Meet Sophia Jacobs
Sophia asked many questions and requested to be placed near the painting and insulation operations at the yard. A dream was percolating in her mind – she thought, ‘I can do that.’ After observing in this way, she began to formulate a plan.
Working with People First USI staff, Sophia explored resources to become a self-employed maritime ship painter. People First USI family support services team connected her with the Women’s Business Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Old Dominion University’s Dream Builder Program, which connects aspiring female entrepreneurs to online courses and mentors in the community.
“The program was inspiring because it was with other people in my age range thinking of new things, trying to build a dream,” said Sophia. “It was really exciting.”
Sophia was connected with the owner of KRT, Inc, Kimberly Tucker, an industry leader. She has many construction government contracts at the area’s biggest shipyards and could give Sophia insights on obtaining difficult-to-obtain, yet lucrative contracts. In fact, Kimberly pledged $15,000 seed money for Sophia to get started. People First USI and ODU were able to help Sophia make that connection.
“Working with my mentor was amazing. It helped to know it was more than just me. She was really inspiring; I really look up to her. She’s black like me and strong like me – well, she’s way stronger than me – she’s a powerhouse!”
Under the mentorship of Kimberly, Sophia is well on her way to making her dream a reality as she handles the difficult business owner tasks such as paying taxes and obtaining all of the correct licenses. What’s next for her? Her vision is to build her business to help her customers, but also be a resource to others in the community.
“Right now, I have a big plan. I have to start with getting the painting, insulation, and cleaning going, but I also want to get my own building and a daycare spot so people don’t have to struggle with daycare.”