Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Perkins.
Hi Erin, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
The beginning of 2018 started off with a layoff from a company I’d been with for a little over 11 years. As I started looking for a new position, I came to this realization that there was no way I’d be happy at another company which essentially would have me start back at square one. The reason being was because I was deaf, and I just simply wasn’t getting any bites when I applied to all sorts of jobs. I felt like having a disability was a massive obstacle in companies hiring me.
So I decided that at this stage of my life, I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose. I launched my own company, originally setting off to offer graphic design work and virtual assistance. As I officially launched in March of 2018, it was quite terrifying because I’m in no way a sales person and always felt like sales were so icky.
But there was something different about running my own business and supporting other women in their own businesses. I felt like I was truly helping them make a difference. The community was extremely powerful. However, running this business did not come without any obstacles. Working for a corporation gave me tons of access to a lot of support – not without some battles being fought. However, in the small business world, it was completely different. Many people didn’t even realize that they weren’t being accessible, and I realized I was the one educating them, even though I was sort of learning how to navigate this at the same time.
I stayed the course with doing design & virtual assistant aspect of my business, but as I went through some group coaching and a personal growth journey with Tide Risers. I finally came to truly accept my identity as a Deaf woman because I recognized how much it had truly impacted my entire upbringing.
With that happening, I started diving more and more into the accessibility education aspect and started learning as much as I could. Now in 2021, my focus is truly on accessibility education and working with small businesses and showing them how they can best be accessible without feeling like they have to go broke. It’s my mission to make accessibility be easy and financially accessible for any small business.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think any journey has been smooth… I’d say truly struggling with my identity as a Deaf woman and feeling like I’m not “deaf” enough to really be the one to be teaching about accessibility. That was something I struggled with so much, and all my peers pushed me completely outside my comfort zone.
The light bulb moment came when I was in an identity session with the women from Tide Risers, and our mentor, Danielle Kristine Toussaint (author of Dare to Think Purple) and she had posted signs in the room asking us to choose what we most identified with. And I couldn’t pick. I ended up picking “other.” And I ended up standing with one other woman and she asked me why I chose “Other.” I said because being deaf is a massive part of my identity… and that was when I knew I finally accepted it. It was just one of those revelations that I truly needed to come to terms on my own. And at that point, I started owning it.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Mabely Q?
With every teaching opportunity, it is my goal to approach it with empathy and a holistic perspective. I want businesses to avoid that cycle of exclusive, inaccessible business ownership. As a disabled person, I’ve been made to feel small, excluded and under-valued. It’s a horrible feeling, and I promise that cycle ends with me. I freely share my experiences as a deaf woman with others to help make the world a more inclusive place for others with disabilities.
I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve always been able to be honest and stay true to my values throughout the entire experience as a business owner. I don’t strive for perfection, nor do I expect that from the people I surround myself with. Anyone that I work with, I do have an expectation that we work together to push one another to go from good to great.
It is my mission to work with CEOs who want to lead by example. I teach my audience in several different ways – a keynote speech, private workshop, or one-on-one consulting. There are multiple ways to work with me. My Accessibility Made Easy course is a DIY course that allows for anyone to go through it and be able to make small but transformative shifts in their business. My private workshops enables you to bring me on to talk about a focused topic that is tailored to your group’s goals and steps that the attendees can take in order to make a change today.
Working with me one on one enables me to give you personalized accessibility advice based on how your business is structured and how you can uplevel your accessibility status. The last thing I want to share is that I love that I’ve been partnering with DEI experts to really bring even more value to our communities. DEI experts work hard to make the world a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place. And the partnership makes perfect sense as we’re trying to do the same thing in a different way. This enables us to double our impact!
What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
The most important lesson has truly been leaning on your community. And really listening to them. I’ve got several different organizations that I’m a part of, and each of them truly provides something unique.
Feminist Founders with Rachel Wynn (https://www.feministfounder.com/) brings together a small group of women together once a month and allowed for us to have a space to really focus on our business and teach one another things that we’ve learned on our own. We push each other out of our comfort zone and brainstorm ways how we can improve our businesses and make them more efficient.
Tide Risers (https://www.wearetiderisers.com/), I joined in 2019 with the intention of focusing on my business growth, and it ended up being a personal growth journey, which in turn allowed me to really grow professionally.
District Bliss (https://districtbliss.com/), founded by Sara Alepin, she created these in-person networking events that truly made networking feel FUN! I used to cringe at the idea of networking, but Sara has this magical power that makes you feel 1000% at ease and you end up leaving the event having a ton of fun and still making connections. With the pandemic, it’s shifted to all online, but I’m still meeting some of the coolest people through Sara!
Each one of these organizations offers something different from one another, and I’m proud to be part of them! I’ve met some amazing women through each of these organizations.
- Accessibility Made Easy: $147
- Accessibility Strategy Session: Starts at $250
- Private Workshops: Starts at $500
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: https://www.mabelyq.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mabely_q/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MabelyQ
All photo credits goes to @stacycarosaphotography