Today we’d like to introduce you to Racheal Allen.
Hi Racheal, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve been a second-generation, serial entrepreneur for nearly 20 years. From the time I was ten years old, I watched my mother quit her good-paying job to provide services to other small business owners, all while struggling to raise four children on her own on the northeast side of Detroit. I associated the instability we experienced with entrepreneurship and vowed never to do the same. My biggest dream as a teenager was to drive a Taurus, live in the same house forever, and work a job that consistently paid me every two weeks. God had other plans.
I became a mother at 17, then received a full scholarship to Marygrove College in Detroit. By 21, I launched my first startup, a Farmers Insurance Agency, and fell in love with the flexibility and unlimited earning potential that entrepreneurship could provide. I then leveraged my entrepreneurial skills in the nonprofit space and worked my way through various leadership roles in public schools and nonprofits as a dean of principal, and founding Chief Operating Officer for the Marygrove Conservancy, where I lead operations for the same campus I attended nearly 20 years ago. Through each of these roles, I kept a side hustle.
I sold luxury wigs internationally, co-founded a photo booth company with my husband and shared my passion for small business operations when I launched Operations School, an integrated operations agency based in Detroit. Since 2019, we’ve helped hundreds of startups and nonprofits learn to get their businesses legit with systems, SOPs, and technology. Today, our agency is scaling to serve purpose-driven organizations in high opportunity communities, while empowering BIPOC womxn who are often moms and full time executives to expand their consultancies.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I was 17 when I learned I was pregnant. I gave birth to my son while juggling young adulthood, work, and school. I didn’t realize I was gaining the resiliency skills I’d need to navigate future chapters of my life and career, like when I got divorced and was a single mom ten years later. I’ve battled health challenges and experienced tremendous personal grief and loss along the way. Professionally, I had to identify my niche to truly find success. I tried on a number of roles before I identified my purpose which is tied to me teaching and helping others.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
I got the idea to start Operations School while in a class at the BUILD Institute in 2017. I realized that while there were many organizations that helped entrepreneurs learn how to start a business, there were few organizations that helped entrepreneurs learn how to operate their businesses. Since launching in 2019, Operations School has grown into an integrated operations agency that provides done-for-you services to startups and nonprofits. Our team is comprised of womxn practitioners who run their own micro-businesses. We facilitate the project management and provide the business development and client management services to help both our clients and consultants grow and scale their businesses.
This approach is unique because we center our work in communities of color with the greatest potential. We also use an equity lens to dismantle and reconstruct the oppressive systems and structures that impact all areas of our work. As we scale our impact, we intend to expand our work as a business service organization and partner with foundations, grant makers, and institutional clients to serve more startups and nonprofits.
I’m most proud of how we’ve been able to better serve the needs of our clients by pivoting from simply offering coaching and consulting services into becoming a full service, done for your agency.
Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
I credit the support of my family, specifically my husband who encourages and supports both my personal and professional endeavors. I also credit my Mastermind group who meets weekly for accountability and thought-provoking/generative discussion, and my team at Operations School. I am privileged to be part of such a supportive community of womxn entrepreneurs. Lastly, I have a village of mentors and mentees who challenge me to grow, serve and practice gratitude daily.