DR. TONYA & WENDY FEATHERSTON
Co-Owners of Good Karma Enterprises, LLC
Selected as participants for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center’s Business Certification Training Cohort 4A/4B
Dr. Tonya and Wendy Featherston are partners in life and in business. The couple relocated to Hawaii from Maryland in April 2021 and have continued to operate Good Karma Enterprises, LLC to serve communities in the islands and throughout the U.S. continent.
Originally formed in 2008 under a different name, Good Karma Enterprises now boasts four employees, including two who work remotely in Maryland. The company started out offering professional development training and consulting for educators, and later expanded to providing business coaching for entrepreneurs with a focus on women of color.
“I was a teacher and school administrator for a number of years,” Dr. Tonya explained. “I wanted to effect more change in schools than I was able to as a teacher and administrator. I developed a love for providing professional development training in areas that weren’t being talked about, especially restorative justice. I wanted to develop my own training and consulting company to reach underserved communities and keep kids in school. My desire in sharing what I’ve learned was the impetus for it. When Wendy and I partnered together in life, it was a natural fit for her to join the company. She was well-versed in aromatherapy and reiki, and I had just gotten my PhD in Educational Psychology. It was a good fit to bring those two together. We wanted to help schools develop a culture of wellness. We wanted to bring a more holistic approach around creating safe spaces.”
The success and positive impact of Good Karma Enterprises led to other businesses owners approaching Dr. Tonya and Wendy about how they, too, could grow their companies.
“We take those same practices and focus them on helping women of color entrepreneurs,” Wendy said. “Their wellness matters, and it should take priority. What we know separately, we put it together to collectively help people know their greatness.”
Dr. Tonya and Wendy responded to this need by offering workshops and other services to entrepreneurs.
“I know when I started the business, I didn’t have any role models. I didn’t have anyone to ask questions of. It was a trial-and-error thing,” Dr. Tonya recalled. “We wanted to help people learn from the mistakes we’ve made and the wins we’ve had to create businesses that are profitable. People get into entrepreneurship, and they don’t have the right access to knowledge and tools, and they put their own personal money into it. We share ways that we’ve accessed other capital to sustain and your grow business.”
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple continued to evaluate and meet the needs of different communities.
“We decided to teach free workshops to help women come together and learn how to build business credit, get funding, and set up their business so that they’re fundable,” Wendy shared. “That response was overwhelming. We walked through all the different grants out there at that moment. Some realized they really didn’t have a business per se; they had a hobby. Then they wanted to be able to structure their business in a way that they could apply for these grants. That was the biggest thing that we did in 2020.”
Dr. Tonya and Wendy both recognize that they tend to be “ahead of time” in what they offer and have had to pioneer and stay committed to their ideas.
“With restorative practices, it wasn’t a thing when I started. I remember talking about the school-to-prison pipeline and indigenous conflict resolution circles, and people looked at me like I was crazy. Now you see circles everywhere,” Dr. Tonya explained. “With educator wellness, we’ve been having that conversation for five or six years, and nobody really cared. Now it’s just really scratching the surface. We’re just able to see ahead of it.”
Wendy added, “I do think it’s a challenge with the educator wellness as we go out and talk about it. Sometimes we are met with resistance, but our motto is ‘healthy teachers equal healthy students.’ Who wants broken people pouring into their children? Why wouldn’t you want a program in school where teachers can learn these different wellness modalities? We had to sit with it longer and not bail on it. If you have an idea that’s ahead of time, don’t give up on it. Stick with it, keep it alive, and it’ll manifest; it’ll have its time, it will come. I don’t believe that you get ideas for nothing. You just have to stick with it.”
Dr. Tonya, Wendy, and their team have much to be proud of after nearly 14 years in business during which they’ve inspired, elevated, and transformed so many others. And they remain steadfast in their commitment to pursuing innovative ideas to serve those in need.
In the future, they plan to open a nonprofit arm of their business that will continue to focus on entrepreneurship and helping people in Hawaii grow and sustain their businesses. Their goal is to work primarily with women of color and teach them the importance of creating multiple streams of income, which then positively impacts them, their families, and their communities. This idea has become even more poignant throughout the pandemic as people are now more aware of how easily jobs can come and go and why it’s important to have financial stability.
The MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center became a resource for Dr. Tonya and Wendy thanks to Wendy spotting a Facebook group post made by Jose Villa, one of the Center’s instructors. The timing for the Business Certification Training worked beautifully as Dr. Tonya was in the midst of researching this particular area of business. They expressed how he and co-instructor Mari Villa helped them fill in some of the missing pieces and figure out how they could do both federal and corporate contracting.
With wellness as a core area of Good Karma Enterprises, it’s fitting that Dr. Tonya and Wendy advise current and aspiring women entrepreneurs to take care of themselves first and foremost.
“In order for you really thrive in this particular arena, you have to put your personal health as a priority,” Dr. Tonya said. “Entrepreneurship can be very overwhelming. The concept of never sleeping, grinding, et cetera—I would say not to go down that path. Seek to start your journey with balance and try to maintain that balance. As women, we don’t want to ask for help because we feel like we shouldn’t for some reason. Instead, reach out and join a community of women entrepreneurs. That will help you last long-term.”
Wendy added, “Have way more fun because when you’re having fun at building a business, working on your business, or helping other people with their businesses, it will show in your business, finances, products and services. People want good energy. If you cook food and you feel bad, the food reflects it. It’s the same premise—when you’re having fun with your business, it will show in the products and services, the people you attract, and in how your finances and money flow. Do what you love and love what you do. Don’t choose something because it’s trending, but you have no passion for it. If you choose something you love and you love what you do, you’ll get up with way more enthusiasm.”