Today, we interview a young lady named Mallori Symone, an entrepreneur who happens to be hard of hearing.
She is a highly experienced and accomplished entrepreneur and someone who… Well, let us let her do the talking.
Shawn: Hi Mallori. I hope your day is going well.
Mallori: I am doing alright. Working, as always.
So then, before we start, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Summarizing me in a nutshell is always difficult. I am Mallori Symone, a self-made self-employed person, self-taught baker, entrepreneur, and domestic violence survivor and advocate. I am 30 years old, born in Atlanta and raised in Chicagoland’s south suburbs. I carry a Bachelor of Arts in Business Communication and Advertising/Marketing (2007) and a certification in Clinical Massage Therapy (2013). I have worked in many industries from advertising and print sales, marketing, retail banking, the adult entertainment industry (gentlemen’s clubs), baking, and small business management as it pertains to accounting, branding, and marketing.
I have done and currently do many things. In 2011, I formed A Cupcake Brain, an online bakery in Chicago that houses delicious cupcakes, brownies, cookies, pies, cake jars, and breads! In 2012, I closed ACB down briefly because of a heavy load and started studying for the certification and licensure for Clinical Massage Therapy. In 2014, I brought ACB back and have been doing very well. In September 2015, I started the SBB Mission Project, which is a non-profit that does monthly missions and outreach events that benefit other non profits and organizations that provide safe houses and educational tools including counseling, mentoring, and workshops for victims and survivors of domestic violence.
Oh ok! Wow! Talented and busy lady!
I am really just doing everything that I set out to do. It is important for me to live in my purpose. It is important for me to teach others to live in their purpose as well. Finding that purpose and getting on stable ground as an entrepreneur and a purpose-filled life is challenging. It requires an entirely different mindset from what we are taught, which is “go to college, get a degree and work for someone else!” While that is fine, much of that has nothing to do with what your actual PURPOSE IN LIFE is at all. For me, my purpose was to get an education and use my education and very harsh life experiences to teach and help others. That is my ministry and that is my purpose and that is what I am doing. 🙂
At Deaf/Tourette, we make it a point to get to the heart of our advocacy and since meeting you, you’ve been nothing but a pleasant surprise. Finding out you’re hard of hearing, I immediately wanted to interview you. Could you explain to us what Auditory Neuropathy Disorder is?
I have been hard of hearing my entire life but up until 2014, I was unable to be diagnosed. I needed to see a very particular (and expensive lol) specialist that would diagnose my issue. Auditory Neuropathy Disorder is basically a malfunction of the inner hair fibers. For hearing people, when sound comes in and someone talks to you, those inner hair fibers move quickly and effortlessly. This is how discrimination (the words that are said) is an easy process for hearing people AND has nothing to do with actual volume. It is entirely on how CLEARLY words are transmitted. So for me, as a hard of hearing individual, those hair fibers are weak and don’t move well when sound comes in and words are spoken to me or around me. For deaf people, the inner ear hair fibers don’t move….at all. No sounds being made or words formed enter their canals for processing at all. That is the difference.
Wow! Interesting! I had no idea. Do hearing aids help? How has the transition been to wearing them?
Hearing aids work quite a bit. My issue is actually wearing them. I have a difficult time remembering them and when I need them, I kick myself for not having them, but I almost always find an excuse to not wear them (I need to focus) and aids can be too loud when I am trying to work, like now, (aids are in the car smh lol) or the environment I am in is too noisy, which is never good for hearing aids. When I am in a bar or club, I wont wear them… I need to do better overall with that.
Do you sign and how has the transition been into learning and living with American Sign Language (ASL)?
I sign very minimally. I learned the colors, alphabet, and numbers at age 3 via a deaf friend of the family that shares my birthday. For my 3rd birthday, she got me a Sesame Street book of signs written by the deaf woman (Linda) in the show. That’s how I learned basic signing. When I got to college, I tried taking spanish (again) as a foreign language but dropped it after the first day to take ASL (still considered a foreign language). My instructor was deaf and used visual aides and the overhead projector to help us to understand her. That is how I learned. But I graduated a semester early so I was only able to take one course. I have retained about 40% of the signs I learned, so next year I want to actually make it a point to take courses in ASL again so that I can be fluent. I also want to be fluent in Spanish too. Both of these languages have helped me tremendously with communicating with deaf people and Spanish-speaking persons as well.
That’s great! I know sometimes, for me at least, my lack of hearing has kept me from pursuing better jobs or my dreams in the past so I’m glad it hasn’t stopped you in the slightest! What’s next for you?
There was a point when I had nearly 100 interviews in less than a year’s time. When this happens to you and you have years worth of experience, plus graduated at the top of your class (and EARLY on top of that), you really begin to hate the state of your ears. People oft don’t want to be bothered with a person with a handicap, no matter how slight and how “against the law” it is to discriminate. It still happens and happens often. It’s a reality that I had to honestly learn and it woke me up and pushed me to make one of two choices–I could either be frustrated and ticked off knowing that this wouldn’t do anything to change the state of my ears at all and eventually fall into a deep depression that I would have a hard time coming out of….ORRRRRRRRRRRRRR……………..I could realize that these were signs to push me into my purpose and what I am supposed to be doing, which is entrepreneurship and advocacy. One thing is for certain and that is that everything happens to us for a reason, but the trick is finding out what the reason is and learning how to effectively deal with the lemons we are given by Life.
Whats next for me? Consistently building on my brands that fall under the Mallori Symone name. That is first and foremost. I am constantly building. My hearing has only been a hindrance for me as it pertained to finding employment to work for others. But as a hindrance for me as a business owner? Never!
Before we wrap up, is there any advice you can give to our readers?
Honestly, just be you! I always tell people to simply strive to be the best version of themselves at all times. Sometimes it is challenging to find just what our purpose is. I know I had my challenges and life continues to give me lessons, I just try to be patient (a struggle of mine) and listen. That’s what I have learned. 🙂
Where can they go to peruse your services and/or hire you with your vast expertise?
For my online bakery—www.ACupcakeBrain.com
For the non-profit, The SBB Mission Project, the site launches in Summer 2016, but for now, you can find the group on Facebook by searching “SBB Mission Project” and requesting to join the group. I accept everyone.
Also, for upcoming lifestyle blog–www.MalloriSymone.com (launches in the next few weeks)
I have a feeling we’ll be working together one day. (lol)
Thank you for joining us today, Mallori! I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for you, A Cupcake Brain and your advocacy!!
Thank you for having me. It is my pleasure to continue my education efforts 🙂