September 12th, 2015
I really didn’t have a clue how I would do it. I tried the business hours route since coming from the school bell world that was all I was used to. But I didn’t feel enough was being accomplished since it was just me doing 98% of the work – Erica Alcox
Do you have a burning desire to start a business? Do you worry about time management? Is your desire to leave a legacy for your children greater than your fear? Well, grab you pen and paper because… School is in session! Lifelong educator, Erica Alcox candidly tells us what we are doing well as parents and she gives us examples of things we can improve upon. Erica is the CEO/Founder of Geechie Gurl, Inc. Not to be confused with just a culture, or a lifestyle, it’s an attitude! This Holy City hostess is available to show you the hot spots in the low country or she can help coordinate events for your special day. If you are lucky, maybe your tour will include such delectable snacks like seasoned and glazed pecans, pretzels or cookies from The Charleston Crunch Company. One lucky subscriber will win a sample of Low country pretzels. To be eligible you must be :1) Subscribed to both blessedbethetie.com and geechiegurl.org, 2) Follow both @arntrs77 and @geechiegurltm on Instagram, 3)Tag both of us in a post on Instagram (send screenshot) 4) Comment on this feature. The winner will be randomly picked on Friday, September 18. Good luck! This Renaissance woman is not all work and no play, though. She recently drove alone from North Carolina to New Orleans to attend the Essence Music Festival!
BBTT: As mothers, we are our children’s first teachers. The lessons we teach them are the foundations upon which all other educators will be build. As an educator, will you discuss some of the things this generation of parents are getting right when it comes to preparing our children for success?
Erica: It seems more children are equipped with state of the art technology by way of advanced smart phones and tablets which provides a huge opportunity to be connected to current events and resources to supplement what is taught in the classroom. What are some of our opportunities for growth? I would like to see more involvement in nurturing a student’s natural skills and talents. So many times, students talk about what they really like to do but it’s a “secret” or no one has ever really asked. That is a lost opportunity to lay the foundation for growing into a well rounded individual who is genuinely happy and confident.
BBTT: Geechie Gurl, Inc is more than a culture or lifestyle, it is a movement. How did you settle upon the name for your company?
Erica: Quite simply put, Geechie Gurl is me. It pays homage to my heritage and my ancestors while growing up in Charleston, SC. More importantly, I wanted to do my part to take away the shame that so many associated with the word “Geechee” or “Gullah”. I was surprised to learn how many people felt it was embarrassing because it was associated with times of slavery. I chose to see it as a symbol of strength and resiliency to preserve our culture while building a way to survive through unimaginable circumstances.
BBTT: In your educator’s toolbox, you talk about there not being any bad students or bad schools, only bad leadership and bad instruction in class. Would you explain how you have come to that conclusion?
Erica: Minors aren’t allowed to be responsible for themselves in society for a reason. They physically have not developed yet to make sound decisions consistently enough. This is not to be confused with what they have been trained to do. If they have not been taught/trained, they cannot be held accountable. It is up to educators (which does include parents/guardians) to work together to play their part to ensure that student is taught in the manner that they learn for them to be successful. When any stakeholder drops the ball, it is a domino effect on everyone involved. It has to truthfully be a team effort. Quality of instruction at home reflects the standards of leadership known as “head of household”. At school, quality of instruction reflects the standards of leadership in the classroom which depends on the educational leader in the building then district level and trickling up to higher powers. If a professional sports team feels it necessary to communicate and work with one another to figure out what does and does not work in order to gain a victory for the sake of entertainment, then surely it must be of some importance for a student’s support system to do the same with him/her for any possibility of achieving academic growth and achievement.
BBTT: The Charleston Crunch Co provides gourmet delicacies such as seasoned and glazed pecans, pretzels, cookies and other extraordinary treats. What led you to establish this business?
Erica: The Charleston Crunch Co was inspired by a recipe I used to teach my last group of students as a public school teacher in Dekalb County, Georgia. I taught at a vocational school where students came from their assigned schools within to the district to learn a trade and have a more hands on approach to learning to accomodate their needs outlined in the individual education plans. Many label them as learning disabled however my background and experiences of successfully teaching in struggling schools in SC and NC for over 12 years prior to relocating to Atlanta have always helped me show and prove their abilities when given ambitious yet realistic expectations. I used the recipes to help them understand reading comprehension, math skills, teamwork, time management, problem solving, decision-making and more life skills. They were truly grasping the concept. When I made the decision to resign from that school, it was the hardest decision I ever had to make and I was a bit emotional because I felt standing up for what I knew was right led to a road of uncertainty for me and my son. After 2 years, I decided to brush off the recipe, do some edits and produce products like Low country Pretzels and Grown Folk Crunch that are different but in a special way…just like my former students.
BBTT: Your students are gaining valuable life and work experience by performing some of the day to day duties associated with The Charleston Crunch Co. What duties are the students allowed to perform?
Erica: There are different ways I incorporate students with the company. One way is I visit schools and do clubs with teachable moments such as the teamwork but also for safety and nutritional snacks since so many are at home alone right after school. Another way is allowing students to create marketing campaigns as well as practice being the owner of the company during vending opportunities so they understand the options they have to also be an employer vs only an employee.
BBTT: What is the goal of this program?
Erica: Since I am an educator to my core, eventually, I would love to see the company grow to provide internships to learn every aspect of a business beyond customer service such as finances, legal responsibilities, public relations, branding and more. This will make it a win-win for the company and students so that by the time they graduate, they have true experience to show to any future employer or a foundation to build on for their own company. The only way that will happen is the demand for Charleston Crunch Co has to INCREASE so I need all of your readers to become Crunch Heads and demand your local stores email us to stock their shelves! www.CharlestonCrunchCo.com is the website!
BBTT: We all know that all work and no play will make Erica a dull Geechie Gurl! What are some of the things you enjoy doing for fun?
Erica: Did you follow me on Instagram (@geechiegurltm) when I drove from Charleston, SC to New Orleans for the Essence Festival? BY MYSELF? LOL! I LOVE roadtrips and live music! I had a ball. Adventures like that where I can be a free spirit are so much fun and give me memories I can tap back into on my rough days. I’m not a shopper. I can’t look back on a pair of shoes on a rough day and feel nostalgic or have my spirits lifted. That’s just not for me. I live for experiences and access. I look back on my pictures and automatically I feel myself smiling! And don’t get me started on the pics I DIDN’T take because my battery died! MC LYTE WAS STANDING RIGHT BEHIND ME! OMG! L-Y-T-E! Lol I get tickled about that because I don’t get star struck but umm she is a LEGEND! BBTT: What are some of your self care practices? Erica: I sit outside a lot to enjoy the breeze and sunlight. I believe people, especially anyone with high levels of melanin, need to stay connected with nature. I live on the coast so the beach and the sound of the waves soothe me and allow me to slow it down, meditate, and reflect on what I am doing that sustains positivity in my life, this world, and in my son’s eyes so he has an example to understand what I work hard to teach him. Yoga is on my list of “Yeah I do that now, too!” I’ve done it once and it caused several A-ha moments for me as well as woke up some muscles I don’t regularly use. I have increased my intake of fresh produce and I think I may eat red meat once or twice a year. I want to be that person that never looks her age except for these beautiful silver strands sprouting from my crown. 😉
BBTT: As a mompreneur, how do you ensure that your businesses are running smoothly and you also have time to give the one-on-one attention that your son needs?
Erica: Quite honestly, I really didn’t have a clue how I would do it. I tried the business hours route since coming from the school bell world was all I was used to but I didn’t feel enough was being accomplished since it was just me doing 98% of the work. I did the team No Sleep thing for TOO long and that had horrible side effects with no patience, horrible eating habits, exhaustion and so many other things. Right now I do what I can do when I see it makes sense to do it. I learned how to do the most impactful things at the right time and if something was truly impactful, you pretty much make smaller things take care of themselves by default. It has been a process and I am still learning but I know when it is all said and done, my son’s needs and even some wants trump everything. We have candid conversations about what our circumstances are and he has learned that in order for his needs to be met sometimes Mama needs another hour or she has to finish a phone call so be patient. It’s all things he will appreciate as he grows up to support his own family and finds that balance between sacrifice and responsibility. He understands the concept of working to earn. Nothing is given for free. Even the small road trips and pizza nights…they are all earned. He knows you play hard after and only after you work hard.
BBTT: If you could nominate a mom MVP, who would she be and why?
Erica: I have a very good friend and fellow educator Rhonda Jackson who helped me transition through being a single mother of a preschooler in Atlanta. I was pretty much there after being in Charlotte, NC for so many years and left all that I had built…friends, routines, caregivers, everything that I was familiar with. She helped me through a time when I was battling depression by allowing me to vent with no judgement and her being transparent with me to gain clarity to balance it all. She is an awesome mother with active boys and an older daughter. She just recently left to teach abroad in Abu Dhabi to preserve her love of teaching and to be able to do more for her family. She lives her life with a smile, seizes every moment and makes an impact by being that friend at all times. Oh and don’t let me forget to mention, she did all of that while whippin’ cancer’s butt! She’s the real MVP! Follow Erica on Instagram http://instagram.com/geechiegurl/tm. Visit http://www.geechiegurl.org for more information. The Geechie Gurl app is now available for download in the Google Play store for androids. (IOS not avaible yet).