Sandra Epps is a creative and inspiring Black woman, who founded the Detroit Doll Show. She strives to empower and inspire Black women and children and increase representation by showcasing dolls of color in her show. With the motto “Love the Skin You’re In,” this annual event has now become the largest doll show of its kind in the Midwest. Epps stresses the importance of taking risks and self-motivation in order to become successful.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower?
It’s being an authentic self. Being true to who I am. Being true to my identity and still learning to love who I am. That’s another thing you know, fake it ’til you make it.
What key skills or qualities make you unique as an African American female leader?
I would say it’s definitely my creativity. I create all my brand items because I’m an artist.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Just staying in there [because] this too shall pass. We will all think it is the end of the world, but this too will pass, and it will get better. You just have to hang in there. I like that song by Kiki Sheard, “Hang In There.” When I’m having a moment, which is right before a show, I pop that on because I’m still reminding myself as an adult woman now to hang on in there and today it’s getting better. You have to get through tough days to see better days.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
Because oftentimes we’re left out at the table, and it [is] vital. I’m in a business class now because I’m in Detroit, and there’s a lot of building going on. … We’ve been here working at it, and now other people are coming in, … so [it’s important] just having that opportunity to be at the table to have your voice to be heard so you can represent at all times in all avenues in all platforms.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition? What qualities or values do you deem indispensable in your collaborators?
That’s one of those things you have to learn, especially in business. It’s connecting with business people and bartering. We can’t make it without collaboration. I don’t care how bad you think you are; you will fall. You need others to go up. Collaboration is a need-be, and especially in today’s society, but especially in business. You’ve got to collaborate, you have to connect with one another and you grow faster. You can’t do it alone.
What are your thoughts on taking risks?
Without risk, there is no success. You will never experience success if you’re not taking that leap. It took me a minute to take that leap, and now I’ve been in business for eight years. It was tough taking that leap of faith, … but I saw more success in my business and growth when I took the leap of faith. You have to trust. Trust the process, and believe in yourself.
What are three success habits you implement into your daily routine to maintain your success?
- Connecting with people daily.
- Always learning to build your craft and whatever you’re in. Learning a way to make whatever your product or service is better.
- Staying motivated and keeping yourself motivated. Finding some way to keep yourself inspired to keep going forth with whatever it is that you’re doing.
As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest or proudest achievement?
In business, you always go to the numbers, of course, so having the largest doll show of its kind is wonderful — don’t get me wrong — but to know that I am impacting the lives of children and women. Seeing these little girls’ faces — little girls who are being teased because their hair is short, or they’re overweight, or they are living with a disease, vitiligo or albinism — and see how happy they are to know that they matter and that they are beautiful being themselves.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
I have to go back to Fanny Tyler. [She] was Aretha Franklin’s assistant, and I met her working for Detroit City Council. I never knew what it meant to give before I met her. She showed the true meaning of giving. I didn’t grow up with one of the parents who said, “you need to volunteer,” but she would come in often and literally make sure all of us had our favorite lunch, and she knew it. [She knew how] to give unconditionally [and] just to show love. We would go to the restaurant, and she would give the waiters huge tips. I had never experienced anything like that before. She made sure people felt important, and she didn’t tell people who she was and what she did. She was still a humble individual and showed me how to just give and expect nothing in return.
The 6th Annual Detroit Doll Show is scheduled 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at DoubleTree By Hilton, 5801 Southfield Freeway.
Munson Steed, CEO of Steed Media Group, publisher of rolling out and author of the Little Professor Skye series of children’s books, is an invited special guest. The central character of the series and related products is Steed’s goddaughter, Skye. “It’s important for little Black girls to see themselves as leaders, scientists and in other extraordinary ways that exhibit their individual genius, which is on display in every Little Professor Skye book,” he said.