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Life & Work with Sheree Rome

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sheree Rome.

Sheree, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I am the CEO and Founder of Moving Purpose, LLC. I am a dancer, choreographer, social worker and an advocate for at-risk youth. Moving Purpose was created to empower teen girls and women through the art of dance and fashion. The idea behind Moving Purpose was to combine my 20 plus years of dance experience and my professional social work experience into an entity that was bigger than myself. In addition to creating an outlet for youth and women, I also admired the idea of owning an athletic line that catered to dancers and empowered women.

Moving Purpose initially started in 2017, one year after I graduated from DePaul University with my Master’s Degree in Social Work. During my last year in graduate school, I had to create a program proposal for one of my classes. With this in mind, I decided that I wanted to create a program proposal that could be implemented for my internship. At the time, I was a counseling intern for Juvenile Probation and during my time there, I realized that there were not enough programs for teen girls in the juvenile justice system. As an intern, we were required to create a final project and my immediate thought was to provide the young ladies with a positive outlet and an alternative for healthy coping. I took the initiative to make my program proposal a reality and pitch it to my supervisor. Thanks to my detailed program proposal and network resources, I gained approval from the agency to facilitate a dance workshop for a group of young ladies who were on probation. This program was very successful and I received a lot of great feedback from the participants and the agency. Ultimately, I realized that if I can execute an idea that big from college paper, I knew that I was capable of creating anything that I set my mind to. As a result of this, I decided to create an official business that would emulate my program proposal. I wanted the target audience of my business to be geared towards empowering at-risk youth and women in low-income communities because they do not have access to the same resources as individuals who live in non urban communities. Moving Purpose knows that every individual has a story to tell and deserves an opportunity to learn a new skill set, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Each dance class encourages individuals to express themselves by using the power of movement and music. Over the years, Moving Purpose has provided dance classes for events, programs, schools and social service agencies.

Although Moving Purpose was built mainly for movement, over the past year I decided to dedicate more time into the fashion side. What makes Moving Purpose unique is that you don’t have to be a dancer to move your purpose. Moving Purpose Athletic and Lifestyle clothing line was created to sweat in style. As a woman in fitness or in life, it can be hard to find QUALITY and appealing workout clothing. From my own personal experience as a dancer, it was hard for me to find clothing that I wanted to wear in a sexy stiletto heels class or a hip hop class. To be honest, I was tired of looking like I was moving boxes all day when I stepped into a dance room. I wanted to have more clothing options that made me stand out and exemplify who I am as a woman. With this in mind, I wanted to make sure that Moving Purpose Apparel always understood that assignment. Our apparel provides women with an opportunity to feel like a goddess when they walk into a room. The beauty about our brand is that it gives women a statement when they are fulfilling their purpose. Whether your purpose is fitness-related, work-related, wife-related, mom-related, dog mom-related or just LIFE-related; we want you to feel confident in every move you make. Your presence speaks before you do, why not wear something that already speaks for you?

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road to Moving Purpose was and still is very rocky. The first hurdle I had to deal with was deciding what type of business I wanted to have and the steps I needed to take to keep my business active. One of the most important things I had to quickly learn was that strangers were going to be my biggest supporters. When it comes to creating anything that is different from the “cushy” government job, it is hard to gain support from your friends and your family. Everyone did not support my vision at the beginning. After researching the business side, I also did a lot of research on my target population. I wanted to have a clear idea as to what challenges I was going to face. I knew that I could not be arrogant and assume that individuals were going to be receptive to my services. When working with people, it is important to understand your audience and determine how your service is beneficial to them. One of the first concepts that we are taught in social work is to meet your clients where they are, and that means accepting where they are as a whole. Working with individuals in low-income communities was a challenge for me. Despite the fact that I looked like them “culturally,” I had to understand that I lived a different life from a lot of these kids. The only thing these kids knew was survival and it is hard to build trust with anyone who is not from their environment. So, doing my research on the areas that I wanted to serve was very critical for me.

Transitioning to teach dance classes to adults in the community was very hard. After working with kids for so long, you learn that these kids usually participate voluntarily and when you provide a service to adults you quickly learn that they are not as receptive as kids. In some cases, I had to go above and beyond to get adults to attend dance classes. Which in some cases, can be very uncomfortable. Social media played a pivotal role in marketing my classes for Moving Purpose and let me tell you……it was not easy. Some days, I had a sold-out class with students and other days, I had two people. But the hardest part is believing in your talents and what you have to bring to the table during those times. Also, understanding that a class size doesn’t determine the quality that you bring because those two people are counting on you to learn a new skill. You just have to keep going and if something doesn’t work, be creative and find an alternative solution.

The alternative solution for me was launching Moving Purpose Apparel and there was nothing easy about it. I had to research clothing, materials and the E-commerce business. Selling clothing is more than just putting items in front of your customers and convincing them to buy your product, it’s a science and a psychology that goes into it. I really had to make sure that I had a passion for it. For me, it wasn’t about the money, selling athletic wear was personal. Building a website was a PROCESS as well. I had a lot of sleepless nights over my apparel and the idea that people may or may not like my items. However, this is where my own trust and fashion sense played a role. I also knew that I did not want to copy anyone else. I had people that I admired but I never wanted to copy their sauce or create a silent competition with other people. Truth is, I had to understand that everyone is not going to like your products and that is okay. I had to learn to be okay with rejection and finding my own target audience because my friends and family weren’t it.

As an entrepreneur, you are going to lose more money than you gain. You are going to meet people who try to take advantage of you and you may even lose some friends along the way; but the one thing that you cannot lose is your education and your life experience. No one can take that away from you. Always stick to your boundaries and treat people with respect because you will get tested. Keep in mind that whatever challenge you face, you are a BRAND and your emotions are temporary. When it comes to business, no one cares about your emotions, how many tears you’ve cried or the money you’ve invested, they care about what you can do for them. Being a business owner is a love hate relationship, an emotional rollercoaster and it’s not for everyone. Just remember your WHY during the process and nothing else will matter.

Despite everything I just mentioned, my biggest obstacle overall would be my current one. Due to a recent injury, I have not been able to teach or dance. Unfortunately, I don’t know what the future holds for the dance portion of Moving Purpose but I am grateful that I still have the apparel to focus on. More than ever, I am learning to encourage myself and determine what route I should take moving forward.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
During the day, I am a Social Service Practitioner for Children and Family Services. I am known for being the dancing social worker. Working for Children and Family Services is by far one of the hardest jobs that I have ever had. I work with minors who have been neglected, abused and have experienced trauma. I come face to face with situations that you only hear about on the news or in movies. Being a social worker can take a toll on your personal life and Moving Purpose is such an important part of my life because it has helped me escape from that and so does dance. Once I am done with work, I make the initiative invest in my own personal dance training by taking classes in Los Angeles. Dance is not only a pivotal part of my business but it is also a stress reliever in my own life.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I recently bought a subscription for Master Class and that is a GREAT investment. Every course that I have watched has been amazing. My favorite self-help books that I read were “You are a Badass’ By Jen Sincero and “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. As far as podcasts go, I enjoy “The Read” podcast. My favorite apps are Instagram and Pandora. The reason why I consider IG as one of my favorite apps is because I gain a lot of knowledge from there, as it pertains to business and I follow a lot of inspirational pages. I also like Ted Talks and educational documentaries on Netflix.

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Image Credits:

Professional photos taken by Reggie Lang and Ronnie Mitchell

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