“wrong,” they told her, because someone might steal it from the family and, until the 1980s, no one in the family had thought to publish the secret recipe. Hoskins eventually convinced her mother to share the recipe so she could keep the tradition going by passing it down.
“Why don’t you just give the recipe to Keisha?” Hoskin’s mother asked, referring to Hoskin’s third daughter.
But for Hoskins, handing down a business was more appealing than handing down a recipe. “It was a really strange transition, but after many conversations educating my parents about my future, they decided to let me go at it. My mom came on board and said, ‘Well, if you’re going to do this, then let’s do it right.’ Since then, she’s been my support.”
Hoskins first shared her story to the public when she spoke at our annual BLACK ENTERPRISE Entrepreneurs Conference in the mid-1990s. She told her story from beginning to end, and the audience loved it. Shortly afterward, someone called about possibly doing a book.
“But I didn’t feel I had enough of a business story to talk about, so I put the idea under my pillow, believing one day I would write a book,” she says. “Then, about a year and a half ago, after appearing in [a national] magazine, a small publishing company out of Boston reached out to me and the rest is history.”
In her book Sweet Expectations, she writes of her obstacles, including a battle with a life-threatening brain tumor that temporarily blinded her. She shares her basic principles that have helped her to grow her business, principles that have helped her to connect with family, and to connect with people.
“What I tried to tell in the story is that everything we go through in life is a lesson,” she explains. “God pushed me to the very edge, but he didn’t push me off. … Anything the mind can conceive, you can do with hard work, perseverance, and faith. I tried to tell people that whatever the obstacles in life, we all go through them.”
When Hoskins was pushed to the edge and facing a life-altering disability, she says the lesson she learned came from a question she asked herself: “If I fall, what’s going to happen to the legacy?” As an entrepreneur, she learned that she was not properly protected. “I came back from that ordeal with the desire to restructure my company by buying a home and getting insurance, and at that point, that’s when I became a businesswoman as opposed to someone selling a product on the market.”
Today, there’s only one lesson she wants readers to take away from her book: “I want people to know that there is an African American woman who started with no education in business, with no money to start a business, and with a product that a slave great-great-grandmother gave her. And I took all that, with all the obstacles that I faced, and started in an industry that didn’t know who I was. Whenever