Two military spouses have brought their entrepreneurial dreams to fruition in very different ways. They say that an independent spirit and forging connections are key to success in running your own business.
Katherine Frankstone, the spouse of an Army veteran, is the owner and chief baker at Grey Ghost Bakery in Charleston, South Carolina. Since she was five-years-old and begged for an easy bake oven, she’s maintained a passion for baking. Her bakery, which opened its doors in 2012, is a small family-owned baking company located in Charleston, South Carolina.
Frankstone says that self-reliance and military spouses go hand in hand.
“Owning a business gives you a sense of independence and you need to be an independent spirit to be an entrepreneur,” Frankstone said.
“Because military families move so often, maybe you’re inherently able to have that independent spirit,” she said.
Frankstone says that outsourcing tasks and relying on a network are key in the process of building a business.
“My biggest advice would be to be extremely honest with yourself about your skills and abilities,” she said. “There aren’t enough hours in the day and I don’t care how smart and skilled you are, no one person can do everything. Hire the things you don’t do well.”
Navy spouse, Allie Willits has seen the world both as a military spouse and through her role as a travel agent. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, she’s an independent contractor working for Off to Neverland Travel. With 10 PCS moves in 15 years, she says owning her own business has provided the flexibility for the challenges of military life.
“It’s been such a blessing to have a career that is all mine, that I’ve built, that can go with me wherever I go . . . and that has afforded some great travel opportunities for my family,” Willits said. f
Willits was a school counselor until having a baby and then an OCONUS move to Japan provided the opportunity to shift careers. She says that her background in counseling translates well to a solutions-focused industry where the client’s needs are paramount.
The COVID-19 pandemic and another PCS this fall added additional hurdles to her business. Willits says that she’s been able to “roll with it,” a philosophy that has been key to business success.
“We [military spouses] are so resilient and deal with so much, I was able to deal with these challenges and compartmentalize them,” she said.
The frequent moves have also provided business opportunities to build clientele and further-develop relationships. At her last duty station in Fort Worth, Texas, Willits was able to attend a variety of industry training and conferences, forging lasting connections with travel industry suppliers.
According to Willits, in her industry, the name of the game is personal connections, and military spouses have a real advantage. “As military spouses, we have had to be so friendly and flexible and adaptable. It’s easy to make a connection with someone in a short amount of time. I don’t think civilians can do this like we can.”Read comments