Claudia Shivers, a lifelong entrepreneur, began her first business as a child in Lexington, NC. “I was selling honeysuckles, but that venture failed before it could leave my front yard. My mother refused to buy the product I was selling. She told me that the flaw in my business was that the product I offered was so readily available and free. The market was saturated. I always kept her words with me,” Shivers explained. She later went on to own CLS Consultations which morphed into Taxes by Claudia and Queen Coffee Bean.
“I have always been interested in freedom and there is no freedom without financial freedom, and the ultimate path to that is entrepreneurship. The Industrial Revolution created the American middle class, and intangible barriers to freedom to previously enslaved people. The ultimate path to freedom is through entrepreneurship,” noted Shivers.
“Ultimately entrepreneurship is a form of art and rebellion. Art brings attention to issues that affect society and entrepreneurship allows us to work as a collective to fix them. I hope that, at the end of my life, at least one person will say that I affected some sort of change through my conscious capitalism.”
At the time Shivers was sentenced to prison in 2019, Queen Coffee Bean, her current business and passion project, was just launching online. Queen Coffee Bean roasts and sells specialty and gourmet coffees with the intention of helping the growth, development, and redevelopment of overlooked and underserved communities.
“There had to be a way we could provide a safe meeting space outside of home, work, and school and have a positive impact on a community, so I began to research. I learned the origin of coffee, how it was used in the slave trade, and how it is used around the world today.” This sparked Shivers’ passion.
Shivers graduated from Inmates to Entrepreneurs eight-week course in October 2020 and is currently in training to become a volunteer instructor with the organization.
As for her advice to returning citizens, Shivers notes the importance of growing and surrounding yourself with supportive allies, “The journey to restoration and to your ultimate greatness is at the end of all of the adversity you will encounter, but it’s all worth it. Make sure you have supportive individuals and organizations with you. Your circle of support will have to grow because you have grown. You are not the same as you were before you left. Embrace this opportunity to recreate yourself, and honor your growth. Gratitude is a necessity for your success. Use it. It is available in infinite supply.”
Inmates to Entrepreneurs’ free video course “Starter U: How to Start, Run, and Grow a Business” is available online and on GTL and Edovo tablets in correctional facilities across the U.S. The organization also provides online classes throughout the country.