June 21, 2019 Interview – Katrina Walker Talk Going From Homeless to Self-made Millionaire
Everyone is born into a different situation, and some are more fortunate than others. Sadly, it is the way of the world. That being said, just because one is a victim of circumstance, does not mean they need to accept it or be a victim at all. Born into a poor family, by the time she was a teenage, Katrina Walker was already a bride, and then a divorced mother of 4 with no place to go. A situation that would break most, her positivity and fortitude to find a better life led her to the impossible feat of successful entrepreneur, on her way to becoming a self-made millionaire. A harrowing real life story of one woman’s will to make a better life for herself and her children, Katrina Walker is an inspiration to us all. Out to spread the word of her story and help others, she recently sat down to chat about the struggles she faces, overcoming them, the work she put into her book Unbreakable, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – You have led a very interesting life. Overcoming a great deal of adversity, you would become a successful entrepreneur on your way to self-made millionaire. First, briefly tell us, what drove your determination for success?
Katrina Walker – I would say for success I’ve always thought outside of the box. Even as a little girl, growing up in a close-knit neighborhood, as young as 4-years-old. I’ve always been that kid who always wanted to know, “How come we can’t?” My mom would always say, “We’re pur.” She was from the South: she didn’t say poor, she said, “We pur, Trina,” and I never could accept that. Growing up, becoming an adult, becoming a teenage bride and starting a family right away, thinking my life was going to be great. I thought I was going to be June Cleaver with a husband, be a wife and have kids and just live happily ever after, but it didn’t happen that way. I went through a lot of struggles and it made me turn everything around. It made me want more and know it wasn’t supposed be like it was. I was raising my children in poverty, not knowing how to pay the light bill, husband out cheating on me, and I just knew it wasn’t supposed to be like that. That’s the reason: looking at my kids and knowing I wanted better for them.
Cryptic Rock – It is very inspiring to hear how you overcame things like you have. As mentioned, you did overcome a great deal of adversity early on in life from poverty to violence to becoming a mom at a very young age. Through all the struggles, what kept you moving forward?
Katrina Walker – Just knowing I’ve always felt in my heart if someone else can have a Coca Cola, why can’t I? Growing up, when it came to cereal we always had to have generic food and I always wanted to know, “How come?” I knew it didn’t have to be like that, some people can have the best, but I had to settle for the less. That’s why I knew it had to be better; God didn’t make me this way where I’m supposed to be down and out and without while some people are supposed to have. I’m not supposed to be a have not, no one has to be! I just always thought I could have better and that has been me my whole life. I never have and never did settle for less.
Cryptic Rock – Right, no one should ever have to settle for less. Being a parent is a huge responsibility and the experience should change all of us for the better. That said, you would go on to found the only 24-hour daycare center in the USA, Rainbow Kidz. What lead to the developing of Rainbow Kidz?
Katrina Walker – I don’t want to tell it all because it’s all in my book, Unbreakable: The Katrina Walker Story. One of the things that started this 24-hour childcare center is my mind has always been to think outside the box. When I worked at Federal Express and I finally landed a position at the company, they were going to hire 10 people and they interviewed 80 people. I will never forget I went in as a temporary and I was told to mind your own business because you knew the difference between the Federal Express employees and temporary people. I was told when a job comes through, you may be able to apply for it, and that is exactly what happened. The company was around 10-years-old then, and I will never forget in the employee cafeteria seeing 2 young ladies who were Federal Express employees saying, “I hope she gets the job so she could buy her some clothes.” During that time I didn’t have a lot of money to buy pretty dresses, I couldn’t, whatever little money I had had to go to my little boy. I applied for the job and out of the 80 people they interviewed and 10 they hired, 2 were ladies and 1 was me.
I remember getting the job and Fred Smith, who was the owner of Federal Express, would come out and talk to us. They put a lot of money into teaching about service and people. When he used to come I would listen to him and I would think to myself I was so proud to work there, but I’m thinking, “If you can fly your airplanes around the world while everyone’s sleeping, who’s keeping these people’s children?” I started thinking outside the box and said I’m going to open the first ever 24-hour childcare center; Federal Express had cargo and I’m going to have precious cargo. I said I’m going to have a full curriculum, home cooked meals, etc. I said children are going to roll in and roll out, because everybody doesn’t work from 6AM to 6PM; they sort packages late at night, so someone keep those kids. People that work late shifts want their children in a really safe place, so I decided to start the first ever 24-hour childcare. That is where the concept came from and I knew I was going to for the Federal Express employee who working those shifts late at night who wanted their children in a safe, licensed environment.
Cryptic Rock – It is a great concept. You actually took your life experience and harnessed it into the book Unbreakable. What was it like putting the book together?
Katrina Walker – No one has ever asked me that. I never thought I was going to write a book, it just came to me. I wrote from my heart, my gut; no fancy writing, I just told the truth. I said I hope people can respect this truth, I didn’t fake anything. I couldn’t believe my mind went back as young as 4-years-old. I would remember things that I would do that was different, I raised myself at 4. People would say, “How did you raise yourself?” Well, we were in a close-knit community, I knew where I was going to get my breakfast from. It wasn’t going to be from the little duplex home everyone lived in; I was going to go across the street, because I knew Verlean had cooked bacon and eggs for her children. With my personality, everybody loved me, I was like a little black Shirley Temple. I just had a little personality, and putting my book together I put my heart and soul into it. It’s the truth and people can feel it. I want to turn it into a movie one day. There are several movies in your head when you read this book. I put everything into detail; the whole truth, my truth, my life and story. It’s not hard when you are telling the truth.
Cryptic Rock – It seems like about a lot went into the book. Let’s talk more about the adversity you have overcome, because it really should not be understated. Your circumstances were extremely difficult, and sadly not uncommon. That said, perhaps the biggest division amongst a lot people in America is their inability to see outside their own situation to understand the trials of others. Has it been a challenge for you to break down that wall with your teaching and spread knowledge and understanding to broader audiences?
Katrina Walker – Yes, and another thing that has helped a lot people, because I think a lot people have go through different things in their life, but I really believe they feel shame. I love my mother, but she would always say, “Don’t you tell what goes on in this house.” I think a lot of time people are really ashamed and I understand everybody don’t want to tell their business, but sometimes you have to realize you have to find somebody to talk to. Things just didn’t happen to me, I don’t think a lot of people went through what I went through, but I think in life people go through things. There will still be some more chapters as long as I live, but I learn from a lot of the things I’ve gone through. People do go through things and I think being able to talk to women and men helps; men are abused, as well. It’s all there in the book, but again, I think me being able to share my life and story with people has really helped people. It has helped open up old wounds without just a scab or a band aid over it. It’s healed and out there.
Cryptic Rock – It is that type of transparency and openness that helps us connect together with others.
Katrina Walker – Yes, absolutely. I totally agree. I would love for people to get the book. When I say it was no shame, I talk about being in a 15 passenger van with 2 seats in it, and my childern’s father would stay out and cheat on me. He would take whatever money we had, do god knows what, eat the last piece of chicken from the kids. I would talk about having 4 children, packing them in that van with 2 black garbage bags, with nowhere to go. Imagine nowhere to go? Then when we did land in someone’s house, and when nighttime would fall, I know they were wondering when is Trina going to leave? I remember picking my laying on people’s floor, picking my little girl up off the floor and a roach crawling on her back and smacking it off. People ask when is enough enough? Enough was enough, I couldn’t take it anymore. We’re not supposed to be like that. I had to figure it all out!