We had the good fortune of connecting with Saria Hawkins-Banda and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Saria, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
I started MYP because there was a severe lack of representation of Black women in the stationery field. Not only when it comes to ownership of businesses but specifically with imagery on stationery products. As a child, I loved going to the store and buying all sorts of journals and notebooks. However, I never saw anything that looked like me. That was very disheartening and used to make me question my importance and why people didn’t see the need to make products that reflected me or my community. Black women deserve to see ourselves reflected in the things we use every day. Like a journal, a pen or a coffee mug. It’s so simple, yet so profound. My favorite part about running this business is seeing the joy that comes across people’s face when they see my products. When you see yourself reflected in a significant way, it affirms you on a very deep level. I love that I can provide that feeling of affirmation for Black women all over the world!
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.
One of the reasons I am able to relate to my customers in regards to planning with purpose is because I wear so many hats. I have built a strong career in higher education and I currently work as the Director of University Partnerships at Mentor Collective, an ed tech company based in Boston that establishes peer to peer mentorships at universities with the goal of reducing the equity gap in higher ed. I also am a full time PhD student at the University of North Texas where I’m pursuing my doctorate in higher education leadership. On top of all of that, I run MYP and I give it ALL that I have. Because I know what it’s like to balance multiple responsibilities and feel overwhelmed, I make it my mission to teach other women how to plan with purpose. We are told so often that we can’t “have it all”. We can’t have a career and properly show up for our family. We can’t own a business and be an employee. I think that type of thinking is antiquated. We absolutely can build the lives of our dreams. We just have to go about it in a purposeful and strategic way! I know this to be true!
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.
This is SUCH a hard question! There is literally so much to do and see! My friends all love coffee and tea like me so we would definitely hit up Soiree Coffee Bar in Dallas. Preferably on the weekend so we could get some delicious food from Brunchaholics while we sip on a delicious drink! My favorite lunch spot in DFW is Sixty Vines in Uptown Dallas. I could literally eat there every day. I absolutely love Bishop Arts so we would have to dedicate a whole day there! Our first stop would be Oddfellow’s for brunch, then I would take them to Emporium Pies! I’m addicted to the smooth operator! Once we walked around and shopped at the beautiful storefronts to burn some calories, we would end the night at Paradiso with some fresh pasta and their delicious drinks. I’m in my happy place just thinking about all of this good food and drinks!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I WANT TO GIVE A HUGE SHOUTOUT TO ALL BLACK WOMEN. So often, we are thanked last. We are underpaid, underserved and overlooked. But not at MYP! My community has shown up for me in ways that I can’t even explain. And I would not be where I am were it not for the love and support of Black women! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!