We caught up with the brilliant and insightful April Laster a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
April, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Let’s jump right into the heart of things. Outsiders often think businesses or industries have much larger profit margins than they actually do – the reason is that outsiders are often unaware of the biggest challenges to profitability in various industries – what’s the biggest challenge to profitability in your industry?
The biggest challenge is that most people that need the services and could benefit most from the services can’t really afford what is would cost if we charged regular prices. This industry was made to cater to those that have the funds and resources to go all the way and those who can’t they get left behind or no service at all. Another challenge is the way finances and funding is funneled to organizations and businesses that are minority owned in this industry.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I got into this industry based on my own life experiences growing up. Even as an adult i realized there was not a lot of BIPOC therapist or education professionals to serve the communities i grew up in. Seeing the most mental health crisis and education crisis in marginalized communities set my heart in a different place. Moving back home in 2015 and seeing the conditions have gotten worse changed me. I had to make a difference by incorporating my lived experience, certifications and passion allowed Open Heart Leaders to emerge. I wanted to bring to the community something i would have needed growing up not realizing i need my own type of program as an adult. There is power in healing and sad to say not too many folks get to do it in spaces where people look like them and understand their backgrounds without having to over explain. Through the services we offer we have tried our best to create a one stop shop for the individual or individuals who have chosen to take that step forward in healing, changing or just making a difference in their life. What sets us apart from everyone else is we have an eclectic approach and a creative style of providing service to those who would not normally partake in mental health or educational services offered elsewhere. I want people to understand we are here not just for the person that has it all together but for the ones that don’t and need help figuring it all out. We service everyone from the womb to the tomb and this is because my lived experience staff and experts do life with our clients. We are the HELP… not the Help.
What’s a lesson you had to unlearn and what’s the backstory?
One major lesson I had to unlearn was that you can’t help everyone. Being a natural empath i was often faced with wanting to “Save” or “Free” everyone I met or came into close proximity to. This eventually took a toll on my own mental health as i often struggled with trying to understand why people didn’t act upon help freely given. I had to unlearn that those who say they want help don’t always necessarily mean they want to do the work to obtain it. This was extremely hard for me because i wanted people to be so tired of their mess that they ran to help and changed for good. This was and most likely will never be the case. Unlearning to apply my energy to every case took some time but now i have learned balance and to pace myself in dealing with everyone not just clients. Setting boundaries became such a big deal for me because it helped create the barriers needed to not engage with everyone from feelings but to operate in facts. I never unlearned to be a empath I just learned how to apply my energy to the right circumstances at the right time.
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
What i feel helped build my reputation in my market was word of mouth. My clients are family and when family is treated well they tell everyone else how they are making progress and what to share the experience. What also helped build my reputation is my character. My character speaks volumes as i pride myself on my standards, loyalty and morals. Operating with integrity has allowed me to enter so many spaces i didn’t think i belonged into. With many positive encounters and key relationships i have also built a standard that is very high for who and how i serve amongst the people. Being who i am authentically and not toning myself down for anyone has built a name for me that others have no choice but to respect my resilience and tenacity. To challenge some of the biggest systems that are in place and would cause most to fail has gotten me nationally recognized as one of the top speakers on trauma informed care. Having a reputation as a young motivated serial entrepreneur has been a great badge of honor and i wear it proudly. My reputation for being humble and a worker bee has always helped me cultivate long lasting relationships with politicians, celebrities, and other community leaders globally. Also I want to recognize my team without them there would be no OHL.
- Website: openheartleaders.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/openheartleaders/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OpenHeartLeaders/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/open-heart-leaders/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/OpenHeartLeader
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpr4YJkW0_Xmf0btceQD9bQ