Tomboy, energetic and goofy is how Sonya Lowery, founder and host of World Next Door, describes herself. I’d add kind, beautiful and ambitious to the list.
After launching and sustaining a successful graphic design business, becoming a published author all while raising her two children, Sonya burned for a career of passion; for fulfillment and adventure. With the support of her family, she created Sonya Lowery’s World Next Door, an online television show, sharing local area adventures that prove to her audience that adventure is closer than you think – in your own backyard.
Immediately after meeting with Sonya for our interview, I took out my notepad and wrote, “When you have a dream, you make a way.” A phrase that captures the path she’s on – an inspiration to every woman unwilling to give up on their dreams.
SG: How did you prepare to start your own business?
SL: I had a partner and kept my full-time job while we started our graphic design business. After a couple of years, I found out that [my partner] was spending more money than we made; it wasn’t smart business so I broke off and started my own business. That was 8-9 years ago.
SG: Did you find branching out on your own, leaving your business partner, scary?
SL: No, that was actually easy. It felt like an anchor had been lifted from around my neck; it felt like I could fly.
SG: What made you successful when so many small business start-ups fail?
SL: I didn’t spend everything that I brought in. You cannot consume your way into wealth, you have to save something. What I consider success, however, may be different for someone else; success for me is being able to work from home and be there for my kids when they get home from school.
SL: No, but I have always wanted to do television. When I was young, I’d see people [on TV] like Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence having fun and bringing people along for the ride. I think things are much more enjoyable when you’re among friends like they were.
SG: Producing a show is no easy task, do you have help?
SL: I have my dad who is the executive producer and my brother who is the sound man/camera man. We have friends in television so we started out borrowing cameras and equipment – it kind of just came together after that.
SG: When have you stood at a professional crossroads?
SL: I’m at the crossroads right now actually. I’m at a BIG crossroads right now…..I’m trying to do a big push with World Next Door. It’s at the point where I feel like it has to happen - through hell or high water, it has to happen.
SG: It takes that one door.
SL: Sometimes you need a little bit of a boost because you feel down like you just can’t do it anymore – or the task seems too big and the hurdles too high. You’re getting beaten down every day by everybody – but it’s preparing you for bigger things. I look at Beyoncé and I look at Oprah, I look at people who have been in it for so long and they wanted it so badly that they kept going until it happened. I am determined.
SG: You wrote The Secret Language of Business Cards about branding your business. What are a few top secrets to branding?
SL: Everything starts with a logo and a business card; it’s your first impression, [consider] the logo and the paper, what you say on [the card], even your email address. If [your email address] is something at yahoo.com or hotmail.com then I think, “Okay, you’re not really running a business, you have a hobby.” Also, stick to one thing. I have a friend who started a business and wanted to do real estate, he also wanted to add styling and something else and I said, “Stop right there! You can’t pick all three. Start off with the one that will give you the surest footing.” If you’re a jack of all trades no one is going to hire you for anything. Let people know, this is what my expertise is.
SG: You’ve said you’re pursuing a ‘life fulfilled.’ What would that look like for you?
SL: It sounds really corny, but I envision being on my deathbed with my grand-kids walking up to my bedroom. They’re passing a wall of pictures where I am flying a plane or scuba diving with sharks; they’re looking at all of the pictures and they say “Damn, Grandma was a badass!” To me, that is what a full life looks like – I’m doing everything I can to make that happen. I’m trying to expose my kids to all those things too so that they’ll have that sense of adventure and they won’t be afraid to try anything at least once.
SG: Finish this statement: I wish I could tell my 20-year old self that…
SL: To be quite honest, I would tell myself to stay in school – I have three years of college that equate to one full year. I changed my mind too much. I thought to myself, “I can write, I could be a photographer, I could be a chef, or an artist”… and I could be really good at all of them. For me, choosing one thing wasn’t going to happen. I would tell my 20-year old self, ‘Pick something already and get that degree!’
SG: And when they look back on your life, they’ll say “Sonya did…”
SL: It all!
xo – Stephanie