Achsha Jones is a proud Detroiter, a single mother of two, and the founder CEO of TripSlip, a tech company that digitizes permission slips for school field trips. Since a young age, she had to learn how to overcome hardships and find her way in a damaged city that was rebuilding itself. The city's tenacious resilience is closely intertwined with Achsha's own story. She is a part of Detroit and Detroit is forever a part of her.
A Dark Time
Achsha was born thirteen years after the 1967 Detroit riot, one of the largest urban riots in America’s history. Automakers and manufacturers were leaving the city with their working-class jobs giving rise to unemployment, heroine, and crack. Her father made a good living as a master electrician, but became addicted to crack.
This was a heavy blow. Her mother started working two jobs to help support the family. Achsha saw her mother as a hard-working role model with an unbreakable spirit.
Achsha is proud to say that she went to Detroit Public Schools and her two daughters now go to those same schools. She talks a lot about the city’s downfall in the 80s and takes pride in the fact that she stayed in the city even when times were tough.
“I grew up in Detroit in the 80s and 90s when everything was on fire, but you have to be a part of the change you want to see. Detroit is an 'underdog city,' a place with a legacy that produced some of the world’s greatest musicians, artists, and, of course, cars. We put the world on wheels and we gave it a soundtrack. Now it's beginning to come back and it’s worth it. "
Path to Entrepreneurship
In 2007, Achsha became a single mother when she separated from her husband and had a one-year-old daughter to support. She was already working multiple jobs, but wanted to find a way to make extra income with the flexibility in her schedule to take care of her young child.
Achsha had an idea, saw a market opportunity, and decided to run with it by starting her own business. She knew that airport and remote workers only had 30-minute lunch breaks. They needed to get food faster than what food trucks were able to deliver. Lunch Brake was born, which provided cafeteria-style lunches on a transit style bus to workers in remote areas.
While growing Lunch Brake, Achsha continued to work multiple jobs as a sales director for a transportation company, a school bus driver, a tour guide and sales coordinator at the Detroit Historical Museum, and others. This experience sparked a new business idea.
TripSlip Tech Company
Achsha was coordinating hundreds of school trips at the Detroit Historical Museum and realized that the permission slip process was too manual and cumbersome. Paperless permission slips could allow parents to easily see the information needed for their children’s class trips and even prepay for their lunches and souvenir packages.
Achsha founded TripSlip to solve this problem and now makes a living running her business with the flexibility to pick up her children from school. “I never would have guessed I'd be running a technology company, but I haven't looked back," she says.
Successful Black Woman
“Being a Black person may have disadvantages I’m sure, but I don’t look at it that way. I didn’t choose to be Black. I didn’t choose to be female. I didn’t choose to be born in Detroit, but I’m not a victim ... I’m Black in America. I’m in a place where dreams can come true and be a reality for anyone.”
Rather than looking at the negatives, Achsha chooses to focus on the opportunities in front of her. When she was hired as a sales service representative for a Fortune 500 company, she was the first Black woman to work in that division. She went into that job with a self belief that she would succeed. Achsha went on to become the salesperson of the month, expanded her sales territory, and hit all kinds of new benchmarks.
“I’ve worked at a lot of places where I was their first Black person or first Black woman. I understand that the people who attempt to do what I’m doing after me will be judged based on my actions."
Achsha believes that if women continue reaching out to one another to help teach and share knowledge, then they will inspire a new generation of successful leaders.
“Sometimes women don’t feel like they can do it because of what they’re told, what they see, or what they believe. If we can support one another, we can help each other improve. Each one reach one. Each one teach one.”
Advice for Women Who Want to Start a Business
“Do it. If you have the ideas, then you have the tools inside to bring that idea to life, don’t second guess it. I would rather live my life saying 'oh well, I tried,' rather than 'what if.'”
Achsha encourages others to pursue their ideas and not let fear stand in the way. Obstacles will be an expected part of the journey when running a business. Even though entrepreneurship is challenging, it isn't a reason to go back to a traditional nine-to-five job.
“Nothing worth doing was ever easy. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. As simple as that sounds, it was still a revelation for me. The stability I had in traditional jobs pales in comparison to the freedom I have as an entrepreneur.”
Empowering Xena Workwear
When Achsha worked as a salesperson selling safety equipment, she was on her feet all day every day for five years. Comfortable and safe boots were an absolute requirement, but she didn’t have stylish options that allowed her to feel like herself. Now her Xena boots are her go-to fashionable shoe choice – even when safety boots are not required.
“I’ve always been a girl in boy spaces or a black in white spaces. Xena helps me fit in and stand out at the same time. I feel like a badass when I put the boots on. Affirmed and esteemed.”
Outside of Work
Achsha loves going to concerts, live shows, and comedy shows. She even hosts and emcees live shows on occasion. Her other favorite pastime is spending time with her two daughters and catching a movie at the local theater.
You can connect with Achsha Jones on LinkedIn and book her as your lead speaker at the next event. She's beyond inspirational. She's a Detroit superstar.