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With the Chicago Auto Show as a backdrop, MINI gave women of color from various business backgrounds an opportunity to share their stories in front of a live audience with the goal of inspiring other women along their respective journeys to success.

The panel style discussion was hosted by MINI as part of its weeklong “More of What Matters” series of panel discussions that touched on the topics of entrepreneurs in business, designing a personal brand, transforming a community through art, and more. On the second day of the series, MINI hosted “What Drives Her – Women’s Day” featuring four women from the worlds of sports, spirits, business management, and marketing. The panelists were:

  • Amber Stocks, head coach/general manager, Chicago Sky
  • Cameka Smith, founder, B.O.S.S. Network
  • Laritza Lopez, president/founder, Purple Group
  • Chrishon Lampley, owner, Love Cork Screw

Terri Evans, Marketing and Communications Manager of Chicago MINI, spoke about why hosting discussions like “What Drives Her – Women’s Day” is critical to the uplift of women and girls. She explained the panelists were selected because of the different energy each brought to the table.

“I think we’re very much in a place where it is necessary for women to tell their stories to inspire other women to understand what our journey has been so we can kind of help them with those bumps and bruises,” said Evans. “To whom much is given, much is expected, and I think the opportunity to inspire and mentor other women is important. To be your authentic self and tell where you failed is also a part of that growth and the opportunity to bring these women in today to talk about this is phenomenal.”

Evans told the Defender the purpose behind the “More of What Matters” series is to inform the public that her company has more to offer the community than just selling cars.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of what we’re doing in terms of the brand in the community,” said Evans. “You’re going to hear everything from challenging illiteracy, parks in urban communities, taking on open lands that are not been developed and impact our community by getting our hands dirty and doing some work.”

In their opening remarks, several of the panelists shared stories of how through sheer guts, perseverance, and faith, they were able to overcome significant obstacles that stood before them.

Lampley said she was the former owner of an art gallery before a flood caused her to lose almost everything including her actual home. She said the cause of the flood was traced back to someone flushing non-biodegradable baby wipes down a toilet, which led to a flood in her store front.

“It’s been a non-stop struggle, but the journey has been amazing,” she said. “I made the point you don’t follow your passion, your passion follows you.”

Today, Lampley’s Love Cork Screw can be regularly found in Whole Foods and Mariano’s. She said over her nearly 20 years in the wine/spirits industry, she has sold more than 60,000 bottles. In addition to bottles of wine, she sells candles and cigars.

“As a unicorn I’m definitely one percent of the entire industry as an African American woman; there’s literally 60 of us out of 111,000 in the World,” she said. “This is a very difficult industry that does not look like me, but I am happy to be here on this panel.”

Smith, a former Chicago Public Schools administrator for a decade, said after being laid-off, she had to develop her “ah-ha” moment. She declared being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have. She implored listeners to “know their why” before starting their business as that will last moving forward.

“I wanted to do something more than work a 9-5 so I stepped out on faith; I said I’m going to take a year off and start this business, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll go back to work.. and 10 years later, I’ve been back to work…  and by the grace of God, it’s really been a journey,” said Smith, who developed her network to help women entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship is not a destination, it’s a journey. There’s so many things you’re trying to go through.”

Finding balance amidst success was a topic Coach Stocks was very comfortable addressing. She referenced Philippians 4:7 from the Bible, which reads: “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and mind.”

“Quality of life is really important to me; I wake up with intentions to be happy,” said the coach. “If there’s one legacy I want to leave to my boys, it is living a life of peace and faith.”

For more information about the latest with MINI, visit http://www.miniusa.com/content/miniusa/en.html.

 

 

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