4 Min ReadCareer 09 July 2020
My name is Tracy Garley, I was born in the West African country of Liberia, and moved to the US at the age of eleven. I attended Western International High School in Detroit and graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Food Industry Management.
I'm the owner of West African lifestyle brand Zarkpa's, founder of West African catering company Culture in a Bowl, founder of City Girl Big Dreams, and CEO of its sister brand, GoFundHer.com. In each of these roles, I try to create opportunities for girls and women to transform their dreams into reality through collaboration and social networking.
In 2014, I opened the doors of my first business Zarkpa's in the heart of downtown Detroit; the store was a 25th birthday gift from my parents. "Zarkpa's" is the namesake of my paternal grandmother in Liberia and means "debt-free." Now, Zarkpa's is a globally-accessible online store with a focus on exposing the world to the intricacies and diversity of West African fashion through custom apparel, handbags, and accessories.
Zarkpa's was the first new retail clothing store opening after the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy. I made it my mission to make sure Zarkpa's was open every single day to bring energy to the downtown area. I collaborated with other entrepreneurs to host weekly events such as "Positive Tea Party" and "Sip & Shop." Many of the retail stores and salons open in downtown Detroit today opened as a result of the activity and excitement I was able to generate in five years with my Zarkpa's storefront.
Growing up, my parents always told me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it; that is one quote I always live by.
City Girls Big Dreams was a vision given to me by God at the age of 24. I remember my evening run on The Detroit River Walk. I was asking God what my purpose in life was. I looked at the skyline of Canada and Detroit, and the phrase "city girl with big dreams" popped up in my head. I did what any millennial would do and checked on Instagram to see if the name was available. I ended up changing my Instagram name from "Liberian Beauty" to "CityGirlsBigDreams." After opening up Zarkpa's on my 25th birthday, I started showcasing the good side of Detroit on my Instagram page by posting all the positive things I was doing: hosting pop up shops with other women entrepreneurs and operating all-year-round entrepreneurship internships with college and high school girls. I was using my power and didn't even know it; that's what happens when you want other women to win.
I am so grateful to be the beacon from my community to educate other girls and women about the fintech world.
GoFundHer.com and City Girls Big Dreams are sister companies with teams dedicated to the causes of girls and women. GoFundHer.com gives your friends, family, and online network new ways to support you. They can donate one time or set up monthly donations to you for as little as $1. GoFundHer.com provides unlimited fundraising pages and eliminates the requirement to produce content for fans.
City Girls Big Dreams (CGBD) is a social network organization. Since 2014, I have hosted 150+ events inspiring girls and women to live their dreams. City Girls Big Dreams currently hosts weekly one-hour Dream Session events online for girls and women to learn about GoFundHer.com while connecting with mentors to develop their projects, businesses, and ideas. These Dream Sessions interview amazing, successful women who share their much-needed knowledge on topics such as the journey to entrepreneurship, the importance of health, beauty, and brains, how to self publish your book, and getting your finances in order.
Together, City Girls Big Dreams and GoFundHer.com empower girls, women, and their supporters to collaborate, build their network, and collect money online. Businesses and non-profit organizations can also take advantage of online fundraising and monthly donations with a free GoFundHer.com account. For corporations and charity Foundations, GoFundHer.com helps them find and donate directly to women anywhere in the world.
GoFundHer.com was launched on June 21, 2019, by myself and my business partner Roger Mensah, who is an award-winning internet entrepreneur and crowdfunding pioneer. GoFundHer.com is celebrating its first anniversary with a significant expansion into more than 150 countries. GoFundHer.com is able to offer direct deposit services in 19 countries, and now users will now be allowed to withdraw their money in 150 countries in 24 currencies.
I was using my power and didn't even know it; that's what happens when you want other women to win.
My experience as CEO of a financial technology company has been life changing for me. I am learning something new everyday about myself, the team, and what financial technology actually does for the world. I am learning so much about internet technology, the ins and outs about how to track where your users are coming from, what terms to speak so everybody understands your mission and creating a website that's easy for all-ages to use. I am so grateful to be the beacon from my community to educate other girls and women about the fintech world. I often come back to my community high school and speak to students about how they too can start living their dreams. I also have led internship programs to encourage students to learn as much as they can.
The City Girls Big Dreams and GoFundHer.com internship program runs 3 times a year, in the spring, summer, and fall. I mentor groups of 5-8 for 12 weeks. They learn about social media marketing, public relations, and financial technology. I'm very honest with all of my interns; I try to give them the blueprint of how to get ready for the real world and stay true to who they are. I host personalized Dream Sessions to really get to know my interns and see where they are in their life. They need me to shine that light and to be a leader everyday. The internship programs have really been pushing me to be the best version of myself, and I love that I'm able to help ambitious young women grow their careers.
As a woman in business my experiences have been a little bit of everything. I have learned a lot, including:
- how difficult it is for women to receive funding to start a business
- to never take no for an answer when you're starting a business and to keep going because these obstacles are tests for your testimonies.
- how to know your worth and that it's always quality over quantity. Once you know who you are and how you want to make a difference in this world, you will be able to produce a quality project to share with the world.
- how to always be willing to help prevent other women from making the same mistakes I made during my early years of my business journey.
I'm very honest with all of my interns; I try to give them the blueprint of how to get ready for the real world and stay true to who they are.
I hope that the end result of all of this knowledge is GoFundHer. Getting to use analytics, which I call Ana for short, has been my best friend during the development and growth of GoFundHer.com.
Why is GoFundHer.com the best platform in the crowdfunding industry?
- Accept Monthly donations
- Privacy for you and your donors - GoFundHer.com allows your supporters to donate to you anonymously, GoFundHer.com does not publish your fundraising statistics on your profile page or project pages.
- Safe space for women and their needs
- GoFundHer.com has a diverse team with women in ownership and woman CEO
- Most accessible - withdraw money using direct deposit in 19 countries or PayPal in 150+ countries.
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The current state of the world definitely affected us in many ways, it made us stay locked up in our homes away from all the social events and seemingly fun stuff. But the responsibilities didn't just vanish into thin air, they are still there, waiting to be organized and prepared. Times are super hectic and you are probably not in the mood to think about the foreseeable future, but there are ways to turn in into a fun time. Starting a journal or making a simple calendar can bring you peace, use that creative time to yourself and relax while doing it. Grab your colored pencils, stickers, scraps, and everything in between, your inner DIY queen is about to jump out!
Fill in the blank
So probably the easiest way to start when it comes to making your own calendar is by simply printing a blank template found online. This way you'll have a base, a blank canvas if you will. Take all the materials that you have in your house, like washi tapes, sticky notes, glittery colorful pens and anything you can think of that could work as a decoration on your calendar. And go at it! There are no rules when it comes to decorating, it's super personal and it can differ from person to person.
The only real advice you'll need is to leave some space while decorating, don't overdo it since it will clutter and distract you from the written parts. Finding the perfect template that will suit your aesthetic is extremely easy and fast, a simple google search could get you whatever you want and the best part is, it's free! There are many printable options out there, so don't worry about not finding something you'd like, the possibilities are endless and you'll find just the right calendar you imagined!
Start from scratch
If you don't have a printer at home or you're just determined to make the calendar yourself, there are awesome ways to make the best and most unique personalized calendar there is. This gives you the full freedom to do whatever you can think of, want to make a calendar from old newspapers, do it! Want to cut out a certain shape and disguise the calendar as an art piece in your kitchen, why not?
Nothing is stopping you when it comes to unleashing your creative side, use everything that you can get your hands on, think outside the box, don't be afraid to experiment. Making a calendar from scratch is an amazing opportunity to explore your artistic side, especially if you've been busy with work and responsibilities. This is a great excuse to do something creative, at the end of the day you are making it for the purpose of being more organized and having everything mapped out and planned. So make this time, the best time possible, be free and create!
Mix and match
Since there are absolutely no rules when making any diy project at home, what's stopping you from making the ultimate, super personal calendar! If you have basic knowledge in photoshop, you can even modify the blank calendars you got online, add pictures of your loved ones and family, maybe your pets or anything you like, and then print it out. Or you can print the blank template right away and add pictures or polaroids later on by using some washi tape.
Also, you can even paint over the printed blank calendar, this is a good option for those who aren't as skilled, so you'll have a base to start, just dip in your paintbrush in some acrylic or watercolor paints (or whatever you have around the house) and go for it. This is a great way to start doing artsy projects while still having some form of direction and help.
Sure keeping your priorities at bay and making plans and notes for everything is important...but the heart of this project has to be your willingness to turn something as boring and blank as a calendar into something spectacular. This calendar should proudly be up on your kitchen wall, so loud and colorful it just draws your attention to it.
If the calendar is decorated, personalized, and fun to look at, maybe it will inspire you to look forward to some events or responsibilities even if you didn't feel like it in the first place. So be creative and free, there are no rules so just go at it. With everything that happened this year, try to be positive and find little joys in seemingly insignificant things like diy calendars!