It's Black History Month, and we couldn't think of a better way to spend it than introducing you to entrepreneurs who are grinding today to make history tomorrow.
Today we're honored to expose you to the social artworking pioneer that is Phelicia "Dee" Deorrah of Dee's Tropical Paint Parties.
Share your journey! How did you become the entrepreneur you are today? Believe it or not, my dream was never to become an entrepreneur because I’d always equated entrepreneurship with difficulty – and that went against my goal of striving to live a life that is carefree. Although I enjoyed the structure that having 9-5 provided (and guaranteed paycheck), I realized that I needed the flexibility to live the life that I wanted, and to live up to my free-spirited nature. In February of 2017, just two weeks after being laid off from my job, I took a pre-planned birthday trip to Jamaica. I fell in love with the island, specifically the beauty and laid back nature of the small beach town, Negril. I never knew how much that visit would alter the course of my life. After that trip, I decided that I would use my artistic gift to travel back and forth to Jamaica - never knowing that 5 months later, I would be creating a business plan and making strategic moves to move abroad in a year’s time and completely reinvent my life.
Dee's Tropical Paint Parties offers fun paint classes (sip and paint style) in Negril, Jamaica. Participants are instructed in creating their very own painting on canvas during an interactive and lighthearted 1.5-hour painting class. Participants have paint party packages to choose from - all with magnificent views of the Caribbean Sea.
Packages are as listed below:
Make and Take (Paint only)
Paint and Pour (Paint and drink specials)
Smoke and Stroke (Paint, drink, and smoke ganja)
What do you do? Are you a full-time entrepreneur, or are you balancing a job and a business? How do you feel about that? I am currently a full-time entrepreneur. Aside from building my paint party client base, networking, forming partnerships, and facilitating parties – I am also a freelance writer. With a background in public relations and mass communications, I am able to assist people with writing projects as supplemental income. I’ve taken on jobs from my circle like creating and reformatting resumes and cover letters, creating business plans, writing reports, proofreading and editing articles and literature reviews, along with writing biographies and short write-ups. I feel very blessed that I’ve been able to tap into my writing skills to make extra money, and although it hasn’t been consistent (yet), every little penny counts!
The first year of business can be the hardest, but the most fun and educational. How was your first year of business? I am still within my first year of business and it’s been a whirlwind! I have a bit of a double challenge since I am a first-time business owner and I have to acclimate myself to a different culture simultaneously. There has been a lot of trial and error, but I am extremely proud of myself for the amount of planning I did before moving. My prior preparation ensured a very smooth initial transition onto the island. The most rewarding part of it all is feeling proud of myself daily for having the courage to actually leave the security of corporate America and chase my dreams in another country.
As the old saying goes, "Never forget where you come from." Where are you from? Has your hometown had an impact on your entrepreneurship journey? Be sure to give a shout out to anyone who has helped/supported you during your entrepreneurship journey. (106&Park style shout-outs are acceptable as well. This is a safe space!) My formative years were spent in Dublin and Macon, Georgia. After attending college at Fort Valley State University, I eventually moved to Atlanta. Every place that I've lived has shaped me - but mostly by pushing me to want more. I appreciate those who've supported me. I have so many people in my circle such as my immediate family, close and special friends, and sorority sisters who've stepped in and held me up every step of the way.
Making history requires making change. How will your business benefit future generations in your family?
I believe that my business will benefit future generations of my family in more of a mental way, versus financially. I hope that the leap that I've taken will show my nieces and potential children that they are capable: They are capable of rerouting the trajectory of their lives, capable of starting over as many times as they need, and capable of succeeding beyond their wildest dreams.
Black culture is often idolized for portraying an image of trend-setting fearlessness. How has being Black impacted your entrepreneurship journey? Being Black has impacted my journey in a unique way, being that I am a Black American living in Jamaica. Deciding to start my business on an island portrays a trendsetting fearlessness to my circle - but on the island, I am a just another privileged American living in Jamaica. I think that my choice to move to Jamaica and start a business here, as a Black American, has humbled me a lot. On the island I am considered to be “privileged” because I am American, and to be honest, in the grand scheme of things, I am. I now know that I am fortunate enough to have relocated to a place where most locals are struggling to make ends meet, and then start a business doing something I love; whereas, most locals make less in one month, than I do by facilitating one paint class in an hour. Being Black has impacted my entrepreneurial journey by placing my life in more of a clear perspective, putting my ego in check, and broadening my horizons. I am now the person that “quit her job and moved to an island”. I am now that person who “started her own business in Jamaica”. I am now that person who “is living her best life”. And I’m Black.
What advice do you have for Black entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a business? The typical advice most people would offer when asked that question is an emphatic “DO IT!”. My advice is to please start writing your ideas down and remember, in the words of Les Brown, IT’S POSSIBLE. Don’t worry about the how – “the how” is none of your business. Start with writing it down and believing that the universe will conspire, and your plan and path will begin to unfold.
The year is still new! What can we expect to see from your business this year? This year you can expect growth. I believe that this is an abundant world, and everything is tangible. I believe that my dream is going to expand in ways I cannot imagine.
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