In May 2019, Micheal and Tatiana Parker were hit with a hook.
A devastating cancer diagnosis filled them both with fear and doubt, and the unknown crippled them. For a moment, Micheal, who was diagnosed, couldn’t move much and had to lay down and sit for long periods of time. But during talks with his wife, Tatiana, they decided that their time of great pain and suffering would be a perfect time to research and start building a business that would not only leave a financial legacy for themselves, but a legacy for their children, inspired by a hashtag Micheal used frequently: “#watch4thehook”.
Micheal Parker, originally from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, grew up across the street from an HBCU entitled University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (UAPB). Proud of his family legacy at that school, he graduated from the college (twice) with a bachelor’s degree in regulatory science with an emphasis in environmental biology, and later a master’s degree in environmental regulations. Dubbing himself a “golden lion”, being a part of UAPB was a part of his family legacy as his mother, father, and other family members have attended as well. Tatiana Parker is also from Arkansas but attended University of Central Arkansas and graduated with a bachelors in environmental science. As a Bill and Melinda Gates scholar, she had her entire college career paid for then later went to University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) with a master’s of science degree in Health Science and Environmental Health.
After being married, the Parkers raised their three daughters while simultaneously working in their respective careers. It wasn’t until May 2019 that it was time for Micheal to start acting out his signature hashtag’s words as he faced his own hook. “It was then that I told him that it’s definitely time to start practicing what you preach,” Tatiana shared. After the painful surgery, she told her husband that they both needed to get to work and start moving. Then, while in the month of recovery, the Parkers conceived a business idea that not only allowed them to leave a legacy to their own children, but also making an income from the hashtag Micheal had been building a following from. “The ‘hook’ can be described as something that catches you off guard, something very devastating,” Micheal shared, referring to a hook in boxing. So in the recognition of their own hook, the four months spent on researching and legalizing names and trademarks were both stressful and nerve-wrecking, but necessary. “It was some hard, hard months,” they both shared. “While he was recovering and wasn’t able to move at all,” his wife began, “I said ‘if we’re really gonna do this, we need to do it now.’ So we did some research and that is literally how we started.”
By September of 2019, they both filed for trademarks. “We didn’t want this to be a side hustle, but a legitimate business,” Micheal shared. Since the Parkers had connections from past jobs, they were able to talk with vendors about what they would need to get their business up and running. Right now, the two seem to have a routine going with how they plan for their company: “We usually come up with a vision of what we’re thinking about and what we want to see happen or how we want to see it proceed,” Tatiana began. “And we go back and forth with our graphic designer, Maya Gray, who creates the designs and she edits as much as we like, and just really gives us the final polished look. And from there we go to the manufacturer for production.”
Owning a business and teaching their daughters about entrepreneurship were big goals for the Parkers. “Nowadays people are slaves to their brands. But we were looking at creating a brand and wanted to be branded that was recognizable. We wanted to create something that was unique for minorities and wanted to have something that could almost be like a timestamp in history.” Involving the children in their entrepreneurship ventures was the main reason why the business was created; as Micheal and Tatiana never learned about business growing up and saw this knowledge as valuable to be passed down. The company has since then grown more, adding in marketing advisors such as Kevin Williams from Team Vision and Jymyaka Braden known as the Book Doctor, who wrote their first press release. “We started working with a marketing specialist to become more recognizable and to really push us out there. And it’s been going great. We just want to see our brand grow. And we want to see our message get communicated.”
When it comes to providing for their children who are all involved in athletics as well as maintaining their business and their day jobs in their respective fields, they attribute their constant schedules to one main factor: “We don’t sleep,” they both said. They both plan on making the best of their 168 hours in the weeks in front of them by always heading straight into their day with full responsibility. The same mentality goes for obstacles they have encountered through their business and personal lives. During the start of their business, they both realized that they’d have to put more ‘elbow grease’ into their business after building the brand. “You will know you’re starting to evolve once you get past that ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality. Once you realize that’s not gonna happen, you will be okay because at that point, you realize you have to open up your business for opinions and start to be open to work with people and be ready to pay,” Micheal shared. Realizing that you will have to invest money and time into becoming a better business was another nugget the two learned during their entrepreneurship journey. Another obstacle was dealing with ego and being willing to grow past just “being a brand”. They had to be willing to be embarrassed and have their feelings hurt to grow into a more knowledgeable entrepreneur. “A newer thing we’re learning now is that for a business that needs money, you’re gonna have to turn strangers into new family members, and you have to do that on a daily basis,” Michael shared.
One thing the Parkers want people to know about their business is that everyone is dealing with a ‘hook’. “You got to make sure you’re you’re speaking the right speech to the right people,” Tatiana shared. “Let’s be honest, everybody’s being hit with a hook. Whether you want to acknowledge it, you’re walking in courage, or you want to pretend it didn’t happen, that’s up to you. But we put it out there so that everyone can know you’re not the only one that’s going through something. So you can wear the hook as a badge of honor, or you can shy from it, and if you wear it as a badge of honor, I feel like you’ve learned something.”
Visit Watch4theHook at their website here.
Follow Micheal and Tatiana Parker on Instagram here
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