If society wanted to identify some of its scrappiest and most resilient individuals, it would need to look no further than our communities’ transitional houses. In this space you will find men and women who are overcomers. Men and women who have learned to pivot in the face of life’s (often brutal) challenges. Men and women full of hidden talents and levels of skill that many would find unexpected in this space. You would find individuals who were transitioning safely from one previous situation into a better chapter of their lives, and we could not wait to meet some of our newest scholars.
The Flikshop School of Business (FSB) team visited Capitol Heights, MD to offer educational support to a local transitional shelter for men. Through our collaboration with the Prince George’s House Men’s Shelter, FSB aimed to empower the residents with essential skills and insights to foster personal growth and self-sufficiency in the midst of their transition.
In a class centered around crafting a personal brand, the men residing in the transitional house were given an opportunity to learn and reflect on strategies to effectively present themselves and their aspirations to the world. Marcus Bullock, (Flikshop’s Founder/CEO) inspired the group by sharing his journey and lived experience, and then connecting his path to building a professional brand to the way he built a personal brand within his community. The men immediately began sharing important truths about their own value and potential, despite what society may see.
This lesson was not merely about creating a business persona, but also about dismantling barriers and dispelling stigmas that often shroud their journey towards societal reintegration. With the support of Prince George’s House Men’s Shelter leadership, alongside community leaders like Carlita Kirksey, advocating on their behalf, these men felt bolstered to continue to lean into their strengths and services they have to offer their community.
For the men navigating the challenges of transitional housing, the impact of this branding lesson was profound. The class not only provided them with practical knowledge on marketing and self-presentation but also instilled a sense of self-worth and confidence. Lead FSB Instructor, Anthony Belton, shared on the societal prejudice and encountered obstacles he faced that hindered his own progress, and many of these scholars could relate.
By focusing on building a positive personal narrative, the men were able to shift the focus away from their past mistakes or difficulties and towards their potential for growth. “I served a 59 year sentence, and most C.O.’s in those prisons said that I would be back. Yet, here I am, almost 20 years after being released, helping to build my business and my family”, said Belton.
This change in perspective gave them a newfound motivation to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors, seek meaningful employment, and contribute positively to their communities.
While the impact on the men was evident, the course also left a lasting impression on the FSB instructors and coordinators involved. Witnessing the eagerness with which the residents absorbed the lessons and embraced the concept of self-branding reinforced the importance of tailor-made support for individuals in transitional phases. “There is so much brilliance hiding in the most marginalized corners of our community.” said Bullock, while speaking to Ms. Kirksey outside of the home. “I can’t wait to see how many success stories come out of this group.”
We love being reminded that empowerment goes beyond teaching business tactics; it involves recognizing the inherent worth of every individual and nurturing their aspirations. Our Flikshop team found renewed inspiration in our mission to facilitate successful reentry and entrepreneurship pathways. This experience ignited a collective dedication to continue breaking down societal stigmas and barriers, paving the way for a more inclusive and supportive future for all.