This week we spoke to Quniana Futrell – an entrepreneur based in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Futrell made it her mission to help teach incarcerated parents how to be there for their child while behind bars, as well as informing teachers how to react to these situations. Quniana has also authored books focusing on the subject which stem from her personal experiences growing up. We sat down to learn more about her business, her advice for entrepreneurs, and what makes the DMV the place to be an entrepreneur.
What started me with my business was the fact that there was a need and I really paid attention closely to this population because I myself was impacted greatly by this when I was younger, and even today as an adult. What started it off was actually going to a conference and seeing the need, hearing teacher’s voices, hearing what their concerns were, and seeing what resources they had. As I would dig and research there would be some, but not enough to cover the groundwork of what they needed. I decided to become that for them and the business was started.
The business is Quiana Futrell, LLC and one of the things I do as a service is I provide for local jails and state penitentiaries – I’ve actually created a signature program called Parenting Behind Bars. With that system I go into the jails on a weekly basis and I actually teach a course to some of the ladies there, I go in and teach them how they can still continue to be a parent from where they are. Research has proven to us that it’s not the material things that you buy but it really is your presence and you being involved in your children’s lives that can really change the trajectory of their life. So I tried to instill that in them, for them to understand their role and their place. We really deal with a lot of their rooted issues that cause them to be where they are in the first place. I speak to them not only on a theory base, but also as a child who hurts from years of having a parent be away. I plead with them and I let them know the reality of what could happen to their children if they don’t get it correct.
I also have a service for teachers called Teaching Beyond Bars. I like to empower teachers so that they understand their role because, believe it or not, teachers play a very effective role in the lives of children as they grow up. What I want to do is empower those teachers so that when a topic such as parental incarceration pops up as the most awkward moment in the world, they are equipped and confident in their response to the child. But also in their approach to the family at the end of the day because they know they’re going to have to have that conversation. I’m out in the community often hosting family seminars. I go as a keynote speaker to different conferences and I empower women and empower parents and really try to change the family as a whole so that they can feel healthy. As a result, if I can change the family then I can change the world – that’s my motto.
Advice for Business Owners
I would say that the entrepreneurship road isn’t for everybody. It’s definitely the survival of the fittest. When you say this is something that you want, be ready and strap your boots on. Be ready to fight for what you want and fight for what you believe in. I have people to this day asking me if I’m sure this is what I want to do and if I want to send my time and money into this population of folks who aren’t going to do right, but I believe different. I believe that they will. So you have to remember your why. Stick to why you started and knowing your business alone isn’t going to be like everyone’s and you don’t want it to be. People recognize clones and don’t do business with them. So understand that it’s okay to be different and stand out. Stay true to who you are despite who doesn’t support you or believe in you.
I would say for those who are out there writing books to really understand clearly that a book will not make you rich. You have got to leverage that book like it’s nobody’s business. You have to leverage it with courses, seminars, speaking engagements, and you have to leverage it in every capacity and every way because that book alone is showing the world that you are an expert. There will be books that you’re going to have to give away for free and there are some that you should be mailing out to key people and organizations where you’re giving away something but in return you get something greater. So understand that there is value in making an investment in yourself. Lastly, just don’t ever give up. There will be doors that will be closed in your face. There will be people who you thought were going to support you that won’t. Just keep in mind that this isn’t about them. It’s about you and your impact and your destiny in life. So just get it done.
What Makes the DMV Great for Businesses?
I’m in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and I feel like it’s a great place to be an entrepreneur because Virginia is for lovers! I’m originally from York, New Jersey but I’ve found living here that there’s so much more opportunity and great people to connect with that are like minded and are willing to help and lend a helping hand. I really believe in where I purchase my home and where I pay taxes and I believe in making a return to my community so what better way to do that then have my business make a positive impact where I live.
CEO Chat powered by Blue 16 Media is a podcast for entrepreneurs, startups, and business owners. Every episode we sit down with an entrepreneur or business owner to discuss the trials and tribulations of building a business as well as the triumphs which come along with it. We learn more about their backgrounds and what led them to find their true calling in the world of business.