Merci McKinley is a native of Prince George’s County, Maryland and a Veteran of the United States Army. She is an emerging Life Coach and Founder of Still Standing Lyrical Intervention LLC. She served her country for 14 years before being medically retired. Merci came back with a vengeance after embarking upon the journey to grow from victim to survivor. She is a Survivor of Domestic Violence and Military Sexual Trauma. Merci is an Advocate, Motivational Speaker and is on a personal quest to empower all. She believes that the greatest disservice we do to ourselves is to exist rather than living and thriving after traumatic experiences. She is a firm believer that the answer of the ‘why’ is not as great as learning it from the person you become after it. Read our interview with the lovely Merci below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
The motivation and inspiration to start my own business came from a calling that was placed within myself. I also drew my inspiration from my Father whom is also an entrepreneur. To witness his unwavering work ethic growing up ignited a spark within myself. Many of my comrades while serving in the military often said I had a natural skill to coaching and mentoring others. After putting in the work necessary to adapt and overcome my own trials and tribulations, I had an epiphany. It hit me like a lightning bolt actually and I have been on fire ever since. I always envisioned many walking around in apparel with motivational quotes written by myself. I always envisioned coaching and mentoring others to live a better version of themselves. I am just one of the fortunate ones, to make my vision into a reality.
Tell us about your business.
Still Standing Lyrical Intervention LLC is an emerging company where Life Coaching and wearing your heart on your sleeve merge together. Its foundation is deeply rooted in helping others to discover their voice in the midst of adversity, to rise above circumstances and to become empowered along the way. It is a company where healthy and creative expression is nurtured. I challenge my clients, and I push them beyond their comfort zone. I am a firm believer in order for us to truly grow, we will only grow but so far in our comfort zone. When we step outside of that comfort zone is where the true benefits await. I often tell my clients, “There should never come a day when someone is more committed to your goal than you are. If that day comes, you get back up and try again.” (Merci McKinley, 2016). Also, Lyrical Intervention or L/I have an apparel line. Inspiration is all around, but the quotes found on the apparel are written by myself. This is where the saying of the onetime where wearing your heart on your sleeve counts. The ability to help someone break the mental chains placed upon them by circumstances through Still Standing Lyrical Intervention LLC is an honor and a privilege.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Yes, I am actually. Still Standing Lyrical Intervention is available on Amazon for the Kindle for $0.99. It takes everyone on a journey through lyrical poetic verses. In fact, Still Standing Lyrical Intervention LLC is an extension of the book. All readers are encouraged to leave a review.
Amazon Best Selling Author in the book collaboration of “Silent No More Camouflaged Sisters”.
Where is your business based?
Prince George’s County, Maryland.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first steps I took towards getting my business up and running was to commit to it, and nurture it from the passion within myself. It is no easy task to wake up one day and say today is the day I want to start a business. However, I ensured I read as much as I could to arm myself with knowledge. I took to the Score Mentor Program and the #WETATi Women Empowered To Achieve the Impossible. I was honestly looking for authentic, strategic, and knowledgeable organizations or resources. I developed my business plan, really studied my target market, and remained committed to my vision.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
My most effective way has been through networking and collaborations. I believe in the grassroots of the matter and taking to the ground. One day, I read an article that asked a simple yet profound question. That question was if you woke up without social media, or access to the internet, would your business survive? The question caused me to sit back and reflect that before the internet, businesses survived and thrived. Whenever there is a vending event that aligns with my vision and mission I’ve set forth for my business, I am there. Whenever there is an opportunity to have “boots on the ground”, I am there. I supposed it is the former military within me as I am a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces. Majority of my customers thus far, I’ve been able to establish a rapport with prior to going into business. I was able to establish the sincerity and authenticity of whom I am as a person.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
My biggest challenge thus far has been establishing a social media presence. I know this will come in time, but if I solely relied upon social media, I would get discouraged. Nevertheless, I am up for the challenge, and will tackle this in the upcoming year.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I am still in the process of overcoming these challenges.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I keep motivated through difficult times by reminding myself of a simple pep talk. That pep talk is a constant reminder that God would not have given me the vision, if he did not think I was capable of doing the job. I keep myself motivated by saying, there is someone out there in need of my services and I remain determined to find them. I remind myself of my 3P’s which are Purpose, Passion and Priorities. I am a firm believer that when we find our purpose, we find a new way to live. It is my deep belief in my purpose that keeps me motivated, and keeps the fuel needed for my passion. It is my passion that ultimately helps me to establish my priorities. While I know some might not be spiritual, it is my deep rooted faith that ultimately keeps me motivated. I have witnessed firsthand in how GOD “brought me up out of a pit, from murky clay, set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.” Psalms 40:2 KJV. If I can do this time and time again, I am more than capable to remain diligent and motivated in difficult times.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I know it might sound cliché, but I try to distinguish myself from my competitors by remaining authentic and true to my vision. I try not to let competition lead my focus, but rather my purpose to serve others be at the forefront.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best advice I received recently was from watching a show on OWN. Advice can either be indirect or direct, but it is up to us to see it when it appears. The best advice came from watching television and the proverbial quote of “God did not give you the vision, if he did not think you could do the job.” It resonated with me so much, that I often remind myself of this as often as possible.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
The only advice I can give other entrepreneurs is to stay the course. Success may not be immediate, but “Learn not to speak your success and failures in the same sentence.” (Merci McKinley, 2016) Also,“When you find yourself running out of gas, remember why you started. This should be more than enough fuel to last you a lifetime.” (Merci McKinley, 2016) It is hard, but be unyielding, and remain steadfast and loyal to the entrepreneur fire placed within you. However, don’t let that overshadow your ability to grow individually as your business grow. Your business is an extension of you, and to always strive to conduct it in an ethical manner. Continue to nurture your craft and skill because to be an entrepreneur it requires a certain skill and craft. Seek as much knowledge as possible to avoid being taken advantage of by others. Sometimes entrepreneurs, especially if they are offering a product, think that it is an all-out sprint. They think that it is all about speed to market. Strike a balance between expedient and being cost efficient in the process. Always be proud of yourself because you dared to go where many have thought about going, but didn’t attempt to follow through with it.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
My favorite business tool or resource undoubtedly is the Score Program offered by the Small Business Administration, and #WETATi which stands for Women Empowered Together to Achieve The Impossible.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Hashtags #lyrical #intervention #empowered #motivation
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
A good book I recently read was “Transition: Create the Life You Desire Presented” by Precious Brown. It is a collaboration of “Sixteen Ordinary Women Creating Extraordinary Lives”. A very inspiring book that propels us all to get up, and make that transition to establishing the life we desire to have.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
What I am looking to do is expand my reach and grow my network.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My upcoming goals for the next few months are to see my latest collaborations come into existence. I am in the Book and Documentary of “Her Story II Project” by Visionary Author Coach Stacy and Linda Eastman’s “Finding Your Voice: The Strong & Assertive Woman”. In the upcoming months, I will be in the studio conducting Live Internet and Radio Shows with Lyrical Intervention with Coach Merci. My first wave of inspirational apparel with motivational quotes written by myself will be coming out as well.