Detroit Mom’s Local Love series highlights local women and the businesses they have built. We love supporting small business! Today’s Local Love Spotlight belongs to Shirel Jones, owner of Lil’ Dumplins.
Shirel was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. She was then raised in Brooklyn, NY. Shirel studied Performance and Choreography in college.
We asked Shirel to share a little bit more about her business with us. Get to know Shirel and her business, Lil’ Dumplins, below!
How did you come up with the idea of your business, and how did you start?
“At that time, I was married and a SAHM with a toddler. I felt called to work but wanted the flexibility to have my daughter with me. The initial vision was to create space for mothers who were performers to collaborate while not having to find childcare. Then a play school director suggested that I teach classes for toddlers. I was already teaching ballet classes for elementary-aged kids at the time and thought I would just give it a try. I was then introduced to another mom who owned a toy store that hosted toddler classes. I called my first class “Dancing Tots” and it evolved to Lil’ Dumplins from there!”
Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?
“Absolutely, I would have trusted my intuition and followed joy far sooner. I started teaching all different types of classes just trying to capture more business. This was not bringing me the kind of passion I needed to move the business forward. I was not evolving–I was running in place.”
What is the best business advice you've ever been given?
- “”Be your super-self and really work that!” I didn’t appreciate that at the time. As I started to build, I realized how much of an extension of myself the business was and when it did not reflect my values I felt lost in it.”
- “”Create stability for yourself before you start giving everything away.” I am still working on this. This piece of advice shows up in two folds for me. One–being comfortable asking for what I need monetarily has been a challenge for me and I found because I love what I do so much, it is easy for me to say yes to free offerings. Two–I created a business that relies on my ability to service my audience. This is not sustainable. In order to scale, I have to have systems in place where I can step away from the business and it still functions and serves healthily.”
Have you faced adversity in business due to being a woman? How did you navigate that? How do you persevere in challenging times?
“As a woman, as a woman of color, as a woman of color who is an immigrant and, then add identifying as a Ballet dancer which is rooted in Eurocentric physical ideals–I have experienced adversity. Addressing my own limiting beliefs really helps me to navigate my way to experiences and relationships that I do want.”
What impact do you want your business to have?
“Through Lil’ Dumplins, I rethought what it meant to be a ballet dancer and what kind of experience I could gift to little ones. It is incredibly important that all children see themselves represented in every role within the art form of their choice. I want to create content that uplifts children from all backgrounds, and show them what is imagined can be created.”
What are the pros and cons of being a woman business owner in 2022?
“My biggest pro is that business can look the way I want it to! We have so much ability to create lives that we actually love. My biggest con is that I want it all but there is no road map! This journey can be so scary and lonely at times.”
What knowledge would you share with someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?
“Don’t be afraid to go after what you want, remember that things take a while, and practice perseverance.”
What do you do for personal and professional development?
“Recently, I met very ambitious women that are in business and I consider them peer mentors. I am also in a mastermind group that meets bi-weekly. We hold each other accountable while supporting and challenging each to meet business goals. I also love listening to business podcasts.”
What mantra or quote do you live by?
“Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.” ― Alice Walker.
What's your favorite place in Detroit or Michigan?
“The Congregation Detroit!”
Where can our readers find you on social media?