Kelli Mumphrey. Founder & CEO. MilkSpace. Virginia State University


EnrichHER 2018 Spark Conference held last March 14 at Atlanta Technology Village. EnrichHER, founded by Dr. Roshawnna Novellus are local initiatives designed to help entrepreneurs with coaching, capital, and connections.  In business, the saying is “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”  EnrichHER Spark allows entrepreneurs to advance their businesses by making meaningful face-to-face connections with local leaders, investors, business coaches, and like-minded entrepreneurs.  

According to Dr. Novellus, one of the biggest issues that women-led businesses face is access to capital. For this reason, InrichHer program presented an entrepreneur showcase that included a grant to a lucky entrepreneur with shared resources that will increase success of gaining capital.

Meet the EnrichHER 2018 Spark Conference Finalist

Kelli Mumphrey. Founder & CEO. MilkSpace. Virginia State University & American Military University

MilkSpace is a DFW Start-Up that is committed to providing accessible and adequate event rental nursing cubes for moms on the go no matter her location.

First job ever? Pizza Hut

Who are your mentors and icons that have influenced you the most and why? My mother, grandmother and great grandmother all have served as both my mentors and icons that have had a heavy influence into the development of the woman I am today. The ladies of my family have always been present as mentors by offering a welcoming ear and unjudging heart in rendering their advice. Indeed, there have been many discussions in which they expressed their concern and perspective, but not once did their words ever come from a place other than love. Offering advice from a place solely of love is the most beneficial foundation for a mentor/mentee relationship, as there is an unspoken understanding that their advice and perspective is genuinely meant for your good even if it hurts a little. Although there are many influencers both men and women that have impacted me either personally or professionally, the ladies of my family have exemplified the true meaning of women living a life of service.

My mother served 20 years in the Army. While in the Army she earned BS in Professional Aeronautics and became a commissioned officer. My mother raised four children and managed to earn a MS in Counseling and a JD law degree. My mother’s academic achievements are admirable, but what is even more impactful to me is my mother’s selflessness. Throughout my life, I have witnessed firsthand my mother’s deeds in servicing others. Once retired, she worked for EEOC for nine years then later made a career change where she now works for the Maryland Resource Center providing pro-bono legal services for the homeless. She resides in Fort Washington, MD yet travels 90 minutes to and from work to Baltimore, MD and has taken a pay cut twice as low as her previous salary. She acknowledges the desires of her spirit which is to help others without allowing money to be a factor.
At the age of 47 my grandmother Mrs. Brenda C. Whaley attained her GED and then went on to earn her Associates degree at 70. As you can imagine, beginning college at the age of 67 she had a tremendous learning curve in the use of computer technology. During those years in college she loss siblings, her house was burglarized twice, and she had a stroke on her birthday, but through it all she managed to come out on top with a G.P.A. of 3.5. Her perseverance has taught me that it’s never too late to start over again, and that it’s never too late to be what you should have been.

My late great grandmother Mrs. Louise Copeland who was loved by her family and community has had the greatest impact in my life. Although small in stature standing at 5 ft, weighing less than 100lbs, she was a feisty faithful queen with a heart of gold. Raising eleven children, their children and other community children (both young and old), she had a very special stern but loving way of encouraging others to live a life worthy of living. She was undeniably true to her faith and was a selfless servant to all who knew her, but most importantly God. She would literally give you her last quarters if you needed it. My great grandmother’s faith and determination to live a life of purpose serves as a constant reminder that we only have one life on this earth, and that it should be lived not for self, but in love and service. I know for certain that her prayers and my blessings are directly connected with the other. It’s simple, she prayed for not only for herself but for many others, especially for her family. Because of her faithfulness and life of selflessness, I am truly blessed. In return, it is only natural that I do the same to be deserving of the blessings she prayed for and live a life of love and service myself.

When did you first realize that you were born to be an entrepreneur / business leader and what course of action did you take in terms of following that passion? Funny thing is I never felt that I was born to be an entrepreneur. However, I have always felt a desire to help others in their everyday lives, and I have always felt I wanted to do just that on my own terms. Meaning, bringing my dreams into reality in where I have a direct contribution in what and how my dreams are achieved, and I can create an inclusive culture that places a heavy emphasis on a positive work culture where everyone’s values and perspectives are welcomed and included in the company culture. Initially, I had wanted to earn a second master’s degree because I thought that was the smart thing to do. However, once enrolling in a Public Administration program, I came to the realization that my third degree needed to be in an area that directly contributed to my truest desires. I am grateful that I can create my own narrative and become everything that I desire to be.

My husband and I have two little girls Zoei-5 and Zyla-3, it is my responsibility to live and be an example. Often, I say to our little girls that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up. How can I tell my girls that they can be anything they want to be if I am not leading by example? I have made a conscious decision to begin taking steps in becoming an entrepreneur that will enable me to say with full confidence to my family in full confidence that they can be anything they want to be if they are happy and are not hurting themselves and other in the process. Entrepreneurship is simply part of me, but not all of me and I want to be an example to my children and to the world, if it is in your spirit…pursue it! My personal motto is “Realize Every Aspiration Can Happen…REACH for the Stars!

Being an entrepreneur is a gift and a curse. We have to work 20 times harder and learn to sacrifice a lot to arrive to our destination. What advice would you impart to future entrepreneurs and to strong business leaders? As a newbie entrepreneur with only two months in, I have experienced my share of others expressing their concerns about my ability to be able to provide for my family, and that I must keep in mind that it’s not about me anymore with children to care for. I strongly feel that being a parent should be the number one priority when children are in the equation of your life. I would remind entrepreneurs indeed, we have children to care for and/or other personal responsibilities that requires our devoted heart and mind however, those responsibilities can be equally met/provided for while simultaneously pursuing our dreams. The number one thing is to have a plan in place that will enable entrepreneurs to handle their responsibilities while making their dreams a reality. My children are “MY WHY”, and I feel that I should serve as their first example of living a life of choice, happiness and purpose. There may be some lifestyle changes that need to be considered when pursuing entrepreneurship, and that’s totally fine. Just know that it is a process, and in going through the process entrepreneurs should keep their “WHY” at the forefront of their mind to ensure that their vision is not clouded with others’ doubts.

Leading a successful group is a challenge. How do you consistently inspire and motivate the team to extract the most optimized version of themselves to bring to the table? As a newbie entrepreneur, I have not had the opportunity to lead a group. However, in my past military and professional experiences I have always found that while serving in leadership roles, teams appreciate a leader who not only recognizes his/her teams’ differences, but values them as well, and can create a team dynamic where team members embrace their differences and are able to utilize their differences as perspective qualities in making the team a true powerhouse.

When you have to put out a fire, what process do you have that's proven to be effective? As a newbie entrepreneur, I have not had to put out any fires yet. However, when the time occurs, I feel that it is important to use operational risk management (ORM). ORM is a Navy process used that includes risk assessment, risk decision making, and implementation of risk controls, which results in acceptance, mitigation, or avoidance of risk. When putting out a fire, there is almost always some damage because of the fire. In moving forward an analysis of the what was the fire’s fuel should be recognized as well as a thorough projection of future risk to prevent or mitigate future fires.

How do you decompress in order to keep that balance? I simply must remind myself to make a conscious effort to literally stop and look at my growth and blessings. As I have a vision that I am actively trying to make a reality, at times I must stop and embrace my current reality and know that my current reality is simply a path to achieving my ultimate vision(s).

What's been the most gratifying business or personal role that you had that led you to be where you are now? The most gratifying business and personal role is being able to share my ideas with others and in turn they are receptive, encouraging and view my vision(s) as making a difference in the lives of others.

Life lessons learned that you carry with you to keep the fire alive to stay on top of your game? The three lessons that I have learned throughout my life is that it is nice to have help, but if you don’t what are you going to do for yourself? Secondly, knowing that my dreams can be more than dreams by putting the necessary work in to make them a reality. Lastly, you get back what you put in…so you should give it your all.

How do you define success? Some correlate success with society’s standard of success, most commonly associated with wealth or status. Success for me is defined as someone who is truly fulfilled with their life. They are living a life that directly reflects the deepest desires of their heart, and in retrospect have inspired others to do the same. Setting personal and professional goals whether big or small and achieving them are worthy to be validated as success even if not associated with monetary gain. If my actions can inspire others to pursue their deepest desires, only then can I say in confidence I have achieved the greatest definition of success.

What's next for you? There are so many things that I am interested in pursuing. However, in the next two to three years I will be actively creating a MilkSpace experience that is recognized and highly sought after to provide service solutions that supports active nursing mothers. More importantly, I will be developing relationships at the local, state and federal level needed to move the needle in creating dialogue and real action pertaining to developing solutions for women’s nursing needs in communities’/cities’ strategic developmental plans. The intent would be to eventually establish state and/or federal laws that mandates states develop and implement plans that is inclusive to nursing mothers within their communities.

Originally Published on WireTap Media. Interviewed by Maryan Aiken. Publisher. CityBox Media. PaperGlass Media. WireTap Media.

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