Black Woman/Believer/Wife/Entrepreneur/Giving/Dreamer

My mom would say, “What are you?” My mother would constantly ask me this ever since I was a very young girl. With a puzzled face, I would quickly respond, “I am a leader, not a follower”. I never understood why my mother would emphasize me bringing this proclamation out into the world, but now as a proud woman and business owner, I am grounded in the idea that you have to verbalize your success into the universe. When I was younger, I wasn’t able to process my strengths and gifts. I spent a lot of time figuring things out, finding my voice, and trying on ventures for size similar to the beautiful clothes that I distribute to powerful women now.

I currently have two paths that I am immersed in in my career. For one, My clinical background is respiratory therapy. However, I have been able to grow and expand my medical career outside of respiratory therapy. While on the other hand, I am the proud founder and creator of my very own e-commerce clothing line, “Rock and Ritzy”.

My journey has not been an easy one by any means. I moved from Southern California to Arizona in high school. I quickly had to adapt to a new setting and start a whole new life, with new friends, and a new understanding of ‘who’ Courtney was. After high school, I enrolled at Arizona State University. I was very excited to go to college and start my life on my own terms. Unfortunately, I was a little too excited to enter the party life instead of my classes and library to study. My grades slipped and I had to drop out of college. I felt like a failure and felt even worse when my mother had a hard talk with me and said that if I was living under her roof, then I had to work or go to school. I freaked out, complained to my friends, and really started to doubt if I would ever find something that I could excel at.

One of my friends recommended that I look into respiratory therapy. She knew I enjoyed helping people and thought the program would be a good fit. After talking to her some more and researching the profession, I agreed and decided to enroll because it would allow me to help people and start my career at a faster pace. The program was difficult but I went in with a plan.Once I graduated from the respiratory therapy program (and while working on my bachelors) I decided to shadow individuals in departments outside of respiratory therapy. My peers thought I was crazy and told me I was wasting my time shadowing and calling for meetings with these influential people.

After shadowing a variety of departments and completing my bachelors, I was offered a position that has allowed me to progress in the medical field. I believe I was given the opportunity not only because of my hard work, but also due to my therapy knowledge and an intense hunger for growing and learning. This showed me that going above and beyond pays off. Throughout my career, I continue to practice the same habits. I believe that if you remain consistent and are willing to grow, the opportunities are endless.

During this time, I also made my first attempt in starting my own apparel business. I was working full-time, going to school, and thought why not add my business to the mix. I had no clue what it would take to run a successful business. I was going off on what I saw on social media and told myself, I have good fashion taste, my husband is a photographer, an am good at connecting with people, so this should jump off for sure. Well, I was wrong. I didn’t know how to set up a successful plan to get people to purchase items or even set up a system that would efficiently allow them to look and buy. I gave up and thought that would be the last of my dreams of being an entrepreneur.

Since then, I have continued to climb the corporate ladder in my health career. I have substantially more responsibility and am respected within the field. I love helping people. I love seeing  the staff side and patients doing well. However, I know deep down this profession isn’t something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. I want to use my love of helping and mentoring to create opportunities for other women.

I realized I cannot mentor and support other women, if I am not supporting and cheering myself on. So I decided to revisit my previous business and do it now with structure and a business plan. Therefore, I opened my e-commerce store, Rick & Ritzy, this past year. I just did it. The thought, desire, and passion never left me and I had to embrace it. I locked in the apparel, merchandise, purchased my business license and went public.

This was the best decision I could of ever done. I finally believed in myself and in the phrase I uttered to myself ever since I was the little girl with pigtails. “I am a leader”. I sell apparel for everyday occasions, nights on the town, classy events, and am starting to branch out into athleisure wear. My business is steadily growing to the point where I am now looking for interns. My eventual goal is to open a store in hometown, Los Angeles, with a warehouse in my current residence of Arizona. Not only do I want the production and distribution of the apparel to grow, but I also want this to be the platform in which I can provide opportunities for other women in business and fashion. So yes, “I am a leader” because I am driven and never give up, but most importantly I take the time to uplift and empower others to fulfill their own dreams.

Want to stay connected to Courtney?

IG: @Lovelyclabree

Business IG: @rockandritzy

Clothing Website: https://www.rocknritzy.com/