had started a business. No one in my family had been an entrepreneur. My father had been a butcher, and my mother had been a postal worker…
I didn’t know much, but I knew one thing. I was going to do this. No one was going to stop me. America Washington, a woman born a slave, my great-great-grandmother, was calling out to me. It’s like she reached out from the past and said, “I’ve been waiting for somebody to realize that this is more than a recipe.”
FROM BONDAGE TO LIBERATION
I had my mission. I had set my sights on being an entrepreneur with the family recipe. I began to get glimpses of the vision. Early on, I started to visualize my dream. From my raw thoughts, I could see the bottle of syrup, and I imagined all of the stores. … Little did I know, growing up and even throughout my marriage, that it would become key to my personal emancipation. …
I know mine is an unusual situation. Most people can hardly point to anything that was left to them by their ancestors, let alone a recipe for a marketable product. Most African Americans, in fact, can’t even claim to have gotten their own names from their ancestors. But you see, my great-great-grandmother left us a recipe. I began to see that it was up to me [to] turn it into a different legacy: a formula for success.
You could be missing a gem gleaming right before your very eyes. Someone may have left you a powerful legacy that you can’t even see. They may have left you with the byproduct of a bad situation, for instance, like my great-great-grandmother having to keep a plantation owner’s family happy — and that might be a potential gold mine.
A CONVERSATION WITH THE AUTHOR:MICHELE HOSKINS
By tradition, Michele Hoskins wasn’t supposed to have possession of the recipe left to her family by her great-great-grandmother. She was not the third daughter born of her generation. In fact, she was her parents’ only daughter and that didn’t qualify. But Hoskins was determined not to let a little technicality get in the way. She had read, at the time, that the 1980s was going to be the decade of the woman, with more becoming executives and CEOs of major companies.
“So I needed to position myself for this growth,” she recently told BE. “I decided to become an entrepreneur.”
It took a lot of persuading to convince her mother to give her the recipe, especially because she was tossing around the idea of creating a company to market the syrup. Her mom, who is the third daughter of her generation, vehemently resisted.
“She thought this was the most absurd thing she had ever heard,” Hoskins says. “And when I started to talk about it, [my parents] said, ‘Oh, no. We don’t need to give this recipe to her.’”
It was a difficult time in Hoskins life. And most of her family thought she had really lost it. The thought of marketing the syrup was