What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I’m inspired by family, particularly, my mom and my faith. I’ve known entrepreneurship intimately since childhood. I watched my mother manage multiple entrepreneurial ventures, owning a tutoring company that later expanded into a consulting company. She also has authored several books, the first that I recall was published when I was a little girl. She did all of that
while also raising her family and maintaining her career as an educator. She’s still in business today even in retirement, she writes and publishes. Although at that time I didn’t have the vocabulary to know to define her as an entrepreneur and a small business owner, I understood that my mom had her own business. Watching my mom be faithful as she followed her passions and sowed her gifts let me know that just like her, I know I can too.
I also grew up hearing stories of who owned what in our family. For instance, my great grandfather had a logging business in Glynn County, GA (Brunswick) and our family members that owned one of the most prominent Black owned printing companies in the southeast, The Wesley Brothers Printing Co. in Daytona Beach.
For so long I didn’t really recognize that gifted I was I just did what I loved to do.
The spirt of entrepreneurship is in my DNA, and very much a part of my life assignment. I tried to avoid it because I listened to others when they told me I had to choose between my passions and my gifts, as though doing both was impossible.
I have circled back to entrepreneurship because I understand that when I let go of trying to control my destiny, my passions and my gifts can collide and do things way bigger than I could ever imagine. At the end of the day, I know my gifts and my passions both were given to me to create and to help others, not to be buried and hidden because of what other people may think or say. It’s a masterPEACE when you let go and lean into what’s already in you, and I’m reminded that it is a Masterpiece the moment it was created, not the moment it was realized.
What does success look like for you?
Success looks like peace. I laugh as I say that, but I am serious. Success is experiencing peace of mind and spirit regarding your commitments and your passions even when you’re unsure or a
little afraid. I’ve learned to remember I’m successful because of what I’m doing, whatever it is. The only time I’m unsuccessful is when I shrink myself and choose fear over faith, which leads to a decision to stop trying. I don’t do that much anymore. I choose peace even when “at war” because that’s what I’m in pursuit of and that’s where success for me resides.
Tell us about your book, “Not by Bread Alone”?
Not By Bread Alone is a collection of recipes seasoned with explorations in the many ways food links us as family, friends and community as illustrated by the subtitle, “Taking the F’s of Life & Making Them Work For You”. Each chapter is named with these F’s; Food Favorites, Family Ties, Financial Discoveries, Faith Over Fear, Fun & Fancy and lastly, Fasting.
As much as it is a collection of recipes, Not By Bread Alone is an honest and sweet devotion that encourages and reminds us, we aren’t in this alone and that God always provides.
What is your favorite dish to make and why?
Pho. Pho. PHO!!!
To me, Pho is literally soul food in the form of soup. I mean, the very essence of Pho is in the aromatics. The richness of the ingredients, simple yet impactful, they do this dance together that welcomes you to the “dance floor” that is your bowl. I respect the Vietnamese culture from which this dish is derived, so I keep it simple with my twist on it to not take away from the tradition, but to also preserve the integrity of the experience that is Pho.
My niche for “noodle dishes” has a long history, ask my friends from college. Texture, seasoning, spice, presentation, and the perfect broth have long been my thing. Of course, I long stopped buying packs of Ramen noodles due to maturity, wisdom and health, but also because I discovered Pho in 2012. It’s so smooth, and it feels so good. It’s like 90’s R&B.
Simply put, Pho is perfect for any day. It’s a happy dish that hugs you on the inside and makes you feel love. Rich in flavor, nutrients and proteins, its no wonder it’s also known to offer health benefits.
How do you feel that food impacts our culture?
Food is like the circulatory system to our culture. It’s the blood. What I mean is, it’s what
literally keeps us going and it’s what connects us. I have lived in many areas of the country, 7 states and all 3 coasts, but the best two cities I’ve lived in that illustrate what I mean by “the blood” are #1, Birmingham, AL and #2 Houston, TX. There is a connectiveness that transcends politics, ethnicities, orientations… I mean everything is out the window when the food is good. It keeps people going literally and figuratively. For many in our community, it’s the recipes that keep the family history alive. Food is the Griot of the entire diaspora. It tells stories, creates memories with a cadence like your favorite rapper, food always has the dopest bars; it’s a flavor that people don’t mind “cleaning up” for (Davis Street with Chef Mark Holley in Houston), nor dipping into communities they would never otherwise go (Eagles with the Rucker’s in Birmingham). Just like blood goes everywhere in our body, food takes us everywhere!
Where would you like to see your business in the next five years?
I’m glad you asked this because I love speaking things into existence… I see myself as my business. I am the brand. Like Hov said, “I’m not a business(wo)man, I’m a business, man! Once I realized that I am my brand, (we all are to be quite honest), I quit shrinking myself. In the next 5 years, as a business, woman and brand, I see my books (there are more to come) on the NYT bestsellers list; I envision being a globally recognized brand; and lastly I’ll share the cover of the revival of the regular print publications of O Magazine with Oprah. I mean, a girl can dream, or a girl can speak and do the work… I’m gonna dream and do everything after “or”, even the things I have yet to imagine.
Juli McShay is a Professor of Government at San Jacinto College where she serves as a faculty representative on various committees including the Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; MOSAIC, a program designed to support Black and African American students through mentoring and other strategies aimed at student success; and the Dual Enrollment Pathways Council. Additionally, she is an Honor’s College faculty member.
Juli proudly serves as the President of the Pink & Green Charitable Foundation and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Psi Mu Omega Chapter where she serves as on the Leadership, Bylaws, Spiritual Oversight and Connection & Social Justice committees. Juli is also a member of The Links, Incorporated, Gulf Coast Apollo Chapter (TX) where she serves on the National Trends & Services and Technology committees.
Juli is a member of the Talladega College National Alumni Association. She also proudly serves as Financial Secretary of the Talladega College Greater Texas Alumni Association.
Juli is a well-known Houston area political and social justice advocate and speaker. She is the host of the popular Houston platform “Pretty Petty Politics” a podcast show dedicated to education around the political process, social justice, civil rights and pop culture.
She earned her Juris Doctorate at Miles College School of Law, her Master of Public Administration at Texas Southern University, and her Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Talladega College.
This past March in celebration of Women’s History Month, Juli published her first book, “Not by Bread Alone: Taking the F’s of Life and Making Them Work For You”, a collection of recipes and life adages which was inspired by the COVID pandemic lockdown featuring her famous “Pho My Goodness” soup. When she isn’t busy serving her
community or teaching, she spends her free time enjoying her family, traveling, reading, and hosting beautiful dinner parties.
@byjulimcshay / @thesouthernsocialite