We had the good fortune of connecting with Vonte Mack and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vonte, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The first thing is I knew that starting a business would be a lot of work, but I also knew I could do it. While I was not in foster care, I was considered a ward of the court and so I grew up very independent. I started working as a clerical assistant at my high school at 16 and then worked as a sales associate, where I hit my sales quota every day. Also, I wanted the freedom that came with owning your own business, so I was motivated to work hard.
The second thing is that I wanted to combine my education, skills and passion. Before I started my business, I worked in the fashion industry and also as a make-up artist, but I was looking for a way to use my degree in Human Services. I resonated with the child development courses and that drew me to foster youth. Another thing is that I also really loved going to prom. In fact, I went twice, and they were some of the best nights of high school. I had an incredible amount of fun picking out my matching outfits, getting professional hair and make-up done, going to the champagne parties and of course the limousine rides. Starting my business, which sponsors foster youth to attend their senior prom, allows me the opportunity to bring all my experiences together and show up as my full self.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I graduated from California State University Dominguez Hills and received my Bachelors of Arts in Human Services. I can certainly relate to children growing up in a disjointed family, as I have gone through similar experiences. My sister also grew up in foster care. I was very involved in my sister’s life when she was in foster care and I was able to see firsthand the effects of the foster care system on young people. I want to be a voice and advocate for youth in foster care. They need more people speaking up on their behalf. Foster care is extremely overlooked and more attention should be focused on it as a whole.
I’m just starting off my nonprofit career, but I see myself doing more for youth in foster care in the future. I would like to have workshops at schools to provide support and guidance to youth in foster care. The workshops would include former foster youth who are now adults sharing their story to give the youth hope and encouragement so that they don’t have to let the foster care mentality define them. I also plan to broaden the prom night and host a career/college fair that provides foster youth with resources and guidance that they need to transition from foster care into adulthood. I want all foster youth to know that despite the statistics, THEY CAN BEAT THE ODDS! My ultimate career goal is to offer hope and a voice for foster youth. They deserve this!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way would be that if it’s something you want, go for it until you get it. Getting my nonprofit started took a lot of fees but even more than fees, it took faith and me believing in myself first. It wasn’t something that came overnight. The process towards it took persistence, dedication, and patience. I had to work hard towards getting it established BUT I always kept my eyes on the prize. Helping foster youth was at the center of my heart and that’s what kept me going. Becoming an official nonprofit…the reward is ever lasting and it has made every hard work towards getting it established worth my while!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
LA IS SO DOPE!!! Everything about LA is dope! I would take them to see the Santa Monica Pier, walk the Hollywood Strip, Beverly Hills, the Slauson Mall, originally known as the Slauson Swapmeet, Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach. I’m also taking her to eat at one of the taco trucks and they’re so many all around LA. I do love the finer things in life so we definitely have to go visit Malibu. We are eating at Nobu in Malibu where the food is exquisite and at the same time getting the most beautiful view of the beach that’s right along the restaurant. Since I love rooftops, I’m taking us for sure to Downtown LA where we will go eat at the Perch where the views of LA are most beautiful. If she likes sushi, then we have to go to Yamashiro Hollywood which is an upscale Japanese restaurant. The view of the city from that restaurant is also gorgeous! Also, we have to go to the Highlight Room to eat. It’s where I celebrated becoming an official nonprofit business owner. We must go to Runyon Canyon and get our exercise in and of course go view the famous Hollywood sign.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would love to thank Chisholm Law Firm, PLLC for helping me with the legal side of becoming a nonprofit. I could not have done this without their guidance. I would also like to thank my amazing Grant Writer Sabrina Carnell who has done such an excellent job with helping me receive grants. Her advice is superb and her knowledge is so amazing! Also, I would like to thank my mentor Chantelle Anderson who helped me write my amazing donation letter that I sent to major companies, organizations, and people. Even though I own a nonprofit, I’m still learning the ropes of being a business owner. With that being said I would like to give out two additional shout outs. One being Joyous Herron who has helped me build and publish my website. I’ve never had to create my own website before. She helped me create my website from ground up, helping, teaching, and guiding me along the way. Lastly, I would like to give a shout out to Christine Montgomery. Since the beginning she’s always been in my corner when it comes to my nonprofit. She’s been willing to help look over my grant proposals before I send them off, to teach me how to track the finances and impact so I can have data when I apply to grants. All these people mentioned above deserve credit and recognition in my story because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. From them I have the skills to move forward with my nonprofit professionally.