This story is part of our 1,000+ Stories campaign. What’s your story?

Name: Carla Mashall 

Business: USEME, Inc.

Location: Mobile, Alabama, U.S.

Industry: Education & Training 

Reason for starting? After leaving an abusive relationship of 9 years, I decided that I wanted to be a help to women and their children. I established USEME Inc. in 2010 and began my first mission mentoring and tutoring 6th- to 8th-graders with reading and math, through a program called Tu-Mentorial. In 2014, I established Woman of the Year in order to empower and encourage women who were and are facing difficult challenges, such as domestic violence and health issues, and teen mothers who are pursuing their college degrees. We have been able to continue Woman of the Year because of donations and sponsorships from the community. I believe in the power of our stories as women. I desire most to promote unity and compassion in order to bring change in our communities. 

Related: Read about another entrepreneur working in Education & Training here. 

How do you define success? My definition of success is being able to invest in your personal growth, while contributing to the growth of your community.  It is vital to us, especially as women, to heal, grow and develop so that we are not expending energy and contributions that we do not have.  I have found that expending beyond myself has brought me much heartache and resentment, and that is not the energy that I want to share with those I desire to see strengthened in my community.  I have been able to balance because I’ve invested in myself — my mental, my physical and my spiritual health.  I watch what I eat naturally as well as figuratively, I exercise and I pray.    

Biggest success: My biggest success is establishing and celebrating our fourth year of offering women (and a man) a platform to share their most heartfelt challenges and victories so that others are moved by compassion, educated and united.  Through our effort, we have built a team of women that supports the mission of educating beyond academics. Woman of the Year has contributed to women regaining the power that they have felt was lost at the hands of domestic violence, health issues, divorce and teen pregnancy.  We have built mentorships with graduates and business owners. We have even raised funds for a young woman to regain her power to walk again!

Related: TSE Quick Take: Oprah’s Influence 

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? It has definitely been a challenge to call women from their families, their church and their first priorities. I am one of the women that I have to rely on to fulfill my commitments to USEME Inc.  It sometimes felt like a “death sentence” to ask for help and support from others.  But I had to realize that we all need balance, and the best way for me to exemplify balance was to ask for help! The most important question I ask now is: “What are you able to do?”  The answers to that question are a little bit easier to swallow than the excuses or unanswered phone calls.

Who is your most important role model? My most important role model is Oprah Winfrey. And she really moved me with the speech she gave after receiving the Cecil B. de Mille Award. Our mission is to educate beyond academics, and I have stood on the power of a woman’s story for the past 4 years. I believe she has blazed the trail for women of all cultures to continue a legacy of blazing a trail for their families and those in their community. Oprah Winfrey has educated beyond academics, and, although I am inspired by her, my call to USEME Inc. was before the foundation of the world. She is a voice that bears witness with the voice that was always in me.  


Tell us your story!
Read about another entrepreneur here.

Edited by The Story Exchange