By Rachael Johns
Welcome to Asheville, NC! The nation’s beloved and bio-diverse Appalachian city beckons for us to visit, to linger at varied venues, sip the sweetness of abounding natural beauty and then to plant our fertile feet into the fabulous fecundity of local business development and support.
People come here with their dreams, are fueled by their wonder, and dedicate themselves to living here. Eclectic shops, eateries and services, as varied as the people who come here, are daily being birthed.
“With 96% of establishments in the Asheville Metro having fewer than 50 employees, small businesses and entrepreneurship are active engines fueling the region’s business landscape.” (Source)
Meanwhile, Forbes reports ranking Asheville, NC #29 in Best Places in the US for Businesses and Careers.
Whereas most of our country has recently suffered severe economic struggles and employment downturns, we are privy to witnessing wonderful local businesses survive and thrive in Asheville.
Even while knowing that Asheville, NC has steadily nurtured the love our community has for local businesses, daring to take that step to develop your own business is huge. How does an entrepreneurial vision turn into sustainable reality? Ask Kimberly Hunter of Prolific Counseling: entrepreneur, volunteer and major catalyst for sustainable business development in Asheville.
“I want anything that is birthed to grow up strong—to be able to withstand any indiscretions, attacks or side-swipes that would try and come and annihilate it. The only way to do that is to be raooted in truth and principle, while having great compassion for people with all points of view.”
This “great compassion for people with all points of view,” inherent in Kimberly, she attributes to growing up in Southern California with parents coming from two very different eco-standard perspectives. “My family makes me who I am; mom wanted the underdog to be taken care of and dad pursued excellence and the ability to go to the next level. I grew up with the dynamic of having a mother born into poor means and a dad that wasn’t,” she says.
“My dad grew up in Germany. He taught me how to do grocery shopping.” This simple life lesson became grounds for seeding an ethical perspective on ethnicity. Her father said to her, “Look at the continents of the world; what are their specialties? You can’t be good at everything.” He taught her to pay attention to different gifts and resources each culture has. With this mindfulness, they would selectively visit a diversity of shops. “We went to the Asian market for fish, and he would speak Vietnamese or Chinese. We went to the carnicería too, as Latin American is known for butchered meat. For chocolate and good sausages we’d go to the German deli. We never went to one place and got it all.”
Kimberly learned to observe the world and its cultures, to recognize, honor and embrace diverse specialties, and to beneficially use them. “That was my household. When we went to restaurants, my dad spoke their language. We used their utensils. When in Rome …” she smiles as she remembers.
“The truth of that matter is, we’re in an omni-cultural expression of humanity,” Ms. Hunter states. “To be American is to be yourself. When you are in the presence of the majority of another’s culture, honor that. By simply putting effort into trying, others will help you. All my life, whether it was men or Chileans or Nigerians or Ethiopians or Belgians, as long as I tried, they always helped me.”
Growing up in Southern California with multi-cultural experiences, Kimberly does not allow herself to be boxed in by ethnic or gender prejudices. “I grew up feeling like a human- that there is a place for all humanity, no matter what the language or food preferences are.”
With her open, knowledgeable perspective and gift of integrity, Kimberly has made it her passion to help change the emotional and mental infrastructure of mankind through business development. She asks, “What is it that will be good and sustainable for a long time that will be the highest benefit for the most people? If you understand whom it benefits and what you are creating, it can be a life changing success that many people can take part in.” It is Kimberly’s personal challenge to carve out a lifestyle and business that adhere to the highest level of ethical good for everyone.
As a humanitarian, Kimberly says her mission with creating jobs comes from these questions: “How can I create one job that outlasts my lifetime? For every job I create, will it last 50-70 years? That is a piece of sustainability that people don’t talk about.”
Working with established businesses that want to stay around longer and have a bigger impact in the world, Ms. Hunter helps to strengthen the foundation of a business’ success: customer retention. “Every business has their own root cause as to how they are unable to retain customers,” she says. Kimberly reminds business owners to ask themselves why they are in business in the first place. “People see the need for change in their own life and go into business to make changes,” she says. True, sustainable change comes from forging real relationships with our community members and by acknowledging that we are all connected.
Through serving on the boards of the Minority Enterprise Development and Self Help, and with her own business, Prolific Consulting, Kimberly Hunter not only helps propel individual business development, she also is providing Asheville and surrounding areas with long-term sustainable job growth.
Prolific Consulting: Kimberly Hunter, President
Rachael Johns is a business content writer with AshevilleCreativeContent.com. She enjoys meeting people in the community and helps their message be heard through educational marketing, website development, blogging and social media.