taught me not to sell myself or my business short, to see the worth in it and believe in it. Without The Academy, I wouldn’t be where I am now in my business, nor would my business be as successful as it is today.”

To support the growth of unique and valuable businesses like Honey’s, consider investing in Corner to Corner.

Grace Kelly

Peacock Apothecary

The Peacock Apothecary

Grace Kelly loves to help people heal. As a nurse of 20+ years, she has dedicated her career and life to helping others. But at home, she saw her daughter and husband suffer ongoing skin irritation, and the store-bought stuff just wasn’t helping. After she read the ingredients in the products they were using, Grace decided to ditch the chemicals and start making all-natural skincare products to heal her family. Along the way, a business was born!

Grace says starting The Peacock Apothecary was like “answering an inner calling I have felt for a long time, and I was tired of working in corporate America. I didn’t want to get old and regret never taking the chance.”

In order to take her business to the next level, though, she needed some help. That’s where The Academy stepped in. “The Academy broke down the behind-the-scenes processes that are necessary when owning a business, such as a business plan and how to define my target audience. It also connected me with other business owners, many of whom I am still working with today.” 

With a growing list of clients and AMAZING products, she most recently launched her storefront in Murfreesboro. In addition to Grace’s holistic products and natural remedies, she also hosts eight other small local businesses by providing them a space in the storefront to house and sell their products.

Ja’Quesa Hayes-Finney

Ja’Quesa Hayes-Finney

GlamHER Hair Addiction

We recently had an Academy Alumna reach a HUGE career milestone that we were all so excited to celebrate!

Ja’Quesa Hayes-Finney began her journey when her daughter began showing signs of eczema on her scalp, which caused hair loss. Doctors wanted to prescribe steroids, which could potentially lead to even more hair loss down the line, but Ja’Quesa was determined to find a more natural, longer-lasting solution for her daughter. From this quest, GlamHER Hair Addiction was born in 2019. This all-natural hair care line focuses on helping women of color with hair loss and moisture retention and uses products like aloe vera and natural oils for a healthier scalp.

In June of 2021, GlamHER Hair Addiction products became available in Walmart! You can find the Deep In Her Conditioner and the Leave-In Her Daily Glam detangler online, and check out her website for ALL the raving testimonials about these products!

To support our incredible Academy Alumni as their businesses expand and grow, please consider becoming a monthly or one-time donor. Invest in our neighbors.

Micheala Angelena

DrawnLovely

DrawnLovely

Micheala Angelena, the founder of DrawnLovely is an entrepreneur and a visual artist who currently loves to work with acrylic paints. After graduating from college with a degree in business, she enrolled in The Academy.

“It took a lot of the concepts I learned as a Business major and helped me actually apply them to my business.”

In 2019, she put on her first solo art show titled Beauty Supply. She created art pieces that represented everyday beauty items and paired that with highlighting Black-owned beauty shops across the country. The cumulation of this resulted in the Beauty Supply art show.

“Projects like this are extremely important to me because I believe that in a world that tries to shrink and shame us, we should celebrate our beauty, creativity, and ingenuity. That’s why it was so important for me to contact these stores and share them with anyone I could reach. Their feedback and appreciation are what encouraged me to continue these themes throughout my work. I definitely plan to do similar projects on a bigger scale in the future.”

More recently, she has launched her first-ever online print shop! Throughout college, she would sell her artwork to friends to help support herself. Once she started to see her artwork decorating dorm rooms, though, she realized she wanted to share her creations with others, and make her art more accessible. As a result, DrawnLovely.com was born, and she’s even added clothing merchandise, too!

“It’s amazing to see all of the places my art has shipped to. Working on new ideas and getting feedback from my collectors has shown me that I really enjoy creating outside of just painting. This year I launched my first t-shirt and hoodie. I loved every step of planning, from translating my paintings into apparel to designing custom packaging. It’s really grown into so much more than your typical print shop.”

To invest in young entrepreneurs like Micheala, consider becoming a one-time or recurring donor.

Follow Micheala’s story

DrawnLovely.com
Instagram (@drawnlovely_)

Check back soon, we have many more success stories to share!