Today we’d like to introduce you to Devonna Smith.
Hi Devonna, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in St. Louis area, I spent my school years in the Kirkwood-Webster Groves area. I went on to graduate from UMSL with a degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice. Growing up in these areas brought me opportunities, but it also exposed me to injustices and racism. As a black college athlete, professional basketball player and someone who looks very young, I was constantly judged incorrectly and had to constantly prove myself. These experiences had me constantly saying, “See Me I Am Human Too!”
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I knew this wouldn’t be easy and experience has proven that thus far. Just the struggles of self-learning on how to build a sustainable business is hard enough. Top that with having to do most things myself has left me with a lot of sleepless nights. I know that it is up to me as to whether this See Me succeeds or fails. One goal is to be an example to those that I do not know are watching. To be successful I must spend each day learning and working on things from manufacturing to marketing and product shoots, to ensure the vision for See Me is seen world wide. While these struggles can be overwhelming at times, the people I have met along the way continue to give me strength and refresh my mission to spread this message. This journey, while filled with challenges, has strengthened my personal growth and resilience, especially as a black woman entrepreneur.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
See Me I Am Human Too is a company that I started just over a year ago, after leaving my dream job in a Crime lab of the police department. While the work was amazing, I found myself surrounded by people who refused to see and respect me as human. All too many times, I have found myself in situations where I have overlooked and unheard.
While See Me started out as a clothing/product line, giving a voice to those who need to be seen is extremely Important. As the business continues to expand the vision is to find a building where people can start or continue building their own businesses and dreams without limits.
In addition, it is very important that See Me I Am Human Too gives back to the community. This has been done in various ways, such as giving new and used sports equipment to children in need, back to school drives and creating a scholarship fund. The De’Andre Buckner 21 Strong Scholarship Foundation is close to my heart. He was a cousin who left this world early. Through his spirit, we will give scholarships to those who personifies what he stood for, which is hard work, integrity and love for others. What makes this scholarship unique is that it is open to anyone pursuing a higher level of education, not just college but also those looking to attend trade school. The application process is also unique, as your traditional essays will not be a requirement. It is encouraged that those applying submit a body of work such as a short film, clothing line, song or story that best represents their dreams, who they are, what has shaped them and how they would like to be Seen by the World.
What separates See Me I Am Human Too from other companies is the desire to help others be Seen. We have an open-door policy for those looking for education and support while growing their own businesses. The more this company expands and grows, the more effort can be spent on giving others with the same dreams the opportunity to learn and grow their business.
I am most proud that this business has been able to give back to the community. My goal is to make so anyone and everyone can be comfortable wearing a See Me I Am Human Too Shirt. Even though this business is still very new. Earlier in the year, I hosted the 100 Bag Giveaway. I went to downtown St. Louis and gave away 100 bags filled with much-needed items to the homeless. These bags included clothing, socks and food. The experience of meeting so many people and hearing them validated my purpose and drive for this company.
I want others to know that supporting others and helping others be heard and seen is important. While the world is ever-changing and growing we can continue to let history repeat itself. The more that we allow ourselves to be heard and seen, the stronger this community and others can be!
Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
The advice I would give to those who are just starting out is to spend time educating yourself. Whether that’s surrounding yourself with those who can guide you or watching videos with sound advice, anything that can help grow your knowledge. You also should surround yourself with like-minded people, people who are better at this than you, and people who are where you want to be. This is important as I look to grow and expand my company, See Me I Am Human Too.
- Products starting a low a $5.00
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: seemeiamhumantoo.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seemeiamhumantoo/?hl=en
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SeeMeIAmHumanToo/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEmZgJUYCejbWMg87nff6dQ
- Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@seemeiamhumantoo?utm_term=eeS0Q4bgU