Editor’s Note: The Radical Agenda has been named to The Story Exchange’s 2023 list of 10 Brilliant Business Ideas.
In the summer of 2021, Amanda Spencer’s sons saw their break interrupted by national headlines about their school district. Officials sought to remove “critical race theory” – a catchphrase for any discussion of systemic racism – from the curriculum. That didn’t sit right with Spencer. She and her friends came together to discuss how the idea that teaching children accurate American history became part of a so-called radical agenda. Spencer joked that she’d make a “radical agenda” of her own – and then turned that comment into a business. The Radical Agenda sells a planner for students that’s filled with American historical facts – regardless of how comfortable they make others. She also reviews, then recommends books and other resources. Today the St. Louis mompreneur juggles her full-time job as a nurse while growing the company on the side.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A with Spencer.
Tell us more about why you started your business.
I wanted to make sure my children and their friends have an inclusive and holistic understanding of American history — the good, the bad and the ugly. My goal is to become a top resource for parents and teachers to find age-appropriate, accurate and inclusive materials about America.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
I donate a large portion of proceeds from the sale of every planner to human rights organizations. I have openly promised to never accept sponsorship from other businesses – everything I recommend, I paid money for and used myself.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
When someone bought three of our planners as Christmas gifts.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
I am a single mom with a full-time job as a nurse. I work on this ever-growing project in the nooks and crannies of my life. Right now, I focus on writing content for the planners, as well as book reviews, with that time.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
I got involved in social justice activism in 2020, just before George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officers. As I continue to learn and grow, I have become mindful of the importance of financial integrity. Every year, I choose two human rights organizations to donate a significant chunk of my proceeds to – roughly 60% in all. As a cis-hetero-white woman, I understand that the human stories I am telling are not mine to profit from. I want to make sure I am using my voice and platform to support equality and justice in our country.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Don’t wait until everything is perfect to get started. I have gone through several iterations of the planners as I learned what works and what doesn’t. I’ve learned how to build a website, and reworked and reorganized that several times as well. I learn best by doing – and this way, I can incorporate feedback from readers.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I think about my kids and the way I want them to grow up. From the time my oldest was in kindergarten, we were reading age-appropriate books that mention hard topics like racism and sexism, and having discussions about human dignity and respect. I want them to be aware so they can influence society for the better.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
“Watch Me Shine” by Joanna Pacitti.
Who is your most important role model?
My future self. I have a vision for how she runs her business and balances her life, and I seek to consistently get closer to that life. ◼
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