Donna Thomas has been in and out of high-tech business industry for over 30 years, working as high up as the Vice President for Xerox. In 2016, after a major restructuring within the company, Donna was laid off. But she didn’t let that get her down. Instead, she went out and pursued her dream of making a difference in her community. Donna is not just a knowledgeable business women, but also a dedicated and passionate women whose leadership skills and enthusiastic personality encourage those around her to gravitate towards her—which has only benefited her new LuLaRoe business that she runs with her daughter. In addition to running her own business, Donna is also the founder of 100 Women Who Care, an organization for women in the Frederick community who also want to make a difference.
Though she’s busy between working and starting her own businesses, Donna prioritizes time with her family—managing to find a balance between the two for the past 32 years. As someone who was in foster care as a child and emancipated at age 17, she doesn’t know what it’s like to be handed opportunities. Instead, she’s worked hard to get to where she is today.
Sass Talks With Donna Thomas.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I started 100 Women Who Care back in January of 2016, which targets women who want to make a difference in the community, but don’t necessarily have time to do so. We met for one hour, every three months and all the members in the group commit $100 for each meeting. The total goes to a single non-profit that we decide on as a group. We started out small and are continuing to grow—we are not at 100 women yet, but we are still growing!
A great thing that I have been able to do in the past 32 years as a working woman, is work from home and enjoy my family — which isn’t always easy. Corporate America is all about moving up the ladder. There are certain expectations when you work in the corporate world — one of which is working incredibly long hours, doing tasks no one else wants to do, and doing them extremely well.
I actually took a five year sabbatical and taught in Montgomery County. But I was always wanting to be able to spend time with my family while I was working, no matter where I was working. When my daughter was in fifth grade, I was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award for my volunteer hours to FCPS. I was also a coach for Destination Imagination, which focused on teaching children to think outside the box, and stretch their creativity. When I was teaching, I was recognized and was named Most Innovative Educator and it was really rewarding.
Another thing you should know about me is that I have worked hard all of my life. The one thing I have wanted to do was make a difference and I can do that with 100 Women Who Care and LuLaRoe. I have worked for corporate America, I have worked for private companies and now I run my own business. This is the first time in my working years that I really feel that I am making a difference
What inspired you to venture into your current career field?
When I worked in corporate America, I always had the goal to make a difference, but I didn’t always see how it panned out. With LuLaRoe, I can see the impact in the women’s faces that we work with. I never got that in corporate America. Some of these women didn’t feel good about themselves when they came in. Now they love what they wear and can feel good about themselves, and that really shows on their faces.
What do you think has helped you the most with your success?
I credit my success to two sources: One, I am incredibly thankful that God has given me the opportunities that He has. Its through those opportunities that I have been able to do what I have and rise above. Secondly, I have an amazing husband who has been supportive in all of my ventures. When I first married him all those years ago, I never would have imagined him being a stay at home dad. Back then, it didn’t make sense for him to work three jobs to make as much as I did. He has been an amazing father and never felt threatened in his masculinity. He is just so supportive.
What is one sassy saying or quote that inspires you? Why?
“If you have a passion, you can make it happen,” from the 1980s movie, Fame. That’s how I am. If I am passionate about something I can make it work. I can hear a lot of no’s before I hear a yes, but I can always make it work for me. I am passionate about my roles as a mother, a retailer, a Christian, and a business owner. You only have one life to live, so make the best of it.
How do you give back to your community?
We have fundraisers where we donate our profit and LuLaRoe will double our donations to the organizations. Social Services asked us to donate 575 leggings for the foster kids this past Christmas. We ended up donating 613 pairs—matching a pair for every pair gifted by our customers. On top of selling LuLaRoe, doing fundraisers, and running 100 Women Who Care, I run an online weekly inspirational segment called Coffee & LuLaRoe on Facebook.
What are three pieces of advice you could give to readers?
The best advice is you need to be courageous and strong. There are going to be days when you don’t feel like being strong at all. When you choose to be courageous, even on the days you’re not, you’re probably a ray of sunshine for someone else. We don’t live in a bubble and people tend to model off the positive people in their life. The sunshine is always shining, weather you see it or not.
If you have it in your mind that you have a dream, you can make it happen. The more you share your dream with others, the more they will want to help you achieve your dreams. We still live in a world where people want to help each other. If you write down your dream, tell people about it. Vocalize it to yourself every day. The more you repeat it, the more likely you are to achieve it.
The next scheduled meeting for 100 Women Who Care is March 21, 2018 from 6:30 to 7:30pm. Orientation is from 6 to 6:30pm. The location for our meeting will be ZiPani, located at 177 Thomas Johnson Drive, Frederick, MD. If the weather is nice, we will be out on the patio.
Find out more about 100 Women Who Care on their Facebook Page.