We had the good fortune of connecting with Sharonda Whorton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sharonda, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
June 22 will be my 20th anniversary to my husband. Prior to meeting the love of my life in college I was married to my first love. At the age of 19, I married my first husband as a result of carrying his child. Being pregnant was a challenging blow for me because I knew I was the first in my family to go to a 4 year institution and I felt like I completely blew it by becoming pregnant, then moving on to be married at such a young age. I stayed home and attended one of the community colleges for 2 years and worked. I was not happy with where I was in my life. I saw more for myself. Unfortunately and fortunately, my relationship ended with my first husband and I saw an opportunity to attempt to go back to Prairie View A & M University where I began my college education. But now I had to think about my 2 year old son. How can I make this happen? I was still living at home, my job doesn’t pay much, I didn’t have much money saved but I can’t stay. I had to figure something out. So I went ahead and moved forward, reapplied to the university and got accepted. I reapplied for my financial aid and that came through so now I had to figure out the situation with my child. I was not on great terms with my then husband so my agreement was with my grandmother to watch my son until I could get situated to where I could bring him with me. Leaving my son was indeed the most difficult decision I had to make. It was so hard for me to leave him behind but I knew that I made the decision for him so that I could take care of him and give him the life he deserved. Had I not gone back and made the sacrifice, my life would be so much different than it is today.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
After graduating from Prairie View A & M University with a Bachelor of English in December of 1999, I was offered a position at Kay On-Going Education Center as an English/Reading teacher in the Houston Independent School District. Kay was a school for pregnant teens. The campus started at grade 6 and went through grade 12. It was an eye opener to say the least. Prior to working there, I never knew there would be an entire school dedicated to pregnant students. After working at Kay for 3 and 1/2 years, I decided I wanted to move to a more traditional setting. During my time at Kay, I was also finishing my Human Science masters program and graduated with a Masters of Human Science in December of 2003. Before the beginning of the 2003-2004 instructional year, I left HISD and began teaching as an English teacher in Spring ISD. Spring was definitely a huge change from working at an alternative campus, but was a welcomed challenge. I started out as an 8th grade English teacher at Bammel Middle School. I met some incredible educators who took me under their wings and helped me transition into the district. After 3 years at Bammel Middle, I interviewed and was offered the instructional specialist position for a brand new campus that was opening up. This was my first position out of the classroom and in addition to that I was beginning my principal internship. Opening a brand new campus was a great experience. You learn so much about the community. During my tenure at Bailey Middle School, I was moved into the Campus Testing Coordinator position. I was in charge of all local and state assessments for my campus. My goal while at Bailey was to become an administrator. My principal took me under her wings and placed me in every situation so that I could gain experience. After interviewing for administrator positions and time going by each year, I felt like it would never happen. Doors were closed. Everytime, I saw a peak of light, it would just shut again so after my 9th year at Bailey I felt like God was trying to move me. I was to the point where I was not happy any longer because I was no longer moving in the direction I thought I should be moving in. One day, I received a call from a high school assistant principal to coordinate summer school testing. I accepted, and during the time I was there, the principal offered me the Testing Coordinator’s job because she had an opening. I knew the Lord’s hand was in this so I accepted the position. I remained at the high school for 4 years. During my last year at the high school, I was still interested in administration so I decided I would PREPARE to move. This was the first time, I made true preparations. I spoke it into the atmosphere. I told my colleagues I was leaving and I would leave everything organized for the next person to take over. I stopped worrying. I did my praying, so all I needed to do was wait, but I already felt something in my spirit that lead me to believe I would not be returning for the next school year. Long story shortened, I applied for and was offered a position at the District Administration Building where I am currently completing my 3rd year. My title is Coordinator for State Assessments where I assist and support my Director who is over all District Assessments. This entire journey prepared me for this job. Had I not moved when God told me to move I would not have gotten the necessary high school experience needed to fully understand and fulfill my role in this position. I represent my brand the same way I moved through my career. I am determined to make my Candle business a success story by God’s terms. Sometimes your blessing doesn’t come in the form you expected. Sometimes you get more than you expected. I am completing my 22 year in education and I am excited about the work I do. My professionalism, my determination, my drive, my attention to customer service are all contributions to my brand through my experience as an educator. As mother of 4, (3 boys and 1 girl who is the youngest of our crew), I wish to be an inspiration to them by being an example in every facid of life possible which includes being a spiritual role model positioned at the top of the list. I want my struggles to be an example of how to get up and not be held down by life’s circumstances and you CAN create options for yourself. Over the course of almost 4 years I started my company with very little knowledge but through perserverence, doing my research, I am finally in a place where I am content with the direction of my growth as a Chandler (Candle Maker), and I am looking to continue and expand my business as I continue to increase my business knowledge.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite hangouts that I would love to share with a friend would be shopping. I love to plan a full day of having brunch at First Watch located in The Woodlands Area, or we could go to the Breakfast Klub located in the downtown area. We would later head to the mall. Day 2, I would want to visit one of Houston’s most popular restaurants such as the Turkey Leg Hut.
Day 3 We would enjoy good movie at the theatre.
Day 4, I could take my friend to the Cynthia Woodlands to attend a live concert and walk around the The Woodland Market Area afterwards.
Day 5 I would love to visit is the museaum district. The museum district has so many great options options. The Buffalo Soldiers museaum is a must to see.
Day 6 The Premium Outlet Mall in Houston is amazing I did say I love to shop.
Day 7 We could visit the Toyota Center and attend an amazing Houston Rockets Basketball game.
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?
First of all my grandmother, Mary Ann Thomas Fisher (RIP) started out as the driving force behind me wanting more for myself in life. She pushed me to be the absolute best woman that I could be. My husband, Dwight Whorton, is my whole inspiration. He has been the most supportive than I ever thought he could be. When I get discouraged, he is there to help me refocus. He attends all of my markets, setting up, taking orders, payments, and breaks down after the event is complete. I could not do this without his undying love and support. Of course my mother, Clara Sanders, and stepdad Larry Sanders. They are always willing to help me with anything I need. They are my team. I would also like to recognize my family who have supported my business from day one. I hear so many stories from other makers who don’t have family support and I am so thankful that many of my family members have trusted my product and patronized my business.
Other: Tiktok: @thecandlebakkerico
Terrika Glen- TAG Photography (photos of CEO and Family)