Meet Ms. Cara Singletary. A native of Lake City, South Carolina, Cara is the owner of a successful non-profit business that “empowers high school students to act on their dreams and aspirations.” I had the opportunity to chat with Cara on her journey to establishing her business and here is what she had to say:
Please Tell Us Your Name & The name of your business:
Cara Singletary – Dare 2 Be D.E.A.F., Inc.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from a small town in South Carolina known as Lake City. After high school, I left home to attend college. At this stage in my life, I really saw more of the world. I met people from different cultures, learned about different norms, and learned a lot about myself. From there, I joined corporate America and now I live life as a full-time adult. Oh, the joy.
Tell us about your business.
Dare 2 Be D.E.A.F. is a nonprofit organization that I started along with five others from my high school three years ago where D.E.A.F. stands for: dream, educate, aim, and focus. Our mission is to empower high school students to act on their dreams and aspirations. Since our inception, we have hosted three career fairs, awarded two scholarships, along with two college shopping sprees for our top scholarship applicants.
Where did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I attended a leadership retreat in college that put us in a space to brainstorm on how we could change the world. I recall reflecting on my childhood and how I wished kids had access to more resources than what I had. In that moment I was forced to write down what I was envisioning in my head. That’s where the idea of helping kids from my hometown was birthed. From there I enrolled in a 3-semester leadership course that expanded my knowledge of who I was, my leadership skills, and how that would affect the world. It took a few years post graduation before I started taking action towards the idea I initially came up with at the retreat I attended.
What has been your greatest moment of success?
We are still breaking things in within our organization. However, there is one moment that confirmed we were doing the right thing. We hosted a career fair in 2015. Afterwards, a student made a post stating that attending one of the sessions confirmed that she was making the right decision for college. In that moment we realized that we were on the right track.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Most of our marketing is done on Facebook. We inform our supporters of what we’ve done for our community. Most importantly, we show them how their financial contributions are making an impact.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful business owner?
The biggest sacrifice would be limiting the amount of television I watch. I got rid of cable a few years ago. I have a few streaming services but I typically limit myself to watching television only on the weekends. I’ve also limited my use of social media. In addition, I have sacrificed social outings here and there to save more money for my business.
What challenges Have you faced as a business owner?
Putting my vision into words and presenting it in a way that would be acceptable to those in positions of approval. I have a background in engineering so writing is not something I look forward to. However, to be taken seriously I had to sit down and write proposals. Another challenge was not being in the city where my business would operate. That forced me to be extremely organized and ensure that I had the help I needed to be successful. There is no way this organization would make it by myself alone. I have an awesome team that works extremely well together!
What is unique about your business?
We place people that can directly identify with our primary audience. For our first location, all volunteers have the uniqueness of being from Lake City. This immediately creates a connection between alumni and students. They understand the environment. They went to the same schools. This helps us establish a connection very quickly and effectively relate to the students.
If you had one piece of advice to someone wanting to start a business similar to yours, what would it be?
Do your research. Don’t run away from paperwork, it’s a must! Get your thoughts out of your head and on paper. This gives more clarity. Find others that are passionate about your cause and see if they are willing to help with the ground work of the organization along with fulfilling the mission.
How Can You Be Reached?
Facebook/Instagram: @dare2bedeafWebsite: www.dare2bedeaf.comDonate: www.dare2bedeaf.com/donateEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org