Read how Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota’s volunteer mentoring program is giving Twyla the support she needs to start a business.
Lots of people have dreams of using their skills to start their own business. Twyla was one of them. But until she connected with Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota’s mentoring program, she didn’t really feel like the dream was possible.
Twyla started braiding and weaving hair when she was 10 years old. She estimates that she has over 30,000 hours of braiding and weaving experience. “It’s a form of art,” she says. “It’s a great way to express yourself.” She also liked being able to do something for other people. “People feel special and happy when I do their hair – and I feel like I’m helping them.”
Twyla had been working at a Goodwill retail store and happened to see some pamphlets about the Goodwill-Easter Seals mentoring program. Before long, she was meeting with Melissa Brandel, Goodwill-Easter Seals’ Mentoring Coordinator.
Melissa met with Twyla to understand what she was looking for. “We don’t match people just to match people,” Melissa says. “We want to ensure it’s a great fit.”
Fortunately the mentoring program had someone who they thought would be perfect as Twyla’s mentor – Trish, who had lots of experience in corporate America and had started her own life coaching business, called Harmonize.
They turned out to be a great team. “Those two are kind of a powerhouse,” Melissa told us. “They’re a good match.”
They started meeting in December. At their first meeting Trish, Twyla and Melissa just sat down in a room together and started talking. “I had a background of who Twyla was, so I just started asking questions,” Trish recalls. “The first questions I asked her were ‘What are your strengths? What differentiates you?'”
They started creating a business plan and looked for funding to help the business get started. Trish also gave Twyla plenty of homework to help her understand exactly what she wanted her business to be and how to make the decisions she needed to make the business succeed. “We started working on how to get ideas out of Twyla’s head so we could create a plan.”
One exercise they did together was evaluating a pricing model for Twyla’s business. Twyla’s focus had been on keeping her prices low. “I asked her ‘how much are you going to charge?'” Trish says. “‘How much are you worth’?” The exercise helped Twyla create a more effective approach.
“It expanded my thinking and helped me understand that I wouldn’t be helping myself by charging the lowest prices,” Twyla remarks.
They also discussed how furthering Twyla’s education would help her business, which led to Twyla’s taking courses at St. Paul College. “Getting complete schooling will help in the long run and give me more knowledge,” Twyla says.
They’re both excited at what they’ve been able to do together.
“it made it feel like it was really going to happen. That we can really make this happen,” Twyla says.
Trish explains that “Seeing Twyla come to conclusions is so fulfilling. The best thing was seeing Twyla come to an epiphany of ‘here’s what I want to do.'”
Twyla’s sold on the benefits of mentoring. She describes how it’s helped her: “When you’re all alone without help or a mentor your dream feels far away. It seems much more possible when you have help.”
And advice to others thinking about finding a mentor?
“For people who have a dream, this is your foot in the door for that support,” Twyla responds. “If you want to go somewhere in life it helps to have a mentor."