In this edition of Entrepreneurs Heart Hartford, we sat down with HYPE member Carmen Veal to learn about the many ventures she's working on here in Hartford.
Tell us about your companies.
Since 2009 I've started four companies that I house under Carmen Veal Headquarters. The first is Sani Auri, a clothing company that once offered full fashion collections by season. Today, Sani Auri offers limited edition handmade apparel as well as pop up sewing and craft classes, both virtually and locally."
My second company, Hope 4 Autism, Inc, is a nonprofit organization founded in 2010. After my daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I created the organization to develop programs and services for children and families effected by the disorder.
My third company was founded in 2013 called Brown Skin Women. Brown Skin Women is a self empowerment organization for women and girls of color. BSW educates the community on self acceptance and self love (with a focus on embracing natural beauty).
Finally, my last company is called Carmen Veal Interiors. That was also created in 2013 after a series of very unique opportunities, which allowed me to use my talent and skill as a professional service to others. CVI is a Decor & Special Events Planning Firm that has lead to remarkable opportunities to support commercial clients and contracts with the City of Hartford.
Why did you decide to start your businesses in Hartford?
I'm a Hartford native who has had great experiences throughout my time here. So it made sense to build my foundation at the place I knew and loved. Plus, it didn't hurt to have "Art" in Hartford - it kind of made me feel my existence was destined.
How does your business impact the community?
I play an active role in advocating for positive change in Hartford, by playing a hands on role in it's growth. Hope 4 Autism and Brown Skin Women are organizations that support the well being of community members. Through Sani Auri and Carmen Veal Interiors, I share my creative abilities by supporting others in their own personal and professional growth. I also sit on a couple of HYPE committees, as well as The Hospital for Special Care's Advisory Board. Additionally, I shop local small businesses and promote and support all things that are positively impacting Hartford.
What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur who may be hesitant to take the plunge into entrepreneurship?
Something I have discovered throughout my five years in business are that there needs to be awareness and acceptance of potential fear of failure as well as a fear of success. I have experienced both. And on both sides comes a certain level of acceptance, understanding and growth. Since learning the significance in self-discipline, I've prioritized practicing it habitually. Self discipline holds you accountable for understanding the significance and awareness of your time, which will lead to effective decision making, followed by taking action (to initiate and complete the task).
What is the best part about being an entrepreneur and what are some challenges that you face?
Being an entrepreneur in Hartford is quite rewarding. I enjoy being accepted and supported for doing what I love. I also enjoy supporting others in their ventures as a result of their support. I'd say my biggest challenges are feeling overwhelmed from time to time. There are periods where it feels like too much. When this happens, I self soothe by taking time out for myself. I don't mean a long break (unless it's a planned vacation). I mean self-care, simply to do something free/inexpensive and enjoyable. It's like hitting the reset button, and being reminded why I do what I do, and feeling inspired to continue where I left off.
What is your vision for your business ventures over the next five years?
My next feat is to be based out of a location that will allow me to operate Carmen Veal Headquarters from. I would like to hire staff who are aspiring entrepreneurs looking to learn from my experiences. As a result of a location to operate out of and supportive staff, my brands will flourish. I foresee H4A and BSW being an internationally recognized organization serving community across the world, and SA & CVI operating on a grander scale supporting individuals and businesses within there respected areas.
This blog series, posted in partnership between HYPE and reSET, offers a platform to showcase the commitment that Hartford Entrepreneurs have for their work and this City. It will examine how young entrepreneurs have chosen their work, and give examples of the ways in which they are having an impact in Hartford.