Please introduce yourself and your business to our community.
My name is Whitney M. Watson. I am one of two Chief Executive Directors of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization MoXie Way, Incorporated. First I want to state, I am authentically me. Although I am a mother, daughter, sister, friend, educator, and a lifelong learner, I am unapologetically Whitney Marie first. I am determined and full of courage. I love without end and genuinely care to the highest level. I am goofy, yet sincere, and intellectually attuned to the world around me.
Hence, I am passionate about what we do at MoXie Way, Incorporated. To me, there is no better education consulting facility such as ours. We have tailored our program to be inclusive to all children, regardless of their socio-economic status or family background. We believe that it is vital for us to provide a foundation for the upcoming youth population to be able to identify their aspirational assets and learn to use those assets to be successful in everyday life. We believe that if children have a place they can truly feel free to learn, grow, and inspire themselves and others, that is the answer to the modern-day youth crisis pertaining to being involved in high crime rates, poverty, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, gang involvement, teen pregnancy, etc.
Furthermore, in my heart, the world can be a better place. I believe that if we close the gap between the knowing and unknown we can also close the gap between standards of living. Sometimes, just knowing the possibilities of a particular occurrence versus not knowing or having limited knowledge can yield entirely different outcomes. In my opinion, children are widely misunderstood, and I believe it is up to MoXie Way, Inc. to help them and their families to obtain clarity. In order to achieve its mission of providing a safe environment for kids to learn, grow, and inspire others MoXie Way, Inc. needs a strong team of knowledgeable, motivated, caring, and passionate adults, and I am proud to be a part of the MoXie Way team.
At what point in your life did you realize your passion?
I would say I realized my passion at around age 14. It began when I desired to go camping so bad that I started creating fake youth camp brochures. Unfortunately, for me I was unable to attend camp unless it was free or provided by the church that we attended. Coming from the perception of a middle child, in a large family, that was required to share clothing, lacked some of the basic resources needed to survive, and had limitations placed on me based on financial disabilities you would automatically think I would despise the idea of having a big family myself, but I never have. Nor has it ever deterred me from wanting to work with children or be my own boss.
My experience comes from more than “what I learned in college”, but from what I have experienced first hand. I started taking in children from within my own family as just a child myself. From the age of 18 until just this past year (twelve years later), I have been the caregiver for various adolescents within my family at different times. This ranges from siblings to cousins, to nieces and family friends. I have cared for and/or provided for them as if they were my own. As I entered college it became even more clear to me the path I needed to take. I was drawn to youth services. This was something that seemed not only realistic but fascinating and achievable.
Throughout school, my best friend Marissa (over 25 years of solid friendship) and I spoke about our dreams of creating a place where kids could come to be free to explore, and motivated to learn. As we strengthened our minds by learning all we could through books, professors, and countless hours of online research, we also challenged each other to work in jobs that required us to learn the skills necessary to make our idea a reality. Once we truly recognized that we could be stronger, together we started mapping out what it would take to achieve our goals. Now, here we are, almost five years later, and we are making our dreams a reality.
What did you learn about yourself in 2020?
In 2020, I learned that I am more fragile than I would have liked to think. I had become so accustomed to being the “go-to” person that I forgot how just as important it is to have someone else I could “go-to”. The concept of sharing the most intimate parts of my life: good, bad, shining, or dull without the fear of judgment, pressure, or shame hadn’t been something that I spent much time on in the past couple of years. Yet, after coming to this chaos of a situation, and everything I knew was shaken and tossed in the air, 2020 opened my mind to new vast concepts.
Although I am knowledgeable, strong, and dedicated, I am not without fault nor am I above mistakes, and therefore not everything will happen as I initially plan. At the beginning of March 2020, I held three jobs. By the end of the month, I was unemployed and unenthusiastic about depending on unemployment. I am the type to plan, plan some more, plan again, keep planning as if I could plan up until the day of my demise, but I now see that in reality, so many outside sources can alter how things happen in my life. Ultimately, I learned to live more in the now and to be able to openly accept change while constantly adapting.
What do you attribute to your success in life and business?
I attribute the current success in my life to the unconditional love shown to me through guided lessons and butt whoopings, one-on-one talks from caring adults, and inner self-determination cultivated by the desire to be and do more than what I saw around me on a daily basis as a child. In addition, I would attribute success in business to my unwillingness to accept things in a state of disarray as I had seen them while growing up as well as in the workforce and instead allow myself to be positively motivated by those who genuinely care for me. This forced me to work harder in a manner that yielded the concept of creating an establishment that represents me for who I truly am. Furthermore, being able to freely express me has been a key factor in achieving a few small goals, and applying constant pressure to be above average in everything I do is what made me able to complete the task necessary to achieve lifelong business goals.
It is important for us to nurture a community of black women that share, learn, and thrive together. Please share a story of failure that taught you a valuable lesson.
Well, I would say a time that I feel I had ultimately failed is the first time I went to college and based my major on something that I was told I would be good at, not something I actually desired to be good in. When I started college I was already a young mom and married to an older man. Therefore, I decided it was best for me to stay in my hometown to attend college. The major I chose was a job that I was informed I could have no matter where we lived. As I maneuvered my way through my first year, I held onto the concept that I contained the ability to naturally test well and didn’t encourage myself to take the time to find out what I really was interested in. I lacked in picking courses that could have opened new doors of aspiration.
As I came to the end of my second year, and the beginning of an internship that I thought was going to be the best decision of my life I soon came to the realization that I was headed in a direction that was not going to suit my personality or inner desires. At that very moment, I felt the need to make a real difference by doing something I love.
As time continued I was able to spend the time I desired with my children during their toddler years; which I have come to learn is a luxury to some, but for me, I yarned to show them more. Ultimately my decision to not pursue a path of my own led me to more stress, wasted time, and confusion. From that experience, I came to the understanding that in order to not only be successful, but genuinely happy in the career that I chose, I must ensure I am aware of all the various options I have available to me at all times. There will be no settling.
Please let us know the woman you were 5 years ago and who you’re becoming?
Five years ago I was naive, arrogant, and easily angered. As I am growing daily and motivated to learn to be the best me that I possibly can be I am calmer and people-centered. I look at everything from multiple points of view and take into account not only how my choices can affect others, but how other choices can affect me. In addition, I have learned to stop and think before I make life-altering decisions so that I can be confident that what has been decided is the best possible outcome for my family. I can honestly say I no longer make irrational decisions based on the way I feel or something someone else suggests to me. I believe that I am able to make sound decisions and with a clear consciousness treat people with the utmost respect, even when they treat me poorly. I do not allow negative things that shouldn’t matter to matter or get in the way of important things that truly should matter. Again, I am unapologetically me, and I love the woman I am growing into.
What women in your life have been a source of inspiration?
Women in my life that have been a source of inspiration include my paternal grandmother, my five childhood friends of over 23+ years each, Ms. McClard (4th), Ms. Ullery (6th), my juvenile tracker Tammi (8th), Mrs. Cross-Green (college), and a few random church youth leaders Ms. Black and Ms. Bowers from many years of my childhood. All of these women have had an influential power in my life one way or another. No matter if it was talking to me after a hurtful situation, informing me of right from wrong, or advising me from their perspective on a sticky situation they have either experienced with me and/or helped me through some very tough times in life. These women have each been encouraging in their own way, and I am forever grateful to have been blessed with their grace.
Celebrate your wins! Brag, sis. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud to be a first-generation college graduate who successfully graduated while maintaining the Dean’s List. No one in my family, including extended members, has ever graduated from college. In addition, I am the first in my family to start a personalized business tailored to something that I truly love. Most of the members of my family work low-waged jobs and/or do not hold a job at all. For years like what I was shown by those around me, I depended on the assistance of food stamps to make ends meet, but I no longer have to. I am able to make the purchases I desire, and not because I get paid a high-end salary, but because I have mastered the importance of budgeting and financial literacy. When it comes to stretching a dollar, I am the woman who can make paradise come to life on a couch change budget.
Quoting Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Please share your self-care routine.
Frankly speaking, I do not have a “set” self-care routine. What I do have are things I do that make me feel good and thus require my attention at random times in order for me to feel my best. To begin, I enjoy reading urban legends when I get free/downtime. Reading and writing have always been a way of relieving unwarranted stress and negative feelings for me. In addition, I believe it is necessary to take care of yourself in ways that enhance self-love such as getting waxed, going to the spa, trying a new hairdo, taking personal time for self, going out with friends, light shopping therapy, or soaking in Epsom salt. These are all good ways to positively influence self-preservation; which I must agree with Audre Lorde, is required to be one’s best possible self.
You are part of our melanin muse tribe. How can we help you on your journey?
Melanin Muse could help along the journey by giving MoXie Way Inc. a platform to share what we are passionate about and by encouraging us along the way. We understand the importance of not only being around like-minded individuals, but they need to be surrounded by strong, influential, and positive women who, like my partner and me see how much the better the world would be with more women like us. I believe that for the most part we, good women, are born, but other times good women are created through a series of events that test their ability to make each day better than the last, and by doing so making themselves better than she was the day before. We must encourage each other. We must support each other. Most important, we must love one another, and with that, the waves of positivity will arise thus leading to a more in tune society with real people who genuinely care for the well-being of one another.