Extraordinary Friday-Twanna Gil

7:02:00 AM


Extraordinary Friday is where I spotlight women doing awesome things in the community. I want to highlight ordinary women achievements to encourage women to become extraordinary women. To showcase that they too can be teachers, business owners, or volunteers.

Let’s meet our Extraordinary Woman…

Twanna N. Gill
 Mother of one seven year old son. BBA in Computer Science from Georgia Southern University. Masters of Project Management from Keller Graduate School of Management. Worked as a facilities project manager for 9 years. Owner of Mocha Kids and Empress

 What makes you an Extraordinary Woman?

I am just a woman trying to find her way and make my place in this world. I think that is what all of us are doing. So that’s makes us all extraordinary.

Tell me more about your organization/business?

I currently own 2 businesses.

Mocha Kids is an online bookstore dedicated to African-American children. Reading is such an important skill to give to children. If you can read you can do anything. It is truly the gateway to life. It is the one gift that we can give to our kids that doesn’t cost a thing. Too many of our children are not even reading at grade level. If you can’t read there is no way you can truly excel in school or in life. When my son, who is now 7, was born I knew that I wanted to share my love of reading with him. So like most moms we would go to the local bookstore or library and look for books that interested him. I started to notice a pattern that I couldn’t easily find books with “mocha” faces on them. Granted there was a local African-American bookstore in my area that I would frequent which had a small selection of books for children and that started me to thinking – are there more? I would search for books high and low and kept thinking there has to be a better way. Well, in January 2009, just days before Barack Obama was inaugurated, I was laid off. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and have had several business plans just sitting around, but the bookstore was the one I was most passionate about. In November 2009, Mocha Kids went live. It is still a struggle to get the word out that we exist with over 500 books with “Mocha” faces just for our Mocha Kids but I believe in the company and our vision to bring books of interests to African-American children.

I am also the owner of Empress. Empress is a virtual business solutions company that provides virtual administrative and project management services to small business owners. We also offer strategic business planning and management services as well. I sort of just stumbled into this business. For years I have always been that “go to” person for friends, family and business associates for their business needs. They would always tell me that people would pay for everything you do. But I never really took that message to heart. I love helping people and that’s what I felt like I was doing. I was helping them by creating that spreadsheet, flyer, etc. I was being a good friend listening to business dreams and providing steps and guidance on how to turn that dream into reality. As they began to tell people about how I was assisting them with various things, I started getting phone calls for projects and Empress was born. I really enjoy this line of work and I look forward to growing this business.

How is your business/organization impacting women’s lives?

Most of my Empress clients are women. The more “tasks” I can take off their hands, the more excited they are about running their business and the less they feel overwhelmed. I think in some cases, having an experienced business, project and administrative manager on our team can be the one necessity that keeps people/women from giving up on their dreams.

Through Mocha Kids, I have made shopping for books for your children just a little bit easier. And who doesn’t like shopping made easy! All moms want to raise the best human being they possibly can. We all want to provide our children with the tools to succeed. And one of the best tools you can give your children is the tool of reading comprehension.

What made you step out on Faith? What was your aha moment?

After being laid off, I didn’t have any more excuses. God put these business ideas in my heart and I would say “Because I’m a single mom, I don’t have the money.” “Because I am working a full time job, I don’t have time.” “Because I’m in school, it’s not the right time”. Well, I guess God got tired of the excuses. The job became a non-issue. I was off after I finished my master’s degree. So there were no more excuses. I didn’t have a reason NOT to act. Things are not as perfect as I would like them to be but I am happy and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

What motivates you or drives you especially when things get a little hectic?

The fact that the only option I have is to succeed. There isn’t another job to fall back on. There isn’t a husband who is taking care of things… Everything I have or could ever want is riding on the success of these businesses. If something isn’t working I have to figure out how to change things and keep doing that until I figure out the right success formula for me.

In Ephesians 3:20 it states, “God will do exceedingly and abundantly above anything that you can ask or imagine according to the power that is at work within you.” How does this passage apply to you?

Since I have started this journey I really have not had to worry about anything. Even having to start over, starting over with less … I am happier and in a lot of ways so much closer to Him. I cannot really explain my relationship with Him but I know that I am on the right path professionally. I have never been more at peace where that is concerned.

What obstacles have you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

I’m not sure if I have had any obstacles… I will say the biggest issue is people close to me not understanding the walk I am taking right now. They have their visions of where I should be and what I should be doing and keep trying to push me into that box. I know it comes from a loving place so I just have to take it to God and listen to Him and follow what I believe is His will and His plan for my life.

How do you handle negativity& negative people?

I can’t say that anyone that is close to me is negative. I think they are more concerned. The unknown is scary to a lot of people where I see this as a welcomed adventure. I don’t too much allow negativity and negative people around me. I believe in surrounding myself with positive energy and positive people. If I find that balance being off, then it is time for me to change the company I keep and where I spend my time.

Extraordinary women usually live very busy lives, how do you handle success? What do you do as your stress reliever? What do you do in your spare time? What is your favorite weekend getaway spot?

It’s funny because I have SO many things I want to do and want to accomplish I don’t feel “successful”. I’m no different from anyone else. I’m just trying to make sure I make positive contributions to lives of the people I come into contact with – whether it is for a moment, season, reason or lifetime. The best stress reliever for me is reading. I can easily get lost in a book. Music is the next best thing. I love to sing. In my spare time I am usually with friends and family. I love my son and making him happy and hearing him laugh is the absolute best way to end a long day. I haven’t taken any personal vacations in long time so I don’t have a favorite weekend getaway just yet. But I plan to change that in 2012.

What are your tried and true sho’ nuff steps to success?

Truly believe in yourself. Stand firm in who you are and what you want out of life. Surround yourself with like minded people. My sister-friends are completely awesome and I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have them behind me 1000%. They push me and believe in and they are not afraid to put our friendship on the line to check me or any other member of our group. And that’s what makes them so special and a must have!

What is your legacy?

I’m still working on building my empire so only time will tell

Ways to contact you or where to find your product? How can people become involved with your organization?


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