Charmyra E. Fleming is a romance author, motivational blogger, and creative who hopes that through her books and various creative outlets to inspire her readers and beyond to live their lives with purpose, intention, and full of passion. Before starting her company Creative Calfuray, LLC to self-publish her first novella, The Violet Rose, Charmyra spent 3 years working as a Senior Budget Analyst and Supplier Diversity Professional for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. She currently works as a Senior Procurement Oversight Associate for CareFirst – Blue Cross Blue Shield in MD. After a successful career as a Financial Services and Supplier Diversity Professional helping diverse businesses, through Creative Calfuray, Charmyra continues to help small diverse businesses and nonprofits with mini graphic design projects. Charmyra’s second romance novel, Three’s a Charm was released in February 2020, and currently working on her third. Charmyra enjoys urban line dancing, belly dancing, and freelancing as a makeup artist. You can always check out her weekly Motivational Blog called, “M.A.I. Pop Life”. A new blog post is released every Monday.
CF: It has always been my dream to become a professional writer, and it’s a love that I shared with my late Grandmother, Flossie Lee Miles Graves. For as long as I could remember, I’ve kept a journal to write down my thoughts and poetry. Although I’ve aspired to be a writer, I also have other interests outside of writing. Over the years, I’ve worked in various industries and I have a very diverse work history and background. My favorite areas where I have worked have been in the Chemical, Retail & Specialty Pharmacies, and Insurance within the Finance Division. I currently work as a Finance Professional overseeing Procurement Contracts. I’m a life-long learner, and I truly believe in pursuing every interest that one may have in order to live up to their God-given purpose.
CF: Creative Calfuray, LLC is a haven and an extension of my creativity. It provides an outlet to pursue my creative interests whether it is first and foremost, through my writing, motivational blogging, merchandising, graphic design, makeup artistry, writing workshops, and eventually investing. It is the objective of this company to motivate at least one person to aspire to greatness, and inspire many along the way. The mission of Creative Calfuray is to always M.OTIVATE | A.SPIRE | I.NSPIRE my readers and beyond to always live their lives with purpose, intention, and full of passion.
LM: What prompted you to start your business?
CF: Creative Calfuray, LLC was established in 2018. I started this company as a result of my husband and I making the decision to relocate our family from Boston, MA to Frederick, MD. At the time, I’d made the decision that while I was “out of work” due to relocating, that I would pursue my writing seriously. At the time, I’d been working on a romance novel since 2016 that I began writing as a tribute to my favorite musician of all-time, “Prince”, and I decided that I was going to finish the book and self-publish it. As a result of that decision, I moved forward with establishing my company to self-publish my first novel. In doing so, I learned early on, that I must treat my writing as a business, and I knew that I wanted to eventually expand it into other areas to diversify my offerings beyond just my books.
CF: Yes, I have always aspired to become an entrepreneur. It’s quite interesting I recall a report that I wrote in 6th grade about my future career goals. At that time, I wrote that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. So, I guess, I manifested this outcome. Moreover, when I graduated from High Point University in 2009 with my M.B.A, I’d attempted to start a few other businesses, but none of those ideas really resonated with me or stuck. So in 2018, when the opportunity presented itself for me to really hone in and go after this goal, I treated as if it were my job because it is. This time around the moves that I was making felt right, and because I was starting a business around something that I truly enjoy doing which is writing, and everything finally began to fall into place for me. I’m proud to say that Creative Calfuray is truly a representation of my values, beliefs, and my desire to M.OTIVATE | A.SPIRE | I.NSPIRE my readers and beyond to live their lives with purpose, intention, and full of passion!
LM: What’s the best part of being an entrepreneur?
CF: The best part of being an entrepreneur is having the opportunity to bring your ideas to fruition. The grind and the journey of growing something from nothing has been an amazing process. As an entrepreneur, you learn so much along the way and I’ve loved every minute of it, and having the autonomy to make my own decisions. Also, I love owning my work and not answering to anyone about the decisions I make.
CF: This is an interesting question because, although there are tough times as an entrepreneur and business owner, I don’t think of it in terms of it being or having a worst part. It is my job – as the owner – to pivot in the tough times; find new opportunities to grow this business and engage with my audience; and to make the best out of a tough situation when they occur. In other words, “turn lemons into lemonade” when necessary. I will say, with appropriate planning; understanding the risks and implications of every decision; as well as, taking the necessary precautions with my business, Creative Calfuray has experienced more successful moments rather than stressful days where I felt like it was tough. My journey (Knock on wood) has been a beautiful one.
CF: Prince is my inspiration. He is my inspiration, because of him, I knew that I wanted to own every aspect of my work. I remember his battle over the years over the rights to his work with Warner Bros. I never wanted it to happen to me. I also find inspiration in life and the people that I love and interact with on a regular and daily basis, and those individuals include, my husband and son, my parents, one of my best cousins, Kandace Wright, and two of my best friends Jennifer Griffin and Sherika Alford.
LM: List some of your greatest achievements
CF: Receiving my M.B.A. – 2009 Certification in Healthcare Business Leadership from Northeastern University – (2017) Successfully completing the first Economic Impact Study on the BCBSMA Supplier Diversity Program – 2018 Establishing Creative Calfuray, LLC – 2018 Starting a line of Creative Calfuray Branded Merchandise – 2018 Hosting my first romance writing workshop – 2019 Self-Publishing my books: The Violet Rose (2018) & Three’s a Charm (2020) Successful Book Launch Event for Three’s a Charm – 2020 Receiving a certificate in Makeup Artistry (2019 & 2020)
LM: Name a time when things didn’t go right. What happened and how did you get past it?
CF: My first romance writing workshop didn’t necessarily go as planned. I didn’t get the turn out that I was expecting because I didn’t really consider the time of year of the event. I planned everything appropriately, but I didn’t expect the weather to affect my turn out. Also, I assumed that this would be an event that many women would enjoy, I also assumed that many of my friends and family would support me, and I learned that I was overzealous and overly optimistic in my assumptions. With that said, this was early on in my business venture and I learned a lot. Next, time I have to do it later in the year when a snowstorm cannot threaten to derail my plans. I still had the event and I mustered up the strength to give a great presentation of information that I’d prepared for months to a small group of women! I was fortunate because, although I had a small turn out, the women that attended this event enjoyed themselves and so did I!
LM: Where do you see your business in 3 years?
CF: I see my business continuing to grow and thrive over the next 3 years. I’d like to continue self-publishing and selling my romance novels, and becoming a best-selling romance author with a “household name”, specifically amongst the African-American community. I hope that people really start to support the “M.A.I.” Brand Movement and it’s message to “M.OTIVATE | A.SPIRE | I.NSPIRE”. I also, want to write a non-fiction book on pursuing one’s passion and building a successful business model around it, and giving others the blueprint on how to get started based on my lessons learned. I see myself motivational speaking, selling out future romance writing workshops, and building a successful investment arm to help individuals learn how to invest (investing is another passion of mine). There’s no ceilings or walls that confine this business, but my hope is to continue to make an impact and to grow this company with a positive trajectory.
Do your homework! Learn about your market, the industry, and the barriers to entry for your business and how likely you will be in making a “splash”. Don’t rush the process. Don’t cut corners. Be authentic because your customers will pick up on your authenticity as you begin to engage them. Take the time to properly learn what works and learn from other’s mistakes so that you don’t make them as well. Remember that you don’t know everything (nor do you need to), and that’s ok, but you can learn from the best. Also, there’s plenty of resources for you to use to become successful. When you get started, connect with your local Chamber of Commerce to network with other businesses. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and with individuals that are actually having success with their business efforts. Be ready and willing to partner with other small businesses, where you can cross-promote each other’s products. Also, remember “cookie-cutter” moves don’t cut it, so a decision that worked for another business may not necessarily work for you. Don’t be afraid to delegate important work to the professionals and take the burden off of yourself (i.e. Graphic Designers for your logo – You cannot use Canva for everything). Keep your finances in order! Follow your budget, review your expenses monthly, and always work with an Accountant annually to file your taxes. Stay humble, be grateful and thankful for your opportunities, give back to your community, and help at least one person to find and pursue their purpose and passion along the way. Finally, enjoy the ride! It can get bumpy but learn how roll with it, and always be prepared enough to know when to pull out of a situation and pivot. Good luck to you! I promise this will be the best experience of your life to share with the world the talents God has given you authentically with dedication and love!