A woman really can have it all, according to Nakia Williams. She just has to define what "it all" is and know where to find it.
Williams was happy climbing up the ladder in corporate America. The money was good. Her work was rewarding. The only thing she found lacking was time. Having to deal with the same 24 hours a day that we are all allotted, Williams found it was hard to find time for her family and her personal passions, which including caring for her special needs son Jhazz and keeping up with the demands of her motivational speaking career aimed at helping parents with special needs children. The only was she could have "it all" was to find more time.
"Corporate America tied my hands," Williams said. So with her friend Sonya Collins, she incorporated the works of local artists and merchants in the SOJE Emporium. Tucked underground at Honest Alley in Lawrenceville, SOJE is a place where not only does Williams have it all, but so do her customers.
Dozens of booths and tables display handmade clothing, jewelry and home decor. New and consigned shoes and clothing for men, women and children fill up little niches with names like Devora's Place and My Best Friend's Closet.
Unique gift items include jellies and pickles from Simply Southern Bakery and Catering, body butters by CAVA and bath teas, cleverly packaged in giant tea bags formulated to ease sinus and muscle pains by Janeen Cousins, a registered nurse. For a touch of the exotic, Williams' cousin Kena Sage, who lives in Hawaii, sends her vials of exotic oils custom blended from cowrie flowers.
Adding to the family element of "it all," Williams mother, Davina Epps, operates a beauty shop in the complex along with master barber, Carl Beacham, who is also a minister.
"We get into a lot of Bible discussions during the day," Williams said.
And speaking of casual discussions, her cafe area, which features packaged snacks and bottled drinks, and another area with an overstuffed couch that she calls her man cave are available for customers to sit and chat, watch TV or use Wi-Fi. It's a popular place among her daughter Quiera's college friends where they can just chill out after a grueling final. The area is also available to rent for Bible studies, networking groups, showers or other events.
What's even better is that in striving to please her customers, Williams does not confine "it all" to her underground emporium.
Shoppers can buy a cup of tea at ArisTEAcrats and bring it in or get a glass of wine at Niko's Wine Corner and relax in the courtyard of Honest Alley.
And here, at ground level, Williams has all the time she needs to tend to her family. When you know where to look, which is obviously not always at the top of the corporate ladder, "it all" just seems to fall in place.
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.