Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Simone Gamble, Founder of OAAARS, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
OAAARS is a people of color-led consultancy that provides social justice-centered education and training to create saf(er) and inclusive workplaces while cultivating change agents in the workplace and beyond. So through the use of workshop training for all staff, leadership coaching, and audits, we work with organizations to find the spaces where equity, inclusion, and injustice are missing and provide them with the tools to change it at every level. We also give folks the tools to use this knowledge to change not only their workplaces but also their communities. OAAARS refers to these talented change-makers with organizations looking to transform organizational culture, systems, and behaviors to support the cultivation of safer, equitable, and inclusive spaces. Our customer base is heavily in the nonprofit, youth work, and education sectors, but we want to expand into corporate spaces as well. Our customer base is those ready to answer the call of the racial reckoning of 2020, where we had to truly look at our workspaces and see that change needed to happen. We work with those who know that this change is necessary, is systemic, and benefits all.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Simone Gamble. I am a community organizer, youth worker, social worker, and educator from NYC. I am currently the founder of OAAARS, a people of color-led consultancy that provides social justice-centered education and training to create safer and inclusive workplaces while cultivating change agents in the workplace and beyond. I got into this work with OAAARS because I wanted to make sure that people of color, especially Black people, had spaces at work where their identities were seen, honored, centered, and given equitable access to all they needed to thrive. I wanted OAAARS to be a response to the silence that happens in workplaces when it comes to issues of social justice and other DEI-related issues and to provide the training on how to transform workplaces led by change makers themselves. All of our consultants identify as community organizers, activists, artists, and advocates. We are excited that the design we created speaks to the dynamic, communal, and bold nature that OAAARS represents. I was inspired to start my business in 2017, and there were a bunch of factors that led to its creation.
The first was as a response to silence in the workplace around issues of justice when it came to marginalized communities. Folks need to remember that we can’t take off the world when we enter our desks, so our workplaces need to take those experiences into account when thinking about how to fully show up for everyone. I remember one instance where I went to work after a major police killing and not having any space to just process this and still having to perform in the same capacity as my white peers. And this was only one instance in which my identity played a disproportionate impact on my experience in the workplace. So I wanted to create an organization that became the noise in the room to help facilitate these training sessions.
OAAARS was created in response to silence. Although this experience is deeply personal to me, it is not an individual one. This is the experience of many marginalized identities in the workplace. Psychological safety is something that many marginalized folks lack access to in the workplace. We are changing the face of consulting and making sure those who see justice as the end goal are on our team and center it in our practice.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is the network of BIPOC consultants/change-makers and clients we have been able to accrue since 2020. We have not been made to spend hundreds of dollars on marketing. All of our network and client bases have been obtained through word of mouth. This is my biggest accomplishment because it is a testament to the quality work we do, and the alignment folks have with our vision. I could not ask for anything more. I hope that our business continues to inspire others that you can center social justice and social impact in your business and be successful. This should be the way forward.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is the sacrifices you must sometimes make for the benefit of the work. There are many times when I sacrificed sleep and time with friends and family in order to make this successful. It is important to create clear boundaries and center self-care. It is easy to let this work take over, but you have to remember your rest and healing are also a part of the work. We must always remember that.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I learned the importance of having folks on your team who truly understand your vision and believe in you. This makes all the difference. It saves so much time and energy when you have someone who is aligned with your goals and values. It shows in work completed and in the synergetic working relationship. I also learned to let go of what you feel may be the best way. I learned to truly trust others with my vision as well.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
You can donate to our work to help us continue this. You can PayPal email@example.com or Venmo: simone-gamble. Funding is the best way to support small businesses.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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