Mel Wright is the Founder and CEO of The Wright Village.
The Wright Village is an ecosystem consisting of entrepreneurs in underserved communities. We are a business incubator and coworking space that fosters culture, connects like-minded entrepreneurs, and helps entrepreneurs with purposing their success. Entrepreneurs can collaborate, be advised by industry experts, learn strategies to drive success and avoid failure, have access to workshops and networking events, and low-cost office solutions to achieve success.
Mia LaMotte 0:00
melas in the mail, I want you to share a part of like your story about who we are transparent here about why or like when I said, Let's do this, like what? Right? Yeah. Tell the people why you would like, maybe.
For one, I don't like public speaking, I do suffer from anxiety. So, when you asked me this, I, you know, I was taken aback like, you want me to do work? You know, and I understand that is getting me out of my comfort zone. And I appreciate that. And kind of pushing you you kind of kept up on me too, because I probably was like, but I was gonna do it. And then I was like, Okay, I gotta be perfect. I gotta be ready, you know? But it's like, what's perfect?
Mia LaMotte 1:00
Absolutely. What is perfect? Like, let's stop chasing that, right? Because there is not, there is no perfection. It's an illusion. I talk about this all the time. I think that a lot of us use perfectionism as a way to procrastinate, or not do something. And once we check in, it's like, oh, you know what, I am just gonna do it. And I appreciate the fact that you shared that you have the anxiety. But you showed up anyway, because that was one of the messages that, you know, we had earlier. It's like, everybody has a fear, but difference between the people with the fear. And the people who show up are the people that are showing up and doing it anyway. Right? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I want to talk a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey, because everybody doesn't know you. They don't know what you've been up to. So give us a little bit of background and then talk about a disruption that happened in your life that made you decide that the journey we're on right now is what you're going to be doing.
Okay. So, as me as I already said, IML, right, the owner of the right village, which is located in Raleigh, is a co working slash incubator for black entrepreneurs and underrepresented communities. We are building a safe space for entrepreneurs providing them the resources and the support needed to pretty much build your business. A lot of us don't have that a lot of us don't have the support. A lot of us don't know where to go for resources. A lot of us spend unnecessary money Hold on a second, I got my phone on the charger. I mean, my laptop, I'm so sorry.
Mia LaMotte 2:40
Hey, we're live. So
what I'm hearing, Mel say while she puts her computer on the charger is that you found a need only wasn't being fulfilled. And so to do something about it, she decided to be absurdities, and creating a space for entrepreneurs to be in to be able to work and to get the resources that they needed to be successful. Yes,
correct. Yes. What may I just said? Yeah. So on top of that, like, well, how I got to this space, I'll tell you that, and then I'll say on top of that, so how I got to the place
Mia LaMotte 3:30
where we want to see you.
Yes, of course. So I moved to North Carolina, back in 2014. from Connecticut. And I know a lot of people don't heard this story. Um, you guys a new guy going on here. But a move 2014 moved here, I started my tax business here, which I still have now. To make a couple extra dollars, I actually started doing a carry women's consignment sale. So I was making money on the weekend selling my clothes, I was making about five $600 when they had the sales within that three days. So I was like, I can make this in three days. You know, I can make something bigger. So one of my friends he was actually he's a barber. He was like he was looking for a space. He's like, Well, you're so close. And I do barber and so why don't we just um, get something together. So in my mind, I'm like, array, but it would have to be a big space, because it really doesn't those two really don't go together. Right? So we're looking in Raleigh, and he's like, Well, I only have this much to spend and I'm like, That ain't gonna get us enough and I'm not putting the rest of the bill. Long story short when I looked at net, found me a space in Smithfield. Mind you I live in Clayton, but didn't know anything about Smithfield for people
Mia LaMotte 4:54
who don't know the geography because this is an international
international Okay, sorry, we beg me International. So Clayton is in Clayton is located in Johnson County, which is a rural area in North Carolina. Next to Raleigh, which is the city. Fast forward, find out a little space 1400 square foot, it was like $600. I said, you know, I can do this because why I'm making five $600.03 days on my clothes. So no resale was really, it's always in big back home. So I was like, okay, I can do this. But the thing is, I didn't know anything about starting a brick and mortar. I didn't know anything about target markets. I didn't know anything about business period, because I mean, I had my tax business, but that was my clients followed me. So there was no marketing needed to be done, I still don't market my business. And I'm good with that. So I did hire a marketing firm, and they helped me a little bit, but the amount of money that I felt like I spent, I didn't get the results. Facebook started doing ads. So I started working the Facebook ads, I spent a lot of money, just needless to say, the door really opened the most when I came in. And when I went out, there was a goodwill on the other backside of the street. And then up the street, there was another thrift store. So there really was no need for my space where it was, but had I had the support, had I had the resources had I had the education, I'm more than likely would not have chosen that location. And I would have done my homework a little bit more to know if this is a lucrative business, which it actually is dependent on your location. So two and a half years in, I'm doing everything I'm having events, sipping sipping shops, you know, at Friday, you can come and have a glass of wine and shop started a program for the kids kids science night, once a once a month, they will pay $1 They get pizza, they have a watch a whole science program get taught one of my friends was she taught science. And they did projects because I wanted to be involved in a community. So in order to for me, it was like to get the community in my doors, I have to involve the community in what I'm doing. I had Christmas pictures, Easter egg hunt. I mean, I did it all in it all. But that still wasn't good enough. So um, two and a half years, I started paying my rent and not paying my mortgage from a home. My thought was if I didn't pay my rent, the landlord could lock doors and they could lose all my stuff. If I didn't pay my mortgage, then it would just take some months before they foreclose on my I had time. So I was working on time. And that wasn't the case, it didn't didn't really work out too much. And I actually went for I went for help from North Carolina housing. And they look at my profit loss statement for both my tax business and the store. And they said, Well, you know, your tax business is doing great. But your brick and mortar, you have to close that because it's just bring you down, I was devastated. I still actually have the name, I still have the website. I don't close it because I feel like sometime in a couple years, I'm gonna end up starting it again. But I Yeah, had to make that decision to like close or lose my home. So I did that. And then that wasn't my that wasn't my end result. Like my my end result was like now you have to figure this out. Because because I didn't know anyone like that. And I didn't really know marketing. I'm a veteran. So I had an opportunity to go back to school. So I did go to North Carolina Central in 2018. I started there as a transfer student I transferred over, I had my associates already. And then I graduated actually in 2020, with my bachelor's in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing, because why I was going to help other entrepreneurs
Mia LaMotte 9:16
who were determined, I was
very determined. I was so determined that I even went to China. So I did go to China to learn about export, import and export, to learn about the different qualities of the material to get connections, because I said alright, I'm probably going to deal with a lot of people that are in retail, and they're shopping, they're, you know, they're doing wholesale let me be able to say, Okay, I have a connection here. You can connect with this person. I saw their quality, you know, it's good. So yeah, so I did that. I definitely did that. Now. Fast forward. 2019 before I graduated, I said let me go look for a space for my time. wasn't because I have a home based business. So I came to where I'm at, and I started space upstairs. And then the property manager was like, let me show you the space downstairs. And I said, Okay, so when he showed it to me, I was like, Wait a second. You mean, I can have a space where I can not only help entrepreneurs, but like, we can actually do it on a mastermind type, feel we can work together, collaborate, help build and grow each other's business. You know, I was like, yeah, no, I want this space. Yeah. So February, he hit me up, and it was like, decent want to space? And I was like, Yeah, I'm gonna get it like, you know, after tax season ends, and I graduate. He's like, Well, somebody else wants it. I'm like, why did he even know about the place? This was taken for years, and now somebody else wants it. So the guy actually that wanted, it was a contractor. And he actually wanted to do the work in here and make it turnkey, and then take two offices, and pay the rent from the work he did. Well, he wanted to charge me about $3,500, just to do the work in here. And I said, Well, let me think about that. I found someone to do the work for 1800. And I told him, Hey, I'm gonna gonna pass. But if you would like to run an office for me, you sure can. I never heard from him again. So fast forward, I'm here, we're going on year two, and June. We're excited for what's to come. But needless to say, like, I want you guys to know, like, if you feel your fear, like just face it, like, just do it, you know, with COVID happening in me having the space, it actually allowed me to slow down and you know, get things going and be ready. But I'm still not ready. But I'm still not stopping. And I'm still going. And Mia could tell you like she's on my advisory board. And she's still not listed. But it's big. Like it's all a work in progress. And I say all that to say that, like, just keep pushing like so. And then you say this about me being a disrupter. Yeah, yeah, that's what I'm disrupting the stereotype. Oh, that's what I was wanting to tell you. So definitely disrupting stereotypes that one, black people can't work together. So in this space, where we're showing, we're proving that it can be done, we can work together, we can work on each other's businesses together. You know, stereotypes that were lazy, we're not, we're not dependent, we're not dependent, dependable, we're not dependable, certain workshops that we are having here that helps you with certain things, you know, getting you motivated. So, I mean, there's so much that we're doing here, and we're providing and building our ecosystem, like, I'm just so excited for what's to come so much, it's gonna come. It's super exciting.
Mia LaMotte 13:11
Yeah, and I love that you took what could have been a devastating thing to you, like losing your other business or closing your other business, because you don't have the knowledge, right? You'd have everything that you needed to have in order to, to create something successful, right? And you're like, you know, what, if I don't have this, and maybe someone else doesn't have it, and you went out, and you're like, I'm going to create this, and I'm going to break all of these barriers to business ownership. People, and I believe that when we come from that place, because this, this is, this is actually been the theme of today, and I didn't even realize that was gonna be the theme when I when I chose who I chose to show up today. But the theme is, is like, if we get into this space of what we're needing, right? Where we believe the rest of the world needs, and we come from a place of service and share that information with them, then that's where we get to be successful. Right? Like, you feel like your soul is on fire. Like you're so excited about this, when you are actually building something totally different from this. Absolutely. Yeah. So I love that. So what what would you say like is one of the most important things that you've learned on this journey of, I mean, you also do a lot of other things like you'll travel anywhere, you'll do a lot of really cool things and things that people might not think that you should, should be doing. What made you decide that, you know, I'm gonna live my life my way. And, you know, like, let's figure the rest of this out later.
Um, I've always been an adventurous person. I'm like, you know, like I said, I went to the military, but prior to that, like I was traveling down here on a Greyhound bus have 14 By myself like boyfriends. They didn't live in my town. I had to travel to see you, you you were you. I was not competing. Yeah, I was a convenience. So I just I love that though I was just like, I love that. And then like being in the military, and I did get married to my son's father. But facing being in that situation wasn't great, because it was an abusive situation. I couldn't do much of anything. And I thought to myself, like, nothing's gonna stop me from doing anything. I want to do nothing. So No Man, No Woman, no child, I have a son, my son's gonna be 20 I'll have another baby and the baby, they're gonna get on my back and come on, or sit right there with grandma. But nothing's gonna stop me. Like, I have so many goals. Like, there's nothing that I won't try. If I if I've never, if I've never done it, obviously, you can try but like at least I'll give it a try. If it's not for me, it's not for me. You know? People, relationships, this is all new to me, to be honest with you, like me building all these relationships with these people like this is new. This is new. I mean, I love people don't get me wrong. I love people. I love conversing with people. But like, actually building that bond and that relationship like, Okay, this is what I'm doing here. This is what I need. Are you with me? Or are you not? You know, like, is your vision aligned with mine? Because you always have to stay true to your vision. You know, everybody has a purpose, and you need to continue to walk in your purpose. Can't nobody changed your purpose? You know, so? Yeah, I have a lot of people that want to be resources for the right village, but everyone can't be a resource for the right village.
Mia LaMotte 17:11
I love that you said aligned with your vision. Because a lot of us do things from a place of this is what I need. I'm not sure if it's the right fit. But I'm gonna do it anyway. Because I needed in this moment. And for you to say, You know what, I had my own challenges. And I'm still going to say no, when the person isn't right, right. And I want to go back to something else that you said. You said no, man no relationship.
Unknown Speaker 17:43
Yeah, he broke up. I didn't hear you.
Mia LaMotte 17:47
You're gonna stop me?
Unknown Speaker 17:51
You're freezing? Is it me? Or is it my weather?
Mia LaMotte 17:57
I think it's yours. I'm looking at my signal. It looks good.
It's everyone actually freezing on your end? Or everyone? Anyone who's
Mia LaMotte 18:05
losing anyone? Honestly, Yeah, mine is a little bit weaker on here. That's fairly good over here. Okay, good. I was asking you to talk a little bit more about when you said no relationship, no man, no child, because a lot of mothers are parents will limit themselves to a life less desirable in the name of their children. So talk to me a little bit about that, or talk to me about how people can get over that and go and do what they're made to do.
Black and it's based off of myself, um, like, children are a blessing. You know, like I said, my son is 20 years old. I do want more, I do want one more. I do want one more child and because that's something that I want. And I have this going on that and I said, if I if this happens, this child is gonna be a part of my journey. And I'm going to show and prove that you can have kids and continue your journey. You make some adjustments. Stop, right? No, there's there's a there's a goal you're in your child is part of that goal. I mean, you're doing it for a reason, you know? So that's why I said no child can stop me. Yeah. If I have to be in here with a bassinet in one of these offices. It has to pop my tibia, the breastfeed, that's what I got to do.
Mia LaMotte 19:47
And but that you create a freedom by being an entrepreneur and that's one thing I want people to get. It's like, you get to create this freedom as an entrepreneur, but even if you worked in an office, like you got to be the disrupter. So be like, You know what, I want to bring my kid in here. And I want like you guys get to either provide childcare, or we're going to be working in his office with the child right here with me. Right? Together. Yeah, love it. As David said, Hi, David thought that was funny. video that's gonna be another thing that we'll we'll do a little talking about. I'm Dave also says that she's fascinated about how Avengers you are male, and are willing to get out go out and experience.
Unknown Speaker 20:32
Thank you, David, but definitely, yeah, and
Mia LaMotte 20:35
what would you say like your adventurous spirit? How has that helped you? Right? And I think you kind of alluded to it earlier, but how has that helped you along your entrepreneurial journey?
Um, you just get this when you are adventurous and you go out you see different cultures, you get to see wares, and there's a need for certain things, get different lights on different different things. I mean, like China, that was just, that was a must do. I think everyone should just go to China. But um, at least once. But I mean, just even going out on my own in the town. You know, you don't know who's going to be there. You don't know who you're gonna bump into. You don't know. If you're gonna feel comfortable, you might feel out of place. I
Mia LaMotte 21:19
mean, as a single woman, you go out on the town alone? Yeah, I don't mind. Yeah. I think the same thing. And I totally believe that if you can't have a meal, or go to the movies, or do something that's typically reserved for couples, if you can't do that, by yourself, you're not growing. So we're gonna invite you to travel, go out to dinner, or go to a movie, like go and do something alone and experience that by yourself. That muscle because we both travel along, we both go out to eat or go OUT out alone. And I've been there movies a bunch of times by myself. It's better than
a movie thing. I probably fall asleep in the movies, but it's, I'm detoxing, so I might eat nothing. But um,
Mia LaMotte 22:12
yeah, it's very free. We're free. And, of course,
I mean, it's just, like, literally, you really have to stop second guessing yourself, and stop worrying about other people. And if you need validation, you don't need validation from no one. You know, keep pushing. I don't know I'm a firm believer, no validation.
Mia LaMotte 22:39
I love that. If there's anything else that you would want, like the audience to walk away with, before we wrap up, because we're out of time, like see this one bypass did it? Yeah. So what would you want the audience to know? Like if you had to give an entrepreneur or disrupt or some advice like what would you want them to leave with?
To get out of their comfort zone. And stereotypes and stigmas are only real if you feed into them.
Mia LaMotte 23:16
That's huge. Love that love. Thank you, Michelle for stepping out of your comfort zone and being here today.
Unknown Speaker 23:24
I'm all sweaty.
Mia LaMotte 23:27
See, I love the transparency. See people showing up. She's sweating. She was nervous. I'm nervous. And like she showed up anyway. That's that's what it's gonna take. Thank you.
Unknown Speaker 23:40
I appreciate you.
Mia LaMotte 23:42
I love you, girl.
Unknown Speaker 23:45
Thank you. Have a good evening, y'all.
Mia LaMotte 23:48
Transcribed by https://otter.ai