We had the good fortune of connecting with Janita Gilliam and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Janita, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Initially when the thought came to mind to start my own business, it came out of me needing to leave a toxic work environment. At the time, I didn’t have a well thought out plan, but I knew my worth. I understood that everything I desired in my own business, were things that I were giving to other companies who didn’t value me. Once I was able to find an inch of faith, I went to work and slowly developed a plan. I mentally re-visited plans and procedures from various companies I previously worked with. I then tailored them by adding my own spin on the creation of processes and procedures that were “must haves” as an owner and a clinician. Having experience as a clinician, supervisor and director afforded me the opportunity to view things from different perspectives. I began to develop plans and short-term goals based on what I would want to see in a company I owned. I also put myself in the shoes of future employees. I wanted to reflect on what things would they want to see in an SLP -owned practice. These were some of the building blocks I used to create a foundation and slowly build my private practice.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

I am a licensed pediatric speech-language pathologist (SLP) and consider myself the “neighborhood SLP.” Many people have no clue what a speech-language pathologist is or what we do. And might I add I represent only 3% of African American speech-language pathologists in the field. I have been practicing as a licensed speech pathologist for over 11 years. I am excited that I finally found the courage to launch my private practice and provide representation to my community. I have been fortunate to work with fantastic clients and families. I have learned about cultural backgrounds, values, and traditions that I like to incorporate into my treatment sessions.

However, there were times along the way before entrepreneurship where I was met with professional challenges. Toxic work environments made the career I loved a challenge to bear. Being the only minority in a work setting has always felt isolating and difficult. Maybe this was an area where I should have been equipped in. See, from elementary school through my college tenure (except my beloved HBCU #AAMU), I was always the only African American person in a classroom or work-related setting. Honestly, the lack of representation in my field is still a controversial topic today. It has been discouraging to lack a peer or friend to talk to that could relate to your differences. The lack of diversity also reflects clients lacking representation to work with professionals who represent their shared cultural values and beliefs. I struggled to find commonalities with colleagues, and I think my colleagues and administrators had a hard time, and a decreased sense of cultural awareness. These areas made it hard to excel as a clinician and “imposter syndrome” weighed heavily on me.

Many of these challenges I faced, was my “why” for starting Jabber Talk. I’ve faced several obstacles on the road to entrepreneurship. This includes not having access to funding and seeking alternate options to see my dream and vision come to light. Being an entrepreneur requires one to take a risk. Each day I get back up and keep trying. I am grateful to continue to make strides toward my goals. I started out with launching my business in December of 2021, enduring a wave of COVID-19. Not being able to market to obtain clients was frustrating. Spring 2022 came and there was slowly an influx of calls from parents inquiring about services. This was the break that I needed. I am thankful for every parent that entrusts me with serving their child to enhance their communication skills. Even more, I am grateful for the parents who personally thank me that their child is able to see the representation in their therapist that they’ve never seen before. This is a huge part of the Jabber Talk brand. “We live in community, love our community and lead in our community.”

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love exploring new places, activities and trying new foods. Dallas has unique places in the city I love to brunch so I would definitely take my girls to Jonathon’s in Oak cliff. Shortly after we would walk to the nearby boutiques and do some light shopping. I always think taking a stroll to Klyde Warren Park is a must do. They have tons of games, open park space. You can check out books, food trucks and just enjoy the park. The grandscape in the colony is also a cool spot where we could transition to hang out and explore more restaurants, outdoor space and the Puttery-a cool adult space for indoor put golf and drinks. They also have a nice Italian restaurant next door that would be great to end the day with.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My main shoutout without a doubt is my husband, William  Gilliam. I have to shout him out because he was the first one who encouraged me to leave my toxic work environment and told me “we would figure it out.” He has supported me leaving a secure position and allowed me to chase a dream when I didn’t have a clue on what I was doing. I’m grateful for a loving husband who has been present, taken on extra responsibilities around the house and who has made many sacrifices for our family. Without his support Jabber Talk would have not been able to flourish like it has. I truly thank God for the blessing he has given me in my husband.

Website: www.jabbertalkspeech.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jabber_talk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jabber_talk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100073710583550

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