This week I have the pleasure of introducing you to Anthea Walker, CEO of AW Concierge as well as an ambassador for the American Cancer Society's ResearcHERS initiative!
ZOE: Tell us a little about yourself and why you chose the business you’re in.
ANTHEA: Interestingly, we share a similar beginning because I was also born in the UK. I spent my early years in London where my mom’s family still resides. I realize now how blessed I was to live in Europe with so many varying cultures and people. I will always remember and cherish the time I spent traveling throughout Europe, particularly to Paris and Switzerland where some of my fondest memories with my parents were made.
After my early years were spent in London, we later migrated to New York where I lived for most of my life attending graduate school, pursuing a career in Healthcare Administration at NY Presbyterian Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. After that I transitioned into my career as an entrepreneur. The daily stresses of the healthcare environment, feeling unfulfilled, and the loss of a friend propelled me to open the first black owned Bridal boutique in Brooklyn named Michael Shane Bridal...yes, named after my 2 loves. During the journey of managing the bridal boutique, traveling around the world with brides, planning events, I knew serving was the underlying joy in my life.
Later, I founded AW Concierge to fulfill the increasing demands of personal, professional, and social life. While managing my vacation rentals, clients' service requests rapidly increased which ultimately birthed AW Concierge. AW Concierge is a Property Concierge and Lifestyle Management company servicing active professionals seeking the gift of time. We manage properties, vacation rentals and assist with lifestyle management services with the highest level of care and professionalism. To enhance our Concierge services, we added a beauty line and a luxury vehicle to transport clients to their desired destination.
ZOE: Who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
ANTHEA: My greatest influences are my boys…actually young men. They are my joy and greatest accomplishments, always challenging me to follow my dreams, persevere through obstacles and celebrate the accomplishments. From a business perspective my grandfather, Herbert AH Walker, born in Jamaica, whom migrated to London then Brooklyn, was a visionary and businessman who lived a life by example of hard work, commitment, and dedication. He left a legacy for our family which is imprinted in our hearts and transcends in our work ethic.
ZOE: What is the best advice you’ve received in business?
ANTHEA: A friend of mine gave me 2 words that resonated with me throughout my business journey, “discipline and commitment” which to me are the two ideals that lead to a successful business. The reality is without these key fundamental actions a business will fail, and failure is not an option. As I’m sure you all feel, when you’re hired by a client to get a job done, you want to not only finish the job but do it to the best of your ability.
ZOE: What is one characteristic you believe every woman leader should possess?
ANTHEA: Oh Zoe…..Women leaders must possess Confidence. Throughout history women have not been recognized for their leadership or entrepreneurial abilities. There is no better time than now for women to stand boldly for their values and decisions and speak out against oppressive situations. Being confident as a woman is always tricky, but it's important to always be sure of the decisions you make and to always stay true to what has gotten you to wherever you are.
ZOE: If you were to author a book, what would it be about?
ANTHEA: Wow…first of all the book would be so long no one would buy it. Honestly it would be about persevering through obstacles. As a woman of color, the journey has been frustrating at times, humiliating, but I always have to remind myself of my value and worth because without that I would not have made it this far. Part of that reminder to myself has been a decision to not allow myself to be defined by sexism and racism. I always remind myself of women of the past that face greater obstacles. Today, if I wrote a book I would encourage all women, especially those little girls that don’t think they're good enough, to continue to work and persevere and good things will come their way.
ZOE: Why have you chosen ResearcHERS as your philanthropy?
ANTHEA: I do not know if I choose ResearcHERS or if they choose me but attending a Sunday afternoon tea party at The Addison (my personal favorite venue in Boca Raton) was the beginning to this philanthropy journey that has fed my soul and connected me with a sisterhood of woman whom I genuinely admire and love.
On another note, my personal experiences as well as the knowledge of what research affords. My grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Because of the vague symptoms, her diagnosis came late with a poor diagnosis. I traveled back to London frequently and spent the last months, weeks, days, and hours with her before her death. No medical or surgical interventions were available. Research is needed to shed light on potential therapies and to provide life-saving treatment. I am ergo, committed to supporting and sponsoring research that will help prevent others from experiencing the hopeless loss of their ones as I have.
ZOE: How have you chosen to give back to ResearcHERS?
ANTHEA: In honor of my beloved grandmother, I am honored and blessed to be an Ambassador with you, Zoe, and the other women participating in various fundraising events. My company has also given a percentage of our sales to support this cause. AW Concierge is forever grateful to partner with ResearcHers, The Addison, Protect My Shoes, The Cristino Family and others to make a difference.