“Seeing number 4 everywhere pushes me to realize my FULL potential and work to become more stable and organized in life. As I transition and take control to do what is required of me (my purpose) angels will significantly help me in reaching my goals.”.
Toni Dunbar, Owner IMME
Sometimes the inspiration for a business can find you unexpectedly. For Toni of IMME Waistbeads, this was her experience. And although she wasn’t actively looking to start her own business, Toni’s past experience and connections prepared her to recognize and seize the opportunity when it presented itself.
After graduating from Murray State University with a major in public relations and minor in marketing and advertising, Toni worked as a trade marketing representative. She also served as marketing director for the Kentuckiana Minority Business Council, worked with Leadership Louisville, and made Louisville Business First’s 40 Under 40. She wanted to see and do more, which led her to Washington, DC and then Ohio.
It was while in Ohio that one of Toni’s daughters began to struggle with anxiety. To help curb this, Toni and her daughter took up beading, making bracelets and necklaces together. It was a calming, meditative activity that refocused her daughter’s mind on creativity rather than her anxieties. Reconnecting her daughters to their father’s African roots, Toni acquired beads made in Ghana to work with. In helping her daughter, she also saw a chance to help the bead makers there. After finding her first vendor, things began to fall into place and Toni opened IMME Waistbeads, a brick and morter location in her hometown of Louisville.
The name IMME is a combination of the words “I’m me.” It celebrates individuality and being one’s authentic self. In the beginning, Toni sold handmade beaded goods – bracelets, necklaces, and waistbeads – imported from Ghana. Today, about 50% of IMME’s handmade goods are imported; the other 50% made by Toni includes bracelets and candles. IMME has also expanded their inventory to include goods from Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar, India, and Tibet. Along with the beaded goods, you’ll find crystals, journals, incense and incense holders, oils, and even singing bowls.
Through IMME’s Bead the Change program, Toni donates at least 10% of IMME’s quarterly profits to two organizations in Ghana, the Osu Children’s Home and the KBC Women’s Entrepreneurial Program, an entrepreneurial program for young women.