For my first Wonder Woman feature, I hit the jackpot finding Sherri Gonzales of All Grown Up. Not only is she doing amazing things in this world, she is doing amazing things for future female generations, giving them the tools and education to make wise decisions regarding womanhood, AND helping parents at the same time, giving them much-needed information to handle the ineludible puberty, making it a celebration and union…not a dreadful and evasive subject.
It’s happening earlier now…as young as eight years old. Even more shocking is that sexual encounters are happening at that early of an age as well. Can you imagine being an eight-year-old parent? Girls need support, understanding, and guidance during this time, no matter what age they are. Sherri has developed a safe place for girls and parents of girls to prepare for the challenging transition into womanhood. Her published book, The Surviving Puberty Manual: A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up, and the invaluable prepackaged All Grown Up Kits are changing the way we educate our young women about their bodies and giving them the confidence to grow into mature, educated young ladies.
How did it all start? What made you decide to pursue this path?
From a dream May 2007. I had watched Oprah Winfrey cut the ribbon at her all-girls school in Africa. In Africa, when the girls start their period they either get kicked out of school because they miss too many days and fall behind, or become pregnant. I woke up about 3:00 am from a dream about a period kit. I grabbed my notebook and started drawing a kit and named it “All Grown Up.” I put it in an envelope and wrote the date on the back. I put clear tape on it and mailed it to myself and received it a few days later.
As a teenage mom at 16, and raised by my grandmother, I didn't have anyone to teach me about puberty. Back then no one talked about our period, sex and boys. I wanted to open up the lines of communication between guardians and preteen girls about puberty. I wanted girls to love themselves from the inside out and respect their bodies. If we give them the right information and tools, it will allow them to make better choices for their futures by choosing education over a baby. Unfortunately, having a baby is when they learn about their bodies.
What steps did you have to take to conquer your goal of being a business owner?
I saw a commercial called InventHelp. I made an appointment to talk with them about my idea. They told me that they would research to see if there was anything out there already as well as give me a book that will guide me step by step to get to market. I had my friend make a kit from my drawing and I proceeded to follow the book I received from InventHelp for $975.00. I had to do a name search to make sure I could use the name I picked, register with the Secretary of State and open a bank account. That book taught me how to get a 14-year patent, I know a lot about price points and manufacturing. I have attended several events that empower women and girls. I am now at my final stage of the book and my product is ready to go to market.
How do you manage envy, ego, or jealousy from getting in the way of your dreams?
I focus on what's best for me and my purpose. I am confident in who I am and very personable, that keeps the negative people away. I'm willing to make sacrifices and give up a lot to reach my goals. Everyone will not believe in you or like your ideas, which could become a distraction. I surround myself around people with goals and want to make a difference. I treat people on different levels, according to their personality. I let my product speak for itself. Everyone has a purpose, they just need to find out what it is and go for it.
What are some of the qualities you believe a person must have to build their own business/brand?
STAYING FOCUSED! You have to be a strong person that's ready to go through the storm, have a lot of patience and know that timing is everything. You can't take shortcuts and not do the work. Be persistent and fight for what you believe in. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone, don't try and wear many hats, stick to what you are good at, learn the rest, but hire the best. Know when to take a risk and when to follow your gut. Be willing to tell your friends and family "NO," never give up on yourself and follow your dreams.
What do you love most about your profession?
I love it because I'm educating our future women of the world that the most important thing in life is them and to love themselves first by respecting their bodies. I love it because I'm creating great communication between the guardian and the young lady, allowing them to ask the important question from their parents instead of Google. Educating fathers about the true facts of puberty will create a generation of understanding young men about what women go through during puberty.
If you were to pinpoint a few tools for success, what would they be?
Protect your idea, find out if you have competition and take one step at a time. If plan "A" doesn't work go to plan "B." There are 26 letters in the alphabet. Utilize social media to your advantage and become a product of your product. Create a budget and stick to it. If there is no money coming in, then no money should be going out. Try and do as much as you can on your own, you will have a better understanding of your business.
What advice would you give a young girl about getting out in the “real” world?
When you first get out there, you will make a few mistakes and change jobs until you find what you’re good at. Don't get discouraged, just make sure you learn from your mistake and move forward. Never give up on yourself and follow your dreams! Surround yourself with the right people, jobs and situations that relate to the business you’re interested in. Learn to balance work and play, you have to take time to enjoy life, it gives you a clear head to go back to work.
Finding a mentor is key. Do you have a female mentor or idol growing up who has significantly impacted your life? How?
My grandmother, Madea. She had 9 kids – 7 boys and 2 girls, my mom was the second child born. My grandmother kept everything together living in a three-bedroom house full of kids and grandkids. She was not educated, but understood what it meant to work hard and stay focused. She would say, "It won't be like this forever." Madea had her way of showing you she cared but she always encouraged me to do my best and never give up and life is what you make it, so make it your best!
What/who inspires YOU to get through each day and overcome every challenge?
My children inspire me to keep going. I want them to know that life is full of surprises and you have to learn to weather the storm. I want them to know they can be whatever they set their minds to, when you give up, you never know how far you could have gone. Things will always get better if you have faith and believe in yourself.
What is your definition of BEAUTIFUL?
My definition of beautiful is selfless, confidence and ability to be yourself.
What is your favorite shade of Lipstick?
My favorite shade of lipstick is #310, Fired Up by L’Oréal.
Why do you think women’s organizations like Lipstick Sister are important?
Organizations like Lipstick Sister is a great way to bring women together to share their knowledge and resources. Surrounding yourself by supportive people gives you the courage to work harder and accomplish your goal.
Do you have a favorite quote that empowers you? If so, please share it with us!