Today’s second chance entrepreneur highlight features Latanya Skillern who this year started LRG Commercial Contracting, an interior painting, cleaning, and janitorial services business and founded Ladies that Lean, a 501C3 nonprofit.
What is Ladies that Lean?
Lean = Living Excellently After Negativity. We are a new 501C3 reentry program. We assist incarcerated women who are ready for reentry and formerly incarcerated women in the areas of education, counseling, life skills, housing, career and business planning/development. We are currently mentoring a few women and building awareness in the community.
When were you released from prison and how has your reentry journey been thus far?
I was released in 2006. It’s been a test of my endurance, but it has been good. Each level brings a new awareness of trauma I experienced in prison.
What have you done professionally since incarceration that has prepared you for starting your business?
I’m a painter by trade with an almost 2 decade career in construction. While I was in prison I got my degree in building maintenance. Since being released my career in construction has ranged from being a lead painter and supervisor at a Big 12 University, to estimating and project management. Alongside my business, I am currently the Director of Operations for Rinnov8, a residential construction company.
Why are you passionate about your business?
Construction has allowed me to remake myself and to grow after incarceration. I believe that it can do the same for others as well.
What are you most proud of in regard to your business thus far?
I have trained two woman that have never painted before. It is very gratifying to teach people new trades.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far as an entrepreneur?
It is not for the faint of heart. You must have determination to get through each level. There are a lot of layers to construction and it is easy to get discouraged.
What advice would you give to someone currently in prison who would like to do something positive with their life when they get home?
While you’re in prison, create a plan and start working toward your plan right away. Take advantage of the classes and resources that are available to you.
Outside of your business, what is something that you love doing?
I fish for sport, it’s my passion. And when I want to get away from things I grow vegetables.
What does success look like for you and your business?
My grandma always said success is not measured by dollar and cents. I live by that. Am I further along than I was last year? I measure success by how far I’ve come.
Keep up the great work, Latanya!
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Determination, Incorporated is a 501C3 nonprofit in KCMO empowering formerly incarcerated people to seize employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in home building, home improvement, and affordable housing. To learn more, contact us here.
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