Updated: Jun 11
I am constantly trying to beat myself at my own game! - Almesha' C. Spotser
Small businesses account for 45 percent of GDP and nearly half of all US employees work for small businesses. They are an anchor within our economy and are great incubators of innovation and creativity. Inc.com highlights that of the 2010 Census, there were 27.9 million small businesses registered in the United States, compared to just 18,500 companies of 500 employees or more. More and more, small business ownership is reflecting the diversity of the United States. As of 2012, 14.6 percent of small business owners were minorities, which includes 2.3 million Hispanic-American-owned businesses, 1.9 million African-American-owned businesses, and 1.6 million Asian-owned businesses. In this Re.engineer Trending Leader feature, we were blessed to have an opportunity to partner with Almesha’ C. Spotser, owner of AlamaRose, as she shares her perspectives on driving innovation, enhancing the customer experience and working daily to become a better version of herself. Almashea’ is an Entrepreneur and creative enthusiast. As is a self-taught designer, she has used her talents to build something beyond her professional norm. She has found her place nestled between the worlds of design and motherhood and is creating a space that is focused on helping women remember who they were prior to motherhood. Building upon her expertise in corporate sales, she set out to start her own brand and business, AlmaRose Bags. Her initial thought was to design a great diaper bag that would be cross-functional for the busy mom. The success of AlmaRose Bags has reached all women as far as San Juan, Puerto Rico and Okinawa, Japan to the boroughs of New York and the suburbs of Texas. Although the bags are the cornerstone of the conception of AlmaRose, she is on a quest to broaden the conversation on the things that mostly affect the lives of women on a more personal level. She is that mom who lost herself in the demands of motherhood. She has been doing the work to reclaim her identity and is a force to be reckoned with in terms of redemption. This Louisiana girl is charming her way through some of the most difficult circumstances to come out on the other side better than before.
From corporate married mom of one to a full time Entrepreneur single mom of two, this HBCU graduate is an expert on resilience. Changing the narrative about what strength looks and feels like to a women is important to Almashea’. Being apart of other women’s lives in the form of a bag is the prelude of her becoming an ally to women in such a way that helps them understand that they don’t have to carry it all by themselves.
Q: I really love your AlmaRose brand; it’s innovation and elegance all wrapped up in one bag. What inspired you to start your company?
Almashea': I started the AlmaRose Brand when I was 5 months pregnant with my son. I guess you could call it premature nesting. I was up thinking about everything that I needed for my baby and how I was going to balance everything. At the time, I was working in corporate America and I began to think about what I was going to carry. Automatically, I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to carry a workbag, diaper bag and purse all at the same time—with baby in tow. That visual seemed heavy to me. As a first time mom, I didn’t need anything extra. I began to search for what I wanted and couldn’t find it. It was at that moment in the middle of the night that I took a folded up paper towel next to my bed and sketched my first bag. I set out to create something that could keep my style cohesive while carrying what I needed for work, my baby and myself all in one. It’s funny because as the brand evolves, I realize more so now that it shines a light on one of the fears of motherhood that I once had. I thought that when I became a mom, that was all I was going to be. Society (at the time) painted this picture that motherhood was limited and that limitation was a fear of mine. The bags challenge my previous thoughts and fears. They have morphed into bags that are suitable for absolutely anything a woman may need it for: work, travel, baby and/or life. These bags are meant to reflect the abilities of all women. Each bag does what it needs to do and does it well. Longevity and quality without compromising one’s style was my mission. I wanted something that was multi-dimensional like myself and other women. We are not one wonder type humans. Women do a lot at one time. When you are on the constant go, you need a bag that can keep up!
Almashea': The brand and what led me to entrepreneurship is more than just a bag. I am inspired to keep creating tangible goods. However, it’s just as important to have a sacred safe space that allow women to evolve into who they need to be to reach their best selves. In my industry, there are a lot of amazingly crafted bags—no doubt. However, the way that AlmaRose is pushing the status quo, we are focusing on the core needs and desires of women by putting their needs first. After the baby is born, does that woman have what she needs to help deal with the emotional, mental and physical changes to make sure SHE is okay? Before a woman steps foot into a boardroom, is HER confidence where it needs to be to know that regardless of anyone else’s opinion, she adds value? When a woman travels across the world, does SHE know that she has the right to self-care without question? The bags are there to carry what she needs. The brand is there to support the woman she is.
Q: You have an unwavering focus on improving your customers’ lives through your products. How do find time to balance it all with business, family and your personal life?
Almashea': As a true ground up Entrepreneur, that is the million-dollar question! The balancing act is a constant lesson full of hits and misses. I am not above those rarely discussed misses. No one actually wants to discuss when he or she gets it wrong. The reality is, it happens. I am a single mom with two small kids—so I have definitely had my share of misses. To overcome those moments when I fall short, I own up to the mishap(s) and use it an opportunity to have teachable moments. I believe that the balance is mental. When I have great moments, I celebrate them no matter how small. I will celebrate when my kids eat vegetables and listen the first time just as much as I celebrate hitting my monthly numbers. The key is to know and fully understand human moments happen. As long as I keep giving myself the grace to try again, everything will align as it should regardless of what it may look.
Q: At Re.engineer, our foundational values are collaboration and sharing value across all industries. Tell us about your greatest collaboration project.
Almashea': My greatest collaboration projects and efforts come from partnering with other female entrepreneurs to solve a problem. I usually do this with bloggers who focus on motherhood, career and lifestyle. This gives the most organic reach to women who have experienced something that the AlmaRose Brand can assist with. There was one instance when I collaborated with a Mommy Blogger for an AlmaRose Bag giveaway. What the winner didn’t realize is that she would receive help and support in an unsolicited way to help cover and secure a few necessities in preparation for the arrival of her child. Some of the best moments that include AlmaRose are the ones that don’t involve press releases and public attention. I appreciate those moments because I understand what it’s like to be to the point of a need that you can’t fulfill on my own. It’s less of a project and more of being my sister’s keeper.
Q: What advice would you give to other young professionals or entrepreneurs looking to take their career or business to the next level?
Almashea': I would tell a fellow Entrepreneur that it is important to establish your why. There will come a time (especially as an Entrepreneur) that you will question yourself and everything around you. There will be moments of frustration and an alternative will appear to be a better solution because of short-term stress. You have to keep your eye on the bigger picture and that starts with your reason why you are even doing it in the first place. It will be important to set a plan for yourself and your business for the sake of accountability. The first investor in your business, idea or plan is you. Starting out, your investment might not have a monetary value. However, you have to put in the time and sweat equity to sustain long enough for others to take notice. Your ego can’t have an identity. That waiting period can take some time, but don’t try to skip the parts of the process that are uncomfortable because valuable lessons are learned there.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
Almashea': Making sure that I have done what needs to be done to set myself up to be better than I was the day before is what keeps me up at night. It’s not my intent to live my life and remain the same. Making space for growth is important. It’s also not my intent to be like anyone else. So I am constantly trying to beat myself at my own game. I am not where I want to be at the moment in all aspects of life and that is okay as long as I keep trying to reach a greater point. The problem comes if I ever settle for being complacent verse being extraordinary. I have no plans of stopping or settling. So, tonight I will be up figuring out how to be a better version of myself so that the legacy is strong enough for my kids to stand on.
Almashea' has been a model of excellence throughout her entire life and she has build upon this foundation to create stunning yet very functional products that are revolutionizing the hand bag industry. We are impressed with her work and we extend our sincere gratitude for challenging the status quo and for using ingenuity to promote diversity, inclusion and value creation across the world. Almashea', you are a certified Re.engineer!