Updated: Jan 22, 2019
How have your parents been role models?
My parents were Christians and instilled strong morals and values: do the right thing, treat others as you would like to be treated, respect yourself first and then respect others. They inspired my way of thinking - that I can do anything I put mind to. They also believed in sharing and giving back to others. We loved to travel as a family and spend quality time together, especially on the weekends. My father didn't allow my brother and I to sleep late on Saturday mornings; we were up by 8 AM doing our weekend chores while he played a few of his favorite songs, "Wake Up Everybody" by Teddy Pendergrass and "You Know How to Love Me," by Phyllis Hyman. Those are still two of my most favorite songs!
Current family stats:
I am married to my husband, Neil, and have two daughters Arianna (20) and Christiana (13) plus Snowball, our dog.
What’s your alma mater?
Masters of Business Administration (MBA) - University of Phoenix and Bachelor of Science (BS) - Organizational Management (summa cum laude) from St. Augustine's University.
So you’re a business owner?
I am an event and travel planner at my own company, Coles Travel & Events, LLC.
What inspired you to start your own event planning and travel company?
Starting the company allowed me to do what I love doing - to be creative and travel extensively around the world while meeting and working with people of different cultures and life experiences.
Tell us the story that actually convinced you to take the plunge!
In 1994, my husband and I wanted to elope and decided to have our wedding in St. Thomas USVI. I told ONE friend who told another, and another, and then our parents found out and next thing you know we had approximately 50-60 people attending our wedding. It was an awesome experience planning everything from the group travel to the actual wedding, as well as the reception and other island activities! I decided then if I can do this for myself, then why not plan events and travel services for others and get paid?
What would you say you struggle with the most?
My work-life balance! It's a work in progress. Being a wife, mom, business owner, BFF, member of numerous organizations (one being Delta Sigma Theta Sorority), Incorporated, a church member, and last but not least a "dog walker" for snowball, at the end of the day, there's no "me time" left! So, I am learning through my life experiences to take time each day for myself. Even if it's just one hour a day!
What do you enjoy when you do have downtime?
I love spending time with my family, traveling, skating, dancing, and watching old movies!
How does your perspective motive you?
I love meeting, helping, and mentoring to people. I love the fact that there are no limitations in life and you can do anything you put your mind to. Shoot for the stars and if you fall, you land on the moon! I am passionate about what a new day will bring!
How has your family supported you?
My family motivates and inspires me everyday. My husband is my bestfriend and he has always supported me in everything I do. Even when he thinks it's the most craziest thing and makes no sense, he still smiles and supports me! My daughters are my world. My oldest daughter, Arianna, is also very creative and we work so well together. When I'm brainstorming on new ideas for an event or table decoration or just a color scheme, she'll say, "Hey mom, let's try this and it turns out cute as a button.” That's my girl!
What do you love about the Carolinas?
I love the four seasons and the kind, Southern hospitality of the people here.
You must travel a lot being that you are in the business!
I travel all over the world. So far my favorite place is Sandals in Antigua! We also love camping and whitewater river rafting.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
Being a great mom, graduating summa cum laude, obtaining my MBA, and being a successful business owner.
What have been some of your own life challenges?
Moving from Los Angeles, CA, to Raleigh, NC, with no family residing here and wanting to spend every holiday with family and friends. Obtaining higher education as an adult was also very challenging.
Where do you see yourself retiring?
In Raleigh, NC!
Favorite spot in the Carolinas to visit?
The beaches and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Favorite TV series?
Martin, Good Times, Sanford and Son, Jeopardy, and Wheel of Fortune.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love participating in karate tournaments and would love to be a dancer or performer for someone like Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson or even Missy Elliott.
If money wasn't an issue, what would you do with your time each day?
I would be a mentor to others, continue to volunteer, and be an event planner. I love, love, love what I do!