Family Business of the Year: Barbara “Sky” Talks Why ‘Can’t’ Doesn’t Mean Impossible

This inspirational entrepreneur survived breast cancer and the death of a son

Barbara “Sky” Burrell never once believed she couldn’t do it. Winning “Family Business of the Year” for her Los Angeles based Sky Gourmet Tacos food truck at 2014’s Entrepreneur’s Conference, Burrell’s business has landed on award winning 2013 lists, like the “10 Best Food Trucks in LA” and “Top 101 Best Food Trucks in America.” Her business ran with son Victor Burrell, is the first nationally acclaimed African American Food Truck operation that was manifested from a mental mindset of not speaking in terms of “challenges.”

“To work with family, it’s not a challenge because it’s been my challenge. One son is deceased,” says Burrell. “I know that whatever creative differences you may have, that’s all they are, creative differences. You still got that love and respect and you maintain respect for one another. My son thinks he knows it all.  But he respects me.  I respect him, we understand our place, and we understand what it takes to work. It takes cooperation, creative differences, and most of all it takes knowing that this business is our business.”

This food life was all a dream as she toiled in the business world. Leaving her job as a corporate executive, Burrell transitioned into running a restaurant for 19 years.  A slow economy inspired her to brainstorm and spend over $100,000 to purchase a diesel truck fitted with equipment needed for a kitchen to make “Mexican food with a “splash” of soul.” Within a year, she’d made that $100,000 back and was on the Food Network’s reality show Great Food Truck Race. In 2012, she found herself invited to speak at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneur’s Conference as a panelist. And in 2014, she won the EC Award for Family Business of the Year.

Related: Entrepreneurs Conference: Food Truck Owner’s 5 Keys to Selling Without a Store

I know I was nominated, but I didn’t think I was gonna get the award. So when they called my name, I was so overwhelmed in my heart and so thankful. That’s been the biggest moment for me. I Look at it every day and say thank you,” she says. “I mentor young women going into business and I tell them, what is it that you really wanna do that will not only benefit you and your family and society? How are you going to make a difference in our lives? There are some days when you may wonder if I should do this. I never thought that. I had breast cancer and never thought that.  People would say, ‘How long are you going to work that grill?’ And I would say, ‘All the way to the bank.’ So there’s always been that family support, ‘cause there were the naysayers who said you can’t do it. I didn’t understand can’t. All I understood was, ‘This is what I’m doing.’ Can’t doesn’t mean impossible. It means it’s possible.”

The 2015 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide, May 13-16, at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Expect innovative sessions, high-powered speakers, and an early peek at the products, trends, and services you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve. Be sure to enter our Elevator Pitch Competition to qualify for the $10,000 grand prize. To register and find out more, visit<>

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