We had the good fortune of connecting with Shawnti Refuge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shawnti, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
About two years ago, I began having these emotional outbursts out of nowhere. I’m typically a strong person who would show zero emotion so I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what. I went to my family doctor who prescribed me some antidepressants that didn’t work. She referred me to a psychiatrist.
I resisted at first because when you hear the word psychiatrist, you think “crazy”. I finally went because I was tired of feeling out of control. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with severe depression & anxiety. She prescribed me stronger meds & while under her care she advised that I talk to a therapist as well. I was so against this but I went anyway.
My therapist suggested that I start journaling. I was very opposed to this because I had journaled before & it only made me madder. My therapist informed me that what I was doing was not journaling but keeping a diary. I didn’t know there was a difference at the time.
I began journaling with guided prompts & when I tell you within a month, I was beginning to feel better.
After about a year I said to myself, “I know I’m not the only one going through this! I need to help others!” I started with creating three guided journals; emotional, physical, & financial wellbeing. Those three journals did so well that I branched out. That’s how Shawnti Refuge Journals was born. Now I offer over 30 journals & notebooks.
I have an Instagram page where I offer journaling tips & inspiration to those people like me who knows something is wrong but refuse to get help. I encourage them to write out their emotions, do affirmations, & meditation.
What started out as seeking help for me has turned into me helping others & to assure them that there’s nothing wrong with seeking help or alternative outlets in order to get better in any area of their lives.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
For now at my day job, I am a Budget Analyst for the Information Technology Department at a mental health agency for Harris County. I’ve been employed there for almost 16 years.
I specialize in managing the budget for the department and ensuring that the agency has all of the technology needed in order to serve our community.
At work, I’m known as the “cell phone lady”. I also managed the wireless technology for the entire agency along with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and soon to be the Houston Police Department.
I am most proud of joining the agency as an Administrative Assistant and working my way up to being the Business Analyst for IT. While working, I was able to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources Management.
Thankfully, my job positions that I had at the agency throughout the years have made it to where I was able to get an education without interference. I am blessed to be in a position where there weren’t any challenges.
I am most proud of learning to be self-aware and how far it’s taken me versus the person I used to be whose negative mindset took me nowhere. I pride myself on others to change their mindset so they too can grow in life.
What sets me apart from others is that I’m a very optimistic person who can motivate others when times get tough & I love to take on challenges. I’m a kind person. I love to learn new things & teach others. Once I learned to be self-aware, I became a better person not only to myself but to others too. Ask anyone who knows or works with me in any level, I treat everyone with respect & human kindness.
My advice to those just starting out is to take your time, don’t rush, be open to continuous learning, and NEVER GIVE UP! It’s not always going to be easy and you will cry! Just pause, regroup, & keep pushing! What is for you IS FOR YOU! You just have to stay determined and focused and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to do it all by yourself.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My BFF and I are going to MoCity Sports Grill on Wednesday for the “wangs”, drinks, and overall great atmosphere. Any other day we’d go shopping at Katy Mills Mall. That’s great exercise for our bodies and our wallets!
We can’t miss the beach! We’ll go to Surfside beach and play in the sand and water! Since we discovered Surfside Beach, we don’t go to Galveston beaches anymore.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate my Shoutout to Kamilah Thomas, LSCW, CEO of KBT Counseling. She met me at the worst point in my life and helped me through my issues without judgement. She let me cry, curse, be standoffish, argumentative, & quiet in our sessions. Kamilah deserves much credit for putting up with me and helping me at the same time. I am a different and better person due to her help.
Youtube: Shawnti Refuge Journals