On Wednesday August 26th, the Stetson Development and Alumni Relations Office hosted a Webinar Wednesday with Makeda Siobahn Smith (‘15), a special education teacher, business founder, and Stetson alumna herself. She was able to talk about her experiences, give advice, and answer questions about her path to starting her own business and working towards personal fulfillment.
Makeda Smith graduated from Stetson in 2015 with a major in International Studies and two minors in art and spanish. She realized her love for ceramics at Stetson, taking classes and spending much of her time in the studio. Post-undergrad, Smith decided to pursue her master’s degree in education, graduating in 2017 and going into special education. She realized she was missing some of the personal fulfillment that she had felt when she was doing ceramics at Stetson and decided to re-immerse herself, founding her studio Sio Ceramics alongside her special education teaching in 2018. She started creating her ceramic jewelry the summer of 2019.
First and foremost, Smith emphasized personal values and understanding the ‘why’ that goes along with starting a business, starting off with a quote by Simon Sinek: “People do not buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” She talked about searching for fulfillment above just going to school and getting a job, prioritizing passion as a priority. The values she applies personally in her business are Creativity, Community, Courage, and Confidence.
The Community value holds a special place in her heart. As a black woman, Smith aims to act as representation for black people and other people of color, women especially, by exploring her passions. The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired many to support more black-owned businesses, and Smith has really appreciated this wave of support for her business as well as the role it plays in the movement.
Smith was able to give lots of advice and offer some self-reflection questions to the virtual audience that could act as first steps for starting a business, idea, or passion. She suggested things like reaching out to members of your community for guidance and support, remaining authentic even through the comparison-heavy world of social media, and knowing your value. Most of all, remembering the ‘why’ comes first.
You can view Makeda Smith’s art at her website, https://www.sioceramics.com/, and on Instagram @sioceramics.