Aside from my family and friends, the most important and valuable people in my life has always been my mentors. I have not always had mentors nor have I always understood the reason why I need them in my life. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how my first mentor, Robert Rostick, was helping shape my life into something I could be proud of. I met Robert almost 20 years ago in Atlanta.

I was a student at the Creative Circus, a small advertising school nestled in an industrial park in Atlanta. Robert started as my photography teacher, I think at the time it was a mandatory class. The school found it valuable for us as they thought it would be a helpful tool on our way to becoming well-rounded creatives. Like a lot of things back then, I didn’t get it. What I will give myself credit for is realizing that I did not have a lot of leaders growing up, especially black men that were willing to take the time to help guide me through life. You know that whole “when the student is ready the teacher will appear” thing.

I knew that there was a lot I could learn from Robert. Fast forward, 18 years later not only did I get a lifelong mentor out of the deal, I also got a friend and Godparent to my children. Way more than I asked for, but I’m glad I asked. From helping me drive cross country to start my life, attending my wedding in Dallas to helping pick up the pieces after my divorce. Every time I’ve called he has been there and I’m grateful for all of it. I’m looking forward to another 20 years.

And as I grow through life and start to establish how I want to make my impact on the world, it hasn’t been a bad idea to pick up a few other counselors along the way. Tanya Williams from T.wynne Art & Design and Jeremy Bristol are two people who are still actively playing a role in my growth as a business owner and in life. Having people who have lived a bit more than you have or at least differently than you in your corner, is never a bad idea. The time and patience they have shown me through life and business have been priceless. I can’t wait until I can be that person for someone else.