Entrepreneurs seek growth and new skills at Spark Sessions

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Local entrepreneur Tammy Herod and four budding business owners and entrepreneurs came together seeking new skills and learning how to invest in themselves during the second round of the Spark Session program on Friday and Saturday.

Spark Sessions, a program designed to provide detailed and hands-on lessons and tips on how to be a better business owner, was founded by Herod through the Builders + Backers Idea Accelerator program.

Your CBD Oxford owner Glynis Stitts started her business with her daughter in 2018  and opened their first store in Collierville in 2019. Stitts took the next step forward by moving to Oxford in January 2020 and opening a new location, but timing coincided with the outbreak of the coronavirus.

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Stitts said she brought a business here without being familiar with the area or the people and it has made conducting business tough, but she is willing to learn how to overcome this challenge.

“Now I’m in the process of rebuilding this location in Oxford,” she said. “So with Spark Sessions I hope to gain from this more contacts, the networking aspect of the business and learning about Oxford period.”

Stitts is working to get more involved with The Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and hopes to become an integral part of the community.

Tamara Johnson, schoolteacher and owner of A+ Gifts Emporium, of Memphis, Tennessee began her business as a way to show her children’s teachers students how much she loved them.

“I like to have cute things to decorate my clipboard like decorative pens and I like to wear t-shirts that talk about how much I love my students,” said Johnson. The initial act of gift-giving expanded into the teachers sharing what she gave them with other teachers, which sent more patrons her way and caused her to branch out her business into mugs, bracelets and more.

“The main thing I want to gain from Spark Sessions is more ways to make my business more successful and more ways I can engage my community,” she said. “Memphis is of course much, much bigger than Oxford but Memphis has pockets that I want to engage with.”

The key to Henderson is gaining wealth so that she can give back to her community, engage and build connections as those are essential to a successful business.

Tammy used over 30 years of experience in running a business to guide her four students on the essentials on being a successful entrepreneur and put them on the path where they can flourish even more.

“My goal is always to share viable information to help grow each and every person that is coming in contact with me and my business,” she said.

Tammy said she sees a stagnation in the community and wishes people would push themselves to seek out more opportunities and chances to grow personally and professionally.

Tanisha Bankston, author of My Pain is My Power, is seeking ways to share her story of sexual assault and domestic violence with other survivors. After 27 years of being silenced, Bankston is pushing herself to be as vocal about her experience and be an advocate for the voiceless using skills she learned through Spark Sessions.

“I want to talk with to the teenagers, the kids and women who have gone through or is going through domestic violence,” said Bankston.

Through Spark Sessions, she has gained knowledge on leadership, mentorship and how to connect to the community. Like Stitts, Bankston is new to the area, but she wants to become more familiar with the place she is calling her new home and build herself up.

“We need to invest in our growth, the leadership part and changing our mindset and using money to go sit in a class where you’re networking with the right people so that you can hear one thing to take your business to the next level,” she said.

Tammy worked to make the second round of classes more hands-on so that the participants could walk away more secure in what they have learned. Each session should be different but valuable to the student.

The final student Olivia Herod is working towards a virtual assistant business and this program is giving her all the tools she would need to officially launch her own organization.

“I’ve been assisting people personally like my mom and I’m an assistant through my job,” said Olivia. “Learning business credit and how to navigate getting an EIN number was very helpful. So, my next step is to gain more clients. That’s what I’m focused on.” 

At the end of the sessions, the students should be able to take what they learned and practically apply it in order to get to the next level, said Tammy. 

“If you learn one thing, is it worth the investment you pay, because it’s not just money,” said Tammy. “It’s an investment and we have to do more, in our community, of investing into ourselves.”

For more information on Spark Sessions, visit www.mysparksessions.com.