"No matter what it looks like, I just keep pushing forward, the Struggle is Real."

LaShonda stated, "I grew up in an era where crack cocaine and heroin took over our communities. I witnessed how this drug took out entire families, including my family and friends. Now, it seems like the new drug has and will continue to be marijuana and pills for the past and seemingly future generations." She also stated she did not get caught up in her environment because "I saw this as self-destruction and a road that I did not want to get involved in." She also saw how that lifestyle put people in a degrading position, causing others to look down on them. It was then that she vowed to do something different in her life.


The Vision

LaShonda, a 42-year-old woman who at a young age, knew she wanted to be a business owner, began her career as a hairdresser.

She cultivated her craft by doing the hair of her friends, which eventually lead to her styling the hair of various adults. Soon LaShonda, although she was doing well, wanted to own a business and knew it would require some form of education. That's when she enrolled into Carpi Beauty College at the age of 19. Upon obtaining her license, she ventured into the world and worked in a beauty salon for a year followed by working at High Maintenance Beauty Salon, where she became the owner.


LaShonda beauty salon is Appearances, located at 7105 S Artesian – email lashonda.gale@me.com.


Continued Education

LaShonda knowing that she must be innovative, returned to school to become a Massage Therapy Specialist and a licensed Esthetician.


New Business

Lashonda did not stop there as she watched her family, friends, and community struggle with childcare. LaShonda being who she is, did what she needed to do and opened Izzy Bitty Day Care on the Far South Side of Chicago in 2018 – email lashonda.gale@me.com.


Personal Story

Drugs and alcohol consumed LaShonda's cousin and his wife—at the same time, it affected their son. Seeing this, LaShonda refused to watch Luke fall through the cracks, and with Luke's parent's consent, she took Luke in and raised him as her own for the past four years without DCFS assistance.

LaShonda stated, "I have never stopped Luke from seeing his parents, and I kept them abreast to his advancements as well as invited them to all his functions, birthdays, and holidays because I know he loves them, and they love him, but the drugs just got them." LaShonda stated she did not involve DCFS because she hoped Luke's parents would come back for him after getting clean. However, as she continued to pray for their unification, Luke's father died of a drug overdose hours after being released from prison in Nov 2021. LaShonda stated she is still holding out for Luke's mother to obtain some form of drug

recovery.


Mentorship/Leadership

LaShonda has mentored many of her friends, family, and community individuals by assisting them with their needs. She is extremely hopeful and has devoted her life to assisting others regardless of their situation. When asked how she reaches people and helps them to stay on the right track, LaShonda stated, "I talk and listen to them, I lead by example, exhibit limited tolerance for nonsense, and I am non-judgmental."


Message to Inspiring Female Business Owners.


LaShonda had this to say to aspiring female business owners "meditate every day, want more than your dream, be persistent and consistent and perfect your craft."



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