Reflecting on 2023, it's clear that this has been the absolute best year of my life! From traveling the globe, to speaking publicly on numerous occasions, to witnessing my mom's well-deserved retirement. This year has been packed with memorable milestones and I am happy to share them with you all:
Advocacy: in 2020 the world was stricken with the relentless COVID-19 pandemic, shifting our lives and world as we knew it. Unlucky for the Buffalo State Class of 2020 amongst other graduating classes, we were deprived of a formal graduation. Determined to rectify this I reached out to influential figures within the Buffalo State Alumni department to advocate for a belated ceremony. I am happy to share that the efforts were successful: the class of 2020 will proudly walk the stage in 2024! This event is not just a graduation ceremony - it is a symbol of triumph over adversity!
Personal Growth: This year, I embraced new skills like screen printing and sewing, enriching my creative arsenal!
From Competitor to Judge: In 2020, I stepped into the New York Business Plan Competition as a hopeful entrepreneur with my startup, dooProcess. Earlier this year, in a remarkable turn of events, I had the honor of returning to the competition, not as a contender, but as a judge! This transition from competitor to judge marks a significant full circle in my entrepreneurial journey.
(NY Business Plan Competition)
As a judge, I was thrilled to be part of a platform that nurtures aspiring entrepreneurs, fostering their growth and fueling their innovative spirits. It was a privilege to contribute to a competition that once played a pivotal role in my own entrepreneurial path and to now have the opportunity to guide and inspire the next wave of business leaders.
Global Travels: I journeyed across 5 countries (Morocco, Ghana, Trinidad, Grenada and Canada), including a deeply meaningful visit to Ghana, the motherland, and reconnected with family in Grenada after over 15+ years.
(A Ghanaian mother and her children)
Language Learning Epiphany: My journey into the world of languages began with a memorable trip to Colombia in 2022. As a high school student, Spanish lessons didn't quite capture my attention, a realization that came sharply into focus during my travels in Colombia. Confronted with a language barrier from the moment I landed, I quickly understood the significance of learning languages and embracing different cultures. This eye-opening experience led me to Duolingo, a language learning app, and I'm proud to share that I've maintained a 480-day streak of diligently learning Spanish. This commitment to language learning has not only expanded my linguistic abilities but also opened doors to new cultural understandings and I cannot wait to visit a Spanish speaking country again!
Leadership Development: Participating in the Karen R Lee Spaulding Leaders of Color Fellowship was an eye opener. Going into the program I went in with the goal of being more attentive when listening and engaging in conversation. Throughout the week-long leadership program by Rockwood we went through the 6 core principles of leadership - Purpose, Vision, Performance, Resilience, Partnership and Personal Ecology. I can successfully say not only did I come out of the week with the strength of being more attentive, but I also gained 23 new brothers and sisters that I can now reach out to anytime by looking left!
(Cohort 5 of the Karen Lee Spaulding Leaders of Color Fellowship)
Celebratory Milestones: This year marked a series of joyous occasions for my family. My mom, a single parent who raised five children on her own, entered her well deserved retirement! We honored this along with her and my brother’s birthday in the beautiful Caribbean island, Trinidad!
Embracing Public Speaking: Overcoming challenges in public speaking has been a significant part of my journey this year. To conquer this feat, I embraced every opportunity to speak publicly, aiming to improve my skills.
- My first engagement was with Buffalo State's Entrepreneurship students, preparing for the NY State Business Plan Competition. Fun Fact: I am Buffalo State's first-ever competition winner. So, I was invited back by the amazing Su McCarthy to share my insights and experiences with students getting ready for the competition!
- The journey continued at the Eagle Academy in the Bronx, where Coach McGarry invited me to share my entrepreneurial story and the inspiration behind my business, dooProcess.
- The journey then continued at University of Buffalo’s Black Student Union auction for Sickle Cell Cancer research. I spoke on behalf of dooProcess and the significance of it as a brand. (Fun Fact: a dooProcess tote bag which retails at $20, went for over $140 in auction!)
- Myself and the Buffalo Fashion Runway Team had the chance to speak in a panel discussion at Daemen University. The topic we spoke on was about navigating the professional world as a Black individual.
- Finally, at South Park High School, along with the Buffalo Fashion Runway team, we had the pleasure of discussing fashion and design with young, aspiring students.
(Eagle Academy in the Bronx, NY)
Launching Buffalo Fashion Runway/House: Teaming up with four like-minded individuals, we established Buffalo Fashion Runway/House. This venture led to:
- Lifelong friendships that turned into a brotherhood
- A successful inaugural event (Buffalo Fashion Runway: A Confluence of The Arts powered by BootSector) spotlighting Buffalo’s emerging designers, artists and poets
- Gaining the trust of established entities like AKG, Rich Products, WestHerr, and Burchfield Penney Art Center, based solely on our vision/drive since we had no proof of concept
- Winning a $1,000 Good Neighbor Fund micro-grant! (Fun Fact - I met co-founder, Rodney Chatmon, at their launch event earlier this year in March)
- Collaborating with Buffalo Startup Week to create four iconic one of one shirts that was included in a silent auction throughout the week and amassed over hundreds of dollars in money raised
- Creating a one of one piece for Project Mona's House Gala which was featured in their silent auction which helped raised funds to help abolish human trafficking
- Stay Tuned for our next show in February of 2024: Buffalo Fashion Runway - Black Carpet. We will be paying homage to the vibrant and the resilient journey of Black fashion throughout history. An event you do not want to miss as we are partnering with the AKG and Northland Workforce Training Center to make this happen. Follow @BuffaloFashionRunway on Instagram to stay updated!
(Good Neighbors Fund $1000 Grant)
Embracing Entrepreneurship: This year I transitioned to being a full-time entrepreneur, pursuing my passions through dooProcess, Buffalo Fashion Runway, and Buffalo Fashion House.
As I look towards 2024, I am filled with anticipation for the Buffalo Fashion Runway - Black Carpet event in February among the many other endeavors this journey takes me on. As I eagerly anticipate the coming year, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude for the journey thus far. I thank God for guiding me through 2023 and look forward to walking alongside Him in the years to come.
Stay tuned for the exciting developments in 2024 and beyond!
Peace and Blessings - Chad Williams