Flight of Success

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By Nishtha Choudhary

When DeBorah A Little started her career as a flight attendant and gradually moved her way to becoming a manager at United Airlines, little did she know that she wanted to be an entrepreneur and manage her own company someday. With an amazing combination of grit, strength and conviction, DeBorah combined forces to start her own venture Touchdown Presentations and LilMor’Strix. 9/11 came as the turning point her life. As she was one of the most recent recruits at the company, she was the first one to be asked to leave. But DeBorah used it to her advantage and went ahead to join her then husband’s real-estate business. A moment of pause and epiphany and DeBorah realized she enjoyed working for herself more than anything else. She forged ahead with her ventures and was the first African American woman to be elected to the Syracuse City Common Council. Apart from this she’s also co-authored two books and is in the process of writing her next one.

Now a student at Syracuse University’s prestigious I-school, DeBorah says, “It was the ‘What’s the big idea’ class that inspired me to innovate and create. We had several assignments where we needed to come up with our ideas that are novel or improvisations of the current ones.” During this process she woke up one morning to hit the bottom of the stick of yet another lipstick. “Right there was an opportunity for me,” says DeBorah elaborating on how she realized she wanted to create a product where you could use the complete stick of the lipstick. She was successful in pitching the idea to the class and several students came on board to join forces. “Creating the design took several months. Finally, ‘Maker Space’ at SU campus helped me create the prototype. After creating 3 iterations of prototype, the next step was to search for a manufacturer which we found in Rochester. It took 13-14 months after the initial idea to come up with the product. The entire process took us approximately 14 months to develop the product after pitching the idea,” says Deborah.

One of the major roadblocks DeBorah faced was balancing being a full-time student and managing her business. “As an entrepreneur, you face several issues with different aspects of a business. A part of it was facing challenges on the marketing and distribution front. Also, you want to find the right people who believe in your vision and share your passion,” says DeBorah. However, this hasn’t discouraged or bogged her down. “Honestly, it’s been such a long but amazing journey so far. You do it or don’t do it, it’s all up to you,” she says. A bad marriage, stint at real-estate business and a job at United Airlines made DeBorah realize that she wanted the freedom and control of having her own venture. A personal coach, trainer and powerful speaker, DeBorah helps people find their calling and voice. “I feel empowered because it gives you the strength to chart your own destiny and live your dreams. It helps you help others. And moreover, it gives you the freedom to take the decisions you really want to,” says DeBorah adding, “As women, we have the capacity to change the world and make it a better place. So believe in your dreams. Be spiritually connected. Live right and treat people right.”

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